Democrat Andre Carson, the late congresswoman's grandson, has served barely six months in public office. He was appointed to the City-County Council last year and ran unopposed for that seat in November.
Democratic insiders in January pushed Carson ahead of stronger candidates in slating him for the special election. In fact, Carson likely will be only the fourth best-qualified Democratic candidate in the May primary, behind state Reps. Carolene Mays and David Orentlicher and former state health commissioner Woody Myers.
Carson, a former investigator with the state Excise Police, is engaging and energetic. He also has a remarkable life story, including childhood memories of living in a Salvation Army shelter.
But he struggles with specifics on key issues when pressed to move beyond talking points.
Carson also promises to bring "fiscal responsibility'' to Washington but defends one of the more egregious examples of congressional earmarks directed locally -- federal transportation dollars to relocate loading docks and build a visitors' entrance at the Indianapolis Children's Museum.
The editorial doesn't offer a lot of information on what led the editorial writers to give their approval to Elrod, but here's what they said:
In contrast, Elrod pledges to forgo earmarks -- pork-barrel spending -- if elected. To make up for the loss of federal handouts, Elrod promises to emphasize constituent services, including hiring experienced aides who can help nonprofits and small businesses apply for grants and other assistance. That's an admirable idea but could be difficult to pull off given constraints on congressional staffing.
Elrod, an attorney, isn't exactly a seasoned veteran of public office. He's still in his first term in the Indiana House and before that served a short stint on the Center Township board. But, in defeating longtime incumbent Ed Mahern to ascend to the House in 2006, Elrod ran a smart grassroots campaign that relied on his own hard work and initiative.
Libertarian Sean Shepard is a bright, personable business owner. His third-party status, however, will severely limit his draw on Tuesday.
In the special election, The Star recommends Elrod over Carson and Shepard. It's early in Elrod's career to be chasing a seat in Congress, but he's better prepared for the job at this point than his Democratic opponent.
I can assure you that Republicans and Jon Elrod's campaign were not expecting this endorsement. This is a major boost for Elrod in the closing days of the campaign and a major setback for Carson, not only in next Tuesday's special election race. "Democratic voters should eagerly look forward to the May primary, when Mays, Myers and Orentlicher lead a deep and talented field," the editorial reads. Being fourth on their list is not a good sign of what the future holds for Carson. Elsewhere, Matt Tully provides a very disappointing rundown on Tuesday's election. It's not the quality of work you would expect from an experienced political columnist. The Star's Kevin O'Neal has a rundown of last night's uneventful debate co-hosted by WISH-TV's Jim Shella and radio talk show host Amos Brown.
Speaking of Brown, he endorsed Carson to no surprise in his "Just Tellin It" column in the Indianapolis Recorder this week. "Elrod doesn’t understand that he would be representing a racially, religious and culturally diverse 7th District," Brown writes. And, of course, Elrod is guilty of being too white. "His campaign began at a rally with a lily-white crowd," Brown writes. "His web site contains photos only of whites; in a district where 35 percent of the population are racial minorities." To Brown, "Elrod seems to represent old fashioned Indianapolis politics." Thanks for sharing, Amos. Incidentally, he says he won't be making an endorsement in the May primary because of a "conflict of interest." Psst . . . his boss at the Indianapolis Recorder is Carolene Mays