I found a lot to like in how the four Salem City Council races on the May 19 ballot turned out.
Progressives won three of them, and narrowly lost the fourth, even though the conservative candidates had a lot more money to spend -- thanks to contributions from business related PACs (political action committees).
Stapleton, Phillips, Oakes-Miller, and Nordyke were the progressive candidates. The * indicates who won.
Yet three of the conservatives lost. And not by a little. By a lot.
The most obvious reason is that Salem is a progressive town, despite its reputation as being a backwater between the swiftly flowing liberal currents of Portland and Eugene.
But in the two most hotly contested City Council races -- Nanke vs. Phillips in Ward 3, and Sund vs. Nordyke in Ward 7 -- I believe negative campaigning on behalf of the conservative candidates (Nanke and Sund) backfired.
This was my guess back in December 2019 when I wrote "Sleaze warning: Reid Sund hires Chuck Adams in Ward 7 race."
Watch out, residents of south Salem's Ward 7.
A tsunami of sleaze could be coming your way as the City Council race between Vanessa Nordyke and Reid Sund heats up between now and the May 2020 primary election.
I say this because Sund's campaign finance reporting indicates that Chuck Adams' firm, New Media Northwest, is working for the Friends of Reid Sund committee.
...Now, hopefully Reid Sund will tell Adams that he wants to run a clean campaign against Vanessa Nordyke. But the fact that the Sund campaign is working with New Media Northwest, which is based in Salem, is a disturbing sign that Sund is prepared to go low when Nordyke goes high.
If this happens, I think the tactic could backfire against Sund.
People are fed up with the never-ending rancor and divisiveness in Washington, D.C. and don't want to see this at the local level here in Salem. It's fine that Sund is a conservative and Nordyke is a progressive. This should make for an engaging battle of ideas and policy positions that Ward 7 voters would appreciate.
However, Chuck Adams has a lengthy history of stretching the truth beyond acceptable political bounds.
And that's what happened in both the Ward 3 and Ward 7 races, the truth was stretched by those supporting the Nanke and Sund campaigns. It's unclear how much this was orchestrated by Chuck Adams and his firm New Media Northwest.
But given how much money flowed into the pockets of New Media Northwest, likely Adams' political consulting firm had some influence on the Nanke and Sund campaigns.
Tonight I looked through the ORESTAR financial reports of the four conservative Salem City Council campaigns to see how much was paid to New Media Northwest. Here's what I came up with:
Jan Kailuweit (Ward 1): 0
Brad Nanke (Ward 3): $23,767
Jose Gonzalez (Ward 5): $3,087
Reid Sund (Ward 7): $55,131
So a total of $81,985 flowed into the coffers of New Media Northwest from the conservative campaigns, which is over half of the $158,350 contributed to those campaigns, 52% by my calculations
Pleasingly, there was a rough inverse relationship between how much money a campaign spent on New Media Northwest, and how well the candidate did.
Sund spent by far the most, and got 43% of the vote. Nanke was the next highest spender, and got 44%. Gonzales was the third highest spender, and got 52% of the vote. Kailuweit spent nothing on New Media Northwest, and got 42%.
The only reports I got of negative campaign ads were in support of the Sund and Nanke campaigns. They spent a heck of a lot of money on New Media Northwest consulting services. And they lost, big-time. Kailuweit also lost big-time, yet paid New Media Northwest a big fat zero.
To me, the lesson is that if negative campaigning ever worked in Salem, it didn't this time. Hopefully we will see less negativity in future Salem City Council races, since this doesn't seem to be a winning strategy.