|Rev. Charles Harrison|
As Easter reports, it is not clear who hired the company and whether the petition effort is approved by Rev. Harrison or rather an attempt to draft him into the race. (A website purportedly to encourage him to run was also set up.) Earlier this year, Harrison closed his exploratory campaign. Perhaps he has changed his mind. Assuming a sufficient number of signatures are deemed valid (more on than that in a second), he has until July 15th to file the paperwork to be a candidate for Mayor.
Easter speculates that Republican County Chairman Kyle Walker might be behind the effort to get Harrison on the ballot. I don't buy it. Harrison is a strong personality and is not about to agree to be Walker's sacrificial lamb. Further, I doubt Harrison would pull more from Democrat Joe Hogsett than Republican Chuck Brewer. Although Harrison is African-American, it has been shown time and time again that black voters will vote for a white Democrat over a black non-Democrat. I think Harrison would pull more from Brewer, in particular Harrison would attract conservative Republicans who are fed up with the big spending, big taxing, big borrowing Ballard administration.
Of course it is possible that Harrison could catch fire and win a three way race. But the only path to getting a plurality of the vote in a three way race would seem to be to assemble a coalition of conservative Republicans and an overwhelming majority of African-American voters who normally vote Democrat. As noted above, I have more confidence in the former than the latter.
It was also reported that the canvassers turned in approximately 7000 signatures to get Harrison on the ballot. As the law only requires about 3200 signatures to qualify (2% of the total 2014 Secretary of State vote) one would think Harrison should be in the clear. But the problem for Harrison is that it the Marion County Board of Voter Registration,is the body which certifies the validity of petition signatures. The MCBVR, which is led by a Democrat and Republican, each appointed by her respective county chairman, is extremely partisan and has for years worked together to keep independents and disfavored, anti-establishment party candidates off the ballot.
One of the ways the MCBVR does this dirty business is to claim that signatures of registered voters signing the petitions do not match what the MCBVR has on file. But those signatures are not updated. People's signatures change over time. My signature on file with the MCBVR is from when I signed a Social Security card when I was about 14 years old. My signature looks nothing like that today.
A few years ago, I obtained a listing of the petition signature approval rate in every congressional district in Indiana. Unfortunately I couldn't find those statistics for this article. What it showed was that the 7th Congressional district, which is entirely within Marion County, by far had the lowest approval rate of petition signatures. I've seen candidates get twice as many signatures only to see the MCBVR disallow enough to keep those candidates off the ballot. Always, always, the candidates kicked off the ballot are independents or party candidates challenging the one favored by the party establishment.
Assuming Harrison wants to be a candidate, I will be very interested in seeing the machinations the MCBVR goes through to disqualify signatures.