The other day, a friend sent me an email commenting on the proposed "sale" of the utilities and asked why that sudden infusion of millions of dollars into the local economy would not seal the Mayor Ballard's re-election.
I would characterize it as the proverbial "Hail Mary" pass at the end of a football game where the quarterback tosses a lengthy pass into a crowd in a desperate to turn a loss into a win. Rarely does a Hail Mary pass work. And in the case of Mayor Ballard, it's highly unlikely that this desperate attempt to engage in a multi-million dollar borrow and spend scheme will work to save his re-election. Here are my reasons why:
First of all, the base Democrat vote in the County in 2008 was 60-40. While it's probably not that high, it will probably be at least 56-44 Democrat in 2011. That's a very steep hill any countywide Republican will have to climb. Few are successful. In 2006, only Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi was able to scale a hill that was then even smaller.. In 2008 no Republican county-wide candidates was successful.
Second, by 2011, the Republican rebound year will be over. In 2010, the Marion County GOP has a shot at overcoming the base vote because of the inevitable rebound against the party in control of the White House. By 2011, that rebound effect will be gone.
Third, Ballard's policies have alienated many people in his own party. This will be even more so when the D's start hammering him on spending and tax/fee increases. Those issues cut at the core of the traditional Republican constituency - fiscal conservatism.
Fourth, on a related point, there is a major schism within the Marion County GOP . Party leadership insists on pushing the GOP elected officials in a country club, elitist direction. Most Marion County Republicans though want a much more populist party that reaches out to the working men and women, like Reagan did when he was in office. They're outraged by such things as corporate welfare, epitomized by the coming administration deal to give the Simons millions more of our tax dollars to subsidize the Pacers.And while the number of people who vote on gun rights issues are small, they are extremely loyal Republicans and terrific at networking on gun issues. Ballard gun policies have deeply alienated them.
Fifth, Ballard's polices have set the Democrats up beautifully. Imagine a shot of 2007 Candidate Ballard talking about not raising taxes. Then it freezes, with a scrolling list of taxes and fees Ballard has proposed raising. That ad would cut the heart out of his conservative support. Imagine what the Ds can do with all the junkets Ballard has taken, his enjoyment of the perks of the office. Then you have things like the bailout of the CIB and Pacers. I bet you 80% of the public is outraged about a possible Pacer bailout.
Sixth, Ballard has an image as a weak leader, someone not terribly intelligent, someone not in control of his own administration. While candidates with that type of image might be able to rehabilitate themselves with massive campaign spending and glossy ads, I think Ballard's negative image is probably too ingrained to overcome, especially when the D's will be pounding him all of 2008 on his lack of leadership.
The shame is that a Hail Mary pass for Republicans to win the 2011 Indianapolis municipal elections would never have been needed. It became a necessary strategy though when Mayor Greg Ballard turned his back on the populist views he campaigned on and the people who helped him get elected. Mayor Ballard could reached working men and women and helped create a Republican majority in the county, ensuring his re-election and a continuation of the Republican majority on the Council.
Instead Mayor Ballard chose to turn his administration over to profiteers like Bob Grand and Joe Loftus and hundreds of government contractors and big law firms who have taken advantage of the the Mayor's political naivety to stuff their pockets with as much money as they can during his four year term all the while ensuring Marion County Republicans fail at the polls in 2011.
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