Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Time for Indiana GOP Chairman to Show Leadership, Address Problems with Marion County Republican Party Organization

Following the election, Indiana State Republican Chairman Tim Berry wasted no time going on the offensive against Democratic State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz with an extremely tacky "Chairman's Corner.":

Tim BerryChairman's Corner
With Republicans nearly sweeping Election Day, one question remains.

Who was the biggest loser?

On the heels of Glenda Ritz's announcement about her plans to seek re-election, 20 of 23 Democratic candidates she publicly endorsed lost their respective races.

She made public appearances and recorded radio & TV ads for her friends, but her efforts received little fanfare.
Ritz's name wasn't on the ballot, but the education policies she supported were and voters responded.GlendaRitz_Endorsements_enews

The Indiana Democratic Party's efforts to paint us as the party that despises teachers, public education and even women - all FAILED. Voters saw through the antics and believe our education system and our state is in good hands under Republican leadership.

At the very least, there are some important insights we can gather from this election cycle including Ritz's faded star power and the lack of a Democratic message that resonates with Hoosiers.
There's no doubt that the next election will be different than the midterms, but Indiana's future is looking bright. 
Tim Berry
Indiana Republican Party
Paid for by the Indiana Republican State Committee.
Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.
Berry's "Chairman's Corner" was actually forwarded to me by Republicans who were upset with Berry's snarky post-election tone.  So much for winning with class and dignity  Kicking people when they're down, after an election is over, is considered to be highly improper.  

But local Republicans are upset with Berry for another reason.  In sharp contrast to GOP success in state legislative and statewide offices, the Republican organization in Marion County continues to be in rapid decline.  This election, Marion County GOP Chairman Kyle Walker didn't bother to field candidates in 8 of 15 house races, including three competitive house seats.   Democratic incumbents won two majority Republican house baseline districts, despite lower turnout that should have favored the Republican challengers.  Republicans locally didn't even bother to try to win the prosecutor's office and, for the first time in what must be at least 80 years if not more, the Marion County Republicans did not field a candidate for a county-wide office, Assessor.

On This Week in Indianapolis, Republican political consultant Jen Hallowell said that, regardless of which candidate the Republicans select for mayor, that candidate will benefit from the strong grass roots GOP organization Mayor Ballard built.  But while Ballard's 2007 upset election could have been used to rebuild the grass roots of the GOP, it mostly certainly wasn't.  Instead Ballard, Walker, who is Hallowell's husband, and former Marion County GOP Chairman Tom John were more interested in cashing in on the spoils of Ballard's victory than doing the work necessary to rebuild the once vaunted Marion County Republican machine.  The number of Republican elected officials in the county declined markedly during the Ballard-Walker-John era.  GOP leaders like Walker and John substantially increased their power while stripping precinct committeemen of virtually any cloud they had, including a meaningful vote in slating.  Without any incentives to do the grass roots work of the party, people were no longer interested in being active in the Marion County GOP.

Unfortunately, because of changes in the rules, the Marion County GOP chairman gets to pick the majority of the people who would be eligible to vote for his election.  Yes, Kyle Walker, like Tom John before him, gets to pick his own voters.  As a result, Marion County GOP PC elected by the Republican electorate can't fire Walker for being, obviously, derelict in his duties.  But his removal could come from another source, Berry calling for his removal.  It is unlikely that Walker would remain on in the face of opposition by the Indiana State GOP leadership.    

It is time for Tim Berry to stand up and show some leadership.

1 comment:

Pete Boggs said...

If the Pacers or Colts failed to field a full team- people would notice! An establishment built disconnect from the party's base (read also Tea Party) has degraded into complacency & disinterest. If the party is now a "brand" rather than embodiment of principle; it's one of disconnection; where quadrennial "attention" to the base has a quality of opportunistic manipulation, vs genuine concern about the interests of the base.

It's not the current leadership's fault, that the local party was designed to fail; dying at what's supposed to be its grass roots, from routine, toxic topical treatment of the base as unwanted weed. The dictatorial structure would hamstring anyone attempting to make it fly. The party needs principled restructuring, a design that invigorates participation & thereby engenders the loyalty of the base, in a party they see & know as their own.

What's the ideologic difference between the party's broken appointment system & union card check? The parties were originally designed to be cauldrons of principled activism; democratically vibrant & therefore attractive to an engaged base.