Monday, October 3, 2011

The Quiet Indianapolis Campaign Season

Mayor Greg Ballard
I haven't written much lately.  That's not due to being busy with other projects.  It's due to the quiet campaign season we've been having here in Indianapolis. There has not been much to write about.

Tomorrow the election will just be five weeks away.  Although some people have complained about the "negative" tone of one or both of the candidates, the fact is neither side has been very aggressive in attacking the other candidate.  By this time, I would have expected harsh attack ads, especially against the incumbent, Greg Ballard.  After all, a challenger almost always has to make the case as to why the incumbent should not be re-elected.

Why hasn't Kennedy been more aggressive in attacking Ballard?  As I've pointed out in this blog, there is an endless list of issues that could be used against the Mayor.  The reason might be due to limited financial resources of Kennedy or that the polling numbers have already turned in her favor without those sharp attacks.  The downside of attacking the incumbent is that the label "negative campaigner" attaches to the challenger.   If you can avoid it you can, but generally the challenger can't.

Melina Kennedy
One cannot forget too that Marion County is a Democratic county and that the Republican baseline has slipped substantially even from 2007.  I don't think there is any doubt that the Republicans will lose control of the council. Of the 12 incumbent Democratic councilors, only one has a baseline that is less than 60% Democratic.  (His district is slightly majority Republican.) The Republicans meantime are defending seats all over the county.  Of the 13 Republican district councilors, 9 have districts less than a 60% Republican base and three of those have Democratic majorities.  One that should be safe, Jack Sandlin's district down in Perry Township, is being hotly contested by incumbent Libertarian at-large councilor Ed Coleman.

Then you have the at-large council seats which more closely approximate the baseline than the Mayor's race.  Republicans won three of the four in 2007, an unusual turnout year.  If the turnout is like it was in 2010, a great Republican year, Republicans still lose all four of those at-large seats to the Democrats.  It is not clear what impact, Bill Levin, a highly popular Libertarian candidate, might have the field or whether he could edge someone out for the an at-large spot.

Back to the Mayor's race, I said previously this is a most unusual campaign because you have both the incumbent and challenger making as a centerpiece of their campaigns many of the same issues, each believing those issues will break their way.  Usually the incumbent and challenger pick different issues and hope the voters make those issues a priority in their votes.  In this election, the Ballard campaign has made front and center three issues - taxes, crimes and jobs - that I think clearly will not break in the Mayor's favor if his message is opposed.  Kennedy though came out of the gate though talking about education, an area I would have not guessed was a Ballard vulnerability though polls may have showed otherwise.

Just four weeks out, you can bet that the attacks from both candidates will increase.  I expect too, the county chairmen to be more involved in the negative attacks than they have been thus far.  I still am predicint a Kennedy win and the Democrats to win 19 of the 29 council seats.


Jon said...

Just a thought, it's quiet because no one in Indianapolis gives a hoot about this race. You have a choice between a RINO versus a progressive Democrat. How is that a meaningful choice?

Downtown Indy said...

WTHR reports tonight that the Broad Ripple parking garage design has changed and it sounded like it creates a number of problems that their original plan didn't have.

It wipes out a landscaped area, for more parking spaces; also it adds more entry/exits to the garage that threaten to cause headaches for other businesses in the area, particularly the BR pet clinic.

The story mentions final approval is still required, but I take it that's the usual MDC rubberstamp committee.

guy77money said...

I am surprised that Melina's camp doesn't hammer on the 30 million that Ballard and the Republican council gave to the Simon's to keep the Pacers in the black. With no NBA basketball on the horizon why not throw Ballard under the Pacer's bus. She can always tell the Simon's later that she was just trying to win the election when she rubber stamps the hand out.