The Bob Donchez strategy in the Democratic primary for Bethlehem Mayor is going to be to create an air of inevitability around his candidacy. The best course of action for him is to line up as many capital-E Establishment players behind him as he can from the politics, business and philanthropy set. And since a big part of the endorsement game for the endorsers is about placing bets on who they think will win, not just who they want to win, Mr. Donchez is going to have an advantage attracting establishment support since the conventional wisdom is that he’s the frontrunner.
The task for Willie Reynolds then, is to turn the Establishment support into a liability for Mr. Donchez by locking down a bunch of endorsements from the counter-establishment. Andy Po’s endorsement is a good example. Andy represents a business that is respected by young people, and he has built up a lot of good will with the parents of skateboarders who patronize his store, and participate in the good clean fun events and activities he organizes. It matters that he is publicly supporting Willie for idealistic reasons.
Willie needs more endorsements from young business owners and go-getters. If he can earn the public support of people like Jaime Karpovich and the VegFest organizers, the young women business owners who run Eskandalo!, Loose Threads, Vegan Treats, Apotheca, Shuze, and other downtown shops, Chris Morales of Easy Weenies cart fame (maybe a cross-endorsement deal could be arranged for Chris’s City Council race?), and organizers with the Bethlehem Food Co-op, then he will be able to create a nice contrast. It will clarify that this is a race between an old-money coalition of establishment blue bloods, and an emerging coalition of young strivers, entrepreneurs, and idealists.
The Bethlehem electorate has proven responsive to this kind of pitch before, from Don Cunningham and John Callahan. People like young idealistic Mayors who affirm voters’ own optimism about their city and its future. But they need cues besides party labels in primaries, and endorsements fill that informational void. If Willie can show he has the support of New Bethlehem, he has a chance to overcome the inevitability strategy Bob Donchez will try to employ.