Thursday, February 16, 2023

Nikki Haley Shifts Her Position Once Again, Announces for President

Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley is the first person not named Trump to announce as a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024. 

There was a time when I would have been an enthusiastic supporter of Haley's presidential ambitions.  As South Carolina Governor, she was a solid leader, a woman of color who had impeccable conservative credentials.  When Donald Trump ran for President in 2016, she was a critic.  Time reports:
“Every time someone criticizes him, he goes and makes a political attack back,” Haley said in 2015. “That’s not who we are as Republicans. That’s not what we do.”

She also slammed his plan to build a border wall and his other positions on immigration. “Republicans need to remember that the fabric of America came from these legal immigrants,” Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, said. “If you want to talk about tackling illegal immigration, then let’s talk about it, but we don’t need to attack so many millions of people who came here. . . and did it the right way, like my parents."

In her 2016 State of the Union response, Haley did not mention Trump by name but said, “During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices.”

Ahead of her state’s primary, she was even more direct, saying that Trump represented “everything a governor doesn’t want in a President.” She said she would not back the controversial business tycoon and ultimately endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio. When he dropped out, she supported Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
But then when Trump was elected President, Haley took a job in the Trump administration as UN Ambassador.  During her tenure, Haley kept a low profile and even took public positions that differed from Trump's.  This included Haley's attacking Russia interference in the 2016 presidential election (which Trump had refused to acknowledge had happened and her strong support for NATO).  

As she prepared to resign from the Trump administration in 2018, Haley appeared to be on the verge of departing with her reputation and integrity intact, a rarity among Trump administration officials.  But then Haley wrote a book that flushed her integrity and independence down the toilet.  The book:
Haley lavished the President with praise, explaining his strategy in complimenting Russian President Vladimir Putin as a maneuver intended to keep communication open. Talking to NBC during her book tour, she spoke positively about Trump: “In every instance I dealt with him, he was truthful, he listened and he was great to work with,” she said.
Which is the experience of no one who has ever worked with Trump.

Then came January 6th.  Haley blamed Trump for the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol and suggested it was time the Republicans moved on from him:
“I think he’s going to find himself further and further isolated,” Haley told Politico the week after the attack. “I think he’s lost any sort of political viability he was going to have… He’s not going to run for federal office again… I don’t think he’s going to be in the picture. … I don’t think he can. He’s fallen so far.”

“We need to acknowledge he let us down,” she continued. “He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again.”
But sensing the political winds had not yet shifted away from Trump, she in October 2021 was back to supporting him again.
“He has the ability to get strong people elected, and he has the ability to move the ball, and I hope that he continues to do that,” Haley told the Wall Street Journal. “We need him in the Republican Party. I don’t want us to go back to the days before Trump.”
That same year, Haley claimed that she would "never run against my President (Trump), he was a great President."

Then came the November 2022 mid-terms.  In a year that should have been a landslide for the GOP, the "strong people" Trump recruited lost general elections in state after state.  Meanwhile, the Republicans who distanced themselves from Trump prevailed.  Those dismal election results caused Haley to shift her position about Trump once again leading to her announcement this week that she would run against the ex-President.

Haley worked in the Trump administration.  She saw Trump's incompetence, his dishonesty, how Trump and his family used the Presidency to line their own pockets (for example, see how Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner pocketed money from Saudi Arabia). As a woman of color, there is no doubt Haley saw Trump's racism and misogyny.   As President, and in his response to losing an election, Trump proved beyond doubt that he had no respect for American democracy or the Constitution.  In her role as Ambassador to the UN, Haley was a first-hand witness to Trump's cozing up to brutal dictators and Trump's attacks on democratically-elected leaders who were allied with the United States.  

None of that apparently mattered to Haley.  Apparently the only thing that matters to Haley is that Trump proved himself in 2022 to be a LOSER.  I should note that many of us knew that Trump has always been a loser and his 2016 win was simply a fluke that has never been replicated in subsequent elections.

Haley's political career post-2016 has been about guessing which way the crowd is heading and then trying to get in front of it.  In doing so, she has proven herself to be someone without character and integrity.  We certainly don't need someone like her in the White House.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Can a Republican Win the Indianapolis Mayor's Race in 2023?

Highly unlikely.

Last week political commentator Abudl-Hakim Shabazz announced that he was running for mayor in the state's largest city.  Shabazz will be opposed for the GOP nomination by pastor James Jackson and John Couch.  On the Democratic side, two term Mayor Joe Hogsett is facing off against state Rep. Robin
Shackleford.  Four other Democratic mayoral candidates have also announced.

Increasing crime in Indianapolis has made Hogsett vulnerable but does that open the door to a Republican challenger?  Shabazz certainly believes it does.  But Shabazz also has other issues he'd like to address.  The Indianapolis Star reports:
According to his campaign website, his policy agenda includes tougher penalties for crimes committed in low-income areas or "economically challenged zones," increasing school choice, and working with state lawmakers to protect long-time homeowners from increases in property tax assessments.

Shabazz also suggested that the city should work with the state to capture a portion of the gas tax collected in certain economically challenged areas that would be dedicated to roads, streets and sidewalk repair.

"We’ve had eight years of Democratic policies running the city of Indianapolis and I ask people, are we better off than eight years ago?" Shabazz said. "If you think we are, then the incumbent is your guy. If you don’t, maybe you'll give my work a second look."
It seems Shabazz believes that a Republican can win the mayor's office by promising to do a better job than the Democrats.  While many of the issues Shabazz has put forth have serious merit, they won't cause more than a small fraction of Democratic leaning voters to cast a ballot for a Republican mayoral candidate.   Shabazz needs a lot more crossover votes than that to win the election.

A Republican hasn't won an Indianapolis mayor's race Greg Ballard was narrowly re-elected in 2011.  While Ballard originally won in 2007 promising to bring an end to country club politics in Indianapolis, Ballard immediately pivoted to eschew taxpayers in favor of the corporate welfare that dominates the city's politics.   During Ballard's tenure in office, he supported more than 40 tax and fee increases, many of which became law.  While the money supposedly for the purpose of economic development, the money represented a transfer from Indianapolis taxpayers to developers and contractors who were, not coincidentally, traditional contributors to both Republican and Democratic local politicians.

Indianapolis politics, however, has changed dramatically from the last time Ballard was elected.  In 2011, Republican Ballard received 92,525 votes, or 51.3% of the votes cast.  In 2015, Republican nominee Chuck Brewer received 56,661 or 37.8%  In 2019, GOP candidate James Merritt received 40,906 votes or 26.9%.  

While the Republican vote in Indianapolis fell by an astonishing 56% in just 8 years, the Democratic vote rose from 84,993 to 109,087, or 28%.  In the last few elections, Marion County (Indianapolis) has emerged as one of the most Democratic counties in the state.  In the 2022 mid-terms elections, only Monroe County had higher Democratic turnout (as a percentage) than Marion County.

The trend of Marion County becoming more Democratic has spanned at least three decades.  But while that evolution was initially slow, the GOP numbers in Marion County have fallen dramatically during the Trump era.  While that might be a temporary phenomenon, it is not likely to reverse direction with Trump once again running for President.

Can a Republican be elected Mayor of Indianapolis this year?  I repeat my previous answer of "highly unlikely."  If it has any chance of happening, the candidate would have to be someone willing to attack the tradition of bipartisan support for corporate welfare, a decades long practice of taking tax dollars and handing the money over to developers, contractors, billionaire sports team owners and well-connected law firms.  The practice, which has been embraced by both Republican and Democratic politicians, has given Marion County residents the highest taxes in the state all while draining resources from local services like education, streets, and sidewalks.

You don't have to go back far in time to find examples of corporate welfare gone amuck. On Monday, the Indianapolis City-County Council voted UNANIMOUSLY to hand over $18.8 million in taxpayer dollars and other taxpayer-funded incentives to re-develop the Gold Building, a iconic structure located at the southeast corner of Ohio and Delaware Streets.  No Indianapolis politician, Democrat or Republican, ever questions why we continually need to give away taxpayer dollars to develop prime downtown real estate.  But if a Republican wants to be elected Mayor that is a possible road to success - standing up strongly for Indianapolis taxpayers by taking on the corporate welfare that has dominated city politics for decades.  Republican mayoral candidates just saying they'll do things a bit differently than Democrats is not going to move the large swath of voters needed to win county-wide.

The poet Robert Frost wrote : "I took the [road] less traveled...and that has made all the difference."  That would be good advice for Indianapolis GOP mayoral candidates going into the 2023 elections.