Will tchotchkes inoculate Ly in the closely contested Elk Grove Mayoral race?

One of the strategies deployed by Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly in at least his two previous campaigns have been the distribution of tchotchkes. In 2016, 2018, and this year, the Ly campaign has distributed small flowering plants from what we can ascertain to mostly women voters.

One area that has been an early and frequent targeted area has been the Del Webb community in Elk Grove. It is no secret that senior citizens have the highest rate of voter participation of any age demographic.

Paid political advertisement

While this year, Ly did an earlier pre-ballot arrival plant distribution, in his follow-up, he is deploying another time appropriate gift - small bottles of hand disinfectant. We have received several reports of the voters finding them at their door step's over for the last three days.

We ask the question - in this hotly contested mayoral race, will this gift-giving give Ly an edge? While Ly gave the plants in 2018 and 2016 and won both races, that gift alone did not put him in the victory circle.

In 2016 Ly started his campaign late after former Mayor Gary Davis dropped out of the race. Ly had plenty of cash on hand for the campaign, had Davis' endorsement, had the incumbency advantage, and faced two poorly financed opponents. 

In 2018, Ly faced a more viable, well-financed competitor in Elk Grove City Councilmember Darren Suen. Ly's primary opponent in 2020 is Bobbie Singh-Allen, who, like Suen did in 2018, has a laundry list of endorsements, including the Sacramento Bee, who had endorsed Ly in 2016.

Still, Ly, void of all the endorsements Suen had rattling around like a pocket full of loose change, easily won reelection. Could the plants and the fact that Ly never - or any independent expenditure committee on his behalf - went negative on his opponents helped his cause?

But 2020 is a far different environment. Even though Ly had his share of critics in those first two mayoral races, he had received far more scrutiny in this campaign. 

Even as Ly has faced negative ads from the Singh-Allen campaign and independent expenditure committees, his campaign has not printed any negative advertising against Singh-Allen. That's not to say other more subtle activities have not been deployed. 

Nonetheless, will those tchotchkes matter?

Longtime Elk Grove political observers will recall another hotly contested race in the Elk Grove - the 2006 race between incumbent Councilmember Rick Soares and then challenger Pat Hume. The Soares campaign hit hard with a mailer of an empty liquor bottle and a reminder to voters that challenger Hume had a DUI.

Undeterred, Hume had deployed a softer touch, something that Ly has embraced via the same political consultant. Hume's campaign distributed a potholder from the candidate's mother telling voters what a wonderful person he is and would be an excellent councilmember.

Although the roles are reversed this year with the challenger going negative versus the incumbent in 2006, will the result be the same - will local voters respond to a softer touch or the negative? While Hume's DUI is a serious public safety issue, will voters in this era of heightened sensitivity to harassment react to the allegations against  Ly differently?

In the end, Hume unseated Soares and has been on the city council for almost 14 years. 

Was the potholder from Hume's mom the difference? There is no way of knowing, but many observers said that the now-famous potholder seemed to push Hume across the finish line with diminished regard for drunk driving.  

So as voting has started and ballots are being mailed back for counting, it is worth contemplating if Ly's softer touch, which included women-to-women messaging from Ly's wife, compared to Singh-Allen's harder-edged campaign give him that little extra advantage. While we have no way of knowing the effect it has short of polling, if Ly prevails, the plants, and especially the hand disinfectant, may well have inoculated his campaign.   
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Spoons and Forks said...

I received my bottle of lotion this weekend and guess what - if you look closely, it has the mayor's seal on it! I wonder how much I can sell that for on EBAY?

Josie said...

Throw in a Key to the City and you can live a life of luxury.

White Hat said...

Yes, as a long time resident of this city is why I refuse to vote for Ly. We don't need the negativity and scandal Ly brings to our city.

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