Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mayoral Debate in Hollywood

As the 2012 Republican Nominee for Congress from the 28th Congressional District, I felt that it would be a good idea for me to show up at the Mayoral Debate in Hollywood on Wednesday and welcome these candidates to my district.

The first candidate I ran into was Emanuel Pleitez, who was outside the event with a crowd of supporters/protesters who were upset about Pleitez being excluded from speaking at this debate.

I told Pleitez that I certainly had some sympathy for him. I had seen a bit of this in the past, with the Council District 2 elections in the past, and certain organizations deciding that only certain candidates were welcome to appear at a particular forum/debate. I find this policy highly offensive. Organizations that do this are stifling the Democratic process. Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain shot up from 2% support to about 15% support in the polls with a good debate performance. The damage that these organizations do to the different campaigns by excluding people is incalculable.

However, I did tell Pleitez that they actually had a right to exclude him at this point in time, because technically, nobody was on the 2013 ballot at this moment in time. Later on, after the paperwork is all completed and official, this may become a very different problem for these organizations.

I have a feeling that Pleitez isn't actually running to win this year, but that he is actually building his visibility for a future run at elected office. I did something very similar in 2009 when I ran for Mayor of Los Angeles with no previous political experience. I knew I wouldn't win, but the increased visibility definitely helped me further down the road, as I won the primary for Congress earlier this year.

The debate itself was actually kind of a big flop. Horrible rules, one minute answers, and no questions from the crowd. Wow, was that ever a dumb idea.

The debate got started off on the wrong foot when the moderator, some actress I didn't know, went on and on about her movie career and her family...etc...etc.. until people started rolling their eyes in the crowd. Someone needs to pull this woman aside and tell her that the crowd was there to see the candidates, not her. This woman also bookended the debate awfully, too, by obnoxiously pitching some movie she was appearing in after the candidates had finished their closing arguments. (Keep this menace away from politics in the future!)

As far as the debate went, there were few surprises.

Eric Garcetti was, by far, the smoothest and most polished career politician up there on the stage. Eric has higher aspirations and he also has serious people skills. However, he didn't take very many strong stands on the issues and seemed overly concerned about pleasing everyone, which is always a troubling trait in a political figure.

Wendy Greuel was her usual pixie self...all happiness and sunshine and cheerleading. Wendy is very low-key about the way she sticks daggers in the backs of the other candidates. You almost don't notice her doing it. She actually had a pretty good sized crowd of supporters at the debate and I feel that she will be a force in this election. Los Angeles has never had a woman serve as Mayor, but if it ever does, I'd bet that Wendy has a decent shot at being that first female leader.

Kevin James did a great job of slamming the others and seriously put some dents in their campaigns, but I feel Kevin needs to veer away from some of the attack-dog mode and spend more time explaining his vision for the city. James had a very vocal crowd supporting him during the debate.

Jan Perry. Wow.

I hate saying this, because I can't stand her policies, but I came away from the debate most impressed by Jan Perry. Jan knows that she is running behind the two other Democratic political darlings --Wendy and Eric -- in this election. She knows that she has to stand out and make herself look different. She approached the crowd in a very disarming way, reminding them that she's not the favorite. She also told people she would make the tough choices and wouldn't give them the answer they wanted every time they asked. She really connected on a personal level, while Eric and Wendy sometimes sounded like they were reading from tele-prompters.

I came away from the debate very impressed with the human touch displayed by Jan Perry.

Because of her policies, however, I could never vote for her.
But that doesn't mean that others won't.

If I had to choose any of these four, I would choose Kevin James. But I'm not set on that decision, as I think the field is still open and other candidates might still appear.