My first internship in politics was with Dennis Kucinich’s primary challenge to Mary Rose Oakar in 1988, which Dennis lost 75-25. I’ll never forget what Dennis said at the start of his concession that night. “I’d rather lose by this kind of margin than by one point.” Wisdom never knew such brevity.
Thus, as I recover from my campaign, I’m looking for silver linings in the results. There were 6 precincts in Old Brooklyn that immediately jumped out as the highest turnout precincts, nearly double the average turnout across the entire 7th district. Largely because of the now overturned residency rule for Cleveland city employees, this nook of Cleveland is populated by cops, firefighters, EMT, county sheriff employees…who vote. The neighborhood looks nothing like an inner city – in fact, it resembles Bay Village or Cleveland Hts. If the race came down to a few votes, these 6 precincts would be the key. So we targeted these precincts for 3 full months of non-stop canvassing by the candidate, plus everything else we deployed. I set up shop there practically every day, all summer.
Old Brooklyn also happened to be where I lived my entire elementary school years. I kept running into my elementary school teachers from Our Lady of Good Counsel. Many of the families there still send their kids to OLGC, where some of my teachers from 30 years ago were, incredibly, still teaching not long ago. I felt at home, because I kinda was.
These 6 precincts were also the crucible of the hate campaign against me. As soon as my yard signs went up, my opponents finally did their own homework, and realized this neighborhood of Old Brooklyn was the battleground. The Broida campaign, and one of my opponents himself, Dale Alan Smith, targeted them with my 9 year old rap sheet. It was constant. Some folks got the anonymous, Ted Kaszcinski-esque scrawl 3 or 4 times. It peaked right as the early vote began.
In other words, if I was going to get killed by my opponents over my 9 year old mistake, these six precincts were the place it would happen. Not one voter in these precincts was unaware of who I was. These are model citizens – they study their votes, they make educated decisions. And they were suddenly in the crosshairs of a hate deluge they wanted nothing to do with. We fought back hard, specifically against Broida, and let the chips fall where they might.
So where did the chips fall? In my column, that’s where. Decisively.
I won five of the 6 precincts, by large margins. Of my 730 total votes district wide, 223 came from these precincts. Broida was a distant second, with 156 votes, even though 3 of the 6 precincts are in his councilman Tony Brancatelli’s own ward. A very distant third was James Levin, with 93 votes. The only precinct I lost was Dale Alan Smith’s home precinct, where he got 21 votes, and I got 4. Smith got 51 total votes in those 6 precincts, after going door to door himself with my record.
In a neighborhood full of cops.