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City Elections

Updated figures of spending on Mayoral race
What of the future?
Warwick Jones

More than a week has passed since the City elections. The news media have made their analysis, with little depth. But the there was probably nothing much to find by digging deeper. Joseph P Riley Jr retained his mayoral position, as expected, with 63.9% of the vote. And with one notable exception, the incumbent Council members retained their positions, as expected. The surprise was the unseating of Council member Bleeker by Timothy Mallard who won convincingly despite some large public relation bloopers. The milder surprise was the convincing win by Gary White who overwhelmed his Peninsula domiciled opponent in the District 1 fight with solid support from Daniel Island where he resides.

Contradictory reports from the media
The media carried contradictory reports of the Mayor’s performance during the campaign. One had him putting everything he had into it and the other suggested that he was too relaxed, almost contemptuous of his opponents. We think the truth lies in between. Those speeches and comments we heard lacked luster, in our opinion. Those of his principal opponent William Gregorie were more polished and more bearing of substance. But there was no doubt about the Mayor’s campaign managers. They had decades of experience to draw on, and an excessive amount of money. It made a difference. The machine moved impressively and although the outcome of the election result was never in doubt, at least to most of us, it never faltered with overconfidence.

Mayor’s spending overwhelms that of opponent
The final figures on spending by all the candidates will not be available until the New Year. But the latest figures we have received from the SC Ethics Commission show that the Mayor raised $599,000 up until October 10. This compared with $140,971 raised by the Gregorie campaign. Of that total, Mr. Gregorie provided $112,900 from his own funds, indicating public subscriptions amounted to about $28,000. In contrast, no funds were subscribed by the Mayor to his campaign. Again this highlights the difficulty of candidates running for Mayor in Charleston (See Mayor Riley’s money machine, October 8 ). It is a formidable if not impossible task for a candidate to raise sufficient funds to match those raised by the Mayor. It is also telling that only one supporter of Mr. Gregorie ponied up $1000. Donations of $1000, the maximum allowed by law, riddles the list of the Mayor.

There have been hundreds of downloads of the lists showing donors to the Mayor’s campaign from our previous note. The donors can be seen by opening the following pages. Pages 10 and 11 have been added showing the new donors and donations.

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What of the future?
So what of the future? Will there be changes? Thirty two years of history suggest nothing much. We suspect that the Mayor will continue to dominate Council and that Council will continue to acquiesce to his wishes. Two of his most ardent supporters are gone and we confess we will not miss their too-often saccharine and sycophantic utterances, which should embarrass any normal Mayor. But their replacements, Timothy Mallard and Aubry Alexander, are unknown entities in the political sense. They well may show more backbone than the two Council members they have replaced, but we suspect they will align close to the Mayor or worse, take more extreme positions.

Gary White is also an unknown political entity. The strong support shown by his relation Bill Reagan, ex City attorney and strong fan of Mayor Riley, suggests that he will be a Riley supporter. Maybe he will be, but we suspect not at any price. In his campaign, he spoke of his concern about the issues affecting the Peninsula and the need for preservation and the quality of life. We will wait and see.

White for Mayor?
We also note that Mr. White, at 34 years will be the conspicuously youngest of Council members. He has also made no secret of his desire to one day be Mayor. Considering his youth, and the experience he will gain over his first and likely subsequent tenures as a Councilmember, he could have a real shot at it. Of course, this assumes that Mayor Riley does retire one day or natural events conspire over which he has no control. But if Mr. White is serious in his aim, he will probably try to walk a course that does not alienate the Mayor but indicates some independence.

We expect Mayor Riley will work hard to ingratiate himself with the new members to ensure support for his administration. There have also been reports of falling out between the Mayor and some of the African American members of Council. He was most displeased we understand about the joint effort by the members to oppose renovation of the Dock Street theatre. The move was a protest that no minority companies were hired as subcontractors. Whether this falling-out was real or cosmetic for the purpose the election we don’t know. But we bet the rifts are healed with in a very short time.

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