Reynolds: Early-morning mayoral theater

Last week’s breakfast face-off among Kingston mayoral candidates at the Holiday Inn wasn’t much. Blame it on me-too candidates more intent on avoiding errors than scoring points.

No one should have been surprised. I mean, what did they expect, four grown men wrestling around on the floor? This was the Kingston chamber of commerce, after all, where seldom is heard a conflicting word.

So who won? Let’s put it this way. The front-runner didn’t hurt himself, and that’s all he really needed to do. In terms of “winner,” the answer is … no-hope Conservative Party candidate Rich Cahill Jr. Relaxed, loose and on point, Cahill had nothing to lose. Competing in his third no-win election in four years (mayor in 2007, last month’s GOP primary and now this), Cahill, like any practiced lawyer, is comfortable with the things he talks about all the time. So certain of the outcome on Nov. 8 — with luck, he’ll finish a distant third — Cahill even stooped to making “short jokes” about himself.

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For the logistically astute, Republican Ron Polacco would seem an obvious underdog in a town with a two-to-one Democratic majority and a horde of City Hall workers committed to keeping their jobs. This is unscientific, but Democrats have to have at least 2,000 votes coming out of the City Hall before the polls even open. Four thousand votes should win this thing.

One sells Polacco short at one’s own peril, however. The Sixth Ward alderman wasn’t supposed to have a chance in the GOP primary against party nominee Andi Turco-Levin, but by waging a vigorous grassroots campaign, he prevailed by a handful of votes.

Not to slight Democratic nominee Shayne Gallo — “Five paragraphs in before you mention my name!” (I made up that quote.) — but the pressure at the chamber breakfast was all on him. Screw up with some off-handed statement or ridicule an underdog opponent, and people might think, “Hmm. Maybe the other guy is worth a look.”

The cool and cordial Gallo, reading from prepared remarks for the most part, cool and cordial, did not afford his foes that opportunity.

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