Tampa City Council: The 11th Hour, Part 2

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As promised, Mary Mulhern vs. Shawn Harrison. Here's how it break downs:

  • Message — Mulhern hammered at Harrison for his vote against a new fee for stormwater improvements, which will win her votes in South Tampa, where flooding is worst. But her pro-fee stance will hurt her elsewhere in the city, where turnout is lower. Harrison's message has been a consistent and resonant anti-tax stance, something that voters today are demanding.

  • Harrison raised a record $211,000, but seems to have little to show for it. He bought nearly $50,000 worth of broadcast television (which many political pundits would view as foolish in a ultra-low turnout race) and had very little direct mail. In South Tampa, I saw only one piece of Harrison's in my mailbox, an attack on Mulhern as a tax-and-spender that came on Monday. Voter turnout will determine the wisdom of his large media buy and the $2,000 spent on African American radio, as those methods of communication are more effective the higher the turnout. In low turnout situations, it is all about …

  • Grassroots. This is the real test of how this election will be won. Whoever has the best grassroots effort and can get their voters to the polls today — especially in vote-rich South Tampa (where early voting totals show more than half of the vote citywide is coming from) — will win.

  • Harrison had another $70,000 left in the bank after his March 2 report, so it is possible that cash is being used to finance a gigantic Get Out The Vote (GOTV) effort today, but it is unlikely. Mulhern, for her part, raised $46,000.

  • South Tampa. I hate to keep coming back to this, but an inordinate number of votes will come out of this neighborhood today and determine the outcome. There is a hotly contested race in this area between Julie Brown and John Dingfelder that is driving up turnout here. Mulhern hopes her residency in South Tampa and grassroots work for years as a Democratic organizer pays dividends; Harrison has to hope that South Tampa votes Republican as it has been doing for the past decade — and that GOP voters realize that Harrison is a Republican, a fact that will not appear on the nonpartisan ballot.

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