But what the hell, you can win a plasma screen television without even showing your face at the forthcoming pachyderm picnic. Appropriate, eh?
A couple of weeks back, NA Confidential was entirely unsurprised to learn that Republican mayoral candidate Randy Hubbard would be cravenly sidestepping an October debate with his Democratic opponent, Doug England.
Randy Hubbard and the headlong flight from ideas.
Apparently Plan A is the hope is that England will commit an unforced error capable of being exploited for electoral gain. There seems to be no Plan B. In the interim, Hubbard’s attempted gravitas seems increasingly less plausible than what is almost certainly the non-spinnable reality: A comprehensive absence of platform content, grasp and ideas on the part of a reluctant candidate desperately recruited by his own party for the sole reason of warding off an expected insurgency emanating from the upstart outsider residing at the Admiral Bicknell.
With Hubbard’s silence deepening by the day and his electoral stock quavering, the Tribune’s Sunday guest columnist Daniel Robison opportunistically spotted an opening and commented serviceably on September 2 in Englandfest tickets available.
(Hubbard) recently told IU Southeast that he can’t face off against Democratic nominee Doug England in mid-October because of time constraints; an excuse I would’ve taken for a joke if it weren’t Hubbard’s true explanation.
Hubbard’s move suggests he has all but thrown in the towel. If he cared at all about Nov. 5’s outcome, he would’ve agreed to this showdown — at the very least to prevent England from milking the situation for his campaign’s benefit. And refusing to debate is certainly no way to comfort donors nor attract new money, the true lifeline of a campaign.
But such obviousness apparently can’t to be taken for granted in Hubbard’s camp. Undeterred by his opponent’s refusal to RSVP for the debate, England has smartly stated that he will turn the event into a one-candidate forum, effectively turning a would-be debate into a promotional event for himself on Oct. 16.
In this continually widening Republican void, where platform planks and ideas go to die, I’m left to surmise that Hubbard’s “duck ‘n’ cover” defensive posture circa the Labor Day opening political campaign weekend was merely a tactical prelude to calculated fireworks later in the autumn.
It’s just about the only thing that makes sense at this point.
My best guess would be an 11th hour outburst of negative campaigning in October, with the saintly Hubbard himself deigning to remain “above” the muddy fray while local confederates do the dirty work of contrasting Hubbard’s purportedly impeccable law enforcement credentials with patronage abuse questions that linger in the public consciousness from England’s two previous terms as mayor.
Such a late attack strategy would at least explain Hubbard’s odd reticence as England has aggressively lapped the somnolent ex-sheriff early in the contest, and twice opening bloody cuts: First, with the Democratic candidate’s city hall relocation press conference and Hubbard’s subsequent conceptual disorientation, and second, in the aftermath of the GOP candidate’s inexplicable debate withdrawal, as referenced previously by columnist Robison.
As Hubbard’s image resolution bytes grows ever fuzzier, surely England’s team is tempted to consider a more conservative campaign, but I’ve never been one to advocate running out the clock. It seems to me that Hubbard’s virtually pulse-free profile, coupled with the likelihood of a textbook GOP smear campaign down the road, actually provides England with yet another tactical opportunity, albeit counterintuitive, to land a haymaker.
If people on New Albany’s streets know anything, it is that the hyperkinetic England won’t sit still for a moment if again elected mayor. He may do the right thing, and he may do the wrong thing, but he possesses sufficient energy and vision to do something.
Love him or hate him, this much is known.
Unfortunately for England, many of these same people haven’t completely forgotten that there were reasons for his crushing defeat at the hands of Regina Overton in 1999. These reasons include hubris, which the ex-mayor seems to have convincingly addressed on numerous occasions since re-entering the political fray, and the public’s lingering recollection of behind-the-scenes patronage scandals and slushy improprieties … which he has not.
At least, not yet.
Hence the current, golden opportunity.
By mustering a measure of introspection as to the lessons of the past and the wisdom of age, and by offering a wee bit of penitence as a prelude to a hopeful future, England might now stage a bold preemptive strike and earnestly address the legacy of backroom dealings that inevitably arises whenever his 2007 candidacy is discussed around town, and in particular, as these perceptions pertain to individuals whose shadowy influence at the time has come to be viewed as malign rather than constructive.
England might reassure voters that having learned from experience, there is no need to fear that history might repeat itself. He might explicitly distance himself from the key backroom players of the time. He might close by pledging that a future England administration will not become entangled in the sort of good-old-boy’s school patronage disbursements and borderline ethical fundraising ties that sadly discredited otherwise successful terms in office.
In fact, he might raise the bar even higher. Dare we broach the possibility of an ethics commission for municipal government in New Albany?
If Hubbard intends to open fire, then England should make the gunslinger's powder as wet as possible as a prelude to spiking the barrel on election day.
Then again, maybe I’m mistaken about it all.
Perhaps the mayoral contest is all but sewn up, and England need not make such a journey as a necessary step toward ensuring a third act in his mayoral history. Certainly I’ll still vote for him either way, although with this niggling caveat:
The suggestions offered here serve primarily to address doubts and concerns that have been expressed to me in wide ranging conversations with friends and acquaintances, most of whom acknowledge England’s considerable chutzpah, while remaining far less enamored of some members in his past, and perhaps present, entourage.
My mind’s made up, but they’re the ones who might yet need reassurances that this time around, sharing in the spoils on the part of certain of England’s coterie is subordinated to creating more for all the city’s residents.