Welcome to Bites’ nightmare
Careful readers of this column have probably sussed out the Bites believes Kevin Johnson has a special vision for the city, not to mention extra, extra strong commitment to “leadership.” Oh, and impeccable manners.
But win or lose, K.J. became the poster boy for campaign-finance reform in Sacramento this week. Not only is he raising obscene amounts of money (with more than $1 million raised so far, he’ll decimate the local record by the time the November runoff rolls around), but the majority of his contributions are from out of town. And half of those are from out of state. There are his deep-pocketed NBA cronies, like Jerry Coangelo. There are his deep-pocketed charter-school cronies in D.C. And in keeping with the general weirdness of the K.J. campaign, there’s Alice Cooper, who kicked $1,000 into the mayoral millionaires’ club fund.
Not that Bites has anything against the dark prince of pop. His performance of “School’s Out” on The Muppet Show was one of the vivid and powerful moments of Bites’ young life. Which, come to think of it, explains a lot.
Politics is about shaking people down. It’s also about pushing people around. Or in this case, push-polling people around. Likely voter Allen Green got an unusual call not long ago, from a young woman conducting a political survey on behalf of the “County of Sacramento.”
That should have raised a red flag, since the county doesn’t do political polls. Furthermore, Green told Bites that the questions were phrased in such a way as to praise incumbent County Supervisor Susan Peters and to cast doubt on her election rival, Warren Harding. Harding has a shot at being the first challenger to knock of an incumbent in three decades (see, “Name recognition,” SN&R Frontlines, May 1).
The newcomer Harding says he’s been the victim of a dishonest “push poll,” and called the tactic “shifty.” And CSUS public policy professor Ted Lascher, while he didn’t have firsthand knowledge of the Peters’ poll, said he considers push polls to be unethical. “They’re fundamentally dishonest, and they hurt legitimate efforts to find out what’s going on, because they come under the guise of gathering information.”
Peters’ campaign consultant, Tom Ross, said the Peters campaign had conducted a couple of polls, and that it’s common to ask both positive questions and what he called “puppy-kicking” questions about both candidates. But he added, “We haven’t done any push polls.” Neither, Bites assumes, has the County of Sacramento.
Push polls are passé. So is puppy-kicking. But Republican congressional candidate Doug Ose has come up with a more novel campaign tactic.
As a good dad, Ose coaches his daughter’s soccer team, which plays at the ISA 2000 Indoor Soccer Arena. It’s the under-16 league, and the teams have cool names like the Sierra Fusion, the Red Devils and the Shooting Starz.
Ose’s team? It’s called Vote 4 Ose.
One parent, whose kids plays for another ISA team, told Bites that the custom in this league is for players to cheer the opposing team at the end of the game—as a gesture of good sportsmanship. So, if you’re playing the Red Devils, you would cheer “Go Red Devils!” And if the opposing team is Vote for Ose,—well, you get the idea.
Bites wondered, is this legal? Does this have to be reported as some sort of campaign expenditure?
Bites called up Ose’s consultant, Doug Elmets, who chuckled and said, “That’s cute,” and that he hadn’t heard about the team. He checked it out and called back a few minutes later. “Doug has a great time with the team. He has a passion for coaching,” Elmets said, adding that the team had come up with the idea to change the team name all by themselves; they’d even had a vote on the matter. “And no, it’s not reportable.” Cute.