How To Win In November

What comes next?*

As Mallahan and McGinn now turn their attention to the general I thought I would post my $0.02 about what could happen next. I could be totally wrong about my sense of this but, from a political perspective, I think this is how to win.

Stick with the tunnel!

Detractors have whined (sorry, detractors) about McGinn raising the whole tunnel thing again. “Its Seattle process run amok,” they say. “Let’s just get on with it please” and “that’s all he talks about.”

Well I hope he continues. Stopping the tunnel is not about Seattle process but about the most serious act of malpractice of government in a generation, perhaps ever in our city. There are two reasons to keep hammering on the tunnel.

First, everyone will incessantly ask about it. “Why are you so focused on the tunnel?” The answer is “I have to. If this City commits $900 million dollars (which is sure to become $1 billion) we won’t have money to do any of the other critical things this city needs done. We are essentially committing to a decade of our resources into essentially will be a Viet Nam like quagmire. How can we focus on crime, sidewalks, transportation—all things our City is supposed to do—when a years worth of City budget dollars are going to be pumped down a hole for less than two miles of tunnel, with no exits in or out of downtown, not enough capacity and no ability to accommodate transit.”

The second and more practical reason is that it focuses attention on McGinn and keeps it there. McGinn will win because everyone will be talking about McGinn and the tunnel. Malahan will kind of just disappear. And the more we talk about the tunnel and the more people realize what a horrible boondoggle the thing is the more people are going to think it’s a bad idea.

I am so convinced of this that if Mallahan was my friend I would advise him to abandon his pro-tunnel stand, maybe even just say he’d be willing to rethink his position. The basis of McGinn’s candidacy would effectively be threatened because the issue that animated his resurgence would be gone. All that would be left is a fundraising knife fight which he would be almost certain to lose. But it is highly doubtful that the interests arrayed against reconsidering the tunnel option will allow Mallahan to double back on his position.

*I know there are a lot of issues with viaduct-replacement-tunnel financing that are completely not part of this message. But this is about politics. The fact is that the City will have to spend some money to fix the sea wall and dismantle the viaduct, even if  money that has been dedicated by the state goes away. Here is one recent rundown of all the different sources of money that are in play on any scenario and here is McGinn’s response to the “we’re gonna have to pay anyway” charge. It is a complicated and nuanced issue and it is good to know McGinn is on top of it.