My advice to the Bridgewater Democrats (Part I)

They seldom take it, you know. And in one fashion, they end up taking “it” in the end . . .

The Democrats should abandon the strategy of “victory in an at-large Council”

Even though some people routinely vote for the Democrats, Bridgewater does not. It will be a long, long time before you see the whole township say, “yes, it’s time to put Democrats in!” Being the alternative brand, or the Brand-X, won’t work. I guess it’s the safe way to do things (not upset the apple cart), but you will never win.

The way it has been done in the past, you lose twice. You waste time bidding for votes with a generic message. You water it down, in order to compete in neighborhoods where few people will ever give you their votes. AND you waste time that you could have been using, speaking about very real issues:

– in the older neighborhoods —-where demographically, it is clear that people will be willing to vote for you and not for them!!!

– You fail to make friends in the new, densely zoned, population centers of Milltown Road — in districts that are easy to walk!

My doing just one mailbox hit in the 21st district, (and parts of the 7th, 18th, 32nd, and 11th, ) the night before the 2003 election, apparently moved 21 six or seven points from where it would have been in the landslide. (The other districts, like 7, seem to show a similar effect, but I ran out of time late that night.)

In the Twenty First, the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is even worse than township wide: Four hundred fifty total voters, there are only 46 Democrats (about 10%). There are something like 159 Republicans, and the other 245 independent. So maybe 75% partisan Republican to 25% Democrat. Yet Ventantonio picked up 38% of the total votes there — Joanne was well into the 40’s. If party voted party, the ticket was picking up a half or a majority of the independents.

None of the candidates walked 21. It was because I gave the voters (really, anyone with a mailbox—R, D, I and nonvoters) some issues to think about, the night before the election.

Had 2003 been set up this way, where you focus on EVERY RESIDENT in a targeted area, on something other than a generic message, the outcome of the election would have been better for the Democrats. And the Democrats would have carried specific sections of the township, even if they didn’t win overall.

Instead, time got wasted on false “township-wide” issues, like SJP, that no one township-wide was passionate about—but raised the ire of dozens of anti-development activists in all corners of Bridgewater. It was very easy for Patti and the Council candidates to put together their coalition of neighborhoods (showing how SJP was symptomatic of the Dowden development-mania that was affecting their own little neighborhoods.)

The Democratic party walked right into that trap. Right in. Door slammed, and that was that. If I didn’t know any better, a boxer in the ring couldn’t have faked that down any better.

I can’t think of any township-wide issues that you can grab a hold of, that are going to put Democrats in. We can go after Patti on promises, but inevitably that’s secondary.

She will say what she has to say, and will win. And you will never have a credible Democrat opponent, unless you have a farm team on Council. Anyone you put up in ’07, they will say that the person lacks experience in the township government.

You have to say, that the Republicans do not deliver for specific neighborhoods. And you have to do this in a number of neighborhoods, not just the 30th or the 5th districts. You have to ride the wave of public agitation out there. Patti and the Council made a LOT of promises in the past three elections. They can’t keep all of them—they can’t satisfy everyone’s expectations. So you have to go into the specific neighborhoods where you have a shot of building an organization and pick up those who get burned when the false promises shake out.

People (voters) are not passionate about “township-wide”. (In fact, isn’t it clear to you all, from local history, that there are neighborhoods where one side of town does not give a shit about the other side?)

They ARE passionate about their own areas—that’s how they vote and organize. (Hasn’t that just been made clear within the group?) So you better start coming up with dozens of small neighborhood projects that you can tie into common themes. One or two will not do it.