Friday, August 17, 2012

Only Way is Up for Indiana Democratic Party

I'm sure you've heard by now that John Gregg is way behind Mike Pence in the most recent snapshot poll, 50 percent to 32 percent.

This polling result didn't surprise me at all even considering that the typically right-leaning Indiana Chamber of Commerce sponsored the poll.  I think the poll is likely fairly valid given that the same poll is pretty much right in step with Congressman Joe Donnelly's internal polling showing that the Senate race is a dead heat, and that doesn't surprise me at all.  Donnelly is running a well-funded and excellent campaign against a very extreme Republican candidate in Richard Mourdock.  It makes sense.  Donnelly is more of a traditional Hoosier candidate for national office.  He's moderate and reasonable...just like John Gregg.

That brings me back to this question: What is it going to take for the Indiana Democratic Party to be able to run competitively across the board again?  After all, you have two right wing Republicans in Mike Pence and Richard Mourdock and two moderate Democrats in John Gregg and Joe Donnelly and only one is making an impact in a statewide race.  How could that be?

The fact of the matter is that John Gregg is the PERFECT candidate to run against Mike Pence, and Joe Donnelly is the perfect candidate to run against Richard Mourdock.  The Indiana Democratic Party just isn't strong enough to help push Gregg, and Donnelly is getting a lot of help from out of state and from his opponent.

Indiana Democratic Party Chair
Dan Parker
It's really easy to lay this all at the feet of Dan Parker, but Parker isn't the problem.  If that contradicts what I've written here before, then I apologize.  Perhaps I've come to a new realization.  That realization is that the Indiana Democratic Party is now a group of factions battling for power.  It isn't one entity any longer.

Dan Parker may just be the guy that's holding this thing together with chewing gum and bailing wire.  He's become more of a symptom of the dysfunction than the actual dysfunction.

Take the two recent coup attempts.  Neither succeeded because neither could cull enough support to push out Parker.  There is no statewide politician that's stronger than he is.  While the factions have been battling, the Indiana GOP has grabbed Indiana politics by the shoulders and has begun to shake hard.  Now, Democrats sit on the outside looking in at the state level.  It's remarkable for a party that controlled the Governor's Office from 1989-2005 and has controlled the Indiana House as recently as January of 2011.

Look at what's happened since.  Deeper education cuts.  Education reform slammed through with vouchers and more charter schools.  Right to Work passed.  Battles over Planned Parenthood funding have been fought.  House Joint Resolution 6 was passed that could someday pave the way for discrimination to be written into the Indiana Constitution.

We've gone nowhere fast.  Hoosier voters have rejected the messages Dems have put out, and it's made the party so weak that a great candidate like John Gregg can't find traction in an election he could be dominating.

Congressman Joe Donnelly
So, what's it going to take to get back on track?

Electoral success is the first step.  If Joe Donnelly can beat Richard Mourdock, he can rally the party.  While that may not make all the factions happy, he would at least become the big fish in the pond of Democratic politics.

Call me crazy, but I am also not yet ready to write off John Gregg just yet.  If he can succeed in giving people a reason to NOT vote for Mike Pence, then I think he can still make some waves in the Governor's Race.  That, however, is honestly a very long shot.

If I'm the Indiana Democratic Party, I'm putting all my chips on Donnelly and picking up seats in the General Assembly.  Then, I'm going to cross my fingers, toes, and even my eyes and hope that voters hearts turn back left.  Indiana is a fickle state, and its voters have a way of slapping down those that get too power drunk.

The best news for Democrats is that the only way to go is up.


Anonymous said...

Dan Parker IS the problem. He is merely a puppet for Evan Bayh and Bayh has repeatedly turned his back on Indiana. We have to have leadership that will not take orders from Virginian Evan Bayh.

Anonymous said...

Neither Dan Parker nor Evan Bayh is / are the "problem" as Jon appropriately observed; but are an opportunity for a more democratic transition in party leadership.

We, the democrat voters have nominated representatives we feel will support the growth of basic democratic values (i.e., living wages, education, union representation, social security [including clean water, safe work places, education and teachers], individual rights); or a more equitable distribution of government and taxes in our lives.

With our solid support, turn out and vote, we allow our representatives to concentrate on winning against Murdoch, Pence, etc.

If we can get them and us there, then we can best determine the new name on the stationery.

Anonymous said...

Evan Bayh did not do most of those items you listed. He took the money, resigned and bolted to Virginia.