Each week, CityBeat awards “turds” and “blossoms” to political campaigns for scraping bottom or scoring big.
Overcoming incumbent 4th District Supervisor Ron Roberts' considerable name recognition and bursting campaign war chest will require challenger Stephen Whitburn to generate a lot of excitement for his bid.
That's why it was so disheartening Sunday evening at the Bamboo Lounge in Hillcrest when a trio of supporters—including campaign manager Don Mullen—tried and failed to ignite a chant of “Stephen, Stephen” after Whitburn's speech during his campaign-kickoff event, which included spirited digs at Roberts' handling of the Merriam Mountains development proposal and his acceptance of paid junkets to China from an organization to which he gave taxpayer money.
We therefore heave three turds in Whitburn's direction, one for each of the men who created such a limp crescendo. However, we also present to him 23 blossoms for being brave enough to admit to his audience that he's a former reporter, an occupation whose practitioners were given a “high” or “very high” rating for honesty and ethical standards by a mere 23 percent of Americans in a 2009 Gallup poll.
The safe bets
At Intrade.com, users can engage in “futures trading,” which pretty much means they bet money on the outcomes of certain current events—including U.S. elections.
It works likes trading stocks, with each candidate's “contracts” trading on a 1-to-100 point scale, with each point being worth 10 cents. The prices adjust based on the demand from gamblers who believe a certain candidate is going to win—up until election day, when the winner's stock automatically increases to 100, or $10, and the loser's stock drops to zero. Intrade likes to think of the current going price as the equivalent of the percent chance the candidate has of winning.
U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer wins 10 blossoms this week, one for each point her stock jumped following the passage of the healthcare reform bill. Going into the final stages of reconciliation, Boxer's shares had dropped from 70 to 55 points, but now they're selling for 65, an indication she's expected to win by a landslide.
Though pundits predicted that conservative fury over the healthcare bill would be the wind beneath the right wing, Boxer's yet-to-be-chosen Republican opponent saw only a one-point bump—worth, in our opinion, a single, wilted daffodil. Traders now give the Republican nominee—candidates include Carly Fiorina, Tom Campbell and Chuck DeVore—only a 45-percent chance of winning in November.
Yes, that adds up to 110 percent. It's because traders bet on the candidates separately. But who said politics was a perfect science?
When voiceofsandiego.org wrote about the political committee Better Courts Now back in February, the news site said the courtroom chatter was all, like, Ooooh, they're breaking taboo by campaigning against sitting Superior Court judges.
While Voice couldn't figure out who was behind the group, recent campaign finance reports indicate that no one may be behind it—or, at least, not anymore.
On March 17, the last day of the campaign filing period, church leader Don Hamer died. The report identifies him as the group's “principal officer.”
Printed in italics at the bottom of the report: “[Hamer] may have had additional records pertinent to this report. As those records are found, this report will be amended as needed. We all miss Don.”
The report states that the committee spent only $6 between January and March, which is way, way below the market value of the organization's website, Bettercourtsnow.com, which includes 21 video testimonials. The report also states BCN raised only $1,500 in funds, two-thirds of which was donated by judicial candidate Craig Candelore and his mother.
The Voice reporter couldn't definitively identify any candidates the organization planned to support. Based on his contribution, Candelore is probably one. Harold Coleman Jr. may be another, since his treasurer, Republican Party general counsel William Baber, is listed as Better Courts Now's acting treasurer.
This earns Better Courts Now a giant, floating turd as the group drifts into treacherous waters: Groups who make political expenditures aren't supposed to coordinate with the candidates they support. With a shared treasurer, how can that be avoided?
Correction: Craig Candelore's first name was incorrectly reported in the original version of this story, and the donor originally thought to be his wife was actually his mother. We regret the errors.