The Bay Area News Group editorial last week calling for Oakland Mayor Jean Quan to not seek re-election next year raised eyebrows. Some believed it was overwrought with generalities and useless. Why not just vote her out of office next year, some said. Quan’s detractors leaped upon the assertion her administration has anything other than a disaster.

Joe Tuman, one of Quan’s challengers next election season used the article to lodge similar complaints along with a pitch for campaign contributions. (C’mon, Joe, you know Friday evening is reserved for bad news!)

For Tuman, the editorial was so scathing for Quan that he declared her imminent defeat next year. “It is clear now that we will have a new Mayor in January of 2015. And with your help, I will be that Mayor,” Tuman wrote to his supporters on Facebook.

In addition to an equally debatable and blistering Oakland Chamber of Commerce poll released two weeks ago that Tuman says, “shows that the people of this city, our community leaders, and now our press, have lost all confidence in this administration’s ability to lead.”


Both negative news items against Quan are manufactured news events. However, that does not mean they are untrue. Quan has some very vocal detractors in the community. She is also hemmed in by progressive voters who loath her handling of Occupy Oakland and middle-to-upper class residents who think she didn’t do anywhere near enough to stop the repeated damage to downtown businesses.

But, before Quan haters rejoice, her demise is long from assured. In fact, she still sits ahead of the pack with both time on her side and the certainty many issues and controversies will arise from here to November 2014. She still maintains a positive demographic edge (women and minorities) and can wave the flag of experience, no matter those who will inevitably scoff at this notion. Who is to say one or both of Quan’s main opponents–both political neophytes–won’t make a debilitating unforced error in the next 12 months?

Politically speaking, there are stages to voter apathy when it comes to throwing an incumbent out of office. Some Oaklanders may be currently grappling with the shopping stage. Are they so miffed at Quan that they start looking for other candidates to support? At that point, voters compare and contrast their options. Is Joe Tuman or Bryan Parker any better than Quan? If not, can I give them the benefit of the doubt?

If voters are asking themselves these sorts of questions on a sunny fall day in 2013 it makes this point in the campaign very precarious for the challengers. Because if voters go shopping and find the other options lackluster or no better than what they have, they may revert back to Quan and never find the time in their busy days to give Tuman or Parker another opportunity. In a likely close campaign next year, in addition to the inherent confusion of ranked choice voting, these are the moments when races are won and lost.

 Cross posted from East Bay Citizen


One Response

  1. R2D2II

    I is drawn to respond to an editorial in which the the thinking and writing are so delightful. I is compelled to try to say something constructive or at least something equally silly when the writer of an editorial tries to promote no political change in this town in the face of a growing awareness that significant improvement in local governance is badly needed. Hey, change is good for ya! I try to eat a different sandwich every day for lunch and dinner.

    In the header the editor asserts that this is “a pivotal moment” a year ahead of the election. In the last paragraph he says “this point in the campaign [is] very precarious for the challengers.” Can pivotal and precarious mean the same thing? I think of a pivot as a dependable point for making a big turn–it’s anything but precarious. No pivot or precariousness for the incumbent? Just what is he trying to say?

    Is this editorial simply an effort to manufacture news? Nothing is really happening out there in the real world of Oakland, right? No crime problems in our faces. The editor describes the Tribune’s Quan-shouldn’t-run editorial and challenger Joe Tuman’s Facebook posts (intended mostly for his supporters, by the way) as “manufactured news events” as if all news is not a manufactured product. A lesson in how to manufacture real news, by the way, is easily available by googling “William Randolph Hearst.” Real news comes directly to the front page from God and God bears (or once did) the name Hearst.

    The editorial concludes: “Because if voters go shopping and find the other options lackluster or no better than what they have, they may revert back to Quan and never find the time in their busy days to give Tuman or Parker another opportunity. In a likely close campaign next year, in addition to the inherent confusion of ranked choice voting these are the moments when races are won and lost.” Huh?

    Maybe this entire wad of prose (I just love “because ifs”) is intended to mean something like this: “Folks don’t even think about the election now (and heaven forbid don’t get involved) because you will get so turned off regarding change for the whole of the next year that you will, inevitably, vote for Quan again in 2014. Which is what I would like you to do because it’s inevitable after all and democracy is a bad idea and anyway democracy dead by now at least in Oakland. Stay confused about ranked choice voting and don’t remember what happened last time when Quan got elected. Lastly, remember that races in the future are won and lost in the present. In other words our fate is already determined.”


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