The issues Tully says will propel Ballard to a second term include are: 1) Ballard paid attention to the nuts and bolts; 2) Ballard showed up for the job; 3) Ballard is apolitical, i.e. he ignored politics in office; 4) Ballard has a strong team around him, citing to Mike Huber and Robert Vane; and 5) Ballard is underestimated.
Tully column only makes sense if it is an argument WHY Ballard deserves a second term. As a political analysis column, it wouldn't receive a passing grade.
I won't spend much time on Tully's analysis because, frankly, it's extremely poor. First, paying attention to the nuts and bolts will only assure you don't get negative votes against you for not taking care of those things. I'm not aware of any Mayor who ever got re-elected because he paved a bunch of roads. (Of course, the Mayor has mortgaged the future, using money generated from 30 year loan and a 50 year deal to pave roads - a short term fix - but this never seems to trouble Tully. He's never once mentioned the fiscal irresponsibiliy of where this infrastructure money is coming from.)
As far as Ballard "showing up" for the job, I'm not sure what Mayor doesn't "show up" for the job. Then you have Tully's positive that Ballard ignored politics, pushing through an agenda despite public outrage. Not sure how this is supposed to be something positive politically. As far as having a "strong team," does Tully think people are going to go into the voting booth and vote for Ballard because he hired Huber (who will probably be at a government contractor job before the end of next year) and Vane? Then you have the point that Ballard is "underestimated." Yes that could be a positive for the Ballard campaign. But it also could be a reflection that Ballard failed to do the things necessary to ensure he could win a second term.
Now let's do some real political analysis, pointing to why Ballard won't win re-election.
- DEMOGRAPHICS: The Republicans have lost every countywide election since the upset year of 2007. During a Republican tsunami year of 2010 in which Republicans won in nearly every nook and cranny of Indiana, Republicans lost badly in Marion County. If a well-funded, articulate Republican like Mark Massa can't win in 2010, how is a gaffe-riddled Greg Ballard going to win?
- ALIENATION OF POLITICAL BASE: It's the first rule of politics - you don't alienate your base supporters. You talk to Ballard's 2007 campaign workers, the fiscal conservatives and tea party types. They detest the man. If Ballard starts out with 45% of the vote and he ticks off a good size of that percent, how is he possibly going to get to 50%. He won't get the backlash vote he got in 2007 when voters were casting a ballot against Mayor Bart Peterson.
- ISSUES: On issue after issue, Ballard appears to be intentionally setting the Democrats up with sound-bite, voting issues that can and will be used against him. There are so many it is tough to focus on a few. First you have the CIB tax increases (not to mention the 100 other tax and fee increases Ballard has proposed in office.) Second, you have the Pacer $33.5 million taxpayer gift - people are mad as hell about that deal. Third, you have the 50 year parking meter deal, another one that was very unpopular but pushed through by the Ballard administration. Fourth, you have major ethical lapses in the administration, Ballard letting people with conflicts of interest profit off taxpayers. Fifth, you have Mayor Ballard and his wife taking junkets all over the world and accepting country club membership and other "perks." Sixth, you have a mayor who has gone out of his way to break virtually every campaign promise he made in office. Don't think for a second that the Democrats haven't gotten the video footage of those promises. Seventh, you have that overall theme - poor leadership as well as the image of the Mayor getting used by Tully's "strong team" who are busy profiting themselves on his administration.
- POOR POLITICAL STRATEGY: Finally, I would add that the political people around the Mayor haven't a clue what they're doing. For example, why would you send the Mayor out on every television station to defend the Pacer $33.5 million deal, since public support wasn't needed for the deal to be passed? Ballard persuaded no one, yet now he is indelibly linked with the unpopular deal. This is but one example of the political people around Ballard not knowing what they're doing. Or you could take the approach, that they don't care about the Mayor's re-election and fully expect he will lose in 2011.
In short, Tully doesn't know what he's talking about. You would at leastt think though he would address the things that a true political analyst would address would writing a column on political analysis. Tully though is hardly objective, he's proved he's a cheerleader for an administration on its last legs. He may be the last one before this is all over.