Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Prosecutorial Pile-up: Democrats Debate; Brizzi Silent
(Left to Right: Greg Bowes, Terry Curry, David Orentlicher NOT PICTURED: Lowell Shroyer)
The 2010 Prosecutorial Election is well under way. So far, there are two candidates officially in the pool on the Democratic side with two still sticking their toes in the deep end, and everyone is wondering what incumbent Prosecutor Carl Brizzi is thinking.
For the Democrats, the desire to retake the office is palpable. It's unbelievably been 16 years since Democrat Jeff Modisett turned the office over to Republican Scott Newman, and, with close wins over Jim Osborn and Melina Kennedy, Carl Brizzi has somehow managed to keep his job as Prosecutor.
As previously discussed, the race on the D side is a two-horser officially right now. Marion County Assessor Greg Bowes brings name recognition into the race as the only sitting elected official to be in the running. Also in the race is longtime Deputy Prosecutor and former candidate for the office Terry Curry.
Bowes insists that Prosecutor is the job he really has wanted and that his experience as an attorney qualifies him for that job. While Bowes has name recognition with the electorate, is it really good to be remembered as the guy that assesses your property taxes? Curry's longtime experience as a Deputy Prosecutor makes his qualifications readily accessible, but where Bowes does not struggle with name recognition (good or bad), Curry may. While Democrats know him, the countywide electorate...not so much.
Also participating in the discussion as outsiders right now are Lowell "Butch" Shroyer and former State Representative David Orentlicher. Butch Shroyer may best fit the "central casting" requirement for the Prosecutor job as well as anyone. He looks the part. He also has courtroom experience as a defense attorney and investigative experience as a former Beech Grove Police Detective. Orentlicher or "David O." is probably the biggest name in the pool. David O. has shown a long record of winning high profile, expensive, and difficult races. His hair-thin win over Jim Atterholt to claim the 86th District's Indiana House seat is evidence of this ability to raise funds and win close races. Shroyer faces similar problems as Curry when it comes to name recognition. Orentlicher is an attorney, but I think many still see him as a legislator rather than a Prosecutor. He talks about his work on child abuse legislation and as a criminal law professor on the campaign trail.
The four Democratic candidates met at the Warren Township Democratic Club meeting on July 9 and debated for a couple of hours. I did not attend the meeting, but folks that did have told me that all four of them did a nice job in the forum. I send big kudos to the Warren Township Democratic Club for putting this forum together.
Each Democrat has great strengths, but they also have significant weaknesses. Also what is not known is who will abide by the Marion County Democratic Party slating agreement and drop out of the race if they lose at the slating convention. Will any of these folks bypass slating or will another Democrat come out of the woodwork after slating?
If any of the candidates wish to clear up any confusion on this, please feel free to make your positions known to me, and I will publish them on this blog. Also, if you have a specific response to anything I blog about, I will publish your response unedited. I don't ever want to blindside anyone I blog about...especially if he or she is a Democrat.
On the Republican side, Carl Brizzi sits in the chair at the moment, but he has to be number crunching to see if he wants to work really really hard and spend a lot of money to win the race for a third term. If Brizzi loses in a county that has become even more Democratic than it was when he defeated Melina Kennedy (with negative campaigning, attack ads, and two to one spending) in 2006. You know the Republicans will want a good candidate for the race and one that's ready to fight. The Marion County Prosecutor is one of the most powerful offices in the state because the individual in that chair can investigate and prosecute state officials. We all know that Mayor/Governor/State School Superintendent/Treasurer/Senate Leader/House Minority Leader/Attorney General Mitch Daniels doesn't want that.
Does Brizzi, who clearly wants to move to another office, want to risk losing to a Democrat and blemish his undefeated record? Does he have the energy to try for another term, and can he honestly answer the question, "Will you serve out your term as Prosecutor if re-elected again?" I think those are all liabilities not to mention the public perception that crime isn't getting any better in the city and the other perception that he treats it as a part time job while concentrating on his WIBC weekend radio gig. I have to admit; he's a fairly entertaining radio host.
If he doesn't run for Prosecutor again, who does from the Republican side? Does it open up an opening for someone like former Prosecutor Scott Newman or someone from the past. I don't know enough about Republican politics to know what's up, but you figure something must be. Brizzi not running might open things up for State GOP Leader Mitch Daniels to designate someone to run. Brizzi has a huge bankroll for his campaign right now, but he seems to be playing it cautious. Number crunching, I suspect.
The picture is clearing a bit, but there are still many twists and turns to come in the Prosecutorial Pile-up for 2010.
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