Saturday, October 15, 2011

Kennedy Wins Debate, Easily



I attended the WTHR/Indianapolis Star/Indianapolis Recorder debate tonight at the University of Indianapolis. A few things really stuck out in my mind.

I think that if you went in being a strong supporter of either candidate, you left being a strong supporter of your candidate. Mayor Ballard did nothing to fumble the ball in the minds of his Kool-Aid drinkers in the Marion County GOP, and Melina Kennedy appealed strongly to her hardcore supporters as well.

I was not a viewer at home, but I did talk to someone that watched a portion of the debate. This person is a strong Republican. Her response to me, "Melina Kennedy had better answers."

My source told me that Mayor Ballard's answer about the comprehensive smoking ban in Marion County was really off. She said that she not only believes this county is ready for it, but it's long past time for one.

Despite all of this, she says she still likes Mayor Ballard as a person. She said that he came across as more warm but that Kennedy was by far the most business-like in her approach. "I really am on the fence on this one," said my source.

My source voted for Bush and McCain in the last two Presidential elections.

I think that's truly the issue right now for Mayor Ballard. Despite the fact that he's been in office for four years, he really has only a few iffy things to hang his hat on. Tonight, he made no more clear appeal for his vision than he has previously.

If you listen carefully to these things, Melina Kennedy came across as the more Mayoral candidate. She was prepared. She spoke directly to the voter in the camera, and what came out of her mouth was focused on the question. Mayor Ballard wandered all around rhetorically. He even fumbled the first question that asked what the ONE main issue of this campaign was. Ballard warbled all over the place about his record. Kennedy refocused herself with laser like precision, "The question was what one issue is most important," said Kennedy before launching into the education issue that has become her strongest campaign plank, in my view.

It's the right plank, too. Education is so related to everything on the docket. From economic development all the way to crime, education...or the lack of a quality one...is key. Kennedy has a plan. Ballard has a bunch of initiatives, and he can warble through them all.

I thought Ballard missed a huge opportunity to address unemployment in this county as well. The question was asked about the unemployment rate of African-Americans in the county. All Ballard could do was read off a laundry list of initiatives and programs currently in place. He doesn't get it. Those AREN'T WORKING! If the status quo was working, then we wouldn't have one in four African American males out of work in this city. Kennedy, of course, articulated a plan to increase job prospects in the city.

Ballard couldn't even close out the debate correctly. You always want to end a debate with a closing argument. Kennedy hit a home run with her closing comments, but Ballard decided to do a little negative campaigning in his closing statement. Hardly what you'd expect from a non-political guy. He has NO VISION to articulate only a loose list things he says he's accomplished.

People have told me that Kennedy needs to give a reason why Ballard should be dumped out of office. Tonight, I think that was evident. At this critical moment, there is only one candidate that has a command of the issues and a plan to address them: Melina Kennedy.

Libertarians Cry Foul
I can sympathize with the Marion County Libertarian Party. I believe their candidate Chris Bowen should have been included in this debate. Bowen is quick on his feet, and I've heard him do an excellent job of articulating more of a vision than Mayor Greg Ballard. His inclusion would have made Ballard likely the third-best candidate on the stage.

With that said, I can also see the other side. The Libertarians have never drawn much support in a countywide election. Ed Coleman, the lone current Libertarian officeholder, became a Libertarian after finding himself at odds with the Republican Party when he was in office.

I think Coleman's race against Jack Sandlin in District 24 as well as Bowen's performance on November 8 will go a long way in deciding how a Libertarian candidate will be treated in the future.

3 comments:

Paul K. Ogden said...

"She said that he came across as more warm but that Kennedy was by far the most business-like in her approach. "I really am on the fence on this one," said my source."

I'm not sure how she concluded that from the debate. I concluded the opposite...that he didn't show much warmth at all during the debate while she showed some.

indyernie said...

She may have been more polished in her delivery but Ballard answered the questions to a conclusion and was more informed.
If you think Kennedy was the winner I suggest that you would enjoy the TV show, The Golden Girls... you will find great delivery but little substance there also.

Jeff Cox said...

I like Melina Kennedy, both as a public servant and as a person. But with all of the Republicans out there who are very angry at Ballard, she does not seem to be closing the sale, with most of the Republicans I know now looking at the Libertarian. Her focus on education is underwhelming and, given the Mayor's Office's very limited authority over education, seems to be somewhat misplaced. She would be better served by focusing on crime and neighborhood development (neighborhood as in "outside of downtown"), which has been almost entirely ignored by the present administration.