Friday, December 17, 2010

Kyle Walker Elected GOP Chair With Daunting Rebuilding Task Ahead

As most of you know, Kyle Walker, the Campaign Manager for the failed Mark Massa campaign, has been elected to replace Tom John as Marion County GOP Chair. Walker is young and already has been involved in politics for a while. He's going to need that youthful enthusiasm and maybe some Alka Seltzer if he plans to be successful as Chair.

The task up and coming for Walker is daunting. He inherits a party structure that has failed to win a major Marion County office for three years and two election cycles and has lost many in embarrassing fashion. After going for George W. Bush in 2000's Presidential Election, Marion County has yet to be red since, and Barack Obama blew away John McCain in Marion County in 2008. Even in the toughest of years for Democrats, D's carried every ballot spot in county-wide races on Election Day 2010, and Andre Carson dusted the unslated Marvin Scott with 59 percent of the vote. It's going to take some effort by Walker, and I'm sure he will try to turn those results around, but he's now the GOP Chair of a county that is increasingly blue by the day.

As many of you know, it hasn't always been this way.

For over 30 years, Republicans ran Marion County or, at least, were well-represented in high-level offices. At one point, there were just FIVE Democrats on the City-County Council.

Today, the City-County Building lives up strongly to its blue windows with Democrats in control of almost every elected Marion County office (until Mitch Daniels decides he wants to consolidate them).

Only two big fish are left to fry for the Marion County Democratic Party, and those are fish that were once in the boat but were allowed to get away. It’s just the Mayor’s Office and the City-County Council that are left in GOP hands, and, unfortunately for Walker, all the MCDP's chips will be placed on those races this year.

There are no school board races, federal, or state races to distract voters. It’s all about the Mayor and City-County Council this time.

It’s going to be a delicate line that Walker walks. In 2007, Mike O’Connor tried to run Mayor Bart Peterson’s campaign as well as the Marion County Democratic Party. It didn’t work. I would advise Walker not to make the same mistakes. You can’t do both jobs effectively.

Instead, I think Walker’s job is to somehow rebuild the Marion County Republican Party. Maybe the bigger question for Walker is, “What will the Marion County Republican Party be rebuilt into?” It’s clear that the days of the GOP running things are over for now. Will it be guerilla warfare from here on out trying to poach an office or two here or there along the way?

It’s going to take a tremendous effort just to hold the Mayor’s Office and the Council this time, so I guess that’s where Republicans begin. What the Chair's role is in that is largely up to Walker.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps he could start by getting the republican members of the election day precinct boards filled. It is not an easy task but it seems in many areas of the city that the GOP has just given up and leave the work to the Democrats.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Excellent post. I would say though that we Republicans really don't have a chance to win the Mayor's office or a council majority in 2011. That ship has sailed.

Rather Walker would be strongly advised to start working on rebuilding the grass roots of the party. That in the long run will put the GOP back in power in the county. With Tom John all he cared about was making decisions and handing them down to people to carry them out. Political organizations don't work like that, especially when you're talking about a party with a minority in the county.