The big question is whether Ballard is emerging as a political winner or loser on this issue. The answer? It's still too early to tell. But it doesn't look good. We're in the third quarter and he's down by 15 points. It's going to take a strong fourth quarter to come out of this with a political win, because the first three quarters have put him in quite a hole.
They have, for instance, raised doubts about the leadership abilities of a mayor who frequently boasts about those very abilities. When your own party's governor has to publicly nudge you into taking a position, well, that's a bad thing. When the city goes weeks without knowing where you stand on an issue such as this, that's damaging.
Marion County Democratic Party Chairman Ed Treacy effectively pounced on this issue, mocking the mayor as missing in action recently while holding up a copy of his self-published leadership book, "The Ballard Rules." But it's not just Democrats. Privately, many Statehouse Republicans say Ballard has delivered a muddled message and wonder why he waited so long to offer a CIB plan. There are questions about whether the math behind his recently unveiled bailout plan adds up. Many are wincing at Ballard's lack of political instincts, noting he has done little to reach out to a House Democratic majority that will ultimately play a lead role in crafting a plan.
Tully correctly cites the erosion of Ballard's grassroots support, quoting me and fellow blogger Paul Ogden:
Meanwhile, Ballard has lost many of the grass-roots activists who so heartily cheered him and his anti-tax outsider message during his long-shot 2007 campaign. Local bloggers who made so much noise in Ballard's favor two years ago are now just as loudly jeering him over the CIB bailout, and for refusing to stand up to the Colts and the Pacers.
"If Ballard's plan is adopted, it will ensure his status as a one-term mayor," local lawyer Gary Welsh, a one-time Ballard champion, wrote on his Advance Indiana blog. Another blogger, Paul Ogden of Ogden on Politics, has been similarly critical. "We finally got leadership from the mayor," he wrote this week. "It's leadership that is taking the Marion County Republican Party to the edge of a cliff."