Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Watching the Democrats Unveil Their Massa Campaign Strategy

With the entry into the prosecutor's race of Mark Massa, chief legal advisor to Governor Mitch Daniels, and a former state and federal prosecutor, Marion County Democratic Chairman Ed Treacy offered a somewhat response. Terry Burns of the Indianapolis Times reports on the Treacy press release:
"I'd like to welcome Mark Massa to the race for Prosecutor. His entry into the race comes only after begging, pleading and more than a little arm-twisting by a litany of Republicans. Clearly, his campaign is going to be one of puppetry and surrogacy."

Treacy went further, alluding to recent troubles that plagued local GOP officials, by calling for a pledge from Massa not to accept any money from the campaign accounts tainted by Carl Brizzi, Lincoln Plowman, Tim Durham, Fair Finance, Obsidian Enterprises, Harrison Epperly or EMPS, LLC.

"Mark Massa is representing to want to be the top law enforcement official in Marion County, he should hold himself to a higher standard and publicly pledge to take not a cent from the candidates or committees tainted by money from the local GOP culture of corruption," Treacy said.
Treacy's line regarding "puppetry and surrogacy" won't get the Democrats very far. The claim that Massa is a "puppet" would be a hard sell. So too was the related initial strategy of trying to link Massa to Governor Daniels who rolled to a huge victory in Marion County.

The Democrats' anti-Massa strategy, however, will evolve. Expect that the Democrats will try to link Massa to the increasingly unpopular, and scandal-plagued incumbent prosecutor Carl Brizzi. Also, expect that the Democrats continue to pound on the supposed Republican "culture of corruption," an unfortunate tag that ignores the fact that political corruption in Marion County politics is bipartisan in nature. Brizzi was even-handed in his failure to pursue political corruption cases - he protected not only his Republican friends, but also Democrats.

Also, one can never underestimate the "time for a housecleaning" argument that Democrats will also roll out, a strategy which is aided by Brizzi's problems.. Republicans have held the Marion County Prosecutor's Office for 16 years. There gets to be an itch in the electorate for a change in partisan control when you're talking about one party dominating a high-profile office for that length of time. I will never forget the poll taken in 1988, the year that Republican Lt. Governor John Mutz squared off against Democratic Secretary of State Evan Bayh in the Governor's race. Republicans had held the office for 20 years. One poll question asked whether the State was heading in the right direction. Some 70% said "yes." The next question was asking whether the State should change the direction it was going in. Remarkably, some 70% answered "yes." That did not forebode well for Mutz's candidacy, who, of course, ended up losing the election.

90% of political success involves being in the right place at the right time. Most local Republicans believe Massa will be a strong candidate. But his downfall will be that he is the right candidate he is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

1 comment:

karma09 said...

Massa would turn heads if he promised a full and public vetting of the Brizzi administration's fun-house, including all things Durham and Eppler/Willoughby related. And of course, followed through.

Simply promising a "tough on crime, experience-based" administration is nothing more than Brizzi re-tread. Massa's in the wrong party to get away with that. It would mean Massa's hands are tied by the same group that watched Brizzi obliterate the MCPO brand-name, without a peep of protest or adult supervision.

Massa must distinguish himself from the current holder of the office, from within the same party, and even from the same source of selection that Brizzi and Massa have in common -- Scott Newman.

A low key, I'm my own man, campaign cannot be taken on faith at this point.