One of the two declared candidates in the 2020 Fresno mayoral race raised his visibility this month.
The other practically went dark.
Is letting Jerry Dyer hog all the local media bandwidth one of Andrew Janz’s campaign strategies? Sure looks that way.
“I’ve been campaigning for six months,” Janz replied when I asked him, rather indelicately, when he was going to start.
Apologies for not noticing. The appreciation tour for Fresno’s outgoing police chief has stolen most of our attention.
Whether it’s giving speeches at community colleges or being honored with a 14-foot tall, 3.1-ton sculpture made from recycled metal, Dyer seems to be everywhere lately. And while these aren’t political events in the strictest sense, every headline or video click he generates raises his personal visibility and public awareness of his campaign.
By contrast, Janz hasn’t been in the news for over a month. Not since a fairly blatant attempt by certain members of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors to clamp down on the political aspirations of the guy who in 2018 came within 5.4 percentage points of swiping Devin Nunes’ seat in the House of Representatives.
Why the low profile?
So what has Janz been up to? Five months and change from election day, why keep such a low profile?
“Some of the local politicians tell me I should be out there more, that I should be kissing babies and things like that,” Janz said. “Because that’s the way people here in Fresno think campaigns should be run. I think that last time around I sort of bucked that common wisdom. We’re going to run a 21st-century campaign.”
Janz’s preferred method of voter outreach, at least for now, is to have “substantive conversations” at smaller gatherings. The kind that don’t generate media attention.
Take Friday, for example.
On the same day The Big Fresno Fair unveiled its metal tribute to Dyer, an event that got front-page coverage in The Bee and air time on the most-watched local TV station, Janz worked a normal day at the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office. That evening, he attended an Asian Pacific Islander conference in southeast Fresno followed by a private meet-and-greet near the Figarden Loop.
‘Just photo ops’
“We’re talking to voters all over the city,” Janz said. “It’s my goal to make sure that before election day we have at least one town hall in every district. We want to be out there and answer real questions and have real solutions to the issues that people face.
“I don’t want to run the same playbook, the superficial campaign where it’s who can get on TV the most. To me, those are just photo ops. I really think in our national state of politics people want something different.”
Even though the Fresno mayoral race could be settled March 3 (and mail-in votes submitted a month before), Janz thinks it’s too soon to launch a full-scale campaign.
Most voters, he said, don’t make their minds up until two months before the election “at the earliest. I think that’s the agreement of most political consultants.”
A prosecutor till January
Janz plans to continue prosecuting cases until January – he recently got a conviction on a $200,000 cash and jewelry armed robbery in Caruthers – when he’ll have enough vacation and family leave to fully focus on the mayoral race.
“I’m hoping to have debates,” Janz said. “I think that’s where we’re really going to convince a lot of people. We’re going to have a discussion, and we’re going to compare visions. At the end of the day, I think that’s what’s going to sway those voters.”
Provided, of course, Dyer hasn’t already done so with the head start he’s getting.
Marek Warszawski: 559-441-6218, @MarekTheBee