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THE BALLAD OF THE SAD CAMPAIGN: Bill Tillotson's disastrous Ward race

Even if he wins, Mr. Tillotson goes to City Hall a wounded politician
 
COLUMBIA, 4/2/12  (Op-Ed) -- Long before Bill Tillotson "went negative," I wondered why the Chamber of Commerce and the businesses it represents recruited him.   He didn't seem well vetted, was presenting no vision of his own, and he was taking on a popular juggernaut in Barbara Hoppe who has generally supported business.
 
Indeed, Mrs. Hoppe has been as much a friend to business as any Council member I can remember.   Too much of a friend on some issues.  She has voted to approve large developments, TIFs and other tax incentives, and a sizable array of business priorities. 
 
 
Mr. Tillotson had an inauspicious debut when his wife Pam encouraged Facebook friends to cheat on the Columbia Daily Tribune's reader poll. 
 
Then, a mountainous molehill former Phat Guy Scott Charton made of Mrs. Hoppe's brief role in a neighborhood dispute with a Frat House became a barrage of negative ads.  The Phat Guys are five local right-leaning heavyweights, Inside Columbia publisher Fred Parry chief among them.   
 
In the Frat -- or is Phrat -- dispute, a neighborhood had a little power for once.   The Law Offices of Craig Van Matre didn't shut a neighborhood association down on behalf of a belligerent client.  Average folks came out ahead, after the Frat's architect agreed to pay $100,000 for neighborhood beautification projects. 

Yet Charton made Mrs. Hoppe out to be one step below Richard Nixon on the political sleaze scale, even donning the mantle of the "civically obsessed" to carpet bomb the Trib boards with commentary that became so desperate, readers begged Charton to quit while he was ahead.  

Meanwhile, more Facebook shenanigans broke out, as a Tillotson surrogate readers nicknamed "RoboBill" posted empty-headed commentary while feverishly deleting all the push back from the attack ads.   Tillotson's Facebook page went totally haywire when RoboBill posted this note:
 
52 minutes ago via HootSuite  9 am Tuesday
Great meeting with the Columbia Unit NAACP last night.
 
But the NAACP meeting hadn't occurred yet, and Tillotson never attended it!   He was holding an EEZ question/answer session at Old Hawthorne.    Needless to say, his opponents pounced. 

 
Just as the Tillotson campaign was going negative, this publication reported his year-long 2004 probation, for an offense Mr. Tillotson blamed on his dog.  Then news broke that Mr. Tillotson had been pardoned from a felony fraud conviction, a 1976 event he probably wishes had never resurfaced. 
 
This writer is left wondering what political experts advised a candidate so thorougly unvetted to go negative.  If you're going to sling mud, you -- and your advisers -- need to be darned sure your opponent doesn't have a truckload of tar. 
 
For all his efforts running on behalf of so-called "friends" in the "business community," Mr. Tillotson has been ground up in a political meat grinder forged from a long-running political dishonesty that holds Columbia's leaders in thrall.
 
As part of that dishonesty, social climbers convinced to "serve" the people instead end up serving a local plutocracy that is slowly crushing this town just like the national plutocracy is taking down the rest of the nation.   Think I'm wrong?  Just wait until the student housing bubble bursts and bond debt bubbles burst. 

Win or lose, Bill Tillotson and his dignity are the latest sad casualties of this unfortunate set up. 
You are here: Home Politics Campaigns and Elections THE BALLAD OF THE SAD CAMPAIGN: Bill Tillotson's disastrous Ward race

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