A campaign is for show, governing for dough. They are completely different animals. In the past year we’ve witnessed on a local and national level two unconventional candidates who know each other defy the odds striking a chord with voters who loathe government.
One year ago Joe Ganim was candidate, strategist, media manipulator, relentless retail campaigner. This year Donald Trump, lancing Hillary Clinton’s perceived organizational strength in blue states, a one-man turnout machine.
Although the messaging of Ganim and Trump reached different demographics, the underlying theme was the same: government sucks and I’m a change agent.
You can say and do stuff on a campaign that doesn’t always transition well in government, there’s a level of showmanship loaded with biting rhetoric that conflicts with the practicalities of governing. Ganim is experiencing some of those things right now, on the verge of marking his one-year comeback. On the 2015 campaign trail it was let’s fully fund schools. Well, that ain’t happening. Add more cops. He’s done some of that. Taxes, the hallmark of JG1, was a mixed bag his first budget, some were clobbered others paid the same or experienced a small cut in a reval year.
There’s some meowing about the first year of JG2. But the first year of JG1, he took office mid-November 1991, was messy. He raised taxes, crime was a scary neighborhood nemesis with the violent rate off the charts policed by an understaffed department. Back then Bridgeport had a two-year term and it did not take long to hear the echoes of one-term Joe. But then things stabilized financially, with a huge assist from then-Governor Lowell Weicker who infused the city with cash. About 100 police officers were hired in Ganim’s first term. He won reelection in 1993 with 80 percent of the vote. The hallmark of JG1 was Ganim’s negotiating skills and his department heads. They generally were not establishment pols, they had no votes, they simply got the job done. Will the current crop of department heads measure up?
Ganim, who now enjoys a four-year term by virtue of a 1998 charter change approved by voters at the peak of his popularity, is hoping for some stability in year two. A lot can change, good or bad, the next few years.
For Trump, in two years, will he have drained the swamp in Washington? Takes time to get stuff done. Will a wall be built? A voucher-based school system? Workable immigration policy? Will his infrastructure plan revive the economy in ways that support the voter bloc that delivered for him?
A lot of this depends on the pace of progress to Trump’s liking. Beating up on Washington ultimately was a benefit to his election. Now he must negotiate with some of the people he railed against. Will his patience hold up? And like Ganim a lot of Trump’s success will depend on his appointments.
Do they have the horses to pull the wagon out of the financial mud?
That’s why a campaign is for show, governing for dough (the people’s dough).