08 October 2007

Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman is a Broken Record

How do I say this . . . ? Mike Coleman is a one-trick pony when it comes to firearms issues. But then, so are most liberal democrat mayors from large cities.

In a debate last week with his first challenger in years, attorney Bill Todd, Columbus Mayor Coleman got his behind whipped. Our daily newspaper, the Columbus Dispatch, called it a draw. But people who listened to the debate on the radio noticed the Coleman was a weak performer and frequently repeated himself, armed only with sound bytes. He has been known to be rough around the edges when it came to spontaneous Q&A, and is far more polished with memorized sound bytes. Todd, on the other hand, was offering new ideas and challenging Coleman at every turn.

Now, Todd's "I'll be the 'education mayor'" schtick is not going to carry the day. Specifically, most republicans want over-reaching government out of their lives. Todd's proposal for the mayor's office to take over Columbus' beleagured public school system is a great PR attention-getter, but not necessarily the best approach. And the jury is out on whether it has worked in other big cities across the U.S.

But on the gun issue, Todd was the winner. He talked about crime. Getting tough on criminals. Better equipping police to do their job. When he wasn't repeating how much he enjoys being mayor, all Coleman could do was recite tired sound bytes, along the lines of "we have too many guns on our streets, we have too many guns in our city, we have too many guns in our state, we have too many guns in our country." That is not his exact quote, but it is a more than fair representation of what he said. I later looked at videotape of him as he recited this mantra -- he was practically in a daze, and his blank stare as he repeated these words was disconcerting I would think to even his supporters.

For the first time in years, Coleman is being seriously challenged. He will probably carry Election Day, but it will be costly for him. Right now, he is out cutting ribbons at every event he can talk the local TV station directors into covering on the evening news. He is going to go through a lot of money, make a lot of promises and owe a lot of people. Then we'll see if he goes back to business as usual.

No matter what happens, this campaign is sure to get ugly. The Columbus mayor, who has signed onto NYC Mayor Michael Bloomburg's "let's break some laws so we can try to hurt the gun industry" wagon train, wasn't even challenged the last time he ran for re-election. Todd will have trouble raising money. But Coleman's lame excuses about why there is incredible crime in Ohio's largest city aren't going to fly this time. He cannot continue to be glib and blame firearms and firearms owners any more. Stay tuned!

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