Clancy primary defeat defines the moment

September 24, 2009
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Councillor-at-Large Judith Flanagan Kennedy’s stunning primary defeat of Mayor Edward “Chip” Clancy was a wake-up call for the mayor and a spectacular win for the woman who would be mayor.

Not only did Flanagan Kennedy score 200 votes more than Clancy, but she did it with a write-in campaign, arguably the most difficult type of campaign in which to achieve success.

For the mayor, it was a difficult pill to swallow, a day-after headache that troubles the soul.

For Flanagan Kennedy, it was about as happy a moment as she has known.

However, a primary win isn’t a victory, although it feels, tastes and looks like one.

“It is a real wake-up call,” Clancy told the Journal. “It is back to the hard work and to getting out my vote, which obviously did not come out to the extent that I had hoped.”

In the 14 percent turnout, it is obvious that Flanagan Kennedy benefited.

“I’ve always tended to do better in larger turnouts,” said the mayor.

For Clancy, it was back to the drawing boards.

Flanagan Kennedy, it has been reported, gave her campaign staff the week off to “recuperate” and to re-energize for the fight that lies ahead.

Clancy said he didn’t see this coming, and it is most likely Flanagan Kennedy didn’t see it coming, either.

Flanagan Kennedy’s main interest was getting her name on the ballot for the November finale.

But she did much better than that.

She showed the mayor that his differences with the police and firefighters, and with the janitors, and with every effort at saving the city money over the years by making difficult cuts, had come back to haunt him.

Also, the results proved that after eight years in the mayor’s office, Clancy won’t waltz to victory in November.

Clancy believes he will win in November.

After all, his voter base is larger than Flanagan Kennedy’s.

Flanagan Kennedy believes she will win in November. After all, she beat the mayor in the primary.

The winner in November, obviously, will be the candidate who brings out their vote, who articulates himself or herself clearly to an electorate that is obviously fractured and angry over the collapse of the national economy during the past year.

Locally, the national things don’t tend to count for as much.

Locally, winning or losing remains an extension of following through on quid pro quo – as everything in democratic politics in this nation relies on quid pro quo.

“You do for me, and I’ll vote for you.”

Until his defeat in the primary last week, Mayor Clancy had been the master of that.

Now comes mayoral hopeful Flanagan Kennedy.

But what can she be promising in a year when the city budget is stripped bare, and all budgets to follow look bleak?

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