Mayoral race in home stretch

After listening to most of the heavy hitters in the Melbourne Lord Mayoral election on Triple R (The Party Show, 12-2 on a Sunday morning, a programme that punches well above its weight week after week with A-list guests that would make Mitchell, Hinch and Faine shave in excitement), there are several useful observations that can be made:

- The field of serious candidates is limited to just a handful: John So, Clem Newton-Brown, Richard Di Natale and Kevin Chamberlin. A couple are there to stir the pot and have a good time: Allan Watson, Wellington Lee and Gary Morgan. One was serious until his history got the better of him: James Long. And the rest are stooges and nutters, all without their eyes on the prize.

- John So is slowly becoming a parody of himself. Okay, the langauge barrier issue has become the equivalent of the Second World War in The Germans episode of Fawlty Towers, but more concerning is So's reliance on cliches and platitudes to ignore most of the substantive issues facing the city. With rumours swirling of So spending upwards of $200,000 on the campaign (quick sums: 75,000 voters in total, 15% a reasonable primary vote for So = $17.77 per vote) So is looking increasingly like an ineffective politician trying to buy himself another term.

- Other than So and his feeder tickets, there are two broad groups developing. Candidates on the left, such as Chamberlin and Di Natale are exchanging preferences and deciding not to attack each other, hoping to piggy-back off one another to give themself a chance at Mayoralty. Di Natale is likely to get knocked out of the race early with a low primary vote, and this preference flow to Chamberlin (this is a tad ironic given that many Greens blame Chamberlin's candidacy in the 2002 State Election in the seat of Melbourne, and his preferences flowing to the ALP, as the reason the Greens failed to win the seat).

- On the right, a looser (no, not loser, smartarse) alliance is forming between like minded conservative candidates. Though the Liberal party is keeping its distance from the race, young fogey Clem Newton-Brown has his hat in the ring, and pollster Garry Morgan is running a pro-business campaign. Preferences are being swapped, but the gloves are most definately off between those candidates, with plenty of sparring going on. The question of how serious Morgan is is an interesting one. He spent the first couple of weeks of the campaign overseas, and in his media appearances he seems angry and defensive, making too many faux pas (too many druggies etc) to sound credible. Is he just along for the ride to experience a real campaign rather than simply be a pollster?


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