Sorry, folks. Mayor Ginger Nelson is not Ronald Reagan and her election should not be compared to Reagan's. Here's why.
Recently, a local media outlet chose to attack the new City of Amarillo satire page, claiming that its social media reach has no comparison to the 2017 municipal election. While this argument does have some grounding in reality, what has no reality is when that same media outlet chose to compare Ginger Nelson's 2017 electoral performance to that of President Ronald Reagan's 1984 electoral performance, calling Nelson's campaign "Reagan-like."
I am not even sure who thought this was a good analogy to make.
For those who don't know, Ronald Reagan won re-election as president in 1984 when he defeated former Vice President Walter Mondale. Reagan, a Republican, secured a victory in 49 of 50 states and won about 60 percent of the popular vote. Mondale, the Democratic challenger, won his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia. A handful of candidates, such as David Bergland and Lyndon LaRouche, won a handful of votes down ballot.
Fast forward to 2017, Ginger Nelson, who at the time was an attorney and former board member for the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation, won about 12,000 votes in uncanvassed totals, or 79 percent of the vote. Jim Lowder, a cybersecurity auditor, won 16 percent and Renea Dauntes, an artist and archivist, won 5 percent.
Both totals are large, granted. However, Nelson's 2017 campaign was in no way "Reagan-like." One of the biggest reasons I can say this is because of campaign spending.
According to the Federal Election Commission, Reagan raised $76,476,619 for his 1984 campaign. Meanwhile, Mondale actually outraised Reagan, pulling in $82,879,728. This means that Reagan was outraised by about 8 percent. Yet, he still managed to score a victory in 49 states.
Meanwhile, Ginger Nelson raised $271,697.63 for her campaign, according to filings with the City of Amarillo. In addition, Nelson benefited from heavy spending by Amarillo Matters PAC, which raised $279,553.74, according to reports covering the 2017 election cycle and prior to that cycle. One of Nelson's opponents, Dauntes, spent absolutely nothing on her campaign and raised nothing. Her other opponent, Lowder, raised $7,978.47.
Even if you do not count her Amarillo Matters support, Nelson still outraised Lowder by a whopping 3,405 percent. Figuring in her Amarillo Matters support, Nelson outraised Lowder by 6,909 percent. Nelson also spent about $21 per vote without her Amarillo Matters support factored and spent about $43 per vote with that support figured in. Meanwhile, Ronald Reagan spent about $1.40 per vote, and still managed to win while his opponent spent about $2.20 per vote.
Simply put, Ginger Nelson did not win on a platform in 2017. She won because of the money pumped into the election. 1984 numbers appear to show that both candidates ran a frugal campaign and did not excessively spend per vote. And while Reagan was outraised, his total was still close to his opponent's. Nelson, however, spared no expense on her campaign and outraised Lowder and Dauntes by outrageous numbers.
This comparison should be expected from the above mentioned "news outlet," even though it is ludicrous. This is the same outlet that frequently published articles calling for the recall of the last Amarillo City Council and condemned them for everything from temperament to Facebook posts. Meanwhile, for the current City Council, this outlet and its cronies have played blocker for absolutely every action taken by this City Council. One of this outlet's columnists (not a reporter) actually attacked a disabled veteran in one of his articles to support the ridiculous actions by the current City Council. Where were the calls for the recall election and the condemnation over temperament then?
So, before you go comparing Ginger Nelson's 2017 electoral victory to Reagan's 1984 victory, you might need to do some research. The numbers don't lie, but it appears that money talks.
-Thomas Warren III, Editor-In-Chief