Sunday, August 3, 2014

Will Indianapolis Council Republican Candidates Have to Campaign on Ballard Agenda of Property and Income Tax Increases?

It's been a bad week for Indianapolis fiscal conservatives.  Republican Mayor Greg Ballard, who won an upset victory in 2007 riding a backlash to property and the local income tax increases,  announced on Wednesday announced support for increasing property and local income tax increases.  Then a couple days later, the Star reported that Mayor Ballard had given a $750,000 no-bid contract to his 2007 campaign manager, John Cochran, to promote Mayor Ballard's plan for a new Justice Center.  This comes just days after a judge ordered the administration to produce records on the ROC fiasco that had council Republicans forced into a position of covering up possible wrongdoing by the administration.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard

I appears that U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett will toss his name into  the ring to pursue the Democratic nomination for Mayor.  Hogsett would unquestionably be a heavy favorite to knock off Ballard in a bid for his third term.   Ballard narrowly won with 51% of the vote in 2011 while facing an opponent, Melina Kennedy, who failed to mount an aggressive campaign that might have otherwise put Ballard on the defensive.  Few people think Hogsett, unlike Kennedy, would give Ballard a pass on issues like tax and fee increases, misplaced city priorities, and pay-to-play political cronyism.

Unfortunately, Ballard will likely insist that Republican council candidates run on his agenda of  higher property and income taxes as well as  defend his priorities that place corporate welfare ahead of city services.  Then you have the issue of Ballard cronyism, only the most recent evidence of which is the Cochran $750,000 no-bid contract.  Republican council candidates may well be forced in a position of defending those outrageous insider deals that have enriched Ballard friends at taxpayer expense.

The problem for Republican council members is that their collective fortunes hang by a thread.  I don't buy for a second that the map drawn by Republican operative David Brooks will produce anything near a 15-10 Republican council majority as claimed, or even a narrow Republican majority for that matter.  Nonetheless, the numbers in Republican majority districts are so narrow that any undermining of the dwindling Marion County GOP base could result in a huge Democratic majority on the Council.  Using the 2012 baseline numbers, I see only four Republican leaning council districts which are strongly Republican.  Four leaning Republican districts fall in the range of 50.38% baseline Republican to 52.36%.  Granted 2012 was a presidential election, a year which featured a higher than normal turnout which favors Democrats in Marion County.  But the year Brooks used, 2010, for his baseline analysis favoring Republicans also has a major flaw in that it was an exceptionally good year for Republicans turnout, the type of year you normally discard when doing a baseline analysis.

Imagine on January 1, 2016 new mayor Joe Hogsett being sworn in along with 19 or 20 Democratic council members.  That's entirely possible, especially if Ballard insists Republican council candidates openly support property and income taxes as part of their individual campaigns.  For Republican candidates to do that, and antagonize their own base, would be political suicide.

The sad thing is that when Ballard won his upset victory in 2007, he had a chance to reshape the Marion County Republican Party into a more populist form which could eventually return to power one day.  That though would have involved those who suddenly found themselves in power ceding power to party workers in order to build a stronger and more motivated grass roots GOP organization.   Instead of doing that, Ballard and his followers, as well as leaders in the Marion County GOP, used their political power to enrich themselves and their friends.  There will be a price to pay for that arrogance and that bill will come due on Tuesday, November 8, 2015.

1 comment:

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