Why Did Leeser Beat Margo So Badly in Mayoral Race?
Businessman Oscar Leeser won in the run-off election for El Paso Mayor over Dee Margo. Leeser, who preceded Margo as mayor from 2013-2017, is promising to reunite our community and tackle the Covid pandemic, which El Paso has been a hot-spot for in recent weeks.
When talking about the “why” of Leesers win, we should acknowledge that this race wasn’t even close. Leeser won by 80% of the vote so it’s clear that the majority of El Pasoans wanted a change of direction.
It can’t be overstated that Leeser won, in part, because he didn’t have to handle the pandemic. Dee Margo angered, it seemed, EVERY side in the argument over how long and how much the city of El Paso would observe strict Covid rules. In March of 2020, Margo received the ire of the anti-shutdown, pro-business as usual crowd by siding with other local leaders in making El Paso’s shutdown MORE restrictive than other cities in the state. Then, in late October, he made the OTHER side mad when he publicly broke with County Judge Ricardo Samaniego and urged the Governor and Texas AG to invalidate the judge’s lockdown order. That this was done a few days before the November 3rd election and well into the earlier voting period made things tough. The new “pro-business, anti-lockdown” position was too late to win over critics but in just enough time to piss off everyone else.
Oscar Leeser’s main strength in this election was this: he didn’t have to make those kind of decisions. Would Oscar have done things much differently? If he would have, what? No one knew what the pandemic under a Mayor Leeser would have looked like. Oscar benefitted by not having to make any of those decisions that proved unpopular with various, and often times opposed, voters.
It probably didn’t help when Dee’s campaign started running those radio adds that SOUNDED like they were attacking Leeser’s Covid response. Of course, Leeser HAD no record as mayor on Covid. The attack ad said, “Leeser…neglected first responders who helped us during Covid”. This was the old political trick of vaguely tying your opponent to unpopular opinion and hoping the electorate will make the negative connection. The electorate, clearly, wasn’t buying it.
Despite the loss, I think Dee Margo will be remembered as the Mayor who provided support and strength for the city following the racist WalMart mass shooting. Also, I will never forget that when Donald Trump spun the false narrative of, “El Paso had one of the highest rates of violent crimes” and was “one of our nation’s most dangerous cities” Dee Margo, without hesitation and despite the fact that he was a lifelong republican, pointed out that it was an unfair and inaccurate representation of our city. That got him disinvited from the Trump rally (bill still outstanding) called a RINO and mocked in his own city by the President. That, I think, everyone should be able to respect.
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