Friday, September 21, 2007

Tully: Council Control Up For Grabs

Star political columnist Matt Tully provides an analysis of Indianapolis' CCC races this year and concludes the current 15-14 Democratic control is up for grabs. Immediately following the May primary, most folks thought the best the GOP could hope to do was limit the number of their losses. A three to four seat pick up for the Democrats seemed not only possible but likely. The cumulative effect of skyrocketing property taxes and crime, almost daily revelations of a corrupt and out of touch council leadership and dissatisfaction with Mayor Peterson's handling of the city are now working against the Democrats.

The CCC's at-large election of four members add a special twist. Under Uni-Gov, the four at-large seats have been won by the party who won the mayor's race in every election. Tully speculates that only one of the GOP at large candidates, Kent Smith, has a realistic chance of winning this year. He bases that on Ron Gibson's legal woes and his pending trial right before the election on charges of public intoxication, disorderly conduct and shoving a police officer. Typically, there is not a large spread between the number of votes the at-large candidates of the same party receive in any given election, and often that spread can be attributed to their placement on the ballot as much as anything. Most voters have no idea who these at-large candidates are. Gibson's criminal charges have been in the news a lot and will be a lot more in coming weeks at the worst possible time for Democrats so it is quite possible he will face a big drop off in votes. Whether Kent Smith is the beneficiary of that drop off is debatable. It could just as easily be the at-large candidate whose name appears first on the list, which is Ed Coleman if I'm not mistaken.

Tully lists Sherron Franklin (D) and Scott Keller (R) as the most vulnerable incumbents, and I agree. Franklin's people skills are atrocious and her ramblings at CCC meetings don't help her any. Keller looked very strong going into this year's election, but he has shot himself in the foot repeatedly this year. He alienated the political players and some of his financial backers who played an important role in getting him elected four years ago. He refused to back the GOP candidate for mayor under a highly mistaken belief Mayor Peterson would support his re-election and that endorsement would help his re-election. Even worse, he completely ignored the cries of homeowners in his district who were hit particularly hard by this year's reassessments and supported the Mayor's 65% increase in the county option income tax. Not even neighboring Councilor Dane Mahern (D), a city employee, made the mistake of casting that bad vote. Taken together, Keller's own actions have gone a long way towards aiding the election of his lesser-qualified Democratic opponent, Brian Mahern, whose name won't hurt him in this district.

I would add to Tully's list the council district of Angela Mansfield. She has been a very able councilor in her northside district, but she faces a very formidable opponent in Bruce Schumaker (R) and Mayor Peterson is not particularly popular in her district. Her votes for the county option income tax increase and the mayor's budget won't help her. She isn't taking anything for granted, though, and is working her district hard. The seats of former councilor Jim Bradford and retiring Scott Schneider also provide prospects for the Democrats, although I think this year's property tax debacle has probably solidified Bradford's seat for Republican Ryan Vaughn.

This is one of those years where even good candidates will lose. The anti-incumbent sentiment in Marion Co. is as strong this year as it was in 1994 when Republicans swept the county, pulling a number of upsets. Some of that sentiment is not as decisively anti-Democratic as it was in 1994 though. To the extent people cast their votes towards the aim of "throwing the bums out", it's going to work against the Democrats because their man has been in charge for the past 8 years. I agree with Tully that Monroe Gray's ethics problems will serve as a drag on the ticket. I would not, however, rule out the possibility that Gray himself might not be upset in that district, Yes, it is a very Democratic district, but even many Democrats can only tolerate so much blatant corruption from one man. In WISH-TV's poll this week, only 35% of the voters in Marion Co. approved of Monroe Gray's handling of the CCC, and only 36% approved of the job the City-County Council is doing. Those numbers couldn't be much worse for Democrats.

Tully is right in that city elections often attract very low voter turnouts. I think that will change this year. People's pocketbooks have been hit very hard. They're extremely frustrated with the out-of-control crime problem. Cronyism and political graft have taken a front seat over good government. And they're sick and tired of the lack of accountability for all that's wrong from those in positions of power to do something about these problems. I think we'll see some big changes in November with some big surprises.


WT Mom said...

Silly me. I thought the city-county council was supposed to make decisions for the good of the city-county . . . not the good of Republicans or Democrats.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I didnt read the Tully article, A/I. Did he elaborate as to why the GOP thinks that this Kent Smith is their best chance at picking up an at-large seat? What does he offer that the other 3 do not? I have read candidate Hegg(sp?) on this site and talked to him last night, and he has my vote, and I traditionally vote (D)!

Gary R. Welsh said...

I agree, anon 11:10, that Hegg makes a good candidate. I don't want to speculate on why Tully singled out Smith over the other 3 candidates, although Smith makes a good candidate as well.

Anonymous said...

When you vote in November, flush twice.

Anonymous said...

gary, someone should find out why at-large Councilor King Ro Conley was booted from the damien center board. was it because he never attended a meeting or some other reason?

Anonymous said...

As a life long Dem, I think the Dems will maintain control of the council but I will NOT vote for alcoholic abuser Ron Gibson even if that seats means the change in power. I think that there are 3 or 4 other pickups that the Dems can offset that with. I agree Sherron Franklin is a goner and should be...there is something wrong with her.........she needs medication or something.

Anonymous said...

Once again, Tully is all wet. How can someone who's wrong so often keep a job?


1. The at-large vote totals, in the 2003 primary and general, and the 2007 primary, showed the trailing councillor, by far and away, is King Ro.
I am aware of some neighborhood activists who are going to try to give him an extra push this year, whether it's an organized effort or not. That's due to his insistance that his inept wife be given a sensitive zoning job downtown...and she's effed it all up, badly. Zoning is near and dear to the hearts of these neighborhood activists. Mrs. C. has become a laughing stock--watchher on Ch. 16 sometime if you don't believe it. A complete joke.
So, it won't be Gibson who loses, if any D at-larges lose. Look up the vote totals. It'll be King Ro. Justifiably. And voters have to jump over Gibson and Boyd to vote for the ticket-leader among D at-larges, Joanne Sanders.
King Ro has never been that popular. He's a bully. And when you talk with him, well--there's nothing behind that baritone voice.

2. Angela has a tough opponent, but she'll win. She works her district hard, and has throughout her term. She's helped neighborhood groups and citizens all over her district. Her opponent is a great guy, from a prominent family, but she'll win.

3. Sherron will likely win, too, damn it. She isn't known among her district's voters, or they'd boot her.

Tully pulls this stuff out of his ass once a week. Why do people put so much faiht in it? He's rarely right.

Anonymous said...

1. Sherron Franklin's district is heavily republican. She only won because of republican corruption in the last election. She will lose big time this year.

2. Ike Randolph's seat will become a democratic seat this time. It should have been the last time but the Dems had a weak candidate who blew it.

Anonymous said...

Protestors aligned with Hoosiers For Fair Taxation will demonstrate outside of the democratic fundraiser that targeted only minority business owners hinting that future city contracts might be in jeapordy if they don't support the dems in control.

The demonstrators plan to photograph and shoot video of every person who goes in and out of the fundraiser. All are welcome to join and bring your cameras.

Wednesday, October 3rd from 5:30PM-7PM at the offices of the Winston/Terrell Group (1449 North Pennsylvania Street in downtown Indianapolis).