As always, there were many political twists and turns during 2021. One was the jockeying for position in the mayor’s race coming up next year.
Three people got in and one of them dropped out. Others seem to be waiting in the wings.
The dropout was Matt Carlucci, an insurance agent who has been a local politician for decades, following his father and uncle.
What makes his actions worth noting was the reason he quit the mayor’s race.
Carlucci was daunted by the fact that one potential contender has collected $3 million for a campaign and another has $1.5 million.
The prospect of trying to match those amounts was not appealing to Carlucci and he opted instead to run again for his City Council seat. He has been on and off the council since 1987.
Campaign financing is a favorite topic of the media. They obsess over dollars raised by politicians, and the names of the donors.
I’ve always been dubious about the fascination with funding.
The theory is that the person with the most money wins the race. Yet, there is very little evidence to support that theory.
Studies show spending has little impact on political races. Incumbents tend to win because they are incumbents and challengers win when the incumbent is really lousy.
In 2018, University of Florida political science professor Suzanne Robbins looked at campaign spending and said, “Money is necessary for a candidate to be competitive, but it doesn’t ensure success.”
In a race with multiple contenders where none are incumbents, money doesn’t seem to correspond to the winner in most cases. While the eventual winner often collects the most in donations, that is just an example of the candidate’s appeal.
After-the-fact comparisons of dollar spent per vote run the gamut and show little correlation to the outcome.
In short, Carlucci may have given up prematurely, or for the wrong reason.
His real problem might have turned out to be the perception that he is not really a conservative Republican, or at least not conservative enough for Jacksonville voters.
But that should not be a problem in running for re-election. His name recognition alone, combined with his incumbency, should ensure another term.
The mayor’s race will continue, with the media breathlessly reporting every nickel and dime collected by each candidate, and mostly ignoring the qualifications and records of those candidates.