As I write this, Charles Pugh is appearing with five of his fellow aspiring Detroit City Council candidates on the second of WADL-TV’s live debates. It has been a rough several days for the former broadcast newsman with widespread press coverage on his condo foreclosure trials and tribulations. Thus far these evening, he has come across well—likable, personable, thoughtful. To be sure, Pugh, a longtime TV journalist, is good on camera.
He is also no stranger to adversity. Google the man and read about his past and you will see that he has overcome almost unfathomable personal tragedy and loss. He is also homosexual which, for anyone in the public eye (in particular an indivdual running for public office), can bring a range of challenges. Placed in the context of his life, then, potentially losing a $350,000 Detroit condominium would seem, for Pugh, a more than surmountable bump in the road.
That said, Charles Pugh can’t afford another gaffe. Soon after announcing his candidacy last year, Pugh demonstrated an initial lack of judgment in, evidently, consulting with disgraced former Detroit Chief of Staff Christine Beatty regarding his political aspirations. He quickly covered his tracks, yet, some initial damage was done; if nothing else his inexperience in the realm of public service was brought to light. Now, at a critical time, news coverage of his financial challenges (including in past years where he was still a well paid journalist) threatens to further damage his credibility in the minds of potential supporters.
How will Pugh fare in the end? He has much going for him including his aforementioned likability and presence. Like Dave Bing (who also overcame issues of credibility regarding his education and place of residency), he represents change and a new start where both are sorely needed. From a communications standpoint, he also handled this current “crisis” well—immediately addressing the issues “head-on” in a seemingly forthright and honest way. A few weeks from now, we’ll see exactly how Detroit voters feel.