Friday, February 19, 2010

Ellsworth's Conservative Views May Be Problematic for Progressive Base

Last night, the Marion County Democratic Party held a Ward Chair/Vice Ward Chair meeting at its brand new 148 E. Market Street headquarters.

MCDP Chair Ed Treacy ran the meeting turning the floor over to sitting officeholders and candidates only briefly. Amongst a variety of other items, part of the agenda was to gather information for Mary Jane Mahern, one of the 32 people who will vote on what Democrat will be on the ballot come November for the U.S. Senate seat soon to be formerly occupied by Evan Bayh. Once the floor was opened, it became clear that, at least in Marion County, the rank-and-file Democrats are not really behind the idea of a conservative Democrat like Rep. Brad Ellsworth back in the seat.

We may know sometime today whether Ellsworth decides to pursue the office or not.

Democrat after Democrat, including a couple of current countywide officeholders, rose to share their opinion. As one officeholder put it, "There's a lot of talk about a candidate that will just 'fit in' into that Senate seat. We need a candidate that will stand out."

While Brad Ellsworth's name was only mentioned once (by yours truly), it became clear that the anti-choice and pro-gun views of the Blue Dog Democrat do not jive with the views of many of the Ward Chairs and Vice Ward Chairs in Marion County. Couple that with the comments on my Ellsworth post from earlier this week, and I think it's fair to say there are some real questions about his views and how he might vote on important social issues and legislation in Congress.

If the Indiana Democratic Party thinks it's going to be easy to nominate a conservative Democrat just because Bayh was conservative, its leadership may be mistaken. The national Stonewall Democrats entered the fray yesterday, and they sent out an e-mail to members and supporters stating its official stance on the seat. Incidentally, the Indiana Stonewall Democrats have a vote on the Central Committee. Here is the e-mail from the National Stonewalls representing LGBT Democrats across the nation:

Jon --

In the coming days, the central committee of the Indiana Democratic Party is going to select a candidate to replace Evan Bayh as the party's nominee for Senator. Act now to make sure they select a pro-equality nominee.

Some of the most prominent candidates have a bad track record on LGBT issues -- voting against hate crimes legislation, and voting to kill the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in past Congresses. The party could select an anti-equality candidate to be the next Senator from Indiana.

We can't let that happen. The Indiana Democratic Party has the power to select a pro-equality nominee. And you have the power to convince them to do the right thing. Please sign the Stonewall Democrats petition to the central committee.

We must act now, and demand that the IDP central committee select a nominee who will fight for all Hoosiers in Congress -- including the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ones. Party Chair Dan Parker said in an interview in the Indianapolis Star yesterday that "whoever this nominee is, they need to have the entire party behind them."

No anti-equality candidate will have the entire party behind him or her.

Sign the Stonewall Democrats petition to insist that Dan Parker and the Indiana Democratic Party select a pro-equality candidate to be their nominee for Senate.

Michael Mitchell
National Stonewall Democrats

Doesn't look like all will sing "Kumbaya" if Ellsworth is the nominee. It's my position and belief that a strong progressive voice should sit in the seat of the junior Senator from Indiana. That's not Brad Ellsworth.


Anonymous said...

Jon, The party has just announced that state law won't allow them to take action to fill the vacancy until after the primary. Looks like there will be plenty of time to interview all the prospective candidates and get their views. It is possible that some elected officials, like Ellsworth, voted their district on key issues such as abortion and gender issues. If that person represented a different constituency, say the entire state, he or she would be free to vote according to that entire base. That doesn't make them a hypocrite that makes them a REPRESENTATIVE of their district.

I hope the Stonewalls will ask the tough questions of each candidate but keep an open mind about each one too.

Let's focus our energy on attacking the Republicans not each other. There are lots of candidates that will need help this year because of the distortions Republicans are perpetuating. I hope we all can find a candidate or two or three to get behind and help instead of attacking each other.

Anonymous said...

I was at the same meeting and many of us held our tongues about Evan Bayh........I am willing to look at Ellsworth but the moreI learn....the less I am impressed.....but the issue seems to be settled.