The countdown is on. In a few weeks we will stand in long lines in middle school gyms, community centers and churches, so we can take a blue or black pen and fill in an oval next to the name of the person we want to lead Mobile into the future. For the most part, the race between incumbent mayor, Sam Jones, and challengers Sandy Stimpson and Doris Brown, has been pretty tame and civil so far.

But there have been some moments in the campaign that have gotten a little nasty or even a bit goofy, somewhat satiating political junkies who crave such zingalicious goof. Let’s review…

All I wanna do is zing a zing, zing, zing

Mayor Sam Jones has definitely out-zingered his opponent Sandy Stimpson in the debates, delivering such classics as, “You’ve spent too much time on the ‘Hill and need to come down to the valley,” after Stimpson criticized the condition of many of the city’s parks. And there was also this gem, “You said you worked for everything — you inherited everything you got! You are just over there playing when you are working,” referring to Stimpson’s position with his family’s successful lumber business. And when asked about the mayor signing pledges not to raise taxes, Jones said, “Mr. Stimpson, you won’t ever have to worry about whether you’re going to have to sign that pledge because you’ll never get to that point.”

Lately, Stimpson has ended all of his speaking engagements by saying, if the cruise terminal is empty/if the parks are neglected/if a reporter from NYC calls us miserable, etc., then I am responsible. Not as pithy as the valley-hill line, but certainly a direct and probably ultimately just as effective attack on Jones’ massive case of we-can’t-do-anything-about-this-because-itis, which can be fatal to cities without proper treatment.

So again, it ain’t exactly New York or Chicago-style venom, but for Mobile, it’s a bit sassy. I really don’t remember Jones being the king of zing in the 2005 election. In fact, these debates make those against Ann Bedsole, John Peavy and Bess Rich look like snoozefests.

But what I have found interesting is just how different the reactions have been to these recent debate performances.

When I talk with Jones supporters, they confidently say things like, “Oh the mayor way outperformed Stimpson. He definitely won that debate.” But when you talk to Stimpson supporters or even some undecideds, they were extremely turned off by the mayor’s performance. “Gosh, he just came off so negative and bitter, heavy on the bitter. I thought we were too busy to be divided?”

So I guess it just depends on the lens you are viewing the debates through, but it will be fascinating to see how much or how little sass is seen in the final and only televised debate on Aug. 13.

I feel a debate-watch drinking game coming on. Every time the mayor says Airbus, take a shot. When Sandy Stimpson says public safety, take another. And when Doris Brown says free ice cream, hell, grab some rum and make yourself a delicious Bushwacker.

Hubby-gate

So one of the latest television ads for Mayor Sam Jones has confused many voters who thought the mayor was unmarried.

The ad begins “Sam Jones … Navy veteran, husband, father, grandfather, church deacon, commissioner and now our mayor.”

No, he didn’t run to Vegas over the last few weeks and get hitched in a drive-thru ceremony officiated by Elvis, he was just married once many years ago and is now divorced. The Jones camp says the ad is just listing all of the “roles” he has had in his life and says it is “factual.”

Factual it may be, but it is also a bit misleading. Every one of us knows someone who is divorced, and have any of those people ever still referred to themselves as a “husband” or a “wife?” It’s just kind of strange. And most people I know don’t really care if the mayor is married or not, but they do care if he is trying to represent himself as something he is not. That was definitely a misstep. Why even bring it up?

Election odds-making

Oddsmaker Danny Sheridan has been predicting Jones’ certain reelection in the Press-Register since before our daily paper became a thrice. He has changed his odds a good bit — in 2011 he called Jones a “prohibitive favorite” but is now saying the race is a lot closer than he expected. He still says Jones will be the victor, and he’ll even put money on it.

But he really put the “odd” in odds-making when he made a veiled swipe at two of the seven Mobile City Council members while making his latest P-R prediction.

Last week, he told the P-R the mayor’s only negative was his relationship with the council.

“The only negative people see is two council members who are out of touch with reality,” Sheridan said, declining to identify the members by name (that sounds familiar). “One suffers from megalomania, a form of mental illness.”

Um, OK, Mr. Sheridan, or should I say Dr. Sheridan? I know you may be able to nail the over-under on the Bama-Va Tech game in a few weeks (Roll Tide!), but I was unaware you were also a psychiatrist and could diagnose mental illness.
I actually did check his credentials on his official website to see if he listed any formal medical training, but I didn’t find anything indicating such.

I did see this line though…

“Danny Sheridan is the best sports analysis and sports handicapper in the world today.”

Hmmmm. Did someone say something about megalomania?

Perhaps we can find out the identity of these two council members, especially the mentally ill one, along with the identity of Cam Newton’s bagman. Wonder what the odds are on that.

No matter who you are for, it is always exciting to see our democracy at work. Right now, according to our USA poll and of course, the great Dr. Sheridan, it is a very tight race. Will the last debate seal the deal for one of the candidates? Will there be a mid-August surprise? I don’t know, but odds are it’s going to be an interesting race to the finish line. You can bet on that.