All in to win

“The only chance that [Ed] Shadid had was to have a very small turnout election,” said Pat McFerron, referring to Cornett’s challenger on the March 4 ballot.

McFerron, who is a partner with CMA Strategies and worked on the mayor’s campaign, said the fact that turnout for last month’s mayoral race nearly doubled from the previous election gave his candidate an edge. Cornett’s internal polling showed an advantage the higher the turnout was, McFerron said. And with nearly 24,000 more votes in 2014 compared to 2010’s race, Cornett cruised to a 33-point victory over Councilman Shadid.

Last month’s election not only brought out more voters, it also brought a stronger effort from Cornett, who took Shadid more seriously than some of his former challengers during past elections.

“I think one of the key aspects of the Cornett race [this year] is we took this race very seriously from day one,” McFerron said. “We invested in the research necessary to understand the voters from day one.”

Cornett’s 2010 challenger, Steve Hunt, surprised many with his 42 percent showing. But McFerr

on said Cornett never mounted a serious campaign four years ago.

Proof of the election’s heightened level of seriousness was not just found in election turnout figures. Money raised also indicated a stronger election than four years ago.

“The two campaigns spent over $1,000,000,” said David Holt,

Cornett’s campaign manager. “It’s as simple as that.”

Recent campaign reports show Cornett raised $757,984, while Shadid brought in $476,705, including $200,000 in personal loans. Both candidates filed preliminary reports in February, and the next report deadline is May 12.

“We had better turnout this year than 2010 because we had actual campaigns,” Holt said. “There were no TV ads, no radio ads and no mailers in 2010.”

The mayoral election was nonpartisan, but some saw the race as a contest between conservative and progressive candidates. Shadid ran as an Independent, but he campaigned on a message that appeared to target the city’s progressive population.

Miguel Medrano, Shadid’s campaign manager, did not respond to a request for comment for this story. However, in earlier interviews, Medrano said his campaign team was trying to tap into the liberal segment of the city that had gone overlooked.

Hartman is a partner with Skyfire Media, a political consulting firm
that works with Democratic candidates. He said Shadid appeared to build a
solid base of progressive and liberal supporters. But that doesn’t mean
all Democrats in the city backed him for mayor.

think there were lots of people who could describe themselves as
progressives or Democrats but maybe also identify strongly with the
business community that ended up supporting Cornett,” Hartman said. “I
think the lesson is that the progressive or Democratic community [in
Oklahoma City] is a lot broader than what people may think.”

Hartman said the election was tougher for Shadid, as he took on a popular incumbent.

you take on an incumbent, you not only have to make an argument for why
people should vote for you but why people should vote against the
incumbent,” Hartman said. “I don’t really think an argument was
formulated on why people should vote against Mick Cornett. They saw the
value in what is happening in Oklahoma City, even if ideologically they
might not be eye to eye with Cornett.”

Ben Felder

Ben is an urban affairs reporter covering local government and education in Oklahoma City. He lives in OKC with his wife, Lori, and son, Satchel. Ben holds a masters in new media journalism from Full Sail University and is an OKC transplant from Kansas City, Mo. Twitter: @benfelder_okg

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