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November 23, 2009 at 9:05 PM

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Consultants in mayor's race give post-game analysis

Posted by Emily Heffter

In a post-election confession session Monday night at a Belltown bar, the chief strategists from Joe Mallahan's failed mayoral campaign portrayed their candidate as overly altruistic and so unable to stay on message that they hid him from the public.

Speaking frankly to a room full of people at a forum sponsored by the political blog PubliCola, consultant Jason Bennett said he doubted anyone who watched the campaign could seriously suggest that Mallahan should have spent more time in the public eye.

"I would say it was part of our strategy, not to put him out there more often," he said.

Mallahan was uncomfortable promoting himself and thought out loud too much, said his campaign consultant, Charla Neuman.

On the winning side, Mike McGinn's campaign consultant, Bill Broadhead, said he regretted the tone of a controversial robo-call the campaign made alleging that Mallahan was aligned with the National Rifle Association and wanted it to be legal for people to take guns to parks.

"I kind of wish we hadn't done that," he said.

And Broadhead revealed that after the primary, the campaign sought endorsements from labor and business groups, hoping that by winning the primary, they would have earned credibility among Seattle's power elite.

"It was pretty cold out there," Broadhead said, and added: "Then the strategy was to win with no money and no endorsements."

Later in the campaign, McGinn bashed Mallahan for taking donations from big labor and business.

Mallahan's consultants dished about the candidate's post-primary disappearance, when they were putting him through what the campaign called "mayor school," trying to get him up to speed on issues.

McGinn's consultant said a volunteer took McGinn to the Nordstrom Rack 30 minutes before the KING 5 debate to buy the sometimes sloppily dressed candidate a new red tie.

In the end, both campaigns said it came down to authenticity.

"We didn't let Joe be Joe," Neuman said.

Broadhead said the campaign never urged McGinn to shave his beard or speak through a spokesperson.

"If you draw a tight box around them, then what you give up is authenticity, and authenticity is the stock and trade of politics right now," he said.

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Jim Brunner
Covers politics.

Keith Ervin
Covers the Eastside.

Andrew Garber
Covers politics and state government from Olympia.

Emily Heffter
Covers local government.

Mike Lindblom
Covers transportation.

Kyung Song
Covers politics and regional issues from Washington, D.C.

Lynn Thompson
Covers Seattle City Hall.

Bob Young
Covers King County and urban affairs.