"You ran for mayor? So what'd ya learn?" Barry Crimmins is the only person to ask me that question. It's been over a week since the primary. The campaign received 1% of the primary vote, down from the 2% in 2011. This race was a lot more interesting than 2011. There was some hope mixed in with uncertainty when Mayor Soglin announced he wasn't seeking re-election. Then he decided to have another go. Soglin's decision to re-enter the race didn't really change much for our campaign. The whole purpose of me running was to get involved completely while trying to get folks who hardly, if ever, vote in municipal primaries ie the bar crowd to show up to vote.
And I was right, they don't vote and they still don't. And I don't blame them. If I wasn't on the ballot I couldn't give a capital cursive F for fuck who the mayor is. But I said I was going to do it and I have a dreadful habit of following thru on things when I say I'm going to do them.
So what did I learn this time?
Well, I learned from reporters and other political operatives in the city that everyone thought I was going to turn it into a circus, and this was all a publicity stunt. In essence, just going to roast the mayoral race. First off, if this was a publicity stunt, I failed horribly, and I like to think I could pull off a successful publicity stunt. I could've turned it into a circus and maybe I should've. But I did have an honest interest in how the whole process really works. From getting on the ballot to the forums to interviews with reporters to the actual vote. If anything, to learn how to play the game better next time, if there is a next time. I doubt there's a next time.
When Barry asked what I learned, I said, "It's all bullshit!" Barry laughed, "Yeah be weary of any individual that wants to be in charge by winning a popularity contest." Barry said. I laughed because it is just that. A popularity contest by a small portion of the population. It is thought that as many as 50% of the 15-20% of the Madison population vote on straight up name recognition when voting in mayoral primaries.
Barry's right, it's all bullshit. I sat there on stage in that first forum at the Barrymore in front of 600 people between write-in candidate Tori Petteway and Mo Cheeks. The moderators kept it light but they handed out "yellow interjection cards" for 30 second rebuttals that each candidate got 5 and then one "red card", that was more pink, that were good for 2 minute rebuttal. Tori blew thru her 5 yellow cards in the first 15 minutes of a 2 hour long forum.
During this forum they have someone sitting in the front row holding up different color construction paper, a yellow paper that says "30 seconds" and then a red blank piece of paper that is to signal time is up. I began to sense the bullshit when each candidate would talk, often not answering the question asked, but they would just say buzzwords and then would stop mid sentence, mid-word even. Why? because they're not really saying anything. It's all just rhetoric.
Tori had stopped mid sentence when she saw the red paper in the first row. She said to me, "I still have more to say." To which I replied, "Tori, in standup comedy, we call this running the light. Just talk until the moderator shuts you up. Fuck 'em!" She laughed and proceeded to do so but she was out of yellow cards so I handed a few of mine to her, getting a rather audible laugh from the crowd, which was the right response because it was funny but some blowhard who wrote an article mentioned it was a clever way to "leverage my privilege." To that I say, TONE Magazine sucks! The same jackass who wrote that actually signed my nomination papers unless I'm mistaken but I'm certain I'm not.
During closing statements, one of the candidates, I don't remember who, Satya or Soglin were wrapping up their pleas when Mo Cheeks asked me if I would let him have one of my cards. I said, "What am I handing out cards to everyone now? Mo, we're running for mayor, just raise your hand and say you have something you'd like to add." I didn't have any cards to give, I only had 5 yellow ones, gave 3 to Tori, used the other two each and used my red card twice I think.
What else did I learn? I learned what code-switching is. It's just assimilating. But for the most part it just confirmed what I learned in 2011. There is very little interest in municipal politics. How do I know? I ran for mayor and I can count on one hand how many people asked me how the campaign was going. Only ONE local comic showed up to show any support at the forums and that was Frandu. But I find that to be indicative of the scene these days but that'll be discussed some other time, if it is ever really worth talking about.
So what's next? Not running for any public office, that's for fuck sure. Back to getting and being creative. I have a project in mind, a double album consisting of stand-up comedy, storytelling, and songs about lost friends. The working title: Is This Void Even On? so look for it in February of 2020. I pretty much have to do it now that I said I would and habits are hard to break. #ITVEO2020