Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Religious Right Wins GOP Mayoral Races In South Bend And Fort Wayne

In a setback for the forces of moderation within the Indiana Republican Party, candidates backed by the religious right in Fort Wayne and South Bend have seized their respective GOP nominations for mayor. The religious right targeted only these two mayoral races in Indiana's municipal elections this year.

In South Bend, Juan Manigault coasted past Terry Miller to win the GOP bid for mayor. Manigault will face incumbent Democratic Mayor Stephen Luecke in the November election. In Fort Wayne, architect Matt Kelty appears to have pulled off a major upset in a narrow win over Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters. With 83% of the vote counted, Kelty held a 640-vote lead, or a margin of 49%-47% over Peters. If Kelty holds on to his narrow lead, he will face Democrat Tom Henry. Incumbent Mayor Graham Richard (D) did not seek re-election.

Peters was backed by GOP Chairman Steve Shine and most Fort Wayne area Republican leaders. Kelty's win is a major defeat for the county party and may dash the party's hopes of recapturing the mayor's office.


Anonymous said...

Do you seriously think Kelty is going to lose against Henry? For heaven sake- Tom Henry may do better against Kelty than he would have against Peters, but Kelty is definitely not going to lose. The GOP will win back the Mayor's office by a 60-40% margin, rather than a 65-35% margin with Peters. Don't comment on Fort Wayne politics if you don't have any idea how things work in the Summit City.

Advance Indiana said...

The Republicans felt the same way about Graham Richards. Didn't he win the last two elections?

Squarefinger said...

Tom Henry is no Graham Richards!

Christopher Mann said...

AI, I don't think you fully understand what has happened in FW.

The city formally annexed Aboite township, politically comparable to Indianapolis annexing Carmel. All Allen Co R's and D's know that it will be a very tough race simply by sheer number count for a D to win in 2007. The fact that no Dem stepped forward to run for Mayor until two days before the Feb deadline demonstrates the lack of D's confidence in obtaining the seat; the Ds had to darn near suspend the 14th Amendment and conscript the poor guy in order to avoid the embarrassment of not fielding a candidate.

Add to the fact that Kelty knows grassroots politics like no other R or D in Allen county...there is no point in disputing that this is Kelty's race to lose. Remember, this guy lost the state rep race to veteran Win Moses in 2002 by only 63 votes. There is every indication that Kelty will outwalk and outwork Henry; Henry will have to work hard *and* hope for some terrible gaffe or scandal in order to pull of a Nov victory.

If there is a city where GOP hopes are "dashed" it would be Kokomo, where incumbent GOP Mayor Matt McKillip, also roundly endorsed by almost the same lineup as Fort Wayne's Kelty, lost to GOP challenger Rick Hamilton.

It is hard to imagine how Kokomo's GOP leadership can reunite after GOP Chairman Craig Dunn's ranting against incumbent Mayor Matt McKillip and his "McKillip is a Nazi" rhethoric. If there is a clear win for Dems this year, Kokomo could be it.

Advance Indiana said...

christopher, Mayor McKillip's loss in Kokomo was a surprise to no one. He was opposed by many within his own party.

Lance Rasmussen said...

"If there is a city where GOP hopes are "dashed" it would be Kokomo, where incumbent GOP Mayor Matt McKillip, also roundly endorsed by almost the same lineup as Fort Wayne's Kelty, lost to GOP challenger Rick Hamilton."

Oh happy, happy day! I guess the plans for all the Carmel-inspired roundabouts will have to be scrapped. I disagree with AI about the loss being a surprise though. As bad as it sounds, the former Mayor had a huge chunk of the religious right "sheep" who only vote on abortion and fear of the ACLU. McKillip used the Kokomo public TV station as his own campaign channel - in terms of exposure, he was way above everyone else. The push polling killed him, and I believe he would have won handily without that 11th-hour scandal.

Christopher Mann said...

Lance is right about the 11th hour scandal, though the jury is still out regarding who actually caused it.

AI: of course MM's defeat was not a surprise. By "GOP hopes dashed" I was referring to November hopes. With the party bitterly divided, it looks like a D year.

Anonymous said...

Chris, unfortunately you were wrong about Kelty. HE LOST. Would he have won if the GOP supported him and his own party cannibalized him? Maybe. But doubtful. But has the GOP been losing?? On a side not, you can join the Okeson boys and move back down to Indy and tell us how to run government?