Saturday, June 07, 2014
Kelly Mitchell Prevails On Third Ballot As GOP Nominee For State Treasurer
Kelly Mitchell entered the state treasurer's race as the least known and undisputed underdog among the three candidates seeking the Indiana GOP nomination for state treasurer. After months of mud-slinging between the two leading candidates, Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold, who had the backing of the party establishment, and Don Bates, who enjoyed significant support from Tea Party activists, both front-runners began to look unelectable to the party faithful in what should otherwise be an easy win for a statewide Republican candidate running for a down-the-ballot office. As Bates and Seybold tarnished one another's images, Mitchell appeared to grow on the party's rank-and-file as the safest choice.
Mitchell entered the race with the endorsement of her boss, State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who many blamed for his own defeat in the 2012 Senate race against Democrat Joe Donnelly after resoundingly defeating six-term incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar in the Republican primary much to the chagrin of the party establishment. Mitchell has worked for the past several years in the state treasurer's office as the director of the local government investment pool. Unlike her boss, Mitchell was not linked to the Tea Party or the establishment for that matter, which worked to her advantage. Many rank-and-file delegates frown on being told by establishment folks like Bob Grand who they have to support for statewide office. Grand, who co-chaired Seybold's campaign, uses his extraordinary clout within the state party apparatus to direct millions of dollars in public funds to his law firm and even larger sums to the clients and political cronies his law firm represents, a fact that rubs many the wrong way for good reason. Grand's support of Seybold's candidacy may have had as much to do with his undoing as the perceived corruption and cronyism in Seybold's city administration that has dogged his campaign.
The first round of balloting proved how evenly divided state GOP delegates were. All three candidates received more than 30% of the vote on the first ballot with only 62 votes separating the first-place finisher, Seybold, and the third place finisher, Bates. But on the second ballot, support for Seybold and Bates hemorrhaged, while Mitchell surged into first place. Still, no candidate had reached the magical majority vote required to be nominated. By party rules, Bates was dropped from the third round of voting. Bates opted against endorsing either of his opponents, although it had become clear for all to see that Bates and his strongest supporters wanted nothing to do with Seybold. Mitchell easily won the third round of balloting by a margin of 860 to 497 over Seybold.
Mitchell's victory comes as a big disappointment to Indiana Democrats, who had hoped that the GOP would nominate either Seybold or Bates, both perceived as having enough personal foibles to make an otherwise unwinnable race within the party's reach. Democrats last week turned to a newly-arrived career politician from Illinois, Mike Boland, who had previously served as a state representative in Illinois for 16 years. Boland only moved to Indiana after losing a state senate race in the 2012 Illinois Democratic Party. This is the Democrats' worst nightmare. The GOP has nominated an all-female ticket. Mitchell joins Secretary of State Connie Lawson and State Auditor Suzanne Crouch, both of whom were unopposed, as the party's statewide candidates this year. Democrats have nominated Beth White for secretary of state. Mike Claytor, who recently left his retirement home in Florida and moved back to Indiana, is the Democrats' candidate for state auditor.
Perhaps the most absurd comment during the balloting came from the obnoxious, egomaniac radio talk show host, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, who declared in a Twitter post, "The Indiana Tea Party is Dead!" following Bates' loss, which is a bit ironic given that he wooed Tea Party activists during his earlier radio career in Indiana after moving here from Illinois before he started accepting payola from party establishment folks to blather propaganda that contradicts his past musings. Shabazz also tried to seize on Richard Mourdock's comments to further marginalize and drive him out of the party. Shabazz couldn't explain why party delegates were so outraged by Mourdock's comments to delegates warning about our country's drift towards a Nazi-styled government that they nominated his employee and his personal choice to succeed him as state treasurer. Shabazz, by the way, still drives a car with an Illinois license plate after moving to the Hoosier State nearly a decade ago, a blatant violation of Indiana vehicle registration and tax laws. Emmis Communications must be really hard up for radio talent to hire an ass hat like Shabazz after he was fired from his last radio job at WXNT after one too many ethical lapses.