Press Talk: Will Madore hang on?

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian Editor

Published:

 

Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian's editor emeritus. His column of personal opinion appears the first Saturday of every month. Reach him at lounews1@gmail.com.

A little less than four years ago, County Councilor David Madore — with little public service or political background — was swept into office promising to look at county government with a fresh set of eyes.

But today, the freshness has grown stale.

Hope turned to horror. Promise turned to pain. And change? Well, it turned into nothing more than a charade.

So today our county is at a crossroads. And we have an opportunity few other countries have. On Election Day the politicians are no longer the boss. On this day — on Tuesday — we become the boss.

Oh, politicians like Madore will tell you we’re the boss every day. If you believe that, I’ve got some oceanfront property in Yacolt to sell you.

But the political bosses can’t take Election Day away from us. Nope. We really can look at those political types and say, “You’re fired!”

Obviously, there are good politicians. And we should keep them around.

But choose wisely, my friends. Choose wisely.

What happened to Madore?

Trying to figure out Madore and what happened to him is difficult. He’s a very complicated guy who quickly shut out most of the community.

And let’s be honest, he never really was a community guy. You’ll find many prominent business leaders mingling at events, joining organizations, and contributing.

Not Madore. Although he has given office space to many nonprofits at his successful local business, U.S. Digital, he is rarely seen at functions.

When I interviewed him shortly after he was elected 3 1/2 years ago, I asked him about that. He said he was too busy raising his family and building his business. He said he expected to be much more involved now that he was an elected official.

That never materialized. As I observed him over the years, it became clear that he is an introvert who is not very comfortable in public settings.

The problem, as I see it, is when you isolate yourself, you have no “feel” for the community. You become self-reliant. In other words, you listen only  to yourself.

Madore has always relied on himself. He was determined to run county government as he ran his successful business. You could almost see him saying: “No help needed, I got this.”

A downward spiral

Unfortunately, all he really got was repudiated by most in the community. Ever since his initial election victory, his losses have mounted:

• When residents grew tired of him lording over us, a county charter was proposed to weaken him. Madore fought hard against it. Madore lost.

• Our new charter government created a county chair position that Madore spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to win. Madore lost.

• Madore then recruited his close ally, state Rep. Liz Pike, to run as a write-in for the chair position. Pike and Madore lost.

• After hiring his unqualified buddy, state Sen. Don Benton, into a high-paying county job, Madore screamed “foul” when the county manager eliminated Benton’s job and the department he was running. Madore lost.

• He was the silent partner in fellow Councilor Tom Mielke’s recall petition against three other county councilors. A judge threw it out of court Friday. Madore lost yet another battle.

This list of losses goes on and on.

Madore’s path forward?

Still, there is a path forward for Madore in the upcoming election.

He has two things going for him:

• His challengers, Republican John Blom and Democrat Tanisha Harris, have little name recognition. Blom has the best chance of beating Madore, but both need to rely on an anti-Madore vote rather then a pro vote for them.

• There’s an old saying attributed to New York politician “Big Tim” Sullivan.

“I don’t care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right.”

It was said to reflect the importance of the media and power of publicity.

Newspapers still deliver thousands and thousands of eyeballs. Facebook posts and blogs — important as they may be — are no more than a footnote to savvy politicians. And they know it. The quote by Sullivan — still true today — speaks to the idea of keeping politicians names in the mainstream media. For example, this has always been Donald Trump’s game plan.

Name recognition — even if it’s negative — could be helpful if a less-savvy voting base checks the election box because a name sounds familiar. Under that scenario, Madore could win.

Tuesday’s gauge

This Tuesday, we’ll get a first look at what voters think of Madore. It’s just a primary. That means if Madore comes in first or second, he hasn’t won yet but will move on to the general election.

However, if he comes in third …

• • •

In the end, we will get what we vote for.

“We are our choices.” J.P. Sartre, French philosopher