Alternative Politics: “What if David White had run as an Independent instead of in the Democratic Primary?”


Nick Vaughn indulges in a harmless bit of alternative history. Meanwhile, here at Resistance Central, we can’t help speculating about what might have been in a different place and time.

If Mark Seabrook had mounted a mayoral campaign in 2011, wouldn’t Jeff Gahan be a forgotten former councilman by now?

And as a bonus, the city would be solvent. The mind reels.

Before we return you to inspiring views of the Market Street Beautification that the Descendent of Benito Mussolini Built, read Nick’s thoughtful analysis.

Alternative Politics: New Albany’s Mayoral Race

Instead of tackling a big question with many moving parts, I am going to tackle a smaller question and look at the 2019 New Albany Mayoral Race. The question: What if David White had run as an Independent instead of in the Democratic Primary? The answer: well, it depends. One thing that makes alternative politics a little bit easier to analyze is because we have numbers and data to look at.

While there are most certainly intangibles behind each and every vote, for argument’s sake I will be ignoring that and just looking strictly at the numbers. I’ll also throw in some of my own analysis and opinion to make the answer to the question a bit more interesting.


  1. I think it's genuinely safe to comment here now that your readership has migrated to Facebook. Since I'm not a participant in the Facebookosphere, I'll stick to the tried and true blog itself, as I have done for almost 15 years.

    I recognize the linked opinion piece (at Medium?) isn't yours, and I appreciate that you continue to link to the opinions of others. Thanks.

    I did read the piece and it is, on its face, a serious analysis. I might quibble with the quality of the writing, but we live in a world where editors don't exist.

    While we're talking about "alternative history," which certain partisans see as an equivalent to actual history, I would point out that there has been some excellent fiction wtitten in thet genre. The libertarian ideology worships Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged. That, in fact, is alternative history fiction.

    The dander comes when alternative history is treated as if it were simply another opinion on actual history.

    David White didn't want to be mayor. He didn't want to win the Democratic Party primary. That is obvious from his campaign efforts, which were far less serious than in his last challenge. The White campaign was slighlytly more serious than my purchase of a lottery ticket.

    It's naive to believe that White would have or could have taken the 2019 election had he chosen to run as an independent.

    During the last 2 elections, serious independents ran. Each ran because they could not imagine supporting the Republican candidate. In each case, I strongly supported those independent efforts, even though I and the candidates knew how unlikely would be their victories.

    In 2019, we have a collusive independent candidate. For both the incumbent and the independent challenger, it's a smart play. Anti-Gahan voters need somewhere to park their votes and in the absence of a 3rd choice, those Anti-Gahan votes would go to the GOP candidate. So it works out well for the incumbent to have an insider family member pretend to be a serious alternative on the ballot. The "challenger" can transition from a legislative post to a paid, professional gig with the city if the strategy works.

    In 2019, it will take more than simply placing a name on the ballot. People need to see and meet and trust the candidate. If Mr. Seabrook runs a passive campaign, we are destined for a 3rd Gahan term. With a vigorous campaign that's inclusive, we'll see a switch. As of the moment, it remains to be seen if the Republicans are going to run a traditional "I'm the Republican, vote for me" campaign.

    So far, I've seen anecdotal evidence that the Seabrook campaign is infused with some hubris that's destined to put this city back into the hands of Gahan. I've heard troubling things from Republicans, Democrats, and independents that indicate a belief that the mayor's race can be won without reaching out to include everyone who might possibly want a change.

    For better or worse, New Albany is still a 2-party town. And for worse, both parties seem to be content to let the race be a lottery – like betting on the Patriots to win the Super Bowl while allowing for the possibility of an upset.

    In the current circumstances and with the current campaigns, it's hard to see how anything will change. A fourth candidate would not have changed the dynamic – at least if that 4th candidate had been David White.