Thursday, September 25, 2014

Possible GOP Candidates if Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard Decides Not to Run for Re-Election

After hearing Mary Milz of WTHR's report on the Mayor's future plans, including his interest in a job at Cathedral High School (poor Cathedral), I am further persuaded that Ballard will not run for a third term.  I'm officially reducing the estimated 50% chance of his running to 35%.

The question then is which Republican(s) will run, if not Ballard?

First, of all, forget the big names.  Marion County is a Democratic County and increasingly so.  With the exception of Ballard, no Marion County Republican has won running countywide since 2006.   Ballard only squeaked by in 2007 and 2011 as because of the much lower turnout in municipal elections.  But even lower turnout elections have turned increasingly in favor of the Democrats.  Don't expect a IMS President Mark Miles, Speaker Brian Bosma, or former state senator and Lt.
Mike McQuillen
Governor candidate Murray Clark to take a shot.  They know that any Republican running in 2015 will be a longshot and will take a pass.  Instead look further down the bench.   Here are some possible candidates.

Michael McQuillen - the current minority leader on the council, McQuillen briefly thought about running for State Auditor. McQuillen's strength is his close association with Marion County GOP leadership which might back his candidacy.  McQullen's weakness is that he drank the Ballard Kool-Aid, fully supporting every tax, borrow and spend proposal put forth by the mayor.  McQuillen undoubtedly would run as Ballard II.  McQuillen's failure to distance himself would likely hurt him with many Republican voters turned off by the Ballard legacy.  But even if it didn't,  Republican can't win running on the GOP base in Marion County.  It's unlikely that McQullen would have any appeal whatsoever to independents or Democrats.
Carlos May

Carlos May - a former candidate for Congressional District #7 in Indianapolis, May would be an attractive candidate.  May is tireless campaigner and personable.  Although May is employed with the
Ballard administration as Director of Latino Affairs, May could probably distance himself enough from the Ballard agenda to bring back to the fold many of the fiscal conservatives that have become disillusioned by the Ballard tax and spend agenda.  While May would be a better candidate than McQuillen, it's unlikely he could skew the political equation enough to overcome the Democratic advantage in the county.

Christine Scales
Christine Scales - just mentioning the name of Councilor Scales as a mayoral candidate will probably set Marion County Republican Chairman Kyle Walker into a tirade.    After all, Walker has made defeating Scales in the 2015 primary his number one priority, much more important than a Republican winning the Mayor's office in 2015.    But the fierce independence and commitment to her constituents Scales has shown would also make her one of the stronger Republican candidates.  Any Republican who is going to have a chance in a general election is going to have to skew the political equation, taking Democratic and independent voters away from the opposition. While Scales has the potential to do that, Scales' problem though is that GOP organization leaders, including most notably Walker, would rather give the Mayor's Office to the Democrats than see Scales occupy the 25th Floor.  They would do everything they could to make sure she isn't slated and/or win the nomination at the primary.

Isaac "Ike" Randolph
Isaac (Ike) Randolph - the former northwest side councilor, indeed my councilor at one time, would be a strong Republican mayoral nominee.  Randolph, who like Mayor Ballard, resides in Pike Township, would bring sold Republican credentials to the table.  However, unlike McQuillen, Randolph seems to understand politics enough to know he would need to aggressively pursue non-traditional GOP constituencies in order to win a countywide election.  Randolph, who is an African-American, has made that a point of emphasis in his political career. Randolph also is likely to seek some independence from the country club Republicans who have dominated the Ballard administration.  But independence is not something the GOP party leaders see as a virtue.  They'd rather lose an election to the Democrats than elect a Republican who can't be "controlled."  I don't think Scales or Randolph would ever agree to being manipulated in office the way Ballard has been.

In summary, I think the best Republican candidate is someone who can hold the GOP base while aggressively pursuing Democrats and independents.   Of the four listed, Scales and Randolph would be the best at doing that.  May is also an attractive candidate.  But make no mistake about it, even the best Republican running a great campaign will have trouble winning in 2015.  The numbers just aren't there anymore.  And that, folks, is why Ballard may well not run for a third term.


Vox said...

interesting choices here, while i am familiar with all the people you listed (although less with Ike) i disagree that Scales would do well appealing to D's. Also, Carlos is actually the Mayor's Senior Policy Adviser and handles 3 of the Mayor's Offices...he is not Director of Latino Affairs (that was his prior position before he ran in 2012)

Paul K. Ogden said...

Thanks for the correction on Carlos, Vox. I actually thought I had it confirmed what Carlos' current position is. I guess I didn't look closely enough at the dates.

LamLawIndy said...

Actually, I think Ike would make a fine mayor. The optics of running a black GOP candidate who's a former member of the CCC & firefighter against a white Dem lawyer/politician are rather favorable. Moreover, his work at IDOC makes him a credible voice in addressing crime and recidivism, which are big worries for the voters right now.

Unknown said...

I am a Marion County Republican who is, to put it mildly, fed the ____ up with the Marion County Republican Party.
I will not vote for another one of their RINO offerings. I could see myself voting for Ike.