Dean Lovelace ran three times before he pulled out of a general election so that he could run in a special election and win. Before that, he had been pushing for dividing the city up into districts so that he would have a shot.
After he was elected, he never once pushed for districts, and he has been re-elected without serious challenge. He’s now accepted by the Montgomery County Democratic Party- even though he rarely makes an appearance at a MCDP meeting.
Abner Orick was only elected in a special election. As the only Republican to serve before the political coup staged by Mike Turner who squeaked by with a 400-vote win against the damaged Clay Dixon, it’s been a long time since the Republican party even fielded a candidate. The Republican Party didn’t even endorse Turner the first time he ran. Gary Leitzell now has its backing out of desperation, even though he’s not a Republican.
The only election process that has counted in Dayton for years, isn’t even an election. It’s a meeting of the Montgomery County Democratic Party screening committee, and it happens behind closed doors. There, union leaders, elected officials, party pogues with patronage jobs and a few others, sit in judgment of who should even turn in petitions. The main question- “if you don’t get endorsed, will you run anyway?” Once they’ve made their pick, candidates are guaranteed the following at a minimum:
- At least one joint slate mailing from the state party to every registered voter and probably one from the local party as well.
- A person or two outside every polling place handing out literature on election day.
- Union workers to go knocking on doors and phone banking.
- Union halls and party HQ to hold fundraisers- complete with guaranteed donations by party faithful.
- Access to a robo-caller owned by the Democratic party.
- An excuse by the Dayton Daily News editorial board to endorse a candidate because they “have an endorsement of a party”
- Access to special software that allows them to do higher level targeting of voters.
Best of all, you never have to explain your positions again, since we have almost zero coverage of these off-year elections. No debates, a few candidates’ forums, not much else. Once you’re an incumbent, it’s pretty hard to lose. Mike Turner “lost” to Rhine McLin, right into Congress (the stage had been set before the Commission race- with maneuvering for Tony Hall to leave office, and the district re-drawn to conveniently include his home). Abner Orick “lost” to go on to get the choice patronage job of head of the Montgomery County Board of Elections. Once elected, you don’t go hungry again. Doors are opened, jobs provided:
Dean Lovelace got a job at UD. Idotha Bootsie Neal first at Central State West and then running Wright-Dunbar, Chuck Curran at Sinclair, Bob Taft at UD, Jon Husted (who doesn’t live in Dayton) gets a cush job at the Chamber of Commerce that he doesn’t have to show up for- the list goes on.
If this doesn’t sound like a private club to you, with very strict rules on permission to enter, I don’t know what does. We have the most segregated political system around since Tammany Hall.
I’ve been asked often why don’t I just try to be that round peg to go in the round hole? Why do I bother putting myself, and my business through this? Why do I keep trying- because, as the Borg said “resistance is futile.”
When I started, I was naïve. I was warned too- windows shot out at my office two nights in a row, a death threat, attacked by Mayor Richard Clay Dixon with his fists of fury (front page, below the fold news, that was the beginning of his fall from grace), a coffee mug hurled at my car by the head of a union- who then taunted me to get out of the car so he could kick my (just out of Special Forces) @$$- and then slammed my car door on my leg as I started to take him up on it. Theses incidents would scare most “family men” off. I was still young, idealistic and a fool.
Now, I know exactly what I’m getting myself into. I know the risks, I know the odds, I know how things used to work. And, realistically, I knew these things when I was seventeen- because my old man, who got his master’s degree in political science at Boston University and ate lunch and debated with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and worked in the newspaper industry as a copy editor when objective and investigative journalism was still practiced, took time to write me a primer back in 1969 about the underbelly of American politics. That book, “Dear Son”– has been freely available on this site for over 2 years.
Read the book. Read the post “A Thinking Man” by 2x Pulitzer Prize Nominated Dayton resident Larkin Vonalt, Then you might begin to understand why I keep trying in this idealistic pursuit of an opportunity to bring a voice from the community for the community to our commission.
And if you want real entertainment, go back and look at my campaign literature from my first two races. Scoffed at, it was tabloid sized and filled with ideas. Dig through, play gotcha if you must, but, the sad reality is, my idealism remains unshaken, even as our city has suffered through many years of mismanagement, corruption, and coddling the elite who fund the machine that works to keep you in the dark.
This post alone, contains more information that you’ll get from Mayor McLin, Commissioner Whaley or Commissioner Williams on their entire sites- combined. People have told me that voters are too stupid to read all this, that voters don’t care, that voters won’t take the time to research the candidates.
The Dayton Daily News Editorial Board won’t do it either.
And all 41 (as of this writing) of my admitted readers (see this post where I asked people to sign their names with “I read”) aren’t enough to get me elected. (I know there are many more because I understand them these here intertubes and web statistiks (intentionally misspelled)).
The couple of thousand dollars I’ve raised is nothing compared to the $100K war chest raised by the Mayor and Nan Whaley (in fact, I’ve been told that part of the reason they’ve raised so much is by seeding the fear that I may win and upset their little private tea party).
So, why, facing all odds, do I continue to try? I can point out that Abraham Lincoln lost seven times before he was elected, I can remind you that my name is David and the name comes with a Goliath-slaying complex, or I can say- look at yourself in the mirror and ask, why haven’t you tried? You care about this city or you wouldn’t still be reading this.
Tell me why you haven’t run for office, I’d like to know. And rest assured, once elected, one of my missions will be to make sure we have primary elections in the future, that all have access to the data that I’m gathering and the tools I’m building, and that we won’t ever again have candidates like Matt Joseph or Nan Whaley whose only qualification for office was being a faithful part of that political machine that has run this town for, well, long before me.
Thanks for reading.