This election just got a whole lot less interesting.
According to an article by Nicole McIntyre in today's Hamilton Spectator, Dave Braden dropped out of the mayoral race because he's afraid he would lead Larry Di Ianni to victory again by splitting the anti-Di Ianni vote with Fred Eisenberger.
Braden is quoted as saying, "Larry as a person might be fine. Larry as a politician is everything I don't want to be."
I was disappointed that Braden has turned this into an "Anybody But Di Ianni" campaign, which certainly isn't going to bring out the public in droves.Hamilton needs candidates to vote for, not simply to vote against, and Eisenberger is barely an alternative to Di Ianni. So far, their platforms are so similar that Eisenberger is trying to distinguish himself principally by claiming that he has more integrity.
Braden actually stood for a distinct, coherent set of principles and policy goals that offered an alternative to Di Ianni's set of principles and policy goals. Between them, Hamilton voters had a real choice.
Eisenberger's integrity play is already backfiring. Di Ianni's campaign struck back with charges of improprieties around Eisenberger's campaign website and accusations that Eisenberger stole Di Ianni's safe communities platform. The Glass Houses rule is in full effect in this campaign cycle.
If Eisenberger has nothing to offer but an already-questionable claim to integrity, then why should voters bother switching at all?
Agree with him or not, at least Di Ianni has a visible track record with some accomplishments on the issues around which he has defined his mayoralty: the Red Hill Expressway, the Aerotropolis, the Hamilton Harbour clean-up, and downtown revitalization.
A vigorous debate over the city's future would only benefit everyone, regardless of one's political beliefs. Now, in place of that debate, we'll be subjected to another month of sniping and bickering around the margins.
The best we can hope for in the coming weeeks is that one of the other candidates - Michael Baldasaro, Diane Elms, Steve Leach, Gino Speziale, or Martin S. Zuliniak - will step forward into the breach with some coherent ideas about what Hamilton needs.
Otherwise, with the elimination of a real alternative vision for Hamilton, voters will be the real losers in this election.
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