One Year In Advance, A Pivotal Moment In Oakland’s Mayoral Race Emerges

Joe Tuman predicted Mayor Quan’s
demise in a posting on Facebook.

OAKLAND//MAYOR 2014 | 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.”

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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.

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