Sunday, January 31, 2010

How Mayor Ballard Can Win Re-Election - The Constanza "Opposite" Principle

On Friday, I posted an article about what issues the Democrats will use against Mayor Ballard in 2011 should the Mayor in fact seek re-election. As I noted, the issues are extremely easy to develop and are virtually indefensible from a strategic standpoint. I think the odds of Mayor Ballard to be re-elected are very long, maybe as much as 10-1. Currently the course he is on is disastrous not only for his re-election chances, but also for the Republican majority on the Council.

How then can Mayor Ballard change his election fortunes? He can learn a lesson from George Constanza the Seinfeld character played by Jason Alexander. During one of the episodes of the show, George concludes that every instinct and every decision he had in life had been wrong. Therefore, he starts doing the opposite of what he would otherwise do and he suddenly becomes very successful.

Certainly not every decision in Mayor Ballard's life has been wrong. He had a successful career in the Marines and by all appearances he seems to have a happy family life. But when it comes to politics, from the night of November 6, 2007 until now, virtually every political decision Mayor Ballard has been horribly wrong and has assured a resounding re-election defeat. Therefore, doing the opposite might give Ballard a shot at political success. Frankly, I'm not sure there is time to fix Ballard's political problems, but if any strategy holds a possibility of success, it's the Constanza "opposite" strategy.

Here are some things that Ballard could do.

1) Totally overhaul his administration and kick out the Goldsmith Establishment Republicans who are responsible for the disastrous and unpopular policy decisions Mayor Ballard has been pursuing
---Harry Truman once said if an elected official wants a friend, he should get a dog. The statement meant that, in politics it is hard to have real friends, because many people act like friends because of the power and influence the elected official has. That's one thing Ballard has never learned. He really thinks these Establishment Republicans like Joe Loftus and Bob Grand are his friends and are looking out for his welfare. No, they are using their positions in the Ballard administration to make themselves, their friends and their clients more money. They couldn't care less if Ballard is defeated in 2011.

2) Bring into the administration, to replace the Establishment Republicans who were let go pursuant to No. #1, the Republican populists who worked tirelessly for Ballard's election but were immediately shoved aside during the transition.
---These men and women are the new face of the Marion County GOP. The clock is running on the role of Establishment-types like Tom John, David Brooks, etc. being involved in the Republican Party.

3) Re-embrace the populist agenda Ballard campaigned on which agenda promised real ethics reform, an end to corporate welfare, and no new taxes.
---While it was Peterson's COIT tax increase coming on the heels of property tax increases that was responsible for his election defeat, the fact is Ballard's populist election agenda would have given him a chance to get him re-elected. Instead he threw away that agenda and adopted an Establishment Republican agenda of more taxes and more corporate welfare that has no chance of holding the Republican base or getting the Democratic-leaning votes necessary to win re-election.

Virtually every election involving an incumbent, is a referendum on that incumbent. Right now the referendum on Ballard's re-election would be an overwhelming "No." He needs to spend these next two years doing the opposite of what he did the first two years and building an agenda upon which a successful re-election effort can be built. Unless he does that, he has no hope of re-election.


Hoosier in the Heartland said...

Maybe, just maybe, Ballard's election was, ummm, a fluke? And he should NOT be re-elected? An idea to be contemplated, eh?

Paul K. Ogden said...

The fact that Ballard got extremely luck in getting elected doesn't mean he should have abandoned the opportunity that luck provided him and positioned himself for re-election. What he's doing in office is no differently that what Mayor Peterson would have done.

Hoosier in the Heartland said...

PKO said: "What he's doing in office is no differently that what Mayor Peterson would have done."

Really? Now there's an assertion that should be explored!

It's hard to imagine Peterson hiring Frank Straub, just to give one example.


Ballard's winning was not a 'fluke'. I was there. We worked very hard to make it happen and while it may have seemed random, it was not. We made the luck that caused Ballard's win.

However, Ballard did not live up to his promises to us. And the fulfillment of those promises are why we worked.

Hoosier in the Heartland said...

To clarify, HFFT, I should have said that Ballard was the fluke, not the fact that anybody-but-Peterson was elected.

In large part, the mayoral vote was AGAINST Peterson, not FOR Ballard.