Blogger Jonathan Geeting, in one of his typically uninformed and mean-spirited essays, blames everything on Callahan's campaign manager, Eric Nagy. That's nonsense. If you want to lay the blame at any one person's doorstep, that person would be John Callahan. He was the candidate, not Eric Nagy. Callahan would blame himself, I am sure. Besides, how can a person who ran such a brilliant primary campaign, in which Callahan got a majority in a three-way race, suddenly be so terrible? That makes no sense to me.
If there is any one person who is free of blame, it is Nagy. He never lost that sense of urgency in this race and was working 24/7, even over the Summer months. But others did.
Congressman Charlie Dent, who to my knowledge has never lost an election, has often said, "There's only two ways to run - hard or unopposed." John Callahan ran hard in the primary. He was in every municipality in the County and had numerous public events that created an air of inevitability about his race. But after the primary was over, Callahan stopped running hard. He ran as though he were unopposed. And lost.
Callahan has an inner core of advisers who met with him every Monday during the primary race. They left nothing to chance. Every proposal made by Nagy was reviewed and, sometimes, overruled. But those weekly meetings topped after the primary was over. There no longer was a sense of urgency. The race was in the bag, so there was no reason to run hard. No news conferences about County issues.
Nobody told Callahan's opponent, John Brown. He thought he was in a race.
Callahan's field director, the general of his ground game, was let go after the primary and never replaced. So when Callahan decided to go to Israel for a
Some of Callahan's advisers wanted a mail drop that included pictures of Callahan with his primary opponents, Glenn Reibman and asbestos lawyer Lamont McClure. They wanted a drop directed to Bethlehem residents, showing Callahan with Bethlehem Mayor-elect Bob Donchez. But that never happened. Because there were no weekly meetings, there was no one to question this failure. There was also no one to question why mailers skipped people under 40, or why there was no mail addressed to Republicans.
Callahan's message also changed. In the primary, Callahan made a point of telling voters that he would be Executive of the entire county, not just Bethlehem, and would be interested in what they wanted. He proved it with public appearances in Easton, Nazareth and the Slate Belt. But in the general election, Callahan's focus was a long goodbye to Bethlehem. He would wistfully tell voters how great things are in the Christmas City, even in his literature.
That's nice, but the people in Stockertown don't want to be Bethlehem. They are proud of their own community. Callahan's message was off. But his advisers, most of whom work for or live in Bethlehem, never noticed. With no weekly meeting, nobody was there to remind him he was running to represent the entire community.
Nobody insisted on a return to the ground game that was so effective in the primary. Sure, there were 30,000 robo-calls made in the last two days, but that just pisses people off. When Brown was trudging in the July heat, up and down the streets of North Bethlehem, Callahan was getting no votes in Israel.
Had someone been invested in the field, Callahan would have learned he had a problem in Easton. Since Obama's election in 2008, Easton Democrats have been a force. But that fell apart this Summer. On election day, just one person was calling voters.
Nagy has been taken to task for going into the final days of the campaign with $118,000 in the bank. It's a good thing he had that money. Brown had been sand-bagging Callahan, luring him into complacency, and then suddenly had $40,000 in last-minute contributions for TV ads and mailers. Because Nagy held on to that money, he was able to counter these TV ads with ads of his own, along with mailers.
The fault lies not with Eric Nagy, though I am sure he is beating himself up and makes a convenient scapegoat. The fault lies with Callahan for not taking the race seriously. I didn't take it seriously, either.
Charlie Dent is right. There are only two ways to run - hard or unopposed.