The Danon Dilemma
So Tom Shepard, whose track record includes some legal troubles, electing the mayor who underfunded the pension system, electing the council president who doubled down on the pension underfunding, losing Bilbray for Congress in 2000, winning Sanders, turning easy Horn/Roberts victories into prolonged costly races, losing Prop D, and losing Fletcher has taken the lead on Filner for Mayor.
Behind closed doors conservatives are smiling that the most hyped consultant in San Diego is over-billing and under-performing for Bob Filner.
Already Shepard is seeing his top clients jump ship. Sherry Hodges, whose campaign has seen a recent burst of life, led the way in leaving Shepard, showing the leadership she needs to grab the SDGOP endorsement this month.
But a client remains, supervisor candidate Steve Danon. Steve took on Shepard at a time when grabbing him meant proactively pulling him away from the incumbent, Danon’s original competition. Heading into the runoff the race is Danon’s to lose, and a few questions remain for him.
Will Danon be a strong enough candidate to drop Shepard? At best, Danon has eight years on the Board of Supervisors. Eight years from now, as Danon exits his seat should he win, he’ll look around and likely see the political landscape overrun with elected officials, donors, activists, and consultants who stood against Shepard/Filner. Where will Danon find his home when he was the lone voice who refused to take a stand?
If Danon drops Shepard will the consultant take on Dave Roberts, Steve’s opponent? Danon can only hope so. Getting a better consultant at a cheaper price is every candidate’s dream. The district is so big that, even with all of Shepard sub-par polling and op-research, Roberts wouldn’t be able to put the information to much use.
If Danon doesn’t drop Shepard how much support will he lose? Steve is the frontrunner given the district’s registration, his campaign money, and his support. If the center-right community cuts resources to Danon, minimizing the indirect help they give to Shepard/Filner, and leave Danon to what they assume will be a somewhat comfortable victory, Danon could find himself in a tight race with Roberts. Campaigns usually don’t realize their lead has evaporated until it is too late.
The real, final, be all, end all question for Danon: Is he willing to make every single step in his campaign/life for the next few months a battle. Will Danon keep his party support? Sure, but every mail piece, every phone call, every fundraiser, every precinct canvass, every volunteer event, every everything will involve a less than subtle battle around Danon’s Shepard problem. Is taking what would otherwise be a pain free campaign and turning it into a constant headache really worth keeping Tom Shepard?
I really think that simply taking on another consultant won’t be enough for Danon. In order to reach his full potential as a candidate and a campaign, Danon has to sever all ties to Shepard, leave the bitter man, and wholly rejoin the winning team.
This post isn’t a threat, it isn’t a passive message, it isn’t a muscle tactic, it is just an observation and some thoughts.