Oakland News: Joe Tuman v. Rebecca Kaplan For At-Large City Council Seat

Joe Tuman v. Rebecca Kaplan would have gained more attention if Tuman (hint to Joe) embraced Social Media. But before we get to that, the news is that Joe Tuman filed papers to run against Rebecca Kaplan for the Oakland City Council At-Large Seat she currently holds, and for this November 2012 election.

Kaplan now has a challenger and a formidable one, albeit one who’s a bit New Media challenged.

Instead of using Social Media, Tuman gave the info of his filing to the Oakland Tribune, where it went nowhere. The only reason this blogger found out about it is because Tuman’s a Facebook Friend, who’s name showed up on a social media news platform I use called Newsle and into my email box. When I searched for “Joe Tuman” on Twitter, I got nada as of this writing, nothing and because this blog post has not yet been published.

When it is, that will change.

Joe’s done this before: during the Oakland Mayor’s Race. It’s not so much that he got a late start, but that his over-leaning on traditional media prevented his campaign from taking on the viral trajectory many insiders were poised to witness. Joe is badly lacking in this area, and must shore it up if he expects to challenge Kaplan, who does have a Twitter account, even if it’s not well used, and a Facebook page, but no blog or visible and used YouTube channel.

(I’m telling you, many Oakland politicians are ripe for being taken down by social media. Just saying.)

The question is can Tuman beat Kaplan? Considering Rebecca’s overall popularity and winning personality that a tall order. But Joe’s entry into the race gives mid-aged and older Oaklanders a champion. Let’s face it: Rebecca Kaplan’s base skews strongly to the newly active younger set below 50 in Oakland. Until Joe changes how he reaches them via media, that group solidly belongs to Kaplan. Moreover, arguably Rebecca beat Joe once before: for Mayor. Remember, the Oakland Mayor “first pass” vote count was 12 percent for Joe versus 21.58 percent for Rebecca. On top of that, Joe has done little to keep his face in the public eye, and that goes back to how he uses media (poorly).

Still, with all of Rebecca’s popularity – And I have to admit it’s hard to dislike her, even when one’s angry with her, and I should know – she is vulnerable, and because of her, on occasion, gender-bending style. It’s best to get this on the table, but there’s a small group of people who didn’t like the beard she wore for a time. She sported the beard last year, when we conducted this interview:

And while its a little thing once you get used to it, it’s a big thing because Rebecca’s forcing people to get used to it – the fact is, most people are used to seeing beards (regardless of size) on men, not women.

I bring this up, because the topic of Rebecca’s beard keeps being brought to my attention by others and without my mention – this happened last week. Having a beard’s not something Rebecca would have done if she were running for election for the first time. And that points a window to why Kaplan could lose: she has a tendency to do some things she would not have done while trying to be considered as “electable.” I know Rebecca’s fighting for the right to be herself, which in this case is being ‘butch’….

…which is her endearing quality, but that also rubs against the fact that few in politics can entirely be themselves all the time. Especially in the area of style. Let’s face it: Kaplan would be less concerned about cementing a ‘butch identity’ if she were still chasing the brass ring she now has: her office as an elected official.

What a contrast Oaklanders have between Joe Tuman and Rebecca Kaplan: Old Media versus New Media.

Stay tuned.

(And as a preview, I’m backing Sean Sullivan for Oakland District Three City Council and Don Macleay For District One. Sean’s a good example of someone’s who’s really got involved in Oakland’s community between elections, which means his ‘end-all, be all’ is not the office itself. The same applies to Don Macleay, who’s well known as the head of The Oakland Greens and who ran for Mayor of Oakland in 2010.)