Wednesday, May 14, 2014

New Districts Provide Opportunities for Democrats

According to the information used to draw the new City-County Council districts, 15 of the 25 City-County Council Districts have a Republican majority.  We'll see how that changes in 2015.

A quick cursory look and a nod to the fact that Marion County continues to grow more blue by the day makes me believe that the Republican effort to draw districts favorable to them will be thwarted...but only by a few seats.

The new calculus on the Council is that only 13 seats are needed for a majority.  As I see it, 10 seats are safe for Democrats.  This means that only three seats are needed to be picked up by the D's beyond what should be safe.  That will be harder than it seems, but it's clearly possible for the Dems.

If the election were to be held today, Republicans would hold 12.5 of the slots, and I think they would hold the two open seats.  That leaves D's with just 10.5 seats.  I split new District 1 because Angela Mansfield and Jose Evans currently are seated there.  That means it's 14.5 to 10.5 giving the R's the two open slots.  Here's how the Dems gain the three seats.

First of all, you can take Jose Evans off the board.  Evans is toast.  His district is a strongly Democratic district, and Angela Mansfield would be his opponent.  Mansfield would win a head-to-head battle in that district against Evans.  That puts the Republicans now at 14 seats to the Democrats 11.

District 2 is a nearly 50/50 district by 2010 standards.  The area is represented in the Indiana House by Ed Delaney and by Christina Hale...both Democrats.  Will Gooden, who would be slotted into this spot, has never had to face the voters.  A strong Democratic candidate here could retake District 2 for the D's.  That makes it 13 to 12 in favor of Republicans.

Here's where it gets hard.  In order to take the control of the Council, two strong Republican City-County Councillors stand in the way of the Democrats.  One is Christine Scales.  Scales survived a strong challenge from Kostas Poulakidas in 2011.  Her district probably has trended more D since 2010.  She now has the At-Large candidate of Pam Hickman in her district who could provide an opponent for her.  Again, Scales' district is largely represented by Democrats in the Indiana House, and the Republicans won't be eager to help fact...they might even "primary" her.  Scales works hard and will be a tough opponent for Pam Hickman, but it's a seat that is quickly again rating as a toss-up.  The fact that some of old District 5 is now more in this district helps the Republican.  District 3 will be a battleground.

The other district is the newly drawn District 15.  Current representative there is Marilyn Pfisterer.  Pfisterer's district used to include parts of Wayne Township and Speedway.  The new map takes her district from those comfortable confines all the way out to the Marion County line on the western border.  This is new terrain for Pfisterer and is also terrain represented by either Vanessa Summers or Karlee Macer, both Democrats, in the Indiana House.  District 15 will be a battleground.

District 16 is another swing district.  Currently both Jeff Miller and Jefferson Shreve, both Republicans, are drawn into this district.  Miller is the current incumbent for most of this terrain, and Shreve is the current Councillor for District 23.  The border for this district moved south meaning that Shreve now will either have to move or face Miller in the Primary in 2015 to stay on the Council.  A good Democrat in this area might be a good competition for Miller or Shreve.  Miller, however, really works hard at his job and would be a tougher opponent than Shreve in District 16.  Shreve has also been somewhat moderate in his views, but he still votes with Greg Ballard too much.  District 16 will be a battleground.

If the Democrats can walk away with two of the three battlegrounds plus a couple of others, they will control the Council again in 2016 and beyond.

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