Elizabeth Beilman does a fine job (link below) of surveying the implications of Al Knable’s decision to seek re-election to a city council at-large seat in 2019, rather than seeking the office of mayor as a Republican.
Since no one asked, here’s my take.
Back in 2015, a few hundred New Albanians voted for me for mayor. It was far short of what was needed to win, but it amounted to 7%, almost surely much of this percentage extracted from the allegedly “democratic” hide of the incumbent, Deaf Gahan.
In 2015, the GOP’s mayoral vote total crept back to 40%, still nowhere near Gahan’s 53%. Both major parties will bleed a bit before 2019, in part owing to a steady downward trend in mayoral election turnout, as well as mortality among the older voters, the only ones who can be relied upon to actually participate.
Some of my voters will gravitate to one or the other major parties, and probably cancel out each other, but there’s a core (including me) more likely to not vote at all if faced with a choice between Gahan and a Republican who can’t muster a pulse.
Of course, it can’t be assumed that Gahan will emerge from the primary should someone like David White again challenge the mayor in the spring of 2019. For the sake of the argument here, I’m positing Gahan as the Democratic Party candidate unless he decides to run for governor, or some such. With White as Democratic standard bearer, the analysis obviously would be different.
It is likely that if Knable were to face Gahan, two things would happen: the GOP percentage would inch higher, benefiting from an increase in younger voters, to whom Knable relates adeptly; and many of my core supporters would opt for him as well, if only because he can relate to humans as humans — something the agoraphobic and robotic Gahan simply cannot manage.
Note that these musings are quite apart from friendships and acquaintances. I’m trying to handicap the race based on probabilities, and the strong probability is that Gahan, while not reclaiming the 60+ percentile from his first run in 2011, probably goes into 2019 as a solid favorite for re-election in the low 50s.
Conversely, the Republicans need to make up ten percentage points just to make the race a toss-up. With Knable as the candidate, I’d see five percentage points separating Knable and Gahan at the outset, with a very real possibility that Knable wins, perhaps 52-48 … or the exact reverse of Doug England (D) versus Randy Hubbard (R) in 2007, which was the last time the GOP even came close.
Without Knable, and with Mark Seabrook (who now has confirmed his candidacy), this is far less likely, and here is why I feel this way, as pulled from Beilman’s article.
Seabrook was a city councilman for three terms and has been a county commissioner for three terms, as well.
“My family’s been here since 1814, and [being mayor is] just something that I really want to do,” he said.
To date, since announcing his exploratory committee, Seabrook has been willing or able to reveal only that his family knew the Scribners personally, he really wants the job, and by extension, it’s his turn; he feels it is his sinecure to grab based on longevity and desire alone.
This makes me want to scream, and it cannot cut the mustard.
Would Seabrook automatically be a stronger mayoral candidate than recent Republican nominees?
Can he win by speaking incessantly about his family history and personal interest in ruling, without a substantive platform of any sort?
To repeat: No.
Look, most readers understand the level of antipathy with which I view the theory, practice and proximity of Self-Interested Inner Sanctum Gahanism.
You all understand my eagerness for change at the top, as summarized by Knable himself:
(Knable) also wants to help elect a mayor who will, among other things, “increase access to the process” and enforce city codes.
Gahan’s entrenched team is no more transparent than Soviet politburos of old, and they’ve shown no signs of a willingness to enforce ordinances equally. We could go on and on about Gahan’s myriad deficiencies, and have, and probably will continue.
But the flip side is almost as vicious, because unlike Knable, Seabrook has shown no signs of comprehension that in the here and now, far more is required of a mayor than family pedigree and desire to strut the scrambled egg cap in public.
I’m a strident left-winger, and yet even I can write a better Republican platform than this. Give me some substance, and maybe I can muster the nonchalance to differ with a lifetime of hostility toward Republicans and vote for Seabrook.
Not unless he works for it, and as a Republican told me privately, the fear is he won’t, because he feels it’s owed to him.
Can we afford to waste this election cycle?
In fact, Gahan is strong, if not entirely invincible. He can be beaten. He has chinks in the armor and accumulated vulnerabilities, and these must be mercilessly exploited if any Republican is to bring the race within earshot of a dead heat, when anything might happen.
Seabrook can help make his own luck, but he needs to understand that beginning right now, his family’s tenure in New Albany is a secondary and irrelevant consideration, as is his desire to play-act as mayor.
I’d suggest following Gahan’s mucky money, and seeing where it leads; committing to Knable’s advocacy of openness and transparency; and getting down to some essential brass tacks as to how Seabrook’s civic vision differs from Dear Leader’s.
Gahan is a dull and uninspired mediocrity, albeit it one with a clear idea of a campaign: Life in New Albany is brilliant, and you have Jeff Gahan (and Jeff Gahan alone) to thank for it.
Accordingly, it’s your turn, Mark.
Put your family tree back into the filing cabinet, and start telling us why Gahan is mistaken, and what you intend to do about it. Give us something to chew on, and we’ll seriously consider your bid.
New Albany City Councilman Al Knable isn’t running for mayor in 2019. What’s next? (News and Tribune)
Knable to run for re-election instead
NEW ALBANY — New Albany City Councilman Dr. Al Knable says he isn’t running for mayor in 2019, after declaring this spring that he was considering it.
“I announced an exploratory committee, and that’s truly what it was,” Knable said.
Instead, the Republican councilman and dermatologist will run for re-election in two years, with sights set on a mayoral bid in 2023 …
… In addition to running for re-election, Knable said he will focus his next two years on recruiting “like-minded” people to run for city council.
“They don’t have to be Republicans, they don’t have to be Democrats, they don’t have to be Libertarians or independent people, but what I would like is to find women or men who are wanting to have an independent role in leadership,” he said. “Yes, the mayor sets the tone, yes, the mayor leads, but it would be nice when you propose a piece of legislation for someone to think it through for themselves first instead of, ‘well, we’re going to see what the mayor says first.'”