Monday, November 13, 2006

Executive-Elect Leopold's First Moves

Today's Capital has a piece on County Executive-Elect John Leopold, and the style that helped him win office. Many Republicans were astonished that Leopold won the primary, though his name recognition, from years of sign waving and door knocking, was as universal as any local pols could be. Now, with 20/20 hindsight, pundits are offering to tell us what it was that pushed him over the top.

From AACC's Dan Nataf: "George Johnson did not give a compelling reason to vote for him. If there was a theme in this campaign of change, Johnson did not stand for change." Remember, after the primary it was Dr. Nataf who said of Leopold: "The retail approach is difficult in the general election," and that to win, he'd have to shed his policy wonk image.

Leopold continued his retail approach, and never shed his policy wonk image (trust me, I must have watched at least 5-6 Executive forums), and won. Though I would be content to very nearly declare the election a toss up, there is no question in my mind that Leopold's laying the groundwork for this campaign for years, his moderate record, and, to an extent, his focus on policy, aided mightily in his success.

Both Leopold and Johnson seem to be good men, and I would be pleased to have either serve as Executive, particularly after 4 years of the Queen, but there are some early worrying signs for a Leopold administration. Foremost among them is that he's considering Dennis Callahan as his chief of staff. Yes, that Dennis Callahan. The one who was stomped in the primary election, endorsed the Republican nominee, and represents some of the worst excesses of the Owens' administration.

Several papers, endorsed Leopold based on the fact that he represented change, and that Johnson had ties to the "good ole' boys." Reaching back into the prior administration for an advisor known more for his arrogance, and disconnectedness to public concern, would be a ill-conceived first step for Delegate Leopold. And, certainly not a signal of change. I sincerely hope he will re-consider and allow Mr. Callahan and other members of Owens' inner circle to wander that portion of the wilderness that remains after 8 years of their clearcutting.

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