Friday, February 22, 2008

Why Lawmakers Don't Care What You Think

If you find your state representative or state senator unresponsive to you, then you need to run against them for that office. Unfortunately, despite voter anger over skyrocketing property taxes, most incumbent lawmakers will automatically be re-nominated by their respective parties in the May primary for re-election because nobody filed to run against them. Based upon the final filing list for candidates for the Indiana House and Senate, I've calculated that 77% of the incumbent legislators face no primary opposition. That means only 25 of the 108 incumbent lawmakers seeking re-election will have a primary opponent. While it is true that many of those incumbent legislators will face an opponent in the general election, most legislative districts have been gerrymandered to favor one party over the other, making it nearly impossible to defeat an incumbent in a majority of the legislative districts.

According to my analysis, House Democrats are getting off the easiest, while the Senate Republicans have the worst odds. Here is a breakdown by caucus showing the number of members with primary opposition versus those without primary opposition:

Senate Democrats (4 out of 6 have no opposition, or 66%)
Senate Republicans (9 out of 14 have no opposition, or 64%)
House Republicans (33 out of 44 have no opposition, or 75%)
House Democrats (37 out of 44 have no opposition, or 84%)

26 comments:

Wilson46201 said...

It's trivial and free to file to run for Indiana Senator or Representative (same with U.S. Congress). A lot of those incumbents may have on paper a primary challenger who is a total flake with no intention of campaigning. The incumbent therefore really gets a free ride despite the appearance on paper of having a challenger.

Advance Indiana said...

I'm assuming Jean Breaux's opponent, for example, is only token opposition. Ajabu Henderson has filed to run against Bill Crawford.

Wilson46201 said...

Ajabu Henderson is one of those perennial candidates who constantly runs but never wins election. Often he loses his own precinct...

Anonymous said...

Yes, let's all run! Wilson can only diver in so many dumpster at one time!!!

Wilson46201 said...

In the GOP primary, Steve Buyer is being challenged on the ballot by "Firefighter LaRon Keith" [sic] !

It also looks like the much-anticipated Jocelyn Tandy's fierce challenge to Jon Elrod never materialized... oh well!

garyj said...

At least Ajabu is running, giving the voters a choice.
The problem is that people believe that the party nomination means everything and that they wouldn't stand a chance. Or, people say after the fact, "I should have ran"
Politics as usual is getting old and people need to make their voices heard.

Peter said...

I suppose you might get better candidates if the job paid better. But I don't think that would go over very well with the voters.

Advance Indiana said...

Peter, most people would be pleased to take home about $45,000 a year from a part-time job.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that Rep. John Day, a member of the House Ways and Means has been completely silent on the property tax issues?
Years ago when John first ran he wore out shoe leather and knock on nearly every door in his district. He was once very good on constituent issues. Now, we hardly ever hear anuthing from him yet he always gets relected.
Is he burnt out or what? Where is his voice?

Advance Indiana said...

Day is my state representative. If the district wasn't so overwhelmingly Democrat, I would run against him. He generally does knock on doors around election time, but he's pretty absent from his district otherwise. Howard is the senator for my district. Obviously, he lays dying now and has an excuse for his inaction, but in the past, he made it clear that he wasn't interested in my neighborhood--we were white and we were well off, or as he referred to us "that wine and cheese crowd". Unfortunately, that's what happens when you get placed in a gerrymandered district. Your legislator could basically give a damn less about you.

Advance Indiana said...

I should add that Andre Carson is my councilor. He's been completely absent from my neighborhood since his appointment last summer. Is it because I live in a white neighborhood? People in the 7th district should think about that. Bill Crawford used to be my state representative. He had the same attitude. He never visited our neighborhood meetings.

Eclecticvibe said...

John Day was at my neighborhood association meeting after property taxes blew up last year. He didn't have much to say as far as I was concerned. Isn't Mr. Day's voting record fairly conservative? I seemed to remember him voting against many LGBT issues. You'd be the kind of Republican to beat Day in his district Gary.

Anonymous said...

It looks like the Senate Republicans are screwed all around. They have a lot of primary challenges and a surprisingly large number of General Election challengers. They do have a map in their favor but it looks like it's going to take a buttload of money to maintain their current members.

Advance Indiana said...

Jeff Parmelee, a police officer, ran against Day twice. He worked the district very hard in at least one of those races and didn't come even close to Day.

Anonymous said...

Advance Indiana, I only live a couple of blocks from you and Andre Carson has already been going door to door.....he has been to a couple of neighborhood gatherings and there have been 2 or 3 mailings...he has a published phone number which he gives all of the time.....if you need to talk to him or contact him and haven't, it is your fault. By the way, he made a very favorable impression at the Garfield Park neighborhood group which was 100% white......he is running to represent all of us what is a very diverse district.

Anonymous said...

Ask Ed Coleman and Michael Hegg how much the party spent to advertise their candidacies after they paid the slating fees for at-large councilors in the last election. Kent Smith paid nothing and got all the advertising help. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Ajabu Henderson has filed to run against Bill Crawford.

It's Abu, not Ajabu.

melyssa said...

That Abu Henderson is a class act. He's also very hardworking and passionately cares about people.

He'll be a much welcome replacement to Representative Crawford.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else remember that the General Assembly passed a law that forbids anyone charged with a crime from running? Not convicted, charged. It's easier to run for President or U.S. Congress

Anonymous said...

Abu Henderson is a class act? Have you listened to him?

He needs to be on meds.

Oh yeah, Wilson--Joceyln's "much-anticipated" run against Elrod was only a drama in your mind.

Spare us the tripe, huh?

Anonymous said...

Its not just the gerrymandered districts that work in favor of the incumbant. Its also the slating process. I'm happy to see so many unslated candidates throw their hats in the primary anyway; maybe it will begin to undermine that process.

It would also be helpful to Indiana if the requirements to run as a 3rd party were not so stiff. At least we'd have some independent voices to consider in November.

It is disappointing that so many are willing to gripe and so few to run.

It would be really refreshing to see an elected official truely represent ALL of their constituents. Seems to me that its not just black vs. white, but republican vs. democrat, rich vs. poor, big donor vs. regular joe.

Anonymous said...

AI.....you will be glad to know that we have moved your polling place back to the Senior Citizen Center....renovations are done and your precinct has moved back home.

Anonymous said...

State Reps and Senators gross
in the high 30s to high 40s.
Yes, there's income and social
security taxes taken out. Those
legislators who live more than
an hour from Indy, generally share an apartment and that costs
something. There's no way any
legislator "takes home" $ 45 K
a year.

I gave a couple of days of thought
last fall to running against my
state rep. in the primary but I decided that I had too many negatives and I still had to earn a living during these slow economic times.

The sad thing in many districts
is that about 18% of the voters
(60% of the 30% who bother to vote
in May) actually pick the fall election in those districts that
are rarely competitive between
the parties in the fall.

If more people would bother to vote
in the primary there would likely
be more people running in the primary.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah. Walorski spent over $300,000 against Kovach to get
re-elected in fall 2006. Her
district is essentially the SE quarter of St. Joseph County and
the SW quarter of Elkhart County.
Over $ 300 K and it isn't even
the Indy media market costs.

mike said...

I truly thought about getting into politics but quickly realized the constituents wanted a gas bag lawyer type with no scuples, loyalties or ethics. All I could offer was common sense and a desire for true representation and positive actions reflecting the needs of the people. No way in hell anyone like that could be elected here!

mike said...

scruples by the way before the spell checkers hammer me