Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Schneider Triumps Over Vaughn In Senate District 30 Caucus

Riding a wave of anti-establishment sentiment, former City-County Councilor Scott Schneider reignited his political career tonight with a convincing second-ballot win of 61-38 over City-County Councilor Ryan Vaughn at the Senate District 30 caucus to replace Sen. Teresa Lubbers. Schneider fell just one vote short of winning on the first ballot, receiving 49 votes to Vaughn's 37 votes and former State Rep. John Ruckelshaus' 12 votes. Schneider captured all of Ruckelshaus' votes on the second ballot, discounting one spoiled ballot on the first round of voting.

Schneider delivered the most soft-spoken speech tonight among the three candidates, emphasizing his commitment to less taxes, fiscal restraint and individual responsibility. Schneider told committepersons he was the one candidate who they could count on to return their calls and represent their interests above special interests. State Rep. Cindy Noe delivered a ringing nominating speech for Schneider. Many had thought Noe would seek the seat which has been held by a Republican woman for decades now; however, she deferred to Schneider because of the support he and his family extended to her in her run for state representative.

City-County Councilor Mike McQuillen delivered a strong nominating speech for Vaughn. Several of his fellow Republican councilors were on hand tonight to support his candidacy. Mayor Greg Ballard, who endorsed Vaughn in a letter to committeepersons last week, did not appear at tonight's caucus. Vaughn emphasized his prosecutorial experience, council experience and State House lobbying experience.

Ruckelshaus delivered the most rousing speech of the three after he was nominated by Rick Hurst. He emphasized his past state legislative experience and state government experience, as well as his private business experience. He told committeepersons he was the best candidate to pick up the ball left behind by Lubbers and lead on key issues like charter schools.

In the end, committeepersons appeared determined to pick the outsider, anti-establishment candidate and Schneider best fit that bill tonight. State GOP Chairman Murray Clark and the GOP staff did an excellent job conducting what everyone viewed as a very fair election tonight. An Internet report by radio talk show host Abdul Hakim-Shabazz, a Vaughn cheerleader, that Schneider was challenging the certification of several committeepersons proved to be overstated. The issue was whether two vice committeepersons could vote in place of precinct committeepersons who had moved out-of-state recently or were otherwise unavailable. the party certified them to vote, although it wasn't clear that the two persons in question even showed up to vote. There were 99 votes certified out of a potential 107 eligible votes. The losing candidates, although deflated, congratulated Schneider on his victory. Chris Douglas, who dropped out before the voting started tonight, also did himself well with the few remarks he delivered, conceding that the votes were simply not there to make the run.

Star reporter Vic Ryckaert questioned me about any concerns I might have with Schneider's win given his opposition to the Human Rights Ordinance as a councilor. I disagreed fervently with the position Schneider took on that vote at a time when the Marion Co. GOP Chairman was urging Republican councilors to vote in a bloc against the HRO. In the end, only two GOP councilors supported it. In defense of Schneider, I pointed to his independence on the council and his steadfast opposition to some of Peterson's most-costly blunders, including the purchase of the Indianapolis Water Company. Few would doubt that everything he said at the time for opposing that purchase has proven true today. Schneider also opposed consolidating the police and sheriff's department under the sheriff. Council Republicans agreed with his view and reversed that action, moving control of IMPD back to the Mayor's office. Schneider also consistently voted against the Peterson tax increases.

One final comment I will make is that this race tonight had nothing to do with social issues. To the extent any issues drove the debate it was the desire of committeepersons to return to the bread and butter economic issues that has driven Republican successes in the past. The anti-establishment sentiment hurt Vaughn and Ruckelshaus because they are both registered lobbyists. Schneider's greatest asset may have been his ability to connect one-on-one with committeepersons. Several committeepersons, who met with each of the candidates, have made this point to me over the past several weeks. And all is not lost for Vaughn. He probably stands a good chance of succeeding Bob Cockrum as CCC President next year, assuming Barb Malone doesn't jump ship and return to the Democratic Party, which is not out of the realm of speculation at this point. If that would happen, Republican-turned Libertarian Ed Coleman could hold the deciding vote.

For the political junkies interested in the breakdown of how the committeepersons voted geographically, here's what I learned. Schneider won in Hamilton County, the northeast region and even the southern region of the district home to Vaughn's council district. Schneider collected 14 votes from Hamilton County, while Vaughn and Ruckelshaus split five votes each on the first ballot. Schneider collected 18 votes in his home area compared to 7 votes for Vaughn and 5 votes for Ruckelhaus. In Vaughn's home area, Schneider collected 25 votes to Vaughn's 17 votes and Ruckelshaus' 2 votes.

One final aside, I see Jim Shallow has declared Schneider's election tonight a win for the "far right." For the record, the reporter in question was a no-show at tonight's caucus. You know, he didn't want to work past 5:00 p.m., and that's how his insider, elititist pals at the State House told him to report on the outcome. Great job, Jim. So much for the claim of being the best State House reporter.

Scott Fluhr has a good analysis of tonight's race at Hoosier Access here.


Paul K. Ogden said...

Good report. I know I am more social conservative than you, though not quite as socially conservative as Scott. People though have to get over the idea though that people have to be 100% with you on every issue or they are the enemy.

Parties are coalitions. Part of the problem is that the county party, while not ideological, demands 100% support on every issue the party leaders want to tackle and if you don't support them, they come after you with a vengence. What they did to Ed Coleman was just plain stupid. He looks pretty smart right now questioning the CIB early on.

While I think social conservatives are important to the Republican coalition, bottom line is Republicans have been losing not because of social conservatives, but because they stoped being fiscal conservatives. No one takes the Republcan serious as the tax-cutting, low spending party. We're making the same mistake again with the CIB...betraying our core values to give more money for corporate welfare.

I strayed from my main point. The most important thing about who we select is that we have a man or woman of integrity, someone who is going to have independent thoughts and not be bought off by party insiders. On that score, Scott Scneider scores a 100%. We couldn't have done any better.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I agree. That is just lazy reporting by Shella. The fact is Schneider got the votes of plenty of moderate PCs. His victory had almost everything to do with his outsider status running against the insider Ryan Vaughn. Anyone who has at all followed Marion County politics in the past year would know that the tensions in the party have little if anything to do with political philosophy.

Sir Hailstone said...

Paul - Part of the problem is that the county party, while not ideological, demands 100% support on every issue the party leaders want to tackle and if you don't support them, they come after you with a vengence

I think the county party has a lot larger problems right now if what Gary posted earlier is in fact true.

Although I didn't have a vote I'm confident the residents of SD30 will get excellent senatorial representation with Senator Schneider.

Patriot Paul said...

Another great victory for the populist movement.

The tidbit on Jim 'soundbite' Shallow is right on. First it was ambush reporting of floor vendors at the Statehouse rally instead of any of the numerous speakers, then the slanted reporting of 200 protestors instead of 3,000 at Notre Dame, so his reporting by proxy this time is no surprise. When does yellow journalism get its payback instead of a paycheck?

Jon E. Easter said...

Do you think Vaughn will give Prosecutor a go if Brizzi decides to sit it out?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Ryan shot down earlier rumors that he would run for prosecutor if Brizzi didn't run again. I don't know if last night's outcome would change that or not. I doubt it.

M Theory said...

Will you guys define "socially conservative"? Surely, this does not mean to use the power of the government to dictate their own sense of morality is it?

I am strongly opposed to interference of government over what I do consensually with friends or what I do to my own body.

karma09 said...

Vaughn is damaged goods now, beaten in his own backyard. He's in an increasingly Democrat County, with more and more people sick and tired of the GOP's old-guard, which now clearly includes Vaughn and his mentors (Brizzi, B and T, Ballard, et.al.) With a pretty limited history as a prosecutor, not much to sell himself with, and not many people buying it anymore.