Saturday, November 13, 2010

Prediction: Republican-Controlled General Assenbly Moves to Eliminate Indianapolis At-Large Council Districts

In 2007, Republicans won 3 of the 4 at-large seats on the Indianapolis City-County Council. Republican Ed Coleman later switched to the Libertarian Party.

Given the strong base vote Democrats continue to demonstrate in Marion County, most analysts believe the 2007 result was an aberration and the Democrats are poised to capture all four at-large seats next election. If that happens, the Republicans will have to win 15 of the 25 council districts to retain control of the majority.

The odds of that are extremely long. What would improve Republican prospects for retaining control is if the at-large districts were eliminated and all 29 councilors were elected from districts. Then with a strong gerrymander, Republicans would have a shot at retaining control.

Indiana's law (IC 3-11-1.5-32) currently prohibits the Council from redistricting after November 8th in a year preceding a municipal election. So Republicans councilors cannot redistrict going into the 2011 election. However, if the General Assembly were to change the Council from 25 districts to 29, eliminating the at-large districts, the legislature would also have to change the law to allow the Republican controlled council to redistrict for 2011 election.

Could this be done? Absolutely. Republicans have strong majorities in both the Indiana House and Senate. The only way the Democrats can stop the change is a walk-out in the Indiana House to deny the Republicans the quorum they need to pass the bill. It's not at all clear that Democrats in the House though would want to do this and expose themselves to the wrath of the public. Most House members do not live in Marion County and thus may not care about what happens to the Indianapolis Council. Also, the Democrats would probably win a majority with a 29 district Council anyway, regardless of how a Republican-controlled Council draws the map.

Will this be attempted? Absolutely. Will it be successful. I'm not sure.


Sean Shepard said...

The more I watch what goes on I think we would be better off with gridlock. Mayor of one party, council controlled by another.

JeffW said...

Seems to me this approach is a bit shortsighted. If the at-large positions were not around last time, the Dems would have the majority today. Given the irked culture, the GOP was swept in at at-large. Why would the "minority" party give this away?

Cato said...

Remember when the Democrats previously walked out on Mitch's legislature?

He accused them of, seriously, "car-bombing" government.

Paul K. Ogden said...


That isn't necessarily true. There is nothing to say that the four additional districts in 2007 would have gone Democratic.

The Democrats have a strong majority in the county. Why wouldn't the Republicans want to eliminate the positions? Any position elected county-wide is going to favor the Democrats. The Democrats control every county office as of January 1.

In fact, the at-large positions were originally created because Republicans had a strong majority in the county in 1970 and they knew those four at-large seats would be Republican ... which they were for over 30 years.

Had Enough Indy? said...

When is the next session over? The Council candidate filing is some time in February, yes? Wouldn't the legislature have to beat that deadline?