In the Cards

In the cards: Only a fool would predict the outcome of a hotly contested election more than two months out. So, all righty then, here goes: The election for Dallas County sheriff will go 52-48. You read it here first.

What, you say you want to know who will win? OK then, Mr./Ms. Picky Pickerstein, here's our answer:How should Buzz know? We're in the media, which is the business of telling you what happened yesterday. That's probably why most of the commentators on local political blogs have Democratic incumbent Lupe Valdez as the putative frontrunner against Republican Lowell Cannaday.

Of course, no one foresaw the seismic shift that allowed the Dems to sweep county elections in 2006—two years after Valdez was elected—but now the resurgence of Dems has become the unassailable political trend story.

There's certainly a whiff of desperation about the anti-Valdez effort so far. The county GOP put together a Web video of a guy in a chicken suit outside a Valdez fund-raiser, accusing her of being afraid to debate Cannaday. Then last week up popped an anonymous Web site called "Off With Her Badge," which featured a cross-eyed caricature of Valdez, whom the site dubbed "Stupid Loopy."

That's classy stuff in an election to determine who will head a jail system that has an unfortunate history of abusing inmates.

The Cannaday campaign had no foreknowledge or responsibility for the video or the "Stupid Loopy" site, campaign manager Peggy Lundy says. Instead, they're focusing on the "ground game" and "doing lots of grassroots."

For Cannaday, that means frequent spaghetti and chicken dinners with community groups. That's the sort of grunt work that makes the prediction biz so, er, unpredictable. The post-election take on the 2006 vote was that uninspired GOP voters stayed home, allowing Democrats to sweep the county races.

"I think that the Republicans who stayed home before are going to vote this time," Lundy says.

But Valdez campaign manager R. Kirk McPike, who dismisses the chicken video and anti-Valdez site as "dishonest stunts," isn't buying the whole Republicans-stayed-home claim, calling it "something of an urban legend. Dallas County has been trending Democratic for years..." he wrote Buzz in an e-mail.

Nevertheless, Pike promises Valdez will wage an "aggressive" campaign to turn out voters. Like Lundy says, the ground game will be key. So, which candidate will have the most inspired voters? Let's ask Buzz's Ouija board. Hmm. Damn thing must be on the fritz. It keeps spelling O-B-A-M-A.

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams