Politics: Who Stepped In It
Abstaining Is Opposing: Sen. Louise Lucas of Portsmouth, Virginia, should've known better. The 7-member Portsmouth City Council could've approved millions of financing dollars for her $65 million conference center venture, had she used some political forethought.
Lucas had strong supporters on the Portsmouth City Council. So strong that two council members had direct financial and political interests in the project. Consequently, they could not vote and abstained. Where was her political consultant? In a 7-member Council, losing two likely "yes" votes is a one-way ticket to political desolation.
The remaining Council members voted 2-3 against the proposal. Were the relatively small investments of Councilmembers Whitehurst and Randell so vital that it was worth making Council approval a mountain too high to climb?
Political consultants who deal with City Councils, or any elected bodies that deal with political issues, should shape their strategy around three thoughts concerning the vote:
- how many do we have?
- how many could be persuaded?
- how many will oppose us and how loudly will they do it?
Lucas needed 4 "yes" votes. She threw 2 away, and it turned an approval into a denial.
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