Friday, February 01, 2008

Tully: Is Carson Ready For Congress?

As promised, Star political columnist delivers his assessment of Democratic 7th District congressional candidate Andre Carson this week. It isn't exactly the inspiring piece the Carson campaign had hoped for, but it could have been much worse had his column more critically approached the candidate. Here was Carson's response to the question of whether he's qualified to serve in Congress:

Are you, I asked, qualified to occupy a seat in Congress?

"Absolutely," he said, not surprisingly. "You just have to look at my record."

Carson talked about his decade as a State Excise Police officer, a tenure that ended last year when he took a private-sector marketing job. He pointed to his short time as a city-county councilman. His campaign biography emphasizes his work on a park board and with a neighborhood group.

It's not a bad resume for a 33-year-old. But it's clearly not the kind of resume that would turn a guy named, say, Andre Johnson into the front-runner in a race for Congress . . .

"I'm ready because of my record of public service and because of my heart," Carson said. "It takes a real commitment to think and act for those who don't have a voice."

Carson talks frequently about "being my own man." But let's be honest: He is where he is because of his last name -- and that doesn't make him unqualified. He says years spent working beside his grandmother prepared him for office.

So how did Tully do in assessing the candidate? A good way of answering that question is to take a look at what Tully could have discussed in his analysis but either chose not to or was prohibited by his editors from writing about it. Let's begin with the 10 years Carson spent working as an excise police officer. How did he get that job? According to the Star's own archives, he got it with the help of his grandmother's former campaign manager, who landed a job running the state excise police after he successfully managed her first campaign. That man, Gene Honeycutt, was later removed from his post after he became embroiled in a scandal involving favoritism for certain strip clubs in town in exchange for sex. He was forced to resign and faced criminal charges for his actions as head of the Indiana State Excise police. According to Star reports at the time, Honeycutt hired Carson and another one of his relatives despite their having lower test scores than other more qualified candidates.

Tully also could have talked about Carson's ascension to his City-County Council seat by appointment less than six months ago. What was the first thing Carson did as a newly-appointed council member? He quit his state job and became a marketing specialist for Cripe, an engineering firm which does a lot of government work. Despite having no experience in the engineering field, Carson took a job which, at least from a public perception standpoint, expected him to trade on political favors to help win business for his new employer. That's not exactly a move which instills confidence in the public, is it? And what has Carson done since he's been on the council? There's no mention of anything he's attempted to do as an elected official. Sure, he's only been there a short time, but you would have thought he could have introduced a proposed ordinance or done something to demonstrate he's up to the job.

There's also that matter of the endorsement of Carson's candidacy by controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrahkan. Once again, no mention of that in the Star. Oh well, as Paul Harvey would say, and now you know the rest of the story.


Anonymous said...

Excise officers go into bars
looking for minors, gambling
machines and trivial violations. They also go into convenience stores looking for 19 year old clerks selling smokes to the 17 year old friends and raid parties
on college football weekends in
Bloomington and West Lafayette. Even though they do graduate from the law enforcement academy, their
jobs are viewed as lower end
wanna-be-real-cop jobs, a level barely above overtime parking enforcement and animal control

I wonder how many times he visited
Washington, DC to observe and
learn how Congress operates when his grandmother held the seat?
Did he ever go to any committee meetings there? When she held
town hall meetings in Indy on a weekend day, was he there to learn and observe?

Merely because his grandmother was
an astute political campaigner does not result in him having the
qualifications by osmosis to replace her.

Then again, Tom Delay had a
pest exterminating business before
he was elected to Congress.

Anonymous said...

Gee, AI. Did you pick on Evan Bayh this much when he first started out on the political silver spoon?

Doesn't really matter what André Carson says or believes about his experience (Wilson either, before he starts in). Nor does it matter what you or I think about André's experience.

It only matters what the 7th District voters (who come out to vote) think. If the name "Carson" is all they need, then there you go.

Plenty of candidates use their family name to get elected to Congress. Why should André not be afforded the same opportunity?

Anonymous said...


Excise also ensures that terrortist organizations are not illegally profitting from skirting tax laws and other regulations.

For instance, while living over seas a few years back, I often heard of cargo ships full of untaxed cigarettes- yes tobacco- being seized entering countries. Terrorist groups would ship untaxed, unregistered cartons of cigarettes in to a county, sell them at a huge discount (due to no taxation) and turn around to use the profit to fund their activities.

So, yes, excise does more than bust college kids trying to buy beer.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about AI, but I didn't think Sen. Bayh had the credentials or oomph to be governor when he was first elected. And he proved me right with his dithering when the state House ended up divided 50-50, as well as his "finger in the wind" political reckonings.

That said, there's a difference between the state's chief executive and the 7th district's representative, and the main qualities of each are significantly different. As varangianguard pointed out, all that matters is who the 7th district majority (of those who vote) wants casting our vote in Washington DC.

The founders' stated desire to avoid a political class calls for excise cops and exterminators to go to Washington. Else we'd have generation upon generation of Kennedys, Bushes, Bayhs, Romneys, and even Carsons going to Washington.

Oh wait. We do. Oops. Quick, someone find an exterminator.

Bart Lies said...

Is Chelsea Clinton therefore qualified to be President?

Bart Lies said...

Chelsea Clinton: Yes, I jbiw she's not met the AGE requirement yet...

Anonymous said...

and JOn Elrod is qualified because....????? The highest score obtained on the final exam of this last class at the Law Enforcement Academy was scored by an officer from the Animal Care and Control and the second was a firefighter.

Anonymous said...

Carson bragging about the job his granny got him with the state?

OK, it's time to open the door. Make a public records request for Andre Carson's test scores and also for the state standards to pass the Excise Police Academy. You will likely notice that some exams were miraculously passed after private re-test in which only one person knows if cheating took place....and were more re-tests given than academy standards allow?

What did he do on Excise? Did he get by because of his grandmother, rather than merit?

Anonymous said...

The same thing applies here. Pampered or not, André Carson is hardly the first politician to arrive with a silver spoon in his mouth. Or, to have previous jobs paved in advance for him (see Dan Quayle).

Find something substantive to nitpick about, or get off the bus. There should be plenty to talk about without dragging up his grandmother's name every time.

Anonymous said...

"It takes a real commitment to think and act for those who don't have a voice."

Yea, but what about the other 60% of the district. Why can't WE get any representation?

Wilson46201 said...

Only five years in his fathers law office is hardly oodles of experience for Jon Elrod to crow about, is it now?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the special election:

Anonymous said...

10:28--step back from your bad ole self. Excise police stopping terrorists. Hilarious.

When Evan Bayh was elected governor, he'd clerked for one of the nation's busiest US Judges for three years and been Secretary of State for two years, which combined is about four times the experience Andre has.

I can't support him because of his lack of experience. In four years or so, maybe. He seems nice enough. It has nothing to do with his grandmother, for whom I voted. In contrast with her grandson, she richly earned her spot in Congress.

Elrod has been a state rep for two sessions, and was a township board member two years before that.

By a small bit, Elrod has more worthwhile experience, all blog bloviating about the Excise Police notwithstanding.

But I kinda side with varan...can someone put up or shut up about the alleged re-test for Andre, and related nonsense? His grandma is buried. He got where he is because of her. He'll get where he needs to go based on that and the voters' ability to pay attention.

It's called democracy.

It doesn't have to be pretty.

Anonymous said...

Other than being on the family payroll, Elrod has not worked in his life. He was on the advisory board but resigned to be in the legislature. When he was just in his first year there, the announced he wanted to be in congress. Would you hire someone with that work record? Where does he stand on the Iraq war?

Anonymous said...

"Plenty of candidates use their family name to get elected to Congress. Why should André not be afforded the same opportunity?" - varangianguard
The better question is "why should anyone be afforded that opportunity?"

Anonymous said...

Hey!Wilson have you read the new blog:"" it is a very interesting piece.

Wilson46201 said...

What a pitiful site and sight - the poor guy can't even spell "Israel" correctly yet he claims to be so concerned about that country. Try reading the Bible and Dr. M. L. King to learn how to spell ISRAEL right (for starters)...

Anonymous said...

OK, Wilson, let's say Elrod has one and a half legislative sessions under his belt.

That's one and a half more than Andre.

Anonymous said...

Is Danny Burton ready for congress...apparently the republicans think so...they keep sending him back

Anonymous said...

In the unlikely event that Elrod would get elected, how long before he started running for some other office. That is his pattern. Get elected and then run for some other office.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you gave Tully an out-being muzzled by the brain impaired would explain a lot of his lame columns. I had been thinking that Tully was just lightweight and lazy but I can now act with more charity towards another gannett prisioner.

Rudyard said...

USA is a democracy, not a monarchy. No kings, queens, princesses, or princes. Julia Carson did not OWN the congressional seat, and therefore had no rights to bequeath it to her grandson.
These are very important, challenging times. Therefore, 7th district voters need to COMPARE the Democratic candidates and choose who is best qualified to represent them. As a 7th District resident, Dr. Myers looks best to me, followed by Orenlicter, Mays, and lastly, Carson.