Two years ago, city elections were already in full swing. There were rumors of who was in and out of the mayor’s race, enough candidates for a primary election, and signs, bumper stickers, corner-standers, radio-callers everywhere.
So far this year, there’s little beyond two or three new candidates and several of the old standbys who have done any more than pull papers or return signatures for City Council seats.
This weekend, say attendees of the Albanian Festival, there was a noticeable dearth of politicians—less hand shaking, baby kissing, flesh pressing than almost ever before.
There are a few possible explanations:
1. Cost: Running a traditional election campaign is expensive, and raising money in this economy has been much tougher, say some politicians. For a new candidate, fund raising is even tougher, especially without an established network. For those with money, it may be time to save before spending war chests in the fall.
2. Fear of reality/just laying low: The truth is, as much as candidates complained two years ago about city government, day-to-day life was pretty good. This year, a few candidates who have considered runs but decided against it have expressed a feeling that it’s too tough a political and fiscal climate to walk into. Even established councilors acknowledge things are going to get worse before getting better, and fear what that means for their political future.
3. Waiting to see how it shakes out: Both on the City Council and School Committee sides, there have been a number of questions of exactly who is running…leading to many people waiting to see who is getting in the game before they “officially” announce…leading to more speculation…leading to…well, you get the point.
All in all, it’s added up to a quiet spring during a supposed time of discontent that many(included us) predicted would lead to huge crowds of candidates actively campaigning.
But what’s the problem with not campaigning? Neglecting to get your name out before the “summer vacation” means only a concentrated amount of time to mount a full campaign in the fall. And for a new candidate without name recognition, it’s a recipe for almost gauranteed failure.