When You're Starved for Media Attention...But Please, Cut The C.R.A.P. ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Monday, September 20, 2010

When You're Starved for Media Attention...But Please, Cut The C.R.A.P.

I am pleased to provide this entertaining and yes even humorous video about C.R.A.P's efforts to plug a sewer outfall. Yes. C.R.A.P. . See for yourself here (embed coding may not work on all viewers)


The Top Kill from Committee to Elect Michael Shay on Vimeo.

In case you don't figure it out immediately, and it is hard to do that unless you know the players, this is produced by Mike Shay, Green Party candidate for Anne Arundel County Executive. And yes, he identifies himself at the end and there is the required authority line, but this entire clip masquerades as a news program. But it is after all, a political ad for Mike Shay and when you are a third party or independent candidate , you are starved for media attention and have to do whatever it takes to get noticed. . If it were a news broadcast, we'd see, for example, at least an attempt to get County Executive Leopold's position or an official county response of some sort...which further emphasizes my point about media starvation, because after all, Leopold can get it anytime. And he does. Often more than he cares to get. But I am just skirting the issue here.

As well-done and as entertaining as is this ad, I find that rather than clearing the waters, it muddies them even more. Shay is going up against a popular Republican incumbent and Joanna Conti, a well organized Democrat getting her party's support. Shay does not seem to "get it". His campaign focuses almost entirely on environmental and land-use issues, and while they are paramount, I believe that he often ignores the other pressing, and perhaps over-riding issues, or he gives them all a distant place behind his green concerns.    READ ON....
Shay has been a successful environmental and community activist. He has done great work as an agitator, firebrand and gadfly but will that make him a good county executive? Does it make him a viable candidate? Are voters ready to give the reins of power to a man who seems to enjoy making fun of and fighting government than he appears to be ready and able to lead that government?

If you tilt at windmills, how seriously can we believe that you want to be the biggest windmill?

We know that the long-entrenched Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski got her start in politics by fighting a highway and was elected to the Baltimore City Council in 1971. Forty years later and as a leader in the majority party in the Senate, her opponent Eric Wargotz now parodies her in his own humorous ad, showing Mikulski as part dinosaur labeled as an "Insidersaurus" and Wargotz hunting her down. I must say however, that at least Shay's ad has the appearance of being professionally crafted and believable.

And....at least Mikulski started in city council. Shay got a respectable percentage when he ran for delegate as a Democrat, but now is a Green.

While some may laugh at me for saying this, and among them might be Janet Owens, I think Shay may be a big reason why she is not in the running her months of indecisiveness about running kept other Democrats at bay--except for Joanna Conti.
Conti stepped forward and early on as a complete newcomer with few local ties, little name recognition and little natural constituency, while other Democratic officeholders and leaders stayed on the sideline. More power to Conti in that regard, but is it enough? And what role will or can Shay play?

The point of all this is that Shay may very well have already been a force in this election. He may very well be taken seriously by a swath of voters, albeit a committed swath, but it is not likely to be a large one unless he can manage to get out of his South County-environmental protection mindset. He has done great work as a citizen activist, but can he parlay those successes and that small constituency he has garnered into a county-wide appeal? He has to show that he is more than a tree-hugger in the rural southern sections of the district. There is much to Anne Arundel County north of the South River, and there is much more to managing this county than just plugging sewer leaks. Instead, he chose to make a video about plugging one sewer in one part of the county, finishing off with him arising from the depths in SCUBA gear. Admirable though it may be, it is also likely to become a visual point of parody for his better-funded and organized opponents--if they even bother paying any attention. Sort of like Mike Dukakis as Snoopy in the tank. How could we forget? If he wants to poke fun of Leopold, he ought to parody his hideous and bizarre campaign web-site photo.

As I said, if they bother paying attention. Now, the Greens will bristle at me for saying this, but I think it's true. While Shay's strategy may say all he needs is a tiny bit more than one-third of the votes, which of course is true, it's the same for the other two as well--and they are far more likely to get them. Similarly, Shay will be seen as a "spoiler" by siphoning votes in all likelihood from Conti. Yes. Yes. The Greens will be angry at me, but come on Greens! get serious and start acting like a serious party with a serious candidate and quit fooling around with a storm drain. If you goal is to cap that drain--you may get if from your infommercial, but if your goal is to get Mike Shay elected, it ain't happening with those tactics.

While I am on that, neither will your current web-site which shows about a dozen photos of a sparsely attended event in an obviously high-class, upper-end home. I smell environmental elitists!!! Could you not at least have shown two or three choice photos of Mike addressing a crowd instead of a dozen photos of him talking to no more than a dozen of us? You think I am fooling around here? It's almost like advertising that "Nobody pays attention to us! Please don't pay any attention to us!"

And to Shay's strong-minded supporters who may be angered at my response to his infommercial, at least I am paying attention and taking you and Shay seriously. I only wish that you would take yourselves, this campaign and the concerns of the majority of voters more seriously. The bottom line is that even if you do not, Shay will be able to use this campaign, no matter how it turns out, and hopefully build himself up as even more of a powerhouse--but as a citizen-activist powerhouse, because I am not certain he can do so as an elected official. He needs to show me that he's much more serious and a more serious contender. Instead, he seems to be sticking to what he is most comfortable with and what he knows best--South County, environmental issues, and guerilla activism.

Now here is something for you to put in your pipe and smoke. Get out of the race now--but strategically. Have a private pow-wow with Conti and figure out what it will do to get her elected, rather than almost ensure a Leopold victory. Stand up there with her as her party and money gets her the audience you deserve. Get her to strengthen her positions on stormwater and development. Get her to put Shay in charge of Land Use Planning or Parks and Recreation or something!!! Make some compromises and gain a strategic foothold or go back to being locked-out activists which you seem to relish being so much anyhow.

Look here for frequent updates to all the 2010 election campaigns with 2010 Elections Again! LISTEN TO CP Publisher Paul Foer on 1430WNAV at 8:15 every weekday morning or click on the WNAV icon to the right, press On demand and On The Foerfront to listen. READ CP Publisher Paul Foer's "The Ninth Ward" every Wednesday in The Capital at www.capitalonline.com Identified comments are always welcome. ALL ANONYMOUS COMMENTS will be automatically rejected without being opened.


Dan Walter said...

Love the headline!

BUT you write that "Shay is going up against a popular Republican incumbent and Joanna Conti, a well organized Democrat getting her party's support."

Aside from the oxymoronic well-organized Democrat Joanna Conti, she is getting NO help from the party and is NOT generating excitement Dem voters. I have heard that many Dems had been poised to vote for Leopold, but are reconsidering in the wake of the widening sexual harassment scandal.

Women of both parties may be hesitant to vote for Leopold -- but those votes are not going to go to Joanna Conti, an empty suit from Denver.

Mike has been highlighting environmental issues, but a visit to his website: electmikeshay.com
would reassure you about his leadership skills and solid business background.

Mike Shay is positioned to surprise a lot of people in this election.

Paul Foer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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