When a challenger faces off against an incumbent, especially an incumbent who is in an executive position like Mayor, Governor, President, the election is a referendum on the incumbent. A challenger who approached a campaign by ignoring the incumbent would be committing nothing short of political malpractice.
Rather than being too aggressive in her attacks on Ballard's record, Kennedy appears to be far too passive. Kennedy hasn't mentioned in her ads the 50 year parking meter deal, the $33.5 million giveaway to the Pacers, the $100 million North of South deal, the Broad Ripple Parking Garage giveaway and other insider deals the Ballard administration cut at the expense of taxpayers and the future of this City. While Kennedy has mentioned no bid contracts going to campaign contributors, she has only done so in a very general manner. To have a powerful impact, Kennedy would be much better advised to be specific. Ballard has no defense for his highly unpopular Pacer giveaway and the parking meter contract. Kennedy could be using those issues to drive voters away from Ballard, in particular people on the left and right who hate corporate welfare. Kennedy has not done that.
Maybe she won't have to. At the end of the day, Marion County is a Democratic County. It is even more Democratic today than it was 2007.
Kennedy is doing nothing wrong in her campaign strategy. She is doing what she's supposed to do, telling voters why they shouldn't re-elect the incumbent. She hasn't lied about issues, she hasn't attacked Ballard on a personal level. It's been a good clean campaign. Her only fault from a strategic standpoint is her failure to be nearly aggressive enough about attacking Ballard's record and his broken campaign promises. That's not what Republicans want to hear, but it's the truth.