We have not been advocates for Dave Ortega as Scottsdale’s next Mayor. But it doesn’t mean we can’t recognize the smart, effective campaign he’s run to date.
Ortega, whether it was during a successful run for City Council previously or in a losing bid for Mayor in 2004, has always had a base of support in southern Scottsdale. But leading up to the August primary he also benefited from another dynamic. He was the only Democrat in the 5-person field. The rest were Republicans.
That’s now changed. He’s in a race, one on one, with Republican Lisa Borowsky.
In any other election year Ortega would not have made the November run-off. But that’s how disproportionate the Democratic turnout was in August. This will likely not be the case in November though Ortega will continue to benefit from a slice of Republicans, and certainly Independents, choosing anyone but elephants this particular year.
Ortega has also made a beeline to the anti-growth voices in Scottsdale, which are starting to break his way despite sharing a similar platform with Borowsky.
But ultimately is that where Scottsdale resides politically? For some yes. But for all?
The results of the 2016 mayoral race between Jim Lane and Bob Littlefield say no. Then, Lane won by a decisive 26 percentage points. The result was not only message, campaign organization and record based, but on a big fundraising advantage. Lane outspent Littlfield nearly 5-1.
The August primary results for City Council also say no. There, one of the field’s most restrictive growth voices, Betty Janik, performed very well but the next two vote getters were more pro-business, especially small business: Tammy Caputi and John Little. And, interestingly, Little and Caputi are currently polling in the top two for November, perhaps the result of the November electorate being more moderate and appreciative of Scottsdale’s chemistry. Little and Caputi have also raised the most money.
So the great question of Borowsky v. Ortega may very well come down to whether history repeats itself.
Trailing incumbent Councilwoman Betty Drake during her first run for City Council Borowsky (and her family) dug deep to spend big and spend tough to contrast with Drake and overcome her.
With the Mayor’s Office now so close how deep may they go again to overcome Ortega’s efficacious effort? Ortega has vulnerabilities (opposition to Preserve, support for Scottsdale Waterfront towers) but so does Borowsky. Money can mask a lot and make some of it go away. And that’s how the next Scottsdale Mayor is likely to be decided.