Rob Ford

Election Day 2013: Messages, Messages and More Messages

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Another election day.  Another day of winners, losers and pundits driving home carefully rehearsed and thought-out messages.  Some were positive and others were negative.  Some were subtle and others were overt.

But they all had a purpose.  Well, most of them anyway.

And then there was Toronto, where there was no election — but more on that later.

In New Jersey, Republican Gov. Chris Christie, a landslide winner in his reelection campaign, was anything but subtle to speaking to his supporters after his never-in-doubt victory was confirmed.

“If we can do this in Trenton, New Jersey, maybe the folks in Washington, D.C., should tune in their TVs right now and see how it’s done,” he said to a roaring crowd – all of whom understood what he was implying.

Another statement had an interesting dual-meaning message.  “I did not seek a second term to do small things,” the governor said.  “I sought a second term to finish the job – now watch me do it.”

Earlier in the day, while appearing on CNN, Christie carefully burnished his GOP credentials, ensuring that he didn’t move too far away from the Republican right, but also making room for moderates and other who might be fed up with government’s recent behavior.  “I’m a conservative,” he stated.  “The difference has been I haven’t tried to hide it, or mask it as something different.”

Moving south from New Jersey to Virginia, the Republicans lost an opportunity to hold onto the statehouse when state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s strident hard-right approach drove females to the voting booth to support Terry McAuliffe, a less-than-powerhouse candidate who nevertheless had a huge lead heading into election day.

Interestingly, however, the Obamacare website fallout gave Cuccinelli a last-minute reprieve, which caused him to move to a new message (“If you want to send a message to Washington and vote no on Obamacare, I need your vote”).  To his credit, the messaging change nearly did the impossible, and narrowed McAulilffe’s ultimate victory to a sliver.

In Houston, Annisse Parker, the first openly gay politician elected mayor of a major U.S. city, won her third two-year term.  Realizing that simple messaging often works best, she told a news conference why she won: “If the city weren’t doing so well, I would not be standing here tonight.”  Importantly, even while sounding humble, her message enabled the mayor to put the economic gains in her win column and probably strengthens her hand for planned third-term initiatives.

In New York City, meanwhile, it was very clear that the past 20 years of conservatism under Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg are coming to a sudden end.  Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who made it very clear through the campaign that he would stop the police department’s controversial stop-and frisk campaign, won a resounding victory.  His message: “Make no mistake, the people of this city have chosen a progressive path.”

Finally, although there weren’t any elections in Toronto this week, there are a lot of people who probably wish one had been scheduled.  We did have some unique messaging nevertheless.  Toronto Mayor Rob Ford finally admitted that he had smoked crack cocaine, adding that it occurred “in one of my drunken stupors.”

Equally interesting was his comment associated with the fact he wants to get the video from the police so he determine what exactly took place.

“I want to see what state I was in,” he said.

Well, actually, mayor, your message is a bit off.  It wasn’t a state.  It was a province.

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