Many people are going to call John McGoff an unfaithful Republican.
That's what happens when you challenge an incumbent in your own party. You face the wrath of a system rigged to protect politicians in power.
But party politics aside, McGoff did the 5th Congressional District a huge favor Tuesday when he walked into the Statehouse and announced he would challenge longtime U.S. Rep. Dan Burton next year. He did everyone a favor by ensuring voters finally would have a choice in the only election that really matters in the Republican-dominated district -- the GOP primary.
Given Burton's misguided ways, and recent rash of embarrassing headlines, McGoff emerges as a credible, if underdog, candidate. The party's political structure will stand behind Burton -- at least officially -- but McGoff is counting on restless rank-and-file Republicans.
He's counting on Republicans who wouldn't vote for a Democrat but who think Burton has overstayed his welcome.
Any doubt that Burton has done so was erased in January, when he skipped a week of House votes to golf in California, after casting the sole House vote against ethics reform. That was just the latest in Burton's long, strange career.
When the political writer for the State's largest newspaper is singing your political theme on day one, your job as a challenger is made all the easier. And that means McGoff is going to find it easier to raise the much-needed money he will need to go up against Burton's million-dollar plus war chest. The Star's news pages also feature a lengthy story on McGoff's announcement yesterday. And it has more nice things to say about McGoff. "He's one of the smartest men I've ever met -- calm and rational and has a good perspective on how government should be," quoting former Marion County Clerk Doris Anne Sadler, a fellow Republican. One of the things that struck me with the news coverage is there is no major Republican figure who is dissing McGoff's candidacy or criticizing him for challenging a long-time incumbent officeholder. That is very telling.