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.


Paul K. Ogden said...

The 2011 election will be a referendum on Ballard. Any of those D candidates would beat Ballard. Ed Treacy would be wise to not divide the Ds by getting involved in the selection of their candidate.

Kennedy isn't the ideal candidate. Right now the electorate is really interested in an outside type...someone who will shake up the status quo of Indy politics and end insider deals.
Kennedy is an insider herself. But she's not Ballard and she has the D base. All she has to do is show herself to be less of an insider than Ballard and she will get Republican votes from people tired of Mayor Ballard turning his back on the issues and people Candidate Balalrd in 2007 supported.

I don't know enough about Rob Gibson except he's a councilor who is pro charter schools. That's a good issue for a general election, not so good for a Democratic primary.

I think Jose Evans' of concentrating more on neighborhoods instead of making downtown insiders wealthy is a very powerful message. The problem is that those insiders are the ones funding campaigns and controlling the party apparatus.
But of all the candidates he is the best positioned issues wise to connect with general election voters. Of course his problem will be overcoming the difficulties to get to the general election.

Indeed if Ballard would have goerned more as a populist and against business as usual, the message Jose Evans is using, he'd be well positioned to win. Instead Ballard is going to try to win an election governing like an early 1990s Indy Republican. Back then the R base was about 55%. Now it's about 45%. Ballard starts with 45% and he's spent three years ticking off the Republican base that supports him. YOu can't start at 45% and get to 50% by using substraction.

Anonymous said...

Even I would vote for Ballard rather then Ron Gibson. Gibson has too many personal issues and no job.

Anonymous said...

Paul,While I think that you walk on political water, I dont agree with your assesment of the Ballard getting beat by all three.Ron has great ideas,but he is a not a leader at all.

That one would be close.But Melina will trash Balard.The MCRCC is running scared.I hear some of his staff is leaving soon.