Carroll: Campaign ‘15: Let the games begin
Above the Fold
I really have nothing against Maurice Emmer. He ran a fairly clean mayoral campaign and was one of the few candidates who didn’t hem and haw over every issue. His answers at the campaign forums were direct and precise, which could hardly be said of the majority of his opponents.
His occasionally condescending attitude toward the press went on hiatus during election season. But morphing into a kind, thoughtful humanitarian in the days and weeks leading up to Election Day is not an uncommon behavior pattern among those gunning for votes.
Post-Election Day, though, if they don’t win or make a runoff, they’re typically back to their usual selves, for better or worse. And then there are those candidates who stay true to themselves before, during and after (L.J. Erspamer, for instance).
Maurice seemed to have returned to his old, less-congenial ways Thursday, at least when it came to his correspondence with the press. He emailed a letter to the paper suggesting that those (and by those, I mean Adam Frisch and Derek Johnson) who claimed he stole their votes might consider that they lost because they weren’t the best candidates. I replied to him with a few words on what I thought was a well-run campaign by him. His terse reply was one, less-than-kind word regarding the Times’ endorsement of Torre. A subsequent email from Emmer asked that we don’t publish his assessment of our endorsement, probably because that would tarnish his newly found nice-guy image.
We’ve been called worse. Now, however, Emmer probably will want to dig a bit deeper in the Urban Dictionary for an insult to hurl at us when he is reminded that six years ago, the Times implemented a policy that candidates for a political office could submit only one letter or guest opinion after they announce their intention to run.
We created the rule because a few candidates were writing weekly letters to the editors about why they, of course, were the best person for the job. They were using the opinion pages as a back door for free advertising for their campaigns and, by doing so, were taking hostage of the opinion pages and squeezing out the voices of the voters.
At the end of last week, just a few days removed from Election Day, Emmer managed to remain in the election spotlight by announcing he is running again. In 2015. For mayor.
His reason: No other conservative candidate could accuse him of, in one of last week’s dejected candidate’s words, “tea partying” them by taking their votes.
That means while the current mayoral election hasn’t even been decided yet, The Aspen Times already has another election-related dilemma. It’s not whether to endorse Torre or Steve Skadron in the runoff but whether to enforce the letters policy for candidates as it relates to the 2015 contest. Already.
Emmer had been a prolific letter-writer in The Aspen Times prior to his March announcement that he’d be running for mayor in the 2013 contest. Days before he announced his candidacy, he’d written an opinion piece for the Times claiming that Aspen’s election laws are unconstitutional.
When he visited the Times a couple of weeks after his announcement, I let him know that he was allowed just one guest editorial or letter to the editor because he had declared his candidacy. He seemed to understand.
On Friday, the same day news about Emmer ’15 was oozing from the pages of Aspen’s two papers, his letter about the ’13 election also was published. In light of his announcement for ’15, that could be the single letter he’s allowed for that future election.
Candidate Emmer is usually nice enough that the Times could almost forget our policy and let him run more than a single letter in the next 24 months. But if it’s the face of Citizen Emmer who remains public in the ensuing months, it won’t be too hard to forget. Or maybe he’ll decide to spend some time with L.J. in the coming weeks and months and take a page from his book.
Rick Carroll is editor of The Aspen Times. He takes comments, complaints, questions and news tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.