Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Marion County Democratic Chairman Ed Treacy Sticks It To Democratic Precinct Committeepersons, Denies Them The Opportunity to Fill Councilor Sanders' Vacancy on the Ballot

Yesterday, At-Large Councilor Joanne Sanders announced she would not run for re-election, thus creating a vacancy on the ballot.
At-Large Councilor Joanne Sanders

First, let me say I have a lot of respect for Councilor Sanders.   She stood up for taxpayers against the wasteful spending and tax/fee increases that my own Republican Party rubber-stamped at the behest of Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.  While I don't agree with her more liberal views on other issues, I respect that she is true to her political beliefs.

Having said that, I am not the least bit persuaded by Sanders' explanation that she recently became aware that her union representative duties were so time-consuming she couldn't be an effective councilor.  I am likewise not the least bit persuaded by the suggestion that Sanders' withdrawal had to do with "disarray" in the Democratic caucus and a supposed coup on her leadership.  Those ideas come from status quo, establishment Republican blogs who are desperate for something that might aid the Republcians' long-shot chances in this year's municipal election.

Marion County Democratic
Chairman Ed Treacy
Let me suggest a more realistic explanation.  I think Sanders all along planned to not run for re-election after serving 12 years on the council.  Marion County Democratic Chairman Ed Treacy heard this and talked her into appearing on the ballot through the primary.  Then she could be replaced on the ballot.

Why?  If she doesn't go through slating, another candidate gets slated by Democratic Party workers.  By waiting until after the primary, the vacancy is governed by IC 3-13-1-6(a): 
Except as provided in subsection (b), a candidate vacancy for a local office shall be filled by:

(1) a caucus comprised of the precinct committeemen who are eligible to participate under section 10 of this chapter; or

(2) the county chairman of the political party or a caucus comprised of the chairman, vice chairman, secretary, and treasurer of the county committee of the party, if:

(A) authorized to fill vacancies under this chapter by majority vote of the county committee; and

(B) the election district for the local office is entirely within one (1) county.
Let me translate.  When there is a post-primary vacancy on a ballot for a local government race that vacancy can be filled by a caucus of the precinct committeemen OR by the county chairman.

Today is June 21st, four and a half months before the November primary.  There is plenty of time to for Treacy to call a convention under IC 3-13-1-6(a) and have Democratic precinct committeepersons pick Sanders' replacement.  Instead, Treacy chose to stick it to those party workers and make the choice himself, picking Pam Hickman today to fill the hole in the ballot.

This reminds me so much of the timing of the Evan Bayh decision not to run for re-election.  Bayh announced he wasn't running for re-election so late that no other candidate could file for the primary.  That meant the vacancy on the ballot was filled by Democratic party insiders instead of the Democratic electorate.  Bayh unfortunately was given a pass by the mainstream media on this issue.

While I have little doubt that Hickman and the other three Democratic at-large candidates will win in November, Democratic party workers should still be outraged that Chairman Ed Treacy decided to shut them out of the process to pick Sanders' replacement.

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