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Tuesday, May 13, 2008 | I have no quarrel with David Washburn‘s reporting in his recent article on Phil Thalheimer’s 2004 Council campaign strategy. I do want to take the opportunity to set some of the record straight.

The article stated:

“T.J. Zane, now the Lincoln Club’s executive director, was a consultant for Thalheimer during the early stages of his 2004 run, but quit the campaign over differences with [Scott] Barnett.

“When Barnett came in and made some poor strategic decisions for the campaign, I left,” Zane said. “It was perceived that he was anti-development and anti-business.”

The facts are this:  Zane asked me to come aboard as co-consultant in the late summer of 2003, (soon after I left my position as executive director of the Lincoln Club) because up to that time he had limited experience in running campaigns. 

Although I don’t take pride in it, I will take full responsibility for suggesting the “no developer or special interest/lobbyist” contribution strategy.  A strategy that was developed only after it was clear that the business establishment, including the Lincoln Club, would not oppose the incumbent, Democrat Scott Peters.

Mr. Zane not only knew of the “anti-establishment” strategy from the beginning, he never objected to it and fully supported it. Mr. Zane stayed with the campaign for several months after it was developed, polled (he helped write and reviewed the polling) and implemented in the form of campaign literature.

Although I do not dispute Mr. Zane left over “differences” with me, the differences were of a more personal nature then political. (There have been rumors that I am occasionally difficult to get along with.) But it all worked out since Mr. Zane is now the executive director of the Lincoln Club where he is doing an excellent job.

Elections are about winning — and, in fact, Thalheimer forced Councilman Peters to a run-off in 2004 — a rare event in politics where incumbents don’t lose.  But campaigns can also be sordid and unpleasant business, where the desire to win is placed ahead of all other factors.

My lack of stomach for this unbridled focus on winning at all costs is why I chose to “retire” from candidate consulting four years ago, preferring to retreat to crunching numbers on fiscal studies. However, I will happily own-up to my past responsibility in urging on clients positions I believed were in their best interest, even if they were at times unsavory. 

But at the same time I feel compelled to set the record straight when others misstate history as it relates to me.

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