Monday, January 4, 2010

Mayoral Marathon: Ballard Should Be Embarrassed By Own Record


On January 4, 2009, I posted something on Greg Ballard's lack of vision for this city and how it was unclear as to what he wanted to do here. On January 4, 2010, as Ballard begins its third year in office, it sounds like Mr. Mayor has done little to answer the questions posed one year ago.

In the last couple of weeks, both the Indianapolis Star and Indianapolis Monthly Magazine have published articles on the dearth of accomplishments for what some have called the Accidental Mayor. Now, as the 2011 elections appear like a dot on the horizon, it appears that Ballard is trying to cram for the exam.

As both the blogosphere and Indianapolis Monthly have pointed out, it got so bad last year, that it appeared that Ballard may not even be his party's nominee for mayor in 2011. The lack of leadership on key issues such as the CIB mess, Eli Lilly job cuts, and much much more coupled with the low key nature of his personality make Ballard seem more than vulnerable to fail at the ballot box in 2011...perhaps even at the primary level to a strong, well funded alternative. In short, the clock is ticking.

You get the feeling that, to understate it perhaps, Ballard isn't universally appreciated on either side of the aisle. His gifts as a politician are nil. You even kind of wonder how he managed to rise to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Marine Corps. I mean, he had to have some sort of leadership skills to rise up to that level. Two more promotions and he's General Ballard. At this point in his term as Mayor, it seems like he's pulling a Guiliani. Swinging for the fences late and hoping that carries him through just like Guiliani did in the 2008 Primary Election in the fight for the Republican Presidential nod. Unfortunately for Guiliani, it was all over before it began. Should Ballard fail to connect on some of the big ticket plans he's trying to make so, then his record of inaction becomes a record of failure.

Right now, he's easy-to-define. Ballard is a very simple man who ran on a very simple platform, "Had Enough?" Had enough of taxes? Vote for me. Had enough of politics? Vote for me. Had enough of Bart Peterson? Vote for me. There was no Peterson Plan or even a Brizzi Brief. Why should we be surprised that he has very little to show for his time in office? Ballard has alienated his anti-tax base by raising taxes and fees on businesses. He's seen his party have defections at the Council level and witnessed an overthrow of his first City-County Council President. It hasn't been peachy. It hasn't been close.

The good news for Ballard is that he hasn't done anything that would totally disqualify him from re-election. He still has time to define some sort of a record even though it might be too late. He also has two things he didn't have in 2007: incumbency and money. He will somehow have to patch up things with the supporters he has lost or run over over the past few years or he will lose a great deal of his base.

The Democrats lining up to run against him appear ready to go. Melina Kennedy and Brian Williams as candidates. Jose Evans is apparently "95 percent" sure he is running now according to the Indianapolis Monthly telling the magazine he has an organization no one can touch (we'll see about that sir). Renaissance woman Kathy Davis is still out there weighing a run. Any of those candidates provide a reasonable alternative to Ballard. Also, the Marion County Libertarian Party has shown some strength lately and could field a strong candidate. If they actually field a candidate that's willing to raise some campaign cash and campaign, they could become a spoiler in the Mayoral Marathon.

As for now, it should be embarrassing to Ballard that he has nothing to show for two full years in office. It's been a tough act to follow, but it's clear that Ballard is easily the weakest mayor Indy has had since Unigov became a reality. Will the weakest link get re-elected again? Time will tell. It's still a long time until the first votes of 2011 are cast.

1 comment:

Paul K. Ogden said...

Excellent political analysis. I though think you were too kind. Ballard doesn't have time to redefine himself...that ship sailed for good about 9 months ago. I've never seen an elected official provide more ammunition for his/her opponents than Ballard has. Is there a campaign promise Ballard has not broken? I'm not aware of any.

You're exactly right about his alienation of his GOP base. There is a group of Republican insiders who have profitted off of the current administration. You get outside of that group and you'd be hard pressed to find a rank and file Republican who is happy with Ballard. It's like he's gone out of his way to deliberately alienate them.

If I were as conspiracy oriented as a certain blogger/radio host says I am, I would believe the Ballard people are intentionally trying to set themselves and the Republican council up to lose by an enormous margin in 2011. It's hard to imagine that level of political incompetence, but apparently it's a possibility.