The Marion County Democratic Party dander was raised a bit on Friday by candidate for Mayor of Indianapolis, Brian S. Williams, who filed nearly 200 of his own supporters to run for Precinct Committeeperson in the May primary.
As I have repeatedly said on other blogs, it was a BRILLIANT political move even if I believe it was short sighted and potentially damaging to local party development. I know that many people, including Williams himself, have disagreed with me and have called people that disagree with them everything from elitists to oligarchs.
Well, I'm not an elitist or an oligarch (according to Wikipedia, a small, powerful group of elites "distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, military might, or religious hegemony.") I'm just a local, working Ward Chair that has done his best to deliver Democratic results in an area that is not traditionally a Democratic stronghold. We have had our successes and failures here in Decatur Township. In 2006, we nearly sat a Democrat as Decatur Township Small Claims Court Judge. In 2007, we got our heads kicked in by Ballard-mania. In 2008, we actually had multiple precincts go for President Obama. Who knows what will happen from here?
My argument isn't so much about WHAT Williams has done as much as it is about HOW Williams has done it. There are multiple areas of this county that need precinct development. I'm not sure how many precincts of the 590 countywide lack precinct committeepersons on the Democratic side. I know that both Perry Township and Franklin Township have multiple areas that need PCs. Instead of concentrating on those areas, Williams filed people to run in areas that have current, hardworking PCs that I KNOW would have been at least open to listening to a bright guy like Williams.
I have read up on Brian Williams, and I find him to be a well-off, bright, energetic, snappy dresser with a great tie collection and a wealth of good ideas. I just can't agree that this idea of filing against good PCs was the right one. Sure it was legal, but he is bringing people into the process that many have never heard of. Some would call that party building, but we have seen what has happened when people jazzed up about a candidate join a local party organization. Many of us are seeing that now as we struggle to get the Obama people involved. While many of them have stayed involved, some showed up and voted for Obama but have little use for party politics.
This is also about FRONTstuffing and not stuffing precincts. For us, here in Decatur Township, we have been resistant to the "stuffing" phenomenon where a county chair or party appoints PCs from outside that area for the specific purpose of voting for the county party's choice of candidates. The MCDP denies the practice happens on a large scale, but I think it's safe to say that it does happen on some level. Decatur Township Democrats for the last few years have filled all precincts, ward slots, and other areas to resist being "stuffed" with outsiders that know nothing about the area. By filing candidates to run against longtime Decatur PCs, I think Williams is FRONTstuffing. As I said earlier, he should be, in my view, looking for areas that need PCs and signing them up there.
Anyway, I'm probably rambling here. I just don't know if most of us know Brian Williams all that well. I don't run in his circles, and I don't think most of the rank-and-file Democrats do. Most of the people that he filed against here in Decatur have only met him through local club functions. If you don't read the Indianapolis Business Journal or have Internet access, then I don't know if you know much about his ideas. The rank-and-files don't know him that well. If you go to his website, he doesn't have much to say about himself, either.
"A lifelong resident of Indianapolis, Brian has been an active business and community leader for the past fifteen-plus years. Building on his experience in the office of then-Governor Evan Bayh, Brian has been active in a wide variety of professional and civic interests.
Brian has supported many of our community’s cultural, civic and charitable organizations through his personal involvement and financial support. He’s helped create new jobs by attracting funding for new businesses and serving in an executive capacity at fledgling companies. His entrepreneurial leanings have helped him become a respected leader in business and civic ventures alike.
Brian has a wife and three children but no pets – yet."
So, for many of these rank-and-file D's that Williams has filed supporters against, this may be their first experience with Brian Williams.
I think Williams could have done a great service in building the party if he would have worked and have made the effort to find areas where no PCs were and filed folks in those areas to run. He may have tried to do it and only had supporters where they filed. Still, many high profile Dems have challengers from the Williams camp. Is Williams party building or trying a coup?
I don't know. I just wish he had gone about the process differently. I admire Williams for doing something different; I just don't know if he went about it the right way or not. There are all sorts of rumors out there about the validity of some of the candidates filed by the Williams camp. They are just rumors, and I won't bother to report them. Things will shake out. Time will tell and the best candidates will certainly win.