The other day I caught just a few minutes of the Barry Richard's show. Barry was asking if people would vote for Mayor Correia when he comes up for re-election here in Fall River. I didn't listen long enough to hear the consensus, but it made me wonder, could Bob be beat in 2009? I think the simple answer is no. Because of some recent unpopular actions Bob may appear vulnerable but I don't think there is a candidate out there who could mount a successful challenge. Certainly, if we have a repeat of 2007 with multiple candidates running, no single candidate will be able to build the support needed to unseat Mayor Correia.
Still, it's entertaining to think about who a likely challenger would be or who could possibly beat Bob. Let's look at a few prominent candidates.
Representative David Sullivan
It's only natural to think of a possible rematch between Bob Correia and Dave Sullivan. Still, Sullivan is unlikely to win any such rematch and I think it would be inadvisable to try. Bob now has the benefit of being the incumbent, usually always an advantage. Sullivan is not a strong enough public speaker or effective enough in debates to really hurt Bob. Also another run for mayor could erode his support for his state rep seat. I think Sullivan would be wise to sit this one out.
I think it was tough not to be impressed by Eric Poulin in his bid for mayor. Eric is likable, smart, and has experience in the Mayor's office. He offered up a detailed campaign platform and demonstrated his abilities to understand Fall River issues and research and formulate actions during the few campaign forums before the primary. Could Eric make a challenge of it, if he was the only candidate facing Bob? I think Eric would do very well against Bob in a series of debates but Poulin's problem would be trying to get the financial backing and experienced campaign support to mount a serious campaign. If Poulin does decide to run for office in 2009 I think the city council is where he would have the best success.
After 12 years as Fall River's mayor Ed Lambert decided to ride into the sunset. The problem is the new sheriff in town is blaming Ol' Ed for all the troubles around Dodge. With his ego bruised and his legacy tarnished, could Lambert be convinced to try to reclaim his old turf? Certainly, Lambert's popularity has suffered some. His political organization now had 'property of Bob' written all over. Still, I have to think if Lambert decided to make a run of it, his core supporters would return. He could probably assemble much of his old campaign machine and no local politician is a better campaigner, a more gifted speaker, or more effective debater. If anyone could beat Bob Correia my money would be on Lambert, that said I don't think beating Bob would be enough incentive for Lambert to run again. Would it?
Bottom line look for token opposition for Bob in 2009. My hunch is he wins easily and steps down in 2011. If that happens I imagine that Councilor Cathy Ann Viveros will make a run, as well as Councilor Joe Camara and State Representative Kevin Aguiar.
Some challengers that the Mayor has been facing are members of the '6-3 Council'. Isn't it something that it's the same 6 councilors who always agree with him and the same 3 who disagree? Personally I think the '3 amigos' (Steve Camara, Ray Hague and Leo Pelletier) have done a better job of explaining their no votes then the 'lockstep 6' has even attempted for their support. Still, I'm sure Mayor Correia respects the views of Steve Camara, Hague and Pelletier. I'm sure he understands the need to keep a good working relationship with these 3 councilors even if they haven't supported him in the early goings. Right? Well, the Herald News reports that these 3 councilors were not invited to a recent fundraiser for the Mayor. The other six were all given invitations. The Mayor justified this by saying it was an event for his supporters and that he never invited every Rep to functions he held while in that office. But, the office of mayor is a lot different. He is the head of the city and must work with all 9 councilors. Instead his actions seem designed to alienate and make clear that he does not need their support.
Mayor Correia should be working to build relationships with all 9 councilors. While there is little chance that the Mayor himself will be seriously challenged for re-election, those opposed to him will realize this and likely focus their efforts on challenging his 'council majority'.