No two ways about it, the loss of Al Weisenberger was a total failure on the part of Forma. Especially after dumping Svarzbein in the middle of the race, after a contract was signed and checks paid, to go work for the opposition just because they paid Rick Armendariz and the boys from Forma more money.
Svarzbein gave them the ultimate payback by beating them solidly.
Seriously that was such a bad business move on the part of Rick. I mean I get it, he doesn't pull the strings, he has his strings pulled. But now the word is out that even if you sign a contract with them and another candidate comes along willing to pay more money, they'll chase the check.
But to lose on top of it? Now everyone is going to wonder why they should pay them the fees they charge if they can't deliver. They'll be on life-support for a while. They'll have to get by on poaching judicial candidates that don't know any better or are too lazy to run for themselves.
Forma has been on a big losing streak lately. Big time. It was bad enough losing school board races. And Forma juggled a whole slate of them. They were supposed to win all their school board races because they are a smancy-pantsy consulting firm. But they lost the Ysleta races.
Peter V. Al was a different situation. It was just one race. They didn't have to juggle any campaign work. All they had to do was focus on Svarzbein. And they made some colossal mistakes along the way. That mail piece that went out with the wrong election information was probably the worse mistake I've ever seen in mail. Then putting Ann Morgan Lily on the mail with Al, as I said weeks ago, was a big mistake.
They got out-worked, out-hustled, and out-smarted...again.
At this point they should just close shop and open up under a different name because after their string of big loses and candidates having to limit what they do, they have a branding problem now.
Their one card has been being the gate-keepers to big money. Not sure how much longer they are going to have that card now that a string of candidates have figured out how to get around that little problem.
I will say this though. They are absolutely great at doing negative mail. I've said it before and I meant it, their piece they did against Rosa Cabrera (Arellano) was the best negative piece I've seen. But they can only do so much. Yes, their motto is "sweep the leg", but they can't do it if their candidate doesn't want them to. They are getting heat for not whacking Svarzbein but that probably wasn't their call. That was likely Al's call. Since he had zero campaign experience its not surprising that he didn't want to go negative. Candidates are often their own worst enemy and often do things that are counter-productive to what they want to accomplish. Trust me, its a major headache.
The minute Peter made a run-off it was his race to lose. He started sooner than anyone else, had more money, had a more visible presence, and had the ground game in place. Al's campaigning consisted of mail and yard signs. You can't win like that. Especially if you don't whack your opponent in your mail. You aren't giving people a reason to vote against your opponent.
Peter won because of his ground game. Damn sure wasn't his mail because it was awful. But despite being handicapped by bad mail, he was still able to hit more voters.
There are two reasons that happened. Number one he had a good campaign team. Alex Duran was his campaign manager and this was really the first time he actually ran a campaign, but he started from the bottom in other campaigns. Ironically...in the valley. He did some phone banking and poll sitting, most notably for State Rep Mary Gonzalez's campaign. This was the first time he was captain of the ship and he made some good choices. The other reason it happened was because Duran and Svarzbein tapped the right guy to call off the bench in the fourth quarter. They upgraded their personnel in field work and called in Mike Apodaca to help out with their grand game. Run-offs are all about turnout and if you create the right universe of voters then you'll be successful. I've lost track of all the campaigns Apodaca has been part of but he's one of the best in town.
If there's a campaign that should get the big atta-boy for their ground game its not Dagda's, its Peter's. They actually won and don't have to talk about moral victories.
And Peter was not the candidate Forma or anyone else expected him to be. They expected the spacey and flakey artist type. They didn't expect him to work as hard as he did. He hustled on the ground and if anyone paid attention they would see his pretty much daily "end of day" photo. If you know the westside you could probably figure out what turf he was walking every day by the photo he took.
Peter did one thing better than most candidates I've seen. He raised money. Look at his finance reports and you can see how many individual donors there were. He wasn't just going to one well over and over. He had a lot of support from a lot of different places. Most candidates suck at that and hate asking for money.
And he didn't make any mistakes or public gaffes. That alone is an accomplishment, just ask Dagda. Its not easy to run and have to speak in public and repeat the same thing over and over in front of different groups and crowds without screwing-up. Especially in this digital age where everyone can take video or audio of something stupid said or done. Used to be that you only had to watch out for LionStar and his shitty little home video camera. Now anyone can catch you saying something stupid. Its a different world now.
One last thing about Weisenberger, he was gracious in defeat. Thats a big deal because politics can get real personal and emotional and some people lack the emotional stability to handle defeat. Just look at Daniel Lopez as an example of that. He turned into a crazy when he lost and he really seems to hate Peter on a very personal level.
Al was gracious. That is a thing that we see less and less of these days and it was nice to see Al buck that trend.
Also, if you haven't seen it, go check out Al's car commercial on his campaign Facebook page. Its retro and super cool. He looks like a total boss at the end.