Thursday, October 6, 2011
Is Mayor Greg Ballard a Tea Party Guy?
The Marion County Democratic Party has labeled some local GOP officials as Tea Party members lately. One was Barbara Malone, At-Large City-County Councillor (which I thought was a stretch). Now, the label is being applied to Mayor Greg Ballard. Is it a valid label?
To answer or, more appropriately, ponder this question, it's important to look at the two Greg Ballards that have developed over the last four years. The 2007 version that successfully campaigned for Mayor and the 2011 version which, I'll give this away, has little in common with that 2007 version.
Let's get this out of the way. Mayor Greg Ballard, as he has governed, may be conservative (some conservatives disagree). He may have some Tea Party views, but to say he embraces the Tea Party as it is in 2011 is simply not accurate, but, before you take me out of context and quote that last sentence, read the rest of the post.
In the most recent news release by the MCDP, discussed here, Greg Ballard is labeled as the "original Tea Party candidate." Looking back at 2007 and how Ballard took an almost entirely negative campaign to a win, it's hard not to recognize some of the similarities between Tea Party core tenets and the ideas the Mayor was campaigning on in '07.
Mainly, it was the property tax angst as well as the angst at the county option income tax increase that Ballard capitalized on in 2007. That grassroots anti-tax wave sounds like the start of something that we've come to know as the Tea Party, and Ballard rode it.
Once in office, Ballard has presided over the raising of over 140 taxes and fees. Some of those are "user fees", but the fact of the matter is that the users are paying more to do things they used to do for less. That's no Tea Party guy, and the first people to tell you about it are the Tea Partiers. They want little to do with the man they originally helped put on the 25th Floor. The impression that I get is that many of those original Ballard early-adopters, those "Taxed Enough Already" Tea Party folks, are going to sit on their hands on November 8. Ballard has lost his original base.
So, in answer to the question posed in the headline. In 2007, the answer was yes. In 2011, the answer is that he wants to be. Ballard is still putting out the Tea Party line...even if it's exaggerated or flat untrue. He's saying that he "honestly balanced budgets" and didn't raise taxes. RIIIIIGHT. As Mayor Greg Ballard, the man has been anything but a Tea Party individual even though he still wants to be.
The characterization of Mayor Ballard as the "original Tea Party candidate" is quite prescient, and, by the way he's conducting his campaign, he still wants to be a member of the Tea Party. Thus, anyone criticizing the Marion County Democratic Party for connecting the Mayor to anything Tea Party should examine the campaign carefully and re-think their criticism. I think the MCDP is well within the bounds to make the connection because that's the campaign Greg Ballard is running regardless of how he has been as Mayor.