Voters had elected Mahern to a second term on the council just six days earlier. But he never had any intention of sticking around the City-County Building for another four-year term -- despite a summer and fall spent knocking on doors and asking voters for that new term. The council was a springboard to where he really wants to be: the Statehouse.
Though he had been cagey about it for several months, Mahern acknowledges he was eyeing a Statehouse seat while waging this year's council campaign. The desire to end up at the Capitol, where members have more power and influence, spurred him along during this year's race.
"This is something I've been thinking about," he said. "I knew I had to win re-election first." But why? Why sell voters on your candidacy for City-County Council if you have no intention of serving a full term?
"I think a lot of it is there is a vacuum of change taking place," Mahern said. "A lot of people see it as an opportunity."
Political opportunism is rarely pretty. And it isn't in this case. But Mahern isn't the first politician to run for one office with a plan to turn around and run for a higher one. Many politicians spend their careers looking for the next big thing.
And Mahern is correct. There is an opportunity for Democrats in House District 97.
With Jon Elrod's decision to vacate the seat he just won from Ed Mahern last year, you can hardly blame Dane Mahern for wanting to seek the open seat, which is a very competitive seat. The person most disappointed by all this is House Republican Leader Brian Bosma, who is now going to have to start from scratch to try to hold this seat. I've heard of no viable candidate on the Republican side to step forward to run for the open seat. Mahern will no doubt face some skeptical voters. Marion Co. voters rebuffed former Mayor Steve Goldsmith big time when he ran for governor right after he won re-election to a second term in office. Mahern may face the same fate, although I suspect voters have less of a problem with a legislative official seeking another office than they do with an elected executive like mayor.