Being in the political world, I know a normal political fundraiser provides the opportunity to meet, for a price, at least one candidate for office (like this example from 2010 or this one from last year.) Sometimes the candidate in question will have another more prominent speaker to draw more interest.
Bur it’s not that often that political fundraisers use music as a draw. Certainly I’ve attended my share of benefit concerts over the years but they are normally put together for a cause like the misfortune of someone close to the sponsor’s heart, our veterans, or fighting against breast cancer. While it could be argued the beneficiary of an upcoming fundraiser has her own misfortune of needing to make up a deficit of over 500 votes in a city election, she’s obviously going to pull out all the stops to win.
I’ll talk about the musician first; this comes from the release put out by the campaign:
Jimmy Merchant of the ‘50s doo-wop group Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers will headline a fundraiser for Debbie Campbell for City Council. For a suggested contribution of $20, community members can enjoy a live performance by a music legend, best known for the hit “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?”
The release goes on to reveal the date, time, and location: Friday, March 15 at 6 p.m. at Chesapeake East, 501 West Main Street in Salisbury. (This is an art gallery and cafe owned by local artist Dana Simson.) Debbie attempts to tie this into Third Friday fairly well, although the location is a little bit remote from the main Third Friday festivities being held this month in the Powell Building.
And indeed, thanks to his participation in the group, Merchant is in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. But in writing this piece I found he doesn’t play all that often anymore, living in semi-retirement down on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. (I say semi-retirement as the website hasn’t been updated in over five years.)
With just 2 1/2 weeks remaining in the campaign as of Friday, I would presume anything made on this fundraiser will be plowed right back into a media blitz; a desperate effort for Debbie to keep her job against a candidate who’s not made any major errors so far and has no record to pick apart, let alone a reputation as the queen of “no.” Campbell’s fundraiser appeal ticks off a number of accomplishments: improving safety at the Onley-Bateman intersection near Salisbury University, contributing to the development of the Safe Streets Initiative, backing salary increases for local police officers, and improvements to the River’s Edge project.
But Debbie carries the burden – fairly or not – of being the poster child for a dysfunctional City Council, a reputation made that way by an occasionally petulant mayor who generally can only count on the backing of two of Council’s five members. If Campbell loses to Jake Day, that balance of power would shift in Jim Ireton’s favor, assuming, of course, that he wins re-election.
So it will be interesting to see how her fundraiser goes, since it will also be a barometer for how people perceive her odds of victory. If it’s one where only a handful show up, the obvious conclusion to be drawn is that people are looking to be on the winning side and it’s not hers.