As mayoral candidate D. Michael Collins was quick to add to his campaign website, pollster Fritz Wenzel (on Conklin and Company) predicted that Collins and Mike Bell would be the top two vote-getters in Tuesday's primary. Wenzel believes the two independents will benefit from voter dissatisfaction and anger.
I will agree with him on Bell, as I don't believe Mike Bell has done anything to discourage the general 'feel-good' opinion and respect most Toledoans have of him and his prior service as Fire Chief.
However, I don't believe Collins has the necessary momentum to finish in the top two, due to his late entry into the race. While he's very well known within his current council district (District 2), I don't believe he's had the time or the media coverage to garner the support of the rest of the city.
So my prediction is that Keith Wilkowski will be the other candidate we'll see on the November ballot.
I choose Wilkowski for two reasons:
1) He's the better known and more 'liked' candidate among the democrats running. He's spent roughly a full year preparing his campaign and his supporters for next Tuesday. He's also had more positive press than the other candidates - due to his length in the race and the kind headlines the local paper has given him.
2) He's organized and will, I believe, have a good 'on-the-ground' effort for Tuesday. I'm sure he learned valuable lessons from working on the Obama campaign on how to mobilize your identified voters, and that he will use those techniques to be sure his supporters get to the polls and vote.
All candidates know that the important part of an election is not just getting people to vote - but getting your supporters to show up and vote for you. I believe that will be the key to his finishing in the top two.
As for the other candidates, I don't believe that Jim Moody has generated the enthusiasm within the local Republican Party that he would need to ensure a top-two finish. While he has many good ideas, the internal issues with being Chairman Jon Stainbrook's candidate may be too much to overcome. In general, Toledo Republicans are not motivated toward the GOP candidates, though they may be motivated toward conservatives in general. This will hurt Moody and will, I predict, cost him on Sept. 15th.
Current County Commissioner Ben Konop has also benefited from positive press from The Blade, but not enough to overcome his other campaign problems, including his push for failed policies and, especially, his disrespect for the U.S. Flag. He is seem by too many as immature and 'not ready for prime time.' Additionally, being perceived as a favorite of The Blade may actually hurt Konop at the ballot box. I predict he will not finish in the top three.
Opal Covey, the final candidate, will probably finish last, even though there are some who've stated they'll vote for her just because they're so fed up with everyone else. Whether words are followed through with votes in the ballot box remains to be seen. While Opal has passion, it is not tempered with reason, and her references to being sent by God make her more of a fringe candidate than anything else. However, some people are talking that she may, considering the general mood of the voting public, be able to pull off a fourth-place finish ahead of Konop, which would be a remarkable thing if it happened.
Do you have a prediction? We'll await the results to see who is right.