Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Evans Converts to Republican

Councillor Jose Evans
The Marion County Democratic Party received a jolt this morning when one of its City-County Councillors and former mayoral candidates jumped ship and joined the Republican Party.

Jose Evans, City-County Councillor in District 1, announced this morning that he was leaving the Democratic Party and would caucus with the Republicans. Evans ran a spirited campaign for Mayor of Indianapolis in 2011 before dropping out and endorsing Melina Kennedy.

In a news release sent out by the Marion County GOP (then repeated at a press conference later), Evans said this “was not a decision was made in haste or without considerable thought.”

Evans added, “When looking around my district, our city, and this state, however, it is clear that Republican policies and Republican leadership are getting things done, and I want to be a part of a Party that is focused on progress.”

Of course Republican leaders were ecstatic and overjoyed to have Evans join the party as it now reduces the Democratic majority from 16 to 13 to 15 to 14. GOP Council Leader Mike McQuillen said in the news release, ““While we’ve certainly not always agreed on the issues, I’ve always considered Councillor Evans a thoughtful colleague.” He went on to say that Evans decision to join the caucus shows that the former Democrat values “performance over politics.”

Marion County Republican Chair, Kyle Walker, and Indiana Republican Party Chair, Eric Holcomb, both seemed giddy to get Evans to join their party, but what are the Republicans getting when it comes to Evans? To his colleagues, he has always been a bit of an enigma on the Council. A Veteran Councillor has told me in the past that Evans, at times, seemed standoffish or would not respond at all to correspondence. It almost seemed that he had his own goal.

In 2011, that goal was to be Mayor of Indianapolis, and we, coincidentally, we are gearing up for another municipal election cycle in 2015 perhaps Evans is positioning himself as a Republican to run for a new opportunity if Mayor Ballard decides he doesn’t want to pursue a third term. With Evans’ district trending more Democratic, it would be a fight for him to retain his seat on the Council. It makes sense that he might look for something else.

Even though he has now switched caucuses, Evans may find himself at times as persona non grata. He is a Democrat that defected to the D’s. To the R’s, he is a Republican that used to be a Democrat. Some dues may have to be paid.

Joel Miller, Marion County Democratic Party Chairman, took the high road wishing Evans luck.  Said Miller in a statement, "This morning, I learned from news reports that Jose Evans, councillor for the 1st district will be changing political parties. While I wish Councillor Evans well in his future endeavors, as with any Republican, I certainly look forward to spirited political campaigns against him in the coming years."

Evans departure now leaves little margin for error for the Democrats on the Council and Council President Maggie Lewis assuming that the Republicans can trust Evans to suddenly become a loyal vote on their issues. 

It's also worth noting that when Ed Coleman left the Republican Party and went to the Libertarian Party, top Republicans lambasted Coleman.  The then-more-relevant Jon Elrod accused Coleman of betraying the voters who elected him as a Republican.  

On a personal note, I like Councillor Evans a great deal.  He has always treated me well, and I hope that will continue now that he is a Republican.  I just wonder what ultimately led him to this decision.  His sudden change of heart just is hard to believe.  Until something else is presented, I'll take him at his word, though.

City-County Council watching just got that much more interesting!

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