Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Dems Race For Nod to Take on Sinking Ballard
While the S.S. Ballard Administration is slowly listing underneath the weight of its own mistakes and ego, three Democrats continue to duke it out for the nod to take on Ballard in 2011. Melina Kennedy, José Evans, and Ron Gibson have entered the race, but, by May, there will be only one left standing.
In the race for Mayor on the Democratic side, Kennedy has put some distance between herself and the rest of the field, but it’s not yet an insurmountable lead. Kennedy has the experience of running a countywide high profile race. Granted, it was a loss, but the name recognition she garnered and things that she learned will be important. Kennedy also has the experience of having worked for Mayor Bart Peterson as his Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. She’s created jobs and has seen city government from the inside of the 25th Floor. As far as the negatives go, people still seem to have concerns about her toughness and her connections to some of the Peterson-era deals. Personally, I can see her turning these things into her favor with a smart campaign.
Evans has run a credible campaign thus far with a just a couple of missteps here and there. So far, Evans has been strongest when he has been able to talk about education. It’s clearly been a passion of his. Unfortunately, under the current structure, the Mayor of Indianapolis has little to do with the day-to-day operation of IPS or any of the Marion County School Corporations. The Mayor can grant charters for charter schools. As I see it, Evans has trailed Kennedy in doing the necessary ground game work in some of the townships. While he has been to Democratic club meetings and events, he has largely been absent from that scene while Kennedy has worked it very hard. He also has made a couple of campaign missteps by jumping the gun on things that never materialized (the ban of take home cars comes to mind). The District 1 Councillor has also found himself at odds at times with his own caucus. Again, these are things that could be turned into positives as he could portray himself as an outsider.
The run of Ron Gibson continues to be a head scratcher to me. Gibson has done very little except throw out a couple of news releases and attend a couple of rallies. Gibson served for four years on the City-County Council but was defeated in his 2007 re-election bid. He is a nice guy with a good military background, and there is much to admire about a man that’s a single parent in this world. He has little to lose by staying in the race because he has little chance of overcoming the two horses in front of him in Kennedy and Evans.
Right now, I’d say it’s close to being Kennedy’s race on the Democratic side, but there are always twists and turns that can happen. If Evans is successful in getting strong support from key constituency groups, he can count on staying in the race for a while. Unlike the Republicans, it’s rare for the Democrats to lose out when they back a candidate. Party backing is really key for D’s to win at slating and in the Primary, and I think it’s clear that Kennedy has that from Ed Treacy, several officeholders and other key figures.
We’ll re-visit the “D” race next month.