Monday, May 13, 2013

Marion County Soon To Enter Post SB621 Period

City-County Building
Democrats have spent most of the last couple of days regrouping after hearing Saturday's news that Mike Pence signed Senate Bill 621 into law.  The legislation modifies Marion County's government structure making the Mayor of Indianapolis much stronger relative to other executive offices in the county and the legislative City-County Council.

Most with some sort of gray matter between their ears understand that this was a piece of legislation conceived and dedicated to the proposition of making the Republican Party more powerful in Marion County for the next two years or so.  It's legislation by the General Assembly for the Republican Party.

Despite assurances to the contrary, it's hard to believe that the legislation won't be watered down in a couple of years if Democrats take the Mayor's Office back.  It also makes that election in 2015 that much more important and interesting.

Paul Ogden over on his Ogden on Politics Blog, says he doesn't believe Mayor Greg Ballard will run for a third term.  He does a tremendous analysis of the politics of Senate Bill 621 as well.  I highly recommend his take on the legislation.  He does a nice job, so go read it for yourself.

I disagree with Ogden in one key place.  Unlike Paul, I believe that Greg Ballard will run for a third term.  He simply gives the Republicans their best chance of holding on to the office because he's the two-time defending champion.  Given that the Democrats will be pulling out all the stops in 2015, the GOP needs a guy like Ballard to at least give them a shot at maintaining their newly-minted iron-fisted control of Marion County Government.  

Ballard is the only man for the GOP nomination.  If they try to move someone in and have that person run, the right Democrat can play this Republican up to be a carpetbagger, and that would stick.  Of course, one of the lesser-known and least-discussed parts of 621 allows a person to live in Indianapolis just one year before running for mayor.  It certainly would look bad if Ballard walks away and someone suddenly shows up.

In his analysis of the City-County Council races in 2015, Ogden again is right on target.  In his analysis, Ogden walks his reader through the baseline 2010 and 2012 numbers in looking at each district, politically.  He states that he believes that the Supreme Court of Indiana will likely end up drawing new districts without regard to politics.  He says that he believes that there's a slim chance that the David Brooks-drawn districts adopted in 2011 by the Council will stand.

I would not be so sure that it's only a slim chance that Republican-drawn districts that were slipped through would be upheld by the Indiana Supreme Court.  I think there's actually a GOOD chance these districts are upheld.  After all, this is not the same Supreme Court that ordered a redraw of the districts last time around.  It's a much more political court now with new appointees on board. Appointments made by Republican Mitch Daniels including party loyalists like Mark Massa.  I just don't have the confidence that Ogden does.

Whatever happens with the districts, Democrats can't just bank on 621 resonating with the voters in 2015.    Each time that a Republican plays a political game with a power granted them under 621, it must be highlighted and repeated.

We've entered a different landscape now.  The Republicans essentially dropped the political equivalent of a nuclear bomb on the Democrats.  It's going to be all out war now between the Mayor and the Democrats on the City-County Council.  It's also now going to be all out war between the parties on the City-County Council.  There's little spirit of cooperation thanks to the actions of some Councillors in sticking the political knife in others.  I'm not sure that the Republicans understand what they've stepped into.

The Democrats need to avoid shutting down altogether.  Senate Bill 621 doesn't guarantee anyone anything politically right now.  If the D's fold their arms and pout, then that can certainly be something that's not attractive to the voters.  If I were the Democrats, I'd ramp up the aggressiveness.  Take SB621 like a rather large speed bump in the road rather than a brick wall.  Let's go ahead and get the Mayor in some uncomfortable political positions.  The shenanigan level is at an all time high if it's done correctly.

Yep, it's going to get pretty interesting around here pretty soon.

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