I am happy to report that Mike Burke will be elected mayor today.
All those years that I was with The Star, the editors would never let me report a victory, or a loss, before it happened. But now that I’m a blogger, substitute school teacher and a quasi-political operative, it’s different. I checked the Blogger’s Code of Ethics (which I wrote) and found nothing that prohibits me from reporting the outcome of a political contest in advance.
Of course, you might wonder how I can confidently report, before dawn of Election Day, that Burke will prevail over Sly James.
Well, I’ve been pretty close to this race; I contributed more than $5,000 to Burke, whom I’ve known for 25 years, and was fortunate enough to be included in his inner circle the last two months. As a result, I’ve seen the ebb and flow of the race up close, and I have observed the critical developments and milestones.
Join me, now, in taking a look at some of the key milestones, starting from the most recent and working backward.
Saturday, March 19
A nasty, anti-Burke piece hits mailboxes, accusing Burke of capitalizing financially on his “insider” connections. Although the piece was not financed by the Sly James for Mayor committee, it denied James the moral high ground he had claimed a day earlier, when a third-party-financed TV ad slapped James for being indecisive. The anti-Burke mailer quickly put both camps back on equal footing as far as moral rectitude.
Thursday, March 17, and Saturday, March 12
Perhaps never in the annals of American politics have parades played such a big role in the outcome of a political race. In the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Broadway, Burke, wearing a snappy, spruce green blazer and bright-green tie, walked the route and pressed the flesh on either side of the expansive boulevard. Trailing him was a group of enthusiastic, sign-waving supporters. James, on the other hand, rode in a fire truck and was photographed in proximity to a man wearing a T-shirt that said “Drink Up Bitches.”
Five days earlier, in the Brookside parade, Burke, wearing a bright green sweater, greeted a wildly responsive crowd at street level, while James sat on the back of a convertible, waving to the crowd from “on high.” (Side note: The Burke contingent, which was supposed to be immediately in front of James’ car, near the end of the parade, shrewdly took advantage of a lull in the pre-parade queue to jump the line well ahead of James. Take a bow, campaign communications coordinator Donna Mandelbaum.)
Thursday, March 10
They were billed as joint appearances in the Northland — one at Northminster Presbyterian Church, the other at Harmony Vineyard Church. But only one one candidate showed up. That was Burke. James, meanwhile, sent a representative, state Rep. Jason Kander, to “drop by” on his behalf.
Translation: James had conceded the Northland.
In a voice lowered and made raspy by a cold, Burke told about 35 people at Northminster, “I don’t think we can afford a learn-on-the-job mayor.”
Thursday, March 10
In a column that was shocking because of its criticism of KC Star-endorsed James, Star editorial writer Yael Abouhalkah said:
“James recently hasn’t taken definitive stands on the Polsinelli law building/Country Club Plaza dispute, the future of Acting City Manager Troy Schulte and pension reform. His continued reservations won’t earn him points with voters who want leadership on issues that have been discussed for months, sometimes years…”
Tuesday, March 8
At a Chamber of Commerce debate at Union Station, when asked what could be done about the Police Department administration’s go-it-alone, keep-us-clear-of-City Hall attitude, James suggested mediation. Burke replied: “Sometimes it’s not about mediation; sometimes it’s about being tough.” He went on to say that millions of dollars a year could be saved if the city and the Police Department collaborated on health insurance, vehicle maintenance and computer operations. “Let’s do it,” Burke said. “There’s no sense in reinventing the wheel.”
There might as well have been a referee in the house, shouting “…eight, nine, 10” over James’ inert form.
Thursday, March 3
The Burke campaign announced the endorsement of mortgage banker James B. Nutter Sr., who had backed Deb Hermann in the primary. (Subsequently, Nutter and his wife Annabelle contributed $6,000 to the Burke campaign, and Nutter put $30,000 into a third-party committee that financed the TV ad that said James was “lost in a fog of indecision.”)
Tuesday, Feb. 15
Former mayors Richard L. Berkley, Kay Barnes and Charles B. Wheeler announced their support for Burke at an electrifying news conference at Burke headquarters, Broadway and Valentine. Barnes was for Burke from the outset and had been quoted in a campaign flier. In a series of meetings and calls, Burke managed to win over Berkley, who had never endorsed anyone in a mayor’s race, and Wheeler, who, up until the news conference, was one of six opponents to Burke in the primary. “When I heard the other two were endorsing Mike, I decided that was good enough for me,” Wheeler said in his inimitable nasal-driven voice.
Saturday, Feb. 5
The Star endorses Burke and Sly James in the primary, clarifying the primary-election picture and giving both candidates a huge edge over their five competitors.
There you have it, the pre-postmortem…unless I’m wrong.