|Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard|
But Republican Greg Ballard, running as a tax-cutting, man-of-the-people populist did win. True Ballard was aided enormously by Mayor Peterson shooting himself in the foot by, in the midst of a property tax revolt, pushing for a 65% increase in the county option income tax increase.
But a win is a win is a win. On the night of Ballard's victory, the mayor-elect and the GOP leadership were blessed with an opportunity to begin rebuilding the Marion County Republican Party. Rather than a lengthy period in political purgatory for Republicans, Ballard by virtue of his position of Mayor would have countless opportunities to promote his brand of GOP populism to Marion County voters and expand the grass roots of the party. With the renewed strength of the GOP, top flight Republican candidates would be willing to throw their hats in the ring.
That, of course, never happened. The minute Ballard won, selfishness and greed overtook the Ballard transition team and GOP leaders. Instead of seeing the upset win as a way of rebuilding the Republican brand, those around Ballard saw the victory as a way that they and their friends could cash in. And boy did they ever cash in, with Republicans (and their Democratic allies) pocketing millions off an administration that always put the interests of taxpayers secondary to opportunities to enrich contractors at the public's expense.
With seven years of a Republican mayor, the Marion County GOP should be stronger than ever. Instead the party today is far weaker than it was in 2007. In the 2014 elections, the Marion County GOP failed to contest 8 of 15 house seats in the county. During that same election, Marion County Republicans, for the first time in maybe 80 years or more, failed to field a candidate in a county wide office. Now with another election right around the corner, Republicans can't find a candidate to run for Mayor.
Who is to blame? Certainly former Marion County GOP Chairman Tom John and current Chairman Kyle Walker have done nothing to promote the Republican Party during their tenure. High on the blame list should also be people like council members minority leaders Mike McQuillen and Ben Hunter who supported every one of Ballard's 40 tax and fee increase and corporate welfare proposals. They left conservatives with absolutely no reason to support the Marion County Republican brand. Also, some share of blame should go to former GOP state chairman Eric Holcomb and current chairman Tim Berry who repeatedly passed on opportunities to intervene while the Marion County GOP continued to slip toward irrelevance during Ballard's tenure.
But the major share of the blame rests on no one other than Greg Ballard. Not only did Ballard do nothing to promote the Marion County GOP, he, in fact, actively undermined the party. A perfect example is Ballard's campaign team instructing Republican council candidates in 2011 that they were not allowed to promote their candidacies when going door-to-door. Rather they were only allowed to promote Mayor Ballard and pass out the Mayor's literature.
It will take decades for the Marion County Republican Party years to recover from legacy Greg Ballard leaves behind when he departs office on January 1, 2016.