Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Weinzapfel Leaves Gubernatorial Race

A bit of weekend business is left to clean up here. Jonathan Weinzapfel became another high-profile Democrat to leave the Gubernatorial Grind for 2012. In all honesty, it was probably a good move for Weinzapfel who has a very bright future in Democratic politics still ahead.

His statement from Facebook on Saturday:
Well, I've decided not to run for Governor next year. Here's the statement I released this morning:

I don’t think I’ve made any secret of the fact that for the past few months, I have been exploring the possibility of running for Governor of the State of Indiana. And I’ve been encouraged by many of my supporters and friends to get in the race. They say my experience here in Evansville of creating good jobs, improving education and taking innovative approaches to government could really benefit the state…particularly now.

When I think about running for Governor, I get excited about the possibility of helping all Hoosiers across Indiana achieve their dreams and about moving our state forward.

But I also think about the time it takes to run a statewide campaign. I would have to spend the next two years away from my family and friends and away from this community.

Some might find this hard to believe, but one of the benefits of serving as Mayor is that I can do my job and still have time to enjoy my children, watch them grow up and participate in their lives in a meaningful way.

I’m not ready to give that up. And it’s become clear to me that running for Governor would force me to choose between politics and my family. And frankly, that’s an easy choice for me, I choose my family.

And so, I’m announcing today that I will not be a candidate for Governor in 2012

Although I’m not running, I intend to work as hard as I can to help make sure Democrats take back the Governor’s office. I’m excited about the candidates who have expressed an interest in running, and I’m confident that come November of 2012, Hoosiers will be celebrating a Democratic victory, and celebrating a bright future.

He's right. In order to beat Mike Pence or Steve Carter or whomever comes out of the Republican primary, you're going to have to be "all in" for the race. Weinzapfel expressed reservations about leaving his family in order to campaign, and that has to be a concern for a man with a young family. If he feels that he can't give 150 percent to the campaign, then he made the right decision. Family always should come first, and I believe him.

Weinzapfel's time will come if he wants it to. He would make a great Congressman, Senator, or Governor. He's a good man, and he's been an effective Mayor in Evansville. At a youthful 44, he's due for a long run in Indiana politics.

This leaves Democrats with only a few candidates. Jim Schellinger's friends are still pushing him out there although I haven't heard anything from him at all since before he lost to Jill Long Thompson in 2008's Primary. Roy Dominguez, the Lake County Sheriff, sent out a Christmas card. That means that he's still considering a run, I think. Joe Donnelly may be the most likely candidate, and he would definitely be a strong antidote to the right-wing extremism of Pence. Donnelly's not the perfect Democrat for those on the left, but he's more moderate than most and that could be a benefit given the direction the state and country are headed.

Other names that I've heard include former Speaker of the House John Gregg, former Rep. Baron Hill and former State Health Commissioner Woody Myers. These would be interesting choices. Myers name also pops up as a possible 2012 Senate challenger for Richard Lugar (or whomever beats him in the 2012 Primary).

Still a long way to go, but I cannot fault Mayor Weinzapfel for making the best decision for his family.

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