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A reader sent this submission to us. We thought it was pretty interesting.
Analysts will always tell you that numbers don’t lie. They can be manipulated to suggest a lot of things, but they are objective in nature. AND, if you look at them without manipulating them, they can tell you a lot. In this case, they can tell you why Michael Gaffney can win despite the incredibly partisan political machine that is so desperately trying to maintain control of a city that they are driving into the ground.
The Petty camp has made a lot of celebratory noise around the results of the preliminary election. I am about to show you why all the noise is just noise and why they are in full panic mode right now as Michael Gaffney continues to build momentum heading into Tuesday’s General Election.
Where do we start? Let’s take a trip back in time to the last real mayoral race……
Tim Murray stepped down to be LT Governor making Konnie Lukes the Mayor and the incumbent in the 2007 race for Mayor. The three candidates for Mayor were Konnie Lukes, Rick Rushton and Gary Rosen. The machine was dead set on knocking Konnie out of the mayoral seat and they were not supporting Gary. That year there was a preliminary for At-Large Council (just like this year). Guess how many votes Konnie beat Rick by in the Prelim in 2007?… 1280. BUT Gary was up on Konnie by 1090 and by Rick 2370. Rick was in 4th place, by the way. For those who need the visual the preliminary placement was as follows:
Gary Rosen: 7372
Konnie Lukes: 6282
Kate Toomey: 6020
Rick Rushton: 5002
I am pretty sure many thought the mayoral race was over (no one being able to catch Gary). It was not over because no one had voted for mayor yet. By the way, voter turnout for the preliminary was 14.95%. And, for those interested, Joe Petty came in 9th.
In the General election: For Council, Rick closed the gap on Konnie to 217. Gary came in ahead of Konnie by 745 and Rick by 962. They both closed the gap significantly, but Gary stayed on top. Of course, Kate was in there at #3 and Rick was still 4th. Again, here is the visual:
Gary Rosen: 10616
Konnie Lukes: 9871
Kate Toomey: 9814
Rick Rushton: 9654
Joe Petty jumped up to 5th place with 8226 votes. Clearly the machine was out in full force to get Rick in and make sure Joe made the cut. They succeeded with the latter, but failed to take the mayoral seat. Anyone looking at the At Large Council results as an indicator for the mayoral race would assume Gary Rosen won for mayor, but that is not the case at all.
For the mayoral: Konnie won and beat Rick by 116 votes. Konnie beat Gary by 2955. Rick beat Gary by 2839. If you hadn’t figured it out yet, Gary placed 3rd. If Gary had not run, the race may have ended differently although I don’t know who he took more votes from. If I were to bet, I would guess he took more from Konnie because he was the alternative for people to vote for, if they did not want to vote for Konnie, but also did not want to go with the machine candidate.
In 2009 there was no preliminary that year and not as much of a mayoral race, but it is still interesting to look at. That year the machine did take the seat, but they had two big factors going for them – Joe O’Brien and Kate Toomey. They were looking to line up Joe Petty, but Joe would not have won. They learned their lesson from the Rick failure and put up Joe O’Brien, a highly popular, former school committee member with no experience on City Council. Kate Toomey was and still is a popular city councilor (consistently in the top 3) and, being a woman, would take some of the mayoral vote from Konnie. Kate beat Konnie for Council, but Konnie still beat Kate for mayor (of course, Joe O’Brien won, but that was to be expected).
Interestingly, 2000 fewer people voted for O’Brien for mayor than for council and 715 voters did not vote for any of the candidates. Joe Petty made gains that year and came in 3rd for council. Obviously, that was the result of the push for the very popular Joe O’Brien to win for mayor.
Then we all know what happened in 2011, Joe O’Brien pulled a fake on everyone and lined Joe Petty up to take the mayoral seat. There was a preliminary election though. 8.72% of the electorate showed up to vote (not an election that generated much excitement). Here is the visual:
Kate Toomey: 3978
Konnie Lukes: 3903
Joe O’Brien: 3606
Joe Petty: 3558
In the General Election, Joe O’Brien jumped out and Joe Petty ended up as our mayor. 19.91% of the electorate shows up to vote. Here is the visual for Mayor:
Joe Petty: 9008
Konnie Lukes: 6708
Carmen Carmona: 1531
Bill Coleman: 1382
In the 2015 preliminary election we had an 11.18% turnout. So, 10,305 people voted on September 8th, the scorching hot day after Labor Day. Of those that turned out 5364 were registered Democrats, 842 were register Republicans, and 3841 were unenrolled (independent) voters. The rest were Libertarian or other parties. There were 18,331 under votes (meaning there were many people voting for less than 6 candidates).
Joe drove out the base in that preliminary with an effort akin to any team playing the Patriots this year. It was the biggest game of the season for them. They were phone banking, emailing, knocking, etc. They had hoped for a decisive victory. They also made an effort to drive up bullet voting.
With all that effort, shouldn’t Joe Petty have won by far more than 1250 votes then? That is a rhetorical question because we all know that the answer is YES. If past trends hold true, we will see at least double the turnout this year for the General Election. This is a year with a real race and more people will show up to vote for mayor and council on November 3rd not to mention School Committee. That means that Joe is in trouble and he knows it.
That is why he is rolling in all the political cronies he can to support him and paying the state Democratic committee thousands of dollars to run polls for him. That is why he needed to rig every endorsement he could and control the media outlets (well, the ones he can anyway). That is why they have been attacking TBS. That is why they are having a meltdown about the Police endorsement of Michael Gaffney. Aside from the fact that the police endorsement is a significant one given the issues we are having with crime and safety.
The message… In the 2015 election, NO ONE HAS VOTED FOR MAYOR YET. Joe Petty’s “win” and Michael Gaffney’s 4th place finish in the preliminary is meaningless in terms of the mayoral race other than to tell us the Michael Gaffney’s popularity has increased and Joe’s has decreased. History shows that preliminary elections for council do not dictate mayoral race results. Further, placement for council in the General Election does not appear to dictate the mayoral race either.
This year there has been far more excitement over this race because the residents of Worcester know the city is NOT going in the right direction despite how many times Joe Petty insists it is. He can drum up all the ribbon cuttings and key giving ceremonies he wants in an effort to look mayoral, but it is clear to anyone paying attention that he is not the leader Worcester needs right now. By his own admission, he is a cheerleader. We have had 2 years of record crime, an out of control opioid addiction and overdose epidemic, significantly increased gang violence, disrespect for our police officers and teachers, serious school safety problems, and an obvious attempt by the current administration to create race relation problems. All of this has been under Joe Petty’s watch as Mayor (not to mention the fact that he has been on council for 18 years and has very little to show for it). He rose to mayor in a shell game and the city has paid for it ever since. The city is ripe for a change in leadership.
Michael Gaffney can win, but the voters MUST show up to make it happen.
What do you need to do? VOTE, tell your friends and family to VOTE. If you want to do more, hold a sign or make phone calls. But by God….GET OUT THE VOTE for Michael Gaffney for Mayor and City Council At Large.