Sunday, July 13, 2014

Numbers Show Democrat Should Win Indianapolis Mayor's Office in 2015; Would Hogsett Candidacy Result in Ballard Not Seeking Re-Election?

Quick question for my fellow politicos, who received the most votes in the Indianapolis municipal elections:  Republican Greg Ballard in 2007, Democrat Bart Peterson in 2007, or Melina Kennedy in 2011.

If you answered Melina Kennedy, you'd be correct. 

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett
But didn't Melina Kennedy run far worse than Peterson as Mayor Ballard capitalized on his popularity in the 2011 election?  Peterson had 47.2% of the vote in 2007.  Kennedy captured 47.1% of the vote in 2011.  Ballard's percent increased in 2011, but only .9% compared to 2007, 50.4% compared to 51.3%. Much of the difference was the Libertarian vote decreasing by 1100 votes, 2.3% in 2007 which was down to 1.5% in 2011.  The apparent Libertarian strategy of that year also running a candidate with the last name "Peterson" (Fred not Bart) to confuse voters into voting Libertarian worked to some degree.

The bottom line is the narrative that Mayor Greg Ballard easily won re-election based on his popularity is wrong.  Melina Kennedy, who steadfastly refused to address populist issues which would have raised Ballard's negatives, still almost pulled off the victory.
How has Indianapolis politics changed since the 2011 election?  The Republican base has continued to erode.  In the 2012 general election, the Democrats won the baseline vote 62% to 38%.   In the 2014 mid-term primary, only 22,802 Marion County Republican voters went to the polls.

Now four years later, there are more issues to use against Mayor Ballard.  Nonetheless, most Democratic council members including Council President Maggie Lewis, inexplicably, don't seem to want to use their majority to drive up the Mayor's negatives, instead choosing to compromise with the Mayor.  The lack of a coherent political strategy has resulted in the Democrats taking issues like the Mayor's tax increases, excessive borrowing and reckless spending off the table, issues that could drive many of the increasingly fewer Republicans in the county into the Democratic camp.

Then you have the issue of voter fatigue.  I always tell people about the a poll that was done during the 1988 gubernatorial election contest between Lt. Governor John Mutz and Secretary of State Evan Bayh.  The pollster asked whether voters were happy with the direction of the state under Republican leadership.  70% said yes.  The next question was whether voters wanted a change of direction?  70% said yes.  The Republican domination of the Governor's office had effectively cooked Mutz's goose.

Despite an almost complete lack of off-year strategy to define the Mayor, Indianapolis Democrats would have to screw up royally to lose the Indianapolis Mayor's office in 2015.  Yet Democrats are working to come up with such a losing strategy, unbelievably inexplicably floundering to find a candidate despite the fact that the party's nominee is likely to be the favorite to win the Mayor's office in 2015.

The two names still out there are Washington Township Frank Short and state representative Ed Delaney.  Of the two, Delaney is probably the stronger candidate but his plan to run for re-election and Mayor at the same time is a thoroughly horrible idea.  I think former state Democratic chairman Dan Parker would have been a more aggressive candidate, which the Democrats desperately need, but he's taken himself out of the running.

But a better Democratic candidate may be on the horizon.  U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett's name has recently resurfaced as a possible candidate despite an earlier announcement in which he ad taken himself out of the race.  Hogsett can't partake in partisan politics in his current position and would have to quit his position to run for office. That might explain his reluctance to dip his toe into the political waters.  Certainly though one of the big downtown law firms would be more than willing to put Hogsett up in a corner office, paying him a nice salary in the hopes of being rewarded with city legal contracts after the election.

Hogsett would clear the Democratic field.  But you heard it here first, I think Hogsett would clear the Republican field also  Yes, I think if Hogsett announces, Ballard will opt out of running for a third term. Ballard would be smart not to run against a candidate like Hogsett in an increasingly solid Democratic county.   But then again, the adjective "smart" is rarely used to describe anything Greg Ballard has done.


LamLawIndy said...

Paul, u devoted only about 1/2 sentence to Frank Short. Frank is a natural politician who can work a room like nobody else. I'm not going to be voting in the Dem primary or for the Dem in November, but Dems and GOPers underestimate him at their own peril.

goodneighborsam said...

I'm no sure it's all that attractive a job. The City is financially strapped because of tax caps, can't, much, raise local taxes if it's going to compete for higher income folks, and for a Democrat, who'd likely have a Democratic council, won't be getting any help from the Republican legislature, financially or otherwise. There's not much history of it being a stepping stone to other positions (not since Lugar?) so it seems a better fit for someone who would want it as their last job (Short, Delaney, Ballard?). I suppose if Bayh got on the ticket somewhere, some of that could change, but absent that,Hogset seems a more likely future Senate Candidate.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I figure Ballard will act as if he's running for re-election and then drop out at the last possible moment to allow a slating convention to be rigged to nominate our acting mayor Ryan Vaughn as his replacement.

Flogger said...

The Campaign run by Melina Kennedy against Ballard simply shows there was not a penny difference between both Political Parties here in Marion County.

The only real issue is who collects the spoils. The Pacers and Colts will continue to receive their Corporate Welfare.

Fixing Indy would be a massive job for any Mayor. It may not be fixable, given the long term neglect of infrastructure, public transportation and public parks.

If all you want to do is be in the Mayor's Office to continue the Crony-Capitalism Scheme with some new players than the job becomes much easier.

Could it be an Evan Bayh and Hogsett ticket in Indiana in 2016?? (Democrats in Name Only)