Nicole MacIntyre reports in today's Hall Marks blog that Mayor Fred Eisenberger ran his election campaign for $60,000, having eschewed corporate and union donations. He won the election with 54,110 votes, which MacIntyre calls "in true Hamilton style ... a 'buck-a-vote'".
Incumbent Larry Di Ianni, in contrast, spent $236,000, including $220,000 from donors. Despite outspending Eisenberger four-to-one, Di Ianni lost by a hair.
MacIntyre reports that Di Ianni concedes money was not a factor in the results. I'd argue that money was a factor, but that it actually worked against Di Ianni's favour.
Di Ianni went into the election race battling the perception that he was corrupt and beholden to his corporate donors, mostly in the homebuilding industry.
(Recall, for example, that one of the contributors who broke the law in 2003 was DeSantis / Multi-Area Developments, who gained a $1 billion housing development in Glanbrook with the approval of the Red Hill Expressway after donating $25,000, much of it illegal, to pro-expressway candidates. Pretty good bargain.)
Certainly the evidence of Di Ianni's many violations of the election law calls into serious question that they were "honest mistakes" as he insisted and as the Spectator editorial board happily repeated.
In one case, a single cheque for $1,000 was recorded as two cheques from different sources, one for $750 and one for $250. That does not look like it could possibly have been an honest mistake.
I think the Spectator's endorsement of Di Ianni also worked against him. The editorial board's rationale - that Di Ianni is a better team builder - was so patently ridiculous that it looked like yet another example of cronyism on a political track record that was already loamy with it.
Eisenberger's election wasn't a repudiation of corporate and union donations per se (although that was certainly a factor).
It was a repudiation of the sprawl-building "business as usual" mentality that believes public money should mainly serve private interests, conducts much of its business through backroom deals, holds engaged citizens in contempt, and has been running Hamilton into the ground for decades.
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