Thursday, May 29, 2014

Why Aren't the Democrats Trying to Win the 2015 Indianapolis Mayor's Race?

A couple weeks I had a chance to meet with a man who is a legend in Indiana Republican politics.  Our discussion turned to the Indianapolis Mayor's race.  His conclusion?  Ballard has no chance of re-election.  His reasoning was based on the numbers, i.e. that the GOP baseline in Marion County has so eroded that a Republican running countywide has no chance of winning. He spoke about recent election results that show fewer and fewer Republicans voting in Marion County.  Things for Marion County Republicans have declined since 2011.

Contrary to what a lot of people think, in partisan races candidates don't start out at the same starting line.  You have something called a baseline in politics.  That refers to the tendency of voters to cast Republican or Democratic ballots as measured by election results in low profile races.  (When voters don't know the candidates, their partisan default kicks in.)  Using our footrace analogy, imagine a race that is a lap around a racetrack with one athlete provided a lead over the other.  The Democratic nominee will start out 1/4 of a lap ahead of Ballard,  That should be enough for even a slow Democratic runner to win the race.

That is assuming the Democratic runner is actually trying to win.

It is astonishing that it is nearly June, the year before the election, and no Democratic mayoral campaign has started in earnest.   Why would the Democrats not more vigorously contest the race for Mayor?  It certainly isn't because the seat it is not winnable.  Rather it is more likely that the Democratic power brokers in the City are plenty happy with Mayor Ballard.

Ballard has placed the City's pay-to-play political structure on steroids.  Republican and Democratic politicians and their corporate benefactors are all doing fabulously from a partnership that has provided them with wealth beyond their imaginations. It's true that the public has not benefited from the City's support of corporate welfare, but the people who fund the politicians' campaigns have.  In Indianapolis' political culture that is all that matters.

Even absent an absent an active Democratic mayoral campaign, Democrats on the Council should be laying the groundwork for 2015.  Instead those Democratic council members astonishingly are on their way to ratify Mayor Ballard's proposals for higher property and/or income taxes ostensibly for public safety, despite the 2007 example of those tax increases being used by Ballard to score an upset over then Mayor Bart Peterson.

It is the same mindset that resulted in Republican independent-thinker Christine Scales facing a spirited challenge in 2011 from a Democrat who campaigned criticizing Scales for not sufficiently supporting the Republican Mayor's pay-to-play agenda.

The fact that the Democrats have thus far sat on their hands when it comes to the 2015 mayoral race is evident of how pervasive the pay-to-play culture is in Indianapolis.  We don't have a two party system in Indianapolis.

2 comments:

Flogger said...

Melina Kennedy certainly did not engender much enthusiasm among the Voters in last Mayoral Race. The Star endorsed Kennedy which meant she had been anointed by the 1% Crony-Capitalists. I read some of Ballards and Kennedy's statements, they were for the most part Political Twins.

My suspicions that we had one Political Party in Marion County the Republicrats was confirmed during the run up to building the Pacers a new stadium. I had been brought up with the idea the Democratic Party was the Party of Working Class.

So how could the Democrats line up to vote yes to transfer millions of dollars per year from the working class into the pockets of a Billionaire to build a stadium for the Pacers??

How could the Republicans the champions of Free Enterprise vote yes to building a stadium for the Simon?

The answer was the Republican and Democratic Parties had merged into one Party representing the interests of Crony-Capitalism.

Jack Merkin said...

This post is completely wrong. The problem is there are too many Democrats, not too few. For the very reasons you cite regarding the mayor's electoral weaknesses, a half dozen or so well-known Democrats are building support and actively making it known they are running. That no one is publicly campaigning yet is because no one wants to cause a bunch of discord and have an ugly intramural brawl of a primary if it can be avoided, such as by having the party elders convince at least some of the candidates to stand down.