Sunday, November 16, 2008

The "No Mandate" Myth

We can always count on the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) for political myths. One of their newest was spewed by Reid Greenmun on on Saturday: 61% voted against Will Sessoms, so he doesn't have a mandate. I saw the same line in the Comments section of a Virginia News Source letter a few days ago. Therefore, I wish to dismantle the myth.

First, Will Sessoms received two and a half times the number of votes that John Moss did. Second, "mandate" really only matters when a minority party tries to form a government in a parliamentary system. Third, if Sessoms doesn't carry out his program in office, whose program does the VBTA expect him to implement? (Let me guess....)

As others have pointed out, during the campaign Moss tried to minimize the differences between the other three Mayoral candidates. As a Scott Taylor voter, let me point out the two big differences between Taylor and Sessoms were level of resident participation and how much public funds should be used in an expanded economic development effort:

1. Economic development - financial facts (i.e. dipping assessments, state budget cuts, etc.) are going to curb any large spending spree.

2. Resident involvement - here's where the 39% kicks in: Sessoms is going to need to reach out to Oberndorf and Taylor voters. If not, he faces being a one-termer and/or seeing his allies routed in 2010.

The irony is that fiscal and political realities are going to push Sessoms towards a policy line closer to Taylor's platform than what he himself ran on.

So how does Sessoms build a new majority? The key player is Glenn Davis. Remember that Davis won election with a coalition that had at it's core the duo of the Chamber of Commerce and the African-American Political Action Committee (AAPAC). A business community-minority communities alliance would not only be formidable, but open the door for a full-blown political realignment. Give Davis a high-profile role in dealing with the public.

The bottom line: while the VBTA is deluding itself into believing Sessoms is in a weak position, he's actually holding a strong hand. Now we get to see if he can play his cards smart....

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