Kris Kiser is a candidate for Congress in the 7th District who will get some notice. Kiser is challenging incumbent Julia Carson in the Democratic primary and he is openly gay. He is no Bobby Hidalgo, however. Kiser is a lawyer and former aide to Congressman Lee Hamilton who gave up his job as a Washington lobbyist to move home and challenge Carson. He says he knows he has an uphill battle but intends to run a positive race. He is planning a formal campaign kickoff for next week.
Until a year ago, Kiser was living and working in Washington, D.C. He spent 13 years working as a lobbyist for two large trade groups for the automotive and paper industries after leaving his job as a Hill staffer according to his website. Kiser and his partner, Daryl Johnson, returned to Indianapolis a little more than a year ago, where the two of them are engaged in renovating real estate.
According to his website, he supports health care coverage for every American, champion advanced education or training for every resident who seeks it, believes in lowering the tax burden for low and middle income Hoosiers and not just the rich and for the equal treatment of every citizen, regardless of color, sexual orientation or economic condition with compassion, fairness and inclusion.
Kiser's candidacy is not likely to be met with much enthusiasm from 7th District Democrats, who believe having Carson on the ticket helps bolster voter turnout in the district's African-American community. While much speculation has been made about Carson's failing health, she shows no sign of giving up her seat. And when she does, African-American Democrats in the district fully expect that the party will select another African-American to take her place. There are in fact several such candidates waiting in the wings.
As an openly gay candidate, Kiser is pretty much a mystery to Indianapolis' GLBT community. His candidacy will come as a surprise to that community as it does to others. Carson has been steadfast in her support of gay rights. Last year, she took Democratic city-county counselors who voted against the HRO to the woodshed at a meeting with them. Three of them, Ron Gibson, Patrice Abdullah and Steve Talley, eventually switched their votes in support of the HRO, thereby ensuring its passage. Her role in helping that happen has not been lost on Indianapolis' GLBT community.
Kiser may just be getting warmed up with a first bid in hopes of building name recognition for a later bid when Carson retires. His decision, however, to oppose the Grandmother of the Marion Co. Democrats, will do little to endear himself to party regulars.