|City-County Councillor Brian Mahern|
The Near-Eastside Democrat has been the most vocal critic of Mayor Greg Ballard's Administration and the Republicans that support him on the City-County Council.
Instead of seeking a second year as Vice President on the Council, Mahern's taken more of a role as a vocal Councillor speaking up against Mayor Ballard and, in that process, has gained the support of many Democrats and advocates that believe the Mayor has gone astray from his campaign promises. This move also put him outside the Democratic leadership on the Council and more on his own path.
Creating a Facebook page does not yet mean that Mahern is officially running. The name of the Facebook page is "Mahern for a better city" and not "Mahern for Mayor", but that's smart at this point. It's always important to dip your toe in the water before diving in.
Mahern will have challenges and advantages in this run. One advantage is that he's a Mahern. The Mahern family has long been associated with the Democratic Party in Marion County and that carries a lot of goodwill with party faithful. And, as I stated earlier, Mahern has been the most vocal critic of Mayor Ballard of any Democrat on the Council as well.
From a challenge standpoint, there are other candidates still out there that might run. Joe Hogsett is seen by most Democrats as a "field clearer" given his performance as U.S. Attorney and his previous run for Mayor the last time around. In that cycle, he ran very hard early but pulled out and threw full support behind Melina Kennedy shortly before being named U.S. Attorney. City-County President Maggie Lewis, City-County Councillor Vop Osili, previous candidate Brian Williams, and even Congressman Andre Carson have all been mentioned as possible candidates or people interested in exploring a run for Mayor in 2015. I really doubt Carson will leave Congress to run for Mayor, but the other candidates are definitely possible.
Mahern will need to also mend a few fences, and he may already be doing that. I have been told that Mahern's aggressiveness and perceived ambition, at times, put him at odds with his own colleagues on the Council when he was vice president. For his part, Mahern has cited philosophical differences with Council President Maggie Lewis and thought she should have been more vocal against the Mayor's advocacy of tax increment financing and also louder against the Mayor's call for more financial support of the Indiana Pacers. That doesn't seem to matter to many of Mahern's strongest supporters, and it's what makes him stand out to them as a candidate. I think time and opportunity mends all. There's nothing in my judgement that Mahern has done that cannot be fixed, but he will have to work to fix those disagreements or to bring people over to his own side.
On the Republican side, Ryan Vaughn is widely considered the frontrunner to take the standard from his boss if Mayor Ballard doesn't go for a third term. Republican City-County Council Minority Leader Mike McQuillen, City-County Councillor Ben Hunter, and newly-appointed Pence Administration member Jeff Cardwell have been other Republicans that I've heard might be interested in a run for Mayor should Ballard step out of politics.
Mahern, however, looks to be the first likely candidate in the Mayoral Marathon for 2015, and he's a strong candidate to start with for the Democrats.