(HUDSON, N.Y.) – Michael Chameides, chair of the Hudson Democratic Committee, offered this statement and analysis (originally posted to Facebook) of the curious situation wherein the Republican candidate for Common Council President will take office with only 40 percent of the vote:
Claudia DeStefano got less than half the votes, but she is the likely Common Council President. Let’s learn from our mistakes and create better, more strategic coalitions.
Victor Mendolia and Tom DePietro pulled votes from mostly the same people – splitting what could have been a majority of voters. Some people are blaming Victor and accusing him of being a spoiler. However, I think the spoiler debate misses the larger problem.
Tom intentionally entered the race as a third party candidate. When he submitted his petitions to be on the ballot, he knew he would be facing Victor on the Democratic line and Claudia on the Republican line. He knew that many voters vote for the Democratic candidate and therefore wouldn’t be voting for him. In order to win he would have to overcome two candidates plus party loyalty.
Things got easier for Tom’s campaign when Victor and the Hudson Democratic Committee publically supported Tom. There were press releases, social media posts, door and phone canvassing – all telling Democrat supporters to vote for Tom and *not* on the Democratic line.
Yet, the efforts weren’t enough. Many people still voted Democrat on Row A. If Victor hadn’t dropped out, Tom would have had even less votes. To say that Victor is the spoiler is missing the point. The race was pre-spoiled the moment it became a three-way race.
Instead of criticizing Victor for not being better at educating the public not to vote on the Democrat line, we should be focusing on the decisions that led to a three-way race. In retrospect, Tom should have petitioned for the Democratic line and challenged Victor to a Primary. As a non-Democrat without the Democratic Committee support, it would have been difficult. But, I don’t think any more difficult than beating Victor and Claudia in a three-way race.
The Democratic Committee also made a mistake. We should have encouraged Tom to enter a primary. I regret that I didn’t steer the campaign in this direction. (Even if I had tried, Tom may have rejected my advice; he seemed to like the principle of running unaffiliated.) Either way, I made a mistake. And many of us made a mistake. There were advisors and strategists encouraging the three-way race, there were others who didn’t act fast enough to create a solution. We could roll back even farther and identify larger structural issues and missed opportunities. You combine these mistakes and you get to where we are now – we may have lost the Common Council President.
The lesson I take is that we need to be more thoughtful on how we craft the 2017 ballot. I need to be more active in building the party. And I need help identifying opportunities and pitfalls. Together we can build a strong coalition for even better results. This election cycle has generated so much excitement and passion. Please join me in moving forward.