When incumbents fight the tide of establishment anger in high-turnout areas such as Black Rock it’s all they can do to stay above water. Steven Stafstrom was a casualty of voter fury in the highest turnout area of the city that also nearly drowned his Democratic City Council running partner Sue Brannelly whose once-popular standing in the neighborhood has hit the rocks. The reason Brannelly survived at all was the hard campaigning Stafstrom brought to the table as well as the operation Mayor Bill Finch’s campaign team delivered in the Aquaculture School precinct led by an absentee ballot operation that rescued Brannelly.
Last Tuesday’s City Council election in the 130th District confirmed a number of things including Republican Rick Torres’ personal popularity in Black Rock and the growing grouchy attitude voters there have toward the mayor. But it also proved the lower end of the district in the Aquaculture School precinct is an area where the mayor and his operatives can still go for votes.
Matched up against Torres on the ballot, Stafstrom was just a dozen votes away from running ahead of Brannelly who’s unfamiliar with the kind of operation required in the Aquaculture precinct to save the day such as campaigning actively in P.T. Barnum Apartments and the Twin Towers high rise loaded with absentee ballot voters. Brannelly comes from solid public-service genes, but strategic political campaigning is not her strength.
The Finch campaign team knew if Stafstrom and Brannelly were to survive it would come from the lower end of the district that also includes the West End. Steven Stafstrom’s uncle John Stafstrom, former Democratic town chairman, also knows the campaign territory well in the Aquaculture precinct. He put in a lot of time producing votes for his nephew and Brannelly in the final days. While Steven Stafstrom and Brannelly ran virtually even at Black Rock School there was enough separation at the Aquaculture precinct to reelect Brannelly. Part of that could be ballot position. Torres matched up against Stafstrom and Republican Phil Blagys matched up against Brannelly. Electors could vote for any two of the four. In some cases electors simply filled in Torres’ oval and bailed from the booth. That instance also hurt Blagys.
Sometimes ballot placement matters. But one thing’s for sure, Brannelly did not win reelection without the effort of her running partner and the Finch political operation in the Aquaculture precinct.
What’s Steven Stafstrom’s political future?
The voting record of Democratic State Senator Anthony Musto, who represents a city-suburban district, is prime for the picking whether a primary or general election. That could be a spot for Stafstrom to watch, whether in the upcoming 2014 election cycle or down the road. Political activist Marilyn Moore, who served as campaign manager for the three winning Democratic school board candidates, has her eye on the seat. Stay tuned.