February 04, 2013
Posted By: Rochelle Dudley
I understand that when you’re a first-time candidate running for public office, you’re bound to put your foot in your mouth a few times along the campaign trail. It’s almost inevitable when you consider what campaigning entails – giving unscripted speeches before groups of strangers and reporters, all of whom are watching with judgmental eyes, listening with discerning ears and waiting oh-so-patiently for you to screw up.
Multiply this scenario by a dozen times or more and odds are that’s exactly what you’ll do. But perhaps one of the most disconcerting gaffes I’ve personally witnessed came during this weekend's City Coalition of Neighborhood Association (CCNA) Candidate Forum from political activist, Planning Board member and City Commission candidate Susan Chapman.
When asked by the moderator whether she could, if elected, be trusted to give the Newtown neighborhood the attention it deserves, Chapman took the opportunity to single out reporter Jon Susce, editor and publisher of The Sarasota Phoenix, whose publication has been repeatedly critical of her over the years for the influence it says Chapman has over Newtown's District Commissioner, Willie Shaw.
In a one editorial, Susce wrote:
“Chapman uses individuals in North Sarasota, like Shaw and North Sarasota activist Barbara Langston, as mouthpieces to enhance the 'Chapman Shadow Government', while attempting to portray herself as a defender of the African American community.”
In her response to the CCNA question, Chapman made it clear she has some criticism of Susce too.
“When Jon Susce, rest his soul,“ she said, pausing mid-sentence, as if realizing the potential implication of speaking dead of the very-much-alive writer. Amazingly, Chapman continued, “No, I wish it was true.”
The jaw-dropping comment elicited abrupt laughter from several in the audience who appeared to be supporting Chapman, as well as a few “boos” and at least one “Oh, wow” from an attendee who found the comment inappropriate.
As a political consultant, blogger and sometimes journalist, I know I should probably just shrug off the comment as a campaign faux pas and focus instead on the issues. Gaffes happen, after all. But this is lawyer and political activist Susan Chapman we’re talking about -- the woman who inspired the SRQ article “Who’s Afraid of Susan Chapman?”
Was Mitt Romney's 47% comment a gaffe or a reflection of his world view? What does Chapman's comment say of hers? Should the fact that it was directed toward someone in the media make me scared? Perhaps. Not for my life, of course, but certainly for the kind of backlash I might receive for appearing critical of her in print. What’s to stop her from publicly wishing me dead too? To that end, how should I react to knowing that I may already be on Susan Chapman’s hit list?
Watch YouTube clip:
Article courtesy of PoliticallyPersonal.com.