Saturday, February 6, 2010
Why He Hesitates: Mark Massa, Republican Candidate for Marion County Prosecutor?
So much for the conspiracy theory that the Democrats intentionally drove Helen Marchal of the Marion County Prosecutor's Office out of the race by threatening the job of her husband, Jeff Marchal, a Democrat who is a commissioner with the Marion County courts. It appears that the Democrats might be on the verge of getting a much tougher candidate in the race, Mark Massa.
Massa, who is Governor Daniels' chief legal advisor, has also been a federal and state prosecutor, at one time serving as former Marion County Prosecutor Scott Newman's chief counsel. Unlike Marchal, Massa does not have close ties to the Brizzi's office.
Governor Mitch Daniels is enthused that Massa might be the candidate. Contrary to the claims by certain Democratic bloggers, I'm not buying the notion that Daniels actively sought Massa out because he wanted a shield from possible prosecution of administration officials, which prosecution would have to come from the Marion County Prosecutor's Office. When was the last time a Marion County Prosecutor, Republican or Democrat, pursued a public corruption case?
Rather I would expect that the reason for Governor Daniels' enthusiastic support of Massa is that Daniels is embarrassed by the floundering leadership of Marion County GOP and sees Massa as someone who would be a good prosecutor and can help repair the local party.
Despite enormous pressure to enter the race, Massa is hesitating - and for good reason. Even though on paper there is separation between Massa and increasingly scandal-prone Brizzi, the political reality is that Massa will have to carry Brizzi's baggage come election time. Unlike on Southwest Airlines, Brizzi's bags don't fly for free. For Massa to succeed he would not only have to overcome the Brizzi baggage problem, but also overcome the growing Democratic majority in the county. In 2008, the gap had grown to 20 points, 60-40. While the baseline should be less in 2010, it still will probably be at least 10 points separating generic county-wide Republican and Democratic candidates.
From a political standpoint, all Republicans, save one, benefits from a Massa candidacy. That one is Massa. While Massa would mount a valiant race, most certainly due to events beyond his control he will be soundly defeated in November. For all his effort, he'll have an "L" by his name with nothing gained from his effort.
That is why Massa hesitates.