An astute reader of the Newburyport Blog told me that the mayoral race is a “third rail, be careful.”
I just can’t seem to help myself. Maybe I have a third rail wish, I don’t know. But I thought it might be interesting to go back and take a look at how Mayor John Moak ran his campaign in 2005.
And John Moak ran an incredibly effective mayoral campaign in 2005.
The face of that campaign were Mr. Moak’s friends, family and neighbors, people not usually associated with politics, but who believed that he would be a good mayor. It was welcoming and it was the face of the community.
It helped that so many of us knew him to be incredibly affable and helpful when we went or called Newburyport City Hall for assistance.
And Mr. Moak had watched many, many mayors and many, many Newburyport city councils, and many folks figured, what a great education for a perspective mayor.
The very conservative folks, who also backed his candidacy, were not the “face” of his campaign. And what a very smart move that was.
Mr. Moak was not particularly articulate. And it is my own opinion that this worked in his favor. People were for routing him, hoping that he would do well.
And the electorate projected on this genial candidate, what they thought he would be for, they did not appear to be listening to what he actually did stand for.
I remember talking to people, and no matter what I said they did not believe me when I tried to convince them that Mr. Moak would be a conservative mayor. They thought I was nuts. They were shocked when it turned out that John Moak had conservative backers and conservative tendencies.
And when Mayor Moak wanted to turn the entire waterfront into a parking lot, people were outraged. But John Moak had campaigned on that very issue. Either most folks weren’t listening, or most folks didn’t believe it would be true. After all, as I remember, mayoral candidate Lisa Mead proposed a parking lot over Route 1 and that, to this day, has never materialized.
And I wonder if John Moak had run a very different kind of campaign whether he would have won or not. We will never know.
If some of the conservative folks had been the “face” of his effort, and he had been more strident and combative, what kind of effect would that have had? My guess is that it would at least have been a much closer race and that his opponent might well have won.