The urgency of national news sometimes casts local politics into the shade. Watch out for that. I spent the last election season preaching “downballot” to anyone who would listen. I have no regrets, in view of some of the issues coming up in my area at the state and local levels that are sure to be reflected in federal policy a few years down the road. Furthermore, the candidates succeeding locally are apt to look to higher office sooner or later.
This came to mind as my Facebook feed kicked up a new ad, inviting me to “like” a Model Citizen’s new page. My internal alarms went off. This MC ran last cycle for mayor of the largest city in the state, and lost by a whisker. She’s back for another crack at it.
Ms. Model Citizen was endorsed last time around by EMILY’s List, which was established for exactly one reason: to elect pro-abortion women. Ms. MC downplayed that in her last campaign. The EMILY’s List material promoting her, knowing that the unrestricted-abortion line wouldn’t play well in the city, emphasized her aldermanic experience. I’m betting on the same game plan this time.
And when that happens, it’ll be last time all over again: ask any ten likely voters in that city if they’d support a pro-abortion candidate for mayor, and most would say no. Ask them if they’ve ever heard of EMILY’s List, and nine of them would go “huh?” But ask them if they’d support the alderman from ward X, and it’s a different story.
The last time the mayor of the largest city in the state ran for higher office, he wound up in Congress. Local experience and name recognition counted heavily.
It’s not just the prospect of upward mobility that gives me pause; it’s the more immediate effect on local policy. Who determines local school policies, as least as far the feds allow? Who lends credibility to certain groups by marching or volunteering with them? Who names volunteers to local committees? Who determines the priorities in municipal budgets?
Yup: the locals. While Sean Spicer is briefing reporters about developments in Washington, there’s plenty going on in your own town, without much publicity.
Watch those candidates, whenever your local elections may be. Watch those campaign finance reports. Shine a light on stealth efforts, like EMILY’s List mailings that fail to mention abortion advocacy. Care now, because you can be sure there are interest groups who would be happy for you to leave the caring to them.
Ellen Kolb blogs about New Hampshire life-issue policy at Leaven for the Loaf and looks farther afield in ellenkolb.com.
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