Scene In Passing: ‘Team’ of Crowell sets stage for third term as Carson City Mayor
You might as well have hung a sandwich sign on Bob Crowell last mid-week saying Mr. Mayor on the front, Mr. Candidate on the back.
He was very much in mayor mode publicly, delivering his state of the city address at a Carson City Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Anyone knowledgeable about politics and listening closely, however, could hear echoes of the back of that fictional sandwich sign. Barring a health scare, the bet here is he’ll run for a third term in 2016. This will surprise only the naive.
His speech was a textbook blend of an in-office candidate’s understated credit-taking for “us,” and, consequently, encompassed community. He included tips of the hat to everyone and anyone whose hands helped his hand on the tiller. By my count, his speech included 152 references to you, we, our and us. The I, me and my sprinklings throughout the speech totaled less than 40.
The speech included a long laundry list of cleaned slates and public/private accomplishments — in other words work done — and a short recap of the dirty laundry yet to come out in the wash. The stinky list included replenishing the rainy day fund, repairing roads (though a modest touch acknowledged he hasn’t figured out how yet), upgrading an aging city vehicular fleet, handling other deferred maintenance, dealing with increased demand for public services as economic recovery gathers steam, coping with squabbling over effluent water and parched golf courses, helping boost the V&T Railway, and others.
That litany looms, yet was reduced by rhetoric laced with confidence and more spreading of credit using the collaborative “we.” It came from a man not about to declare his job done: “We will address and resolve those issues and others — and there are many others — in a transparent, common sense, business-like fashion.” The mayor won‘t acknowledge it yet, but he wants a legacy term.
His other litany, not surprisingly a longer one, boasted — again with understatement and always that touch of the all inclusive — about things done and growing economic largesse over time. This is the challenge of every candidate: When times go well, enjoy the credit without sounding self-centered; when times are bad, share the blame without letting it stick to you alone. Political science is a misnomer; politics is an art form.
Crowell is a long time legislative attorney/lobbyist. He knows it matters not who gets ballyhooed credit. If you get the job done, you’ll get your due. Such is a skill too few learn in politics and government, which are intertwined like two sides of the same coin. The skill of sharing blame with aplomb, though, is the toughest task. I cite two presidents of recent history who handled it as well as anyone.
The late Ronald Wilson Reagan enjoyed his eight years as the Teflon president. Nothing stuck to his cheerful, built-in coating. William Jefferson Clinton spent two terms in a Pam presidency and continues in that vein to this day. Spray it on thick so nothing sticks. Today, in Carson City, the bet here is we’ll soon get to see how Crowell fares in his frying pan opportunity when he mounts a third campaign for mayor.
The question for me is if anyone else wants to throw his or her hat into that frying pan as well.
John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.