If you've ever lived in a state or Congressional district that features a close race, you know how the phone calls and direct mail can come pouring in. A couple of years ago, we'd joke in the office about how Hillary Clinton's robo-call woke somebody out of a nap, or how Rudy Giuliani was nice enough to leave a message on the answering machine. That doesn't cover direct mail; you'd think the U.S. Postal Service wouldn't have to raise rates that often if elections were held more frequently.
May is not associated with this type of behavior. The only elections in sight in my neighborhood are the ones for the Buffalo School Board. Political parties aren't involved with those races, for whatever reason. But it seems at least one of the candidates has been taking notes from the big boys.
Over the last couple of weeks, I've gotten more phone calls concerning Jason McCarthy than I have from my wife. Some are locally produced, some have come from Texas or "out of area" according to Caller ID. Some are straight messages, some are disguised as push polls.
That last part was my favorite. On the 12th call, someone called up and asked who I was supporting. I gave a name. The voice said something like, "If I told you that Jason McCarthy was a innovator in education, filled with bright ideas for improving the board, good to his mother, and adopted stray dogs and nursed them back to health, would you say this would make you more likely to vote for him, less likely, or make no difference?" I said "no difference," but I was very tempted to say less likely because I was sick of hearing about him at this point.
The Buffalo News ran an article about the race, pointing out that some downstate group was pouring money into the race.
Now, I don't have any children in school, so I'm not vitally interested in the issues in the election. I've even not voted in the past, letting those with a stronger interest decide the matter.
But this was different. I became rather suspicious of someone who had that much money spent on his behalf in a school board race. Why would it mean so much to practice carpet-bombing campaign tactics? What's the full story here?
You can bet I took the walk to the neighborhood school today to vote ... for someone other than McCarthy. I have no idea if it will help, but I sure feel better.
P.S. McCarthy won. Darn.