The Alameda County Democratic Party Forum held tonight at the Elihu M. Harris State Building and moderated by the man the giant building was named after looked like it might serve as a kind of political coming out party for Oakland activist Cat Brooks, and to a degree that’s exactly what happened.
All one has to do is read the social media entries on Twitter and Instagram to see that, as we will see, but you should look at yourself. (As a note, first, as I write this, I am in Georgia keeping my Mom company – while I still live in Oakland. Second, I deliberately avoided the tweets from Cat Brook’s Twitter account because she’s running against Mayor Schaaf and was debating against her. Jesse Smith is also running for Mayor of Oakland, but is not a Democrat, and so was not on the panel, but tweeting about the forum. I also skipped tweets that had nothing directly to do with what a candidate said.)
If one searched for “Libby Schaaf” and #oakmtg during the debate, these entries turned up:
#oakmtg @PPriceCares says we need a more effective police department, after saying we need to cut their budget. Swipes at @LibbySchaaf, that trafficking minors is “frat house behavior.”@LibbySchaaf Calls for law-and-order, says we don’t wanna go back to the days of higher crime
More Tuff Sheds: @CatsCommentary says she visited encampment and it caused a “crisis of conscience.” Lashed out at @LibbySchaaf for not doing more, questions her moral compass. “It’s not about resources, it’s about will.” #oaklandforum #oakmtg
— Steven Tavares (@eastbaycitizen) August 24, 2018
— ashley yates (@brownblaze) August 24, 2018
Libby Schaaf’s rebuttal to spending nearly half of the city’s budget on a racist, rapist police force is to say Oakland is no longer #2 on the most dangerous cities list and “i don’t think anybody wants to go back there.”
Yum, fear politics.
— ashley yates (@brownblaze) August 24, 2018
— April Thomas (@aprilbthomas) August 24, 2018
You get the idea. In other words, this forum was as much a referendum on how Mayor Schaaf has handled the homeless situation as it was a kind of party for Cat Brooks. And in that, Pamela Price, who’s also running for Mayor of Oakland, unleashed the long-talked about team-up strategy with Brooks when she said “vote for Pamela Price number one and Cat Brooks, your second choice.”
Dominating Twitter Doesn’t Mean Election Victory
The trouble with social media is that because people tend to follow certain others, there’s a tendency to assume the media that group shares applies to the electorate as a whole. Thus, one would make the mistake of thinking that Cat Brooks is equal to or ahead of Mayor Schaaf. That’s why I turn to Google Trends, and since I’ve referred many times to why I employ that web app, I’ll just cut to the chase.
Mayor Schaaf is ahead of Cat Brooks 58 to 42 in Google Trends in San Francisco Bay Area and Oakland-specific search intensity over the past seven days, and as measured at the time of the wee hours of Friday, August 24th, 2018.
And over the past hour on Google Trends after the Mayor’s part of the forum, Libby trumped Cat by a factor of four to one. This says two things: the good news for Libby is she’s ahead of Cat, the bad news for Libby is this lead is not a comfortable one, and she should be concerned. And this update indicates that: Brooks was searched for more than Schaaf by three to one two hours after the forum. Now, much of that is due to existence of this post, but had Libby performed better, the search outcome would have been in her favor.
For Mayor Schaaf, what gets her into trouble is doubling-down on what she’s done and being defensive about it, rather than pointing at how she plans to improve what’s being done. Cat knows she’s got Libby on the ropes here, and is consistently sending a message via social media and at the forum that the answers to the homeless problem done under Mayor Schaaf’s watch are not working.
Getting “just about booed off the stage” should be enough of a signal to Libby that she needs to apply a course-correction. And then there’s this:
#oakmtg “if you don’t think Libby care, let me tell you who really don’t care, Donald…” Elihu Harris.
The hate for Libby was huge in this room tonight.
— Jesse A.J. Smith 4 Oakland Mayor (@OakSmith2018) August 24, 2018
This should be Mayor Schaaf’s wake up call or it could be the rise of a new champion.
As an addendum, I have to explain that, as the person who said to Libby that she should run for Mayor of Oakland in May of 2009, writing what appears above gives me no joy at all. Libby can do better, but the decision to shift has to come from her. Oakland’s in the middle of a class crisis that the forum reflected by how the Mayor’s statements were responded to. Being defensive is not what Mayor Schaaf should be – indeed, she didn’t start out that way as Mayor of Oakland. The challenge from Cat Brooks in particular (and the whole of candidates) is good for both Libby and the City of Oakland, but both make a mistake if it’s not taken seriously.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media