Let's Pick On Orlando!

Early mayoral forums hint at the strategies to come

He recalls the three-way race in 1991 between Turner, Lanier and incumbent Kathy Whitmire, where the other candidates handled Turner with kid gloves until the runoff.

"Turner will spend a fraction of what White, Sanchez and Berry will, marshaling all his resources for the runoff," the consultant says. All three opponents would love to meet Turner there, assuming that the damage he took in the punishing loss to Lanier makes him a sitting duck this time around.

UH political scientist Richard Murray testified in a libel trial brought by Turner against Channel 13's Wayne Dolcefino for pre-election news reports that damaged Turner's chances. He figures White has the most delicate task of Turner's opponents in trying to pick off some of the black vote without angering that community.

In the initial fray, Sanchez is taking most of the punches.
Kent Manor
In the initial fray, Sanchez is taking most of the punches.

"White has to fight a more sophisticated, strategic campaign," says Murray, "because he must aggressively try to win over a reasonable share of the black vote, not so much by attacking Turner, but rather making the argument Turner can get in a runoff but he can't win. And that would elect Sanchez, who is probably the least-favored candidate in the black community."

One of the juicier ironies of the White-Berry détente is that each side thinks it's using the other. White's folks are counting on Berry to split the Republican vote and provide a formula for him to make a runoff. Berry's strategists figure White will drive Republicans into his camp as it becomes apparent that Sanchez cannot win.

"I know Bill White's going through this fantasy about getting Republicans to vote for him," Blakemore chuckles. He notes that 25th District Congressman Chris Bell tried the same strategy in his mayoral race two years ago.

"He was getting traction until September," recalls Blakemore, "until Orlando put out the word, 'Oh, by the way, did I forget to tell you that nice young man with the lovely wife is a Democrat?' And they all went, 'Oh, my goodness,' and abandoned Bell."

With five months to go to the general election, the Michael and Bill Show should build to a fascinating finale with a million-dollar question: Who gets to be the user, and who ends up being used?

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