At The Gossips of Rivertown, Carole Osterink has broken the widespread Hudson rumor that Linda Mussmann of Time & Space Limited plans to stage (pun intended) a write-in primary vote among Democrats against Nick Haddad.*
Osterink speculates that Mussmann might also run on a third-party line, though the website for her moribund Bottom Line Party seems to have disappeared. According to the State Board of Elections, as of July the BLP had a balance of $136.94 in its account, and no donors at all in 2010-2011. (Out of the grand total of four donors in 2009, the only Hudson resident contributing to the Bottom Line was Mussmann herself; in 2008 there were a whopping three donors, the only Hudson contributor being Paula Forman.)
Mussmann has run three times previously for Mayor, each of those runs unsuccessful, and also lost a single bid for the School Board. Above is a graph of the votes that Mussmann has garnered Citywide in her previous mayoral runs in the general election. Only members of the Democratic Party can vote in the primary, meaning the tallies on September 13th likely will be considerably smaller.
In a blog interview in January of this year, Mussmann said (either coyly or disingenuously, depending on your take) that:
Running for Mayor is not something I am thinking about now but is always an option that is open to me.
In a separate interview two years ago, her partner Claudia Bruce (who serves as the Treasurer of the BLP) said of their political work:
Linda has run for mayor three times. We say the whole thing, is all theater. It is all theater. ... So many of the things that we’re doing in the community are a part of our theater experience.
And indeed, it is difficult to view this fourth quixotic attempt—if indeed the rumor is true—as much besides a theatrical show, one which accomplishes little except to keep TSL’s co-director in the spotlight. (And maybe the other co-director will get a chance to revive some songs from the 2001 campaign.)
Mussman’s third run not only was her worst showing. It also cost Mussmann a great deal of personal support, and moved a large portion of her board to quit en masse after she broke a promise to them not to continue her campaign after she lost the Democratic primary. In another interview, Mussmann admitted that third run was not easy, indulging in a certain sense of victimhood for her own decision:
My last campaign as mayor was highly controversial, because people felt I should not have run. I was the third party spoiler. And people directed a lot of hostility toward TSL because of me personally. Which is a hard thing to put up with. Or to withstand. And, financially and emotionally, is very hurtful.
While there are approximately 1,850 registered Dems in Hudson, past primaries have drawn only a small fraction of those registrants—with turnouts ranging from 250 to 750 voters—meaning that someone could win the top line of the ballot with just 130 or so votes. This being a write-in primary, which requires voters to spend more time and volunteer the name of a candidate, the actual valid votes cast could be quite small.
Forms for registering to vote, absentee ballots, military ballots, et al. can be downloaded via the Columbia County Board of Elections website.
Clearly, there's a time and place for politics in theater. (The play Danton’s Death about French revolutionaries is so beloved by Mussmann, she had her own chapbook version printed up.) Based on the Mussmann track record in prior elections, at least, it's less clear that there is much place for theater—or at least performance art—in Hudson politics. If it’s just a bit of avant garde the-a-ter that Mussmann is craving, the mere feint of a vanity campaign ought to be enough to satisfy that need for drama. Hudson is a real place, inhabited by real people, with real problems and potential. The residents of this small city deserve better than to be treated as props in someone else's play.
* Haddad was endorsed by the party but was forced into a write-in option after his signed acceptance form was not included with the rest of the Hudson Democrats’ voluminous petition paperwork; HCDC chair Victor Mendolia has stated that he “took full responsibility for the error.”