Thursday, November 10, 2011

Where do the Democrats go from here in Marion County?

Tuesday's election results were disappointing and reinvigorating all at once.

On one hand, it was incredibly disappointing to see a great candidate like Melina Kennedy lose, but it’s incredibly exciting to see what might happen these next four years with a three-seat majority on the City-County Council.

First of all, you have to look at what was wrong with the Mayor’s race and campaign. What went wrong for the Democrats?

I think that there was something to the folks saying the campaign became too negative too fast. I still don’t think the campaign was overly negative, but it was relentless. While Kennedy pointed out some spots where the Mayor was vulnerable, I think her campaign resisted getting down too far into the mud and going into other areas such as the Pacers deal, parking deal, and the water deal(this is Paul Ogden’s original idea).

I also don’t believe the campaign was able to answer the charges Ballard leveled at the end of the campaign well on Kennedy’s record. Ballard was relentlessly negative this last week spending a lot of time saying, “We can’t go back to Melina Kennedy.”

Kennedy’s camp decided to turn a little more positive and hit the crime button at the end of the campaign. It didn’t work.

Melina Kennedy was the RIGHT CANDIDATE for the job, and she had a great vision for the city. Hopefully, she will stay involved and be a strong voice for change in this community. I don’t want her to fade away into the ether. Third time is the charm, and I still believe she has a long future in Marion County politics. She’s still young and has a long time to make a contribution and a mark on Indianapolis.

Democrats now will have to work with Mayor Ballard where they can, and oppose him where they need to. Ballard will have to walk that same line. It’s going to be a real test of how “non-political” he is. By his own words, he has said that he will not have a problem in this regard. It’s time to put his words to the test.

As we look ahead to 2015, there is now an incredibly long bench for the Democrats and their future fortunes in Marion County. There are new, dynamic people on the Council. There will also be a number of possible Mayoral candidates stepping to the forefront. The big challenge for the D’s will be to stay together as a caucus. It’s going to take, I think, a skilled and experienced Council President to effectively manage the caucus and all of its needs. There are many potential Presidents on this Council. The caucus needs to find the right one.

It should be a very interesting next few months.

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