Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Indianapolis Councilor Jose Evans Switches from the Democratic Party to the GOP; Playing the What If Game

Jose Evans (D R)
Jose Evans, a former student of mine at the University of Indianapolis, and my City-County Councilor on the northwest side of the City today announced he is switching from the Democratic Party to the GOP.  This will make the split on the Council 15-14 in favor of the Democrats

Evans' northwest side district in Pike Township, once held by Republican Isaac Randolph, is no longer competitive and would not be competitive under any of the new maps. He could not win the district running as a Republican. Right now the new map drawn by Republicans in 2011 has Evans and Democratic Councilor Angela Mansfield in the same district.  Obviously running for re-election is not Evans' goal for switching parties.

Given that the administration of Republican Mayor Greg Ballard has always been able to convince a handful of Democrats to cross over on votes, Evans' defection does not seem to be that big of a deal.  But there are party line votes on organizational type matters that could be affected.

Let's play the "what if" game.  Let's say another Democratic Councilor, Steve Tally, who has also been somewhat at odds with council leadership decides to also switch parties giving Republicans a 15-14 majority on the Council.  Or what if Tally remains a Democrat but simply agrees to vote with the Republicans on organizational issues?  He's done it in the past when Republicans were in a majority and the GOP joined with him to elect him President.

A new Republican majority council, buoyed by defections, could stop the redistricting litigation filed by the Democratic leadership of the Council.   They could then pass through another council map to cure defects. 

But let's look at another issue. What if Evans vacates the office before the end of his term?  Does a Democratic caucus of precinct committeemen fill the position or would it be a Republican?

The answer is probably a Democratic caucus, especially since in Indiana people do not register by party registration. Therefore, Evans did not switch his registration.  He simply made a public declaration of switching parties.

But the law on the subject is poorly written:
IC 3-13-11-3
Calling of caucus; withdrawal of resignation; when caucus to be held
     Sec. 3. (a) Except as provided in subsections (b) and (e) and section 3.5 of this chapter, not later than ten (10) days after a vacancy occurs in an office subject to this chapter, the county chairman:
        (1) of the county in which the greatest percentage of the population of the election district of the office is located; and
        (2) of the same political party that elected or selected the official who vacated the office; shall give notice of a caucus to all eligible precinct committeemen.

Here is the problem with the language used by the legislature.  Parties do not "elect" people.  They "nominate" candidates. It is the general election electorate, containing both Republicans and Democrats and Independents that "elect" them.  It would be much better if the statute read "nominated or selected."  Undoubtedly "selected" refers to the situation where a caucus has already "selected a replacement to fill a vacancy and there has been a second vacancy.

5 comments:

Had Enough Indy? said...

I'd say that John Barth has far more Republican leanings than Steve Talley. He'd be the most likely to switch affiliations, if he hadn't been so handsomely rewarded for little input.

Evans was snubbed by the Ds last year, being the only incumbant D not to Chair a committee - and being assigned to only 2, when others with no experience were getting plum assignments to 5 (Robinson and Simpson). Evans still only sits on two committees and chairs one - until the next meeting of the committee on committees.

If you go by that, then watch out for Mascari, who ran without the aide of the party. He got only one assignment last year and now sits on two.

Bill said...

The sad thing is that Jose does not understand that he got played..They played him just like they did Angel Rivera...Walker and the crew desperately want a person of color in the party. They tried that with Angel and you know what happened there..

As for Steve who cares, he lies right to your face..

Poor Jose, he got played just like Dennis Fishburn and Angel ..sad..

Had Enough Indy? said...

Evans seems like an actual nice guy, who still has ideals. I wish him well.

Had Enough Indy? said...

I'm hearing that the low committee assignment quotient for Evans was due to his discussions with the Rs about running against Lewis.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I'm not sure what "Republican leanings" John Barth has. He does seem to be a complete sell-out...which I hope isn't interpreted as "Republican leanings."

You're right...Mascari got zero Democratic help yet won anyway. He's so low profile I forget he's on the council. It was weird why Treacy did not help Mascari since that was a competitive seat.