Sunday, June 18, 2017

Can A Moral Victory Become An Actual Victory?


-by Zack Lyke

I had just come off managing the Wakely 2016 campaign. I was tired. The team scrapped, we fought, but ultimately we failed. There were some positive signs, though. Numbers that exceeded experts’ projections and progressive enthusiasm that folks in the area had long forgotten or abandoned. At the North East Bexar County Democrats club meeting this past December, in the middle of my presentation of the club’s coordinated campaign efforts, a man rose and suggested the club give a standing ovation for Wakely’s 2016 efforts.

  That man had also run against Lamar Smith, twice. In fact, I first met him during his second run against Smith when I was the president of the Young Democrats club at my high school in 2006. He’d last offered himself against our Republican state senator in 2012 and had also previously lost a couple of close city council races. He believed in running to put progressive values forward and at the age of 66 he said he wanted one more go at public office. This time it would be San Antonio city council in District 9, often regarded as the most conservative district in San Antonio. I had always admired his efforts and his almost-too-perfect political name, John Courage. He later approached me and asked me to manage the effort. After looking at the numbers, I had one condition: bring back the principal Wakely 2016 team.

I got my wish, and we were ready to roll.

It was early in the campaign and we were focused on who we figured to be our primary opponent, a Chamber-of-Commerce-backed Republican that was the chair of a private tourism council. We’d set up the race really to be between our two campaigns, and saw this race as a unique opportunity to immediately capture the anger and frustration from the 2016 cycle. San Antonio’s municipal elections are typically in the month of May in odd-numbered years. We’d eventually get our projected matchup in a June run-off, but the seat we were after was a vacancy. 8 other campaigns faced us in the general as San Antonio’s municipal elections are non-partisan. These candidates ranged from Congressman Will Hurd’s girlfriend to social conservatives that defended conversion therapy camps. We figured (accurately) that the majority of them would split the vote, but it really highlighted how conservative this district was.

We had hope in the run-off, though. The frontrunner had received only 24% to our 22%, despite having the backing of the last 5 people to represent District 9, the endorsement of the chief San Antonio newspaper, and every business-related endorsement that you could possibly imagine. That meant there wasn’t just progressive frustration in the north side of San Antonio. It meant folks of all political persuasions were likely frustrated with the status quo.

While we came up second in the early vote of the general, we took the most votes on election day. Our polls strategy worked. We had the momentum. The progressives were firmly behind us so we expanded our field efforts. New lists were cut. We were now going after habitual voters. All of them. We stopped caring about party. We put the people’s issues first and the partisanship aside. Our campaign realized that our opponent wasn’t working very hard and that only made us post longer hours. We felt like we were outworking the other side, but needed to wait for the numbers to come in.

With the early vote in, we realized about 30% of the voters in the run-off had not voted in the general. That was a good sign based on our expanded effort. There was a looming number though, 54% of all District 9 early run-off voters had voted in the 2016 Republican primary. Based on our targeting, we’d need about 15-17% of them to “crossover” in order to win.

The polls closed on election day June 10th at 7pm. At 7:08pm, the early vote totals were posted. Our campaign had worked so hard until the polls closed that hardly anyone was in the office when we found out that we’d won the early vote. I was with about 3-4 volunteers, 1 staffer, and a reporter from a local online news outlet as we continued to set up for our watch party. We thought we’d be there all night. John Courage hadn’t even arrived yet. I looked at the numbers and said “Holy shit, we probably just won the election.” The reporter asked me how I knew, and it was simple. Our opponent’s campaign had only posted a total of 5 hours of facetime across 2 polling sites on election day. We got them early, I knew we would get them late.

We took the election day vote by nearly the same margin we took the early vote. With over 8,000 votes cast for our candidate, it was the most of any district in San Antonio. Our race was heralded as the most stunning upset in San Antonio council history by a popular local columnist.

Now John Courage gets to serve on what’s being called San Antonio’s most progressive council ever. He’ll do a fantastic job, and I’m so grateful that he gave me the opportunity to manage this effort. I also want to take this opportunity to thank John’s wife, Zada, who agreed to fund this campaign and let me do it my way. I hope I didn’t give the Courages too much anxiety in this process. In private I have the mouth of a sailor and they’re wonderfully decent people, so I know at times it was probably difficult to listen to me. Our field director, Colt Osburn, hardly slept and when he did, it was sometimes at our office. Our social media director, Allison Pope, kept the community heavily engaged and active. Bryan Naylor, Babette Olson, Ryan Kirby, and Sybil Morgan were our volunteers who probably showed up every day of this campaign. They all deserve far more than a shout out but it’s all I have to give at this time. It’s late and I’m sure I’m missing people, but please don’t hold it against me.

I’m so tired again...

but god damn, it was worth it

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At 5:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um... no. A moral victory, by definition, is NOT an actual victory.

OK. If the goal were to lose by less than expected... then maybe a moral victory.

If there were an actual victory, there would be no need to claim or seek out a "moral victory". Cuz, it would be a victory.

If only schools taught the English language. sigh.

At 6:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If only schools taught the English language.'

This be Mur'ka, Pilgrim. We talks Mur'kin hereabouts. Now git yer kidz ta McDonald['s ta wurk an get them outa them librul skules.


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