Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Andy Markle, We Hardly Knew You

Andrew Markle, a young Indianapolis man claiming to be a gay Republican seeking the Republican nomination for the 99th District House seat currently held by State Rep. Vanessa Summers (D), ginned up a lot of earned media from local news outlets and left-leaning blogs around the country this week when he announced that he was abandoning his campaign and leaving the Republican Party. Markle claimed that his decision was based on reports last week that House Speaker Brian Bosma had threatened to remove Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee who expressed reservations about supporting HJR-3, the constitutional amendment banning legal recognition of same-sex marriages, and replacing them with members who would vote for the resolution. Bosma instead reassigned the resolution to the House Elections Committee, which passed it on a 9-3 vote.

The full House approved HJR-3 today on a 57-40 vote but only after stripping from the resolution language which would also bar legal recognition of anything resembling same-sex marriages, such as civil unions and domestic partnership benefits. Markle posted on his Facebook site his announcement explaining how the party had left him, not the other way around:
Today is a day that will never be forgotten in the hearts of many Hoosiers, including my own. For the past few years, we have seen political posturing occur over a divisive amendment that has been the subject of great scrutiny by constitutional lawyers, economists, business persons and even politicians. We have seen a state divide over an issue that should have never been an issue. We have seen a state full of hospitality become a breeding ground for inequality and a debate that does not show the true values that the Hoosier State encompasses.
It deeply saddens me to see the state that I have called home for the past 8 years plunge into a debate over a minority group’s civil rights.
It is with a heavy heart but with a clear conscience that I announce the end of my run for Indiana State House of Representatives, District 99, as a Republican. With today’s announcement by House Speaker Brian Bosma, that he is using extraordinary and unprecedented rules to change House Joint Resolution 3′s committee assignment, I have no choice but to resign my candidacy as a Republican.
As an openly gay male and a conservative, I find it deplorable that the state would choose to take such extraordinary measures to disenfranchise me and my fellow LGBT brothers and sisters. In an era where my party declared that it was the party of “small government” and “less intrusion”, it has been confirmed that it is not the party of small government or less intrusion.
I am not leaving the Republican Party; the Republican Party has left me.
Markle's claim to be associated with the Republican Party is a bit of a mystery to Marion County Republican officials, who say Markle has had no contact with them. Markle has never met with Center Township Chairwoman Samantha DeWester, who says that she has never heard of him or received from him any information about his candidacy despite the fact that District 99 encompasses significant portions of Center Township. Party officials also confirm that Markle never submitted his name for consideration in the party's slating this year, and because of his lack of voting history as a Republican, he could not run as a Republican candidate in District 99 without the consent of Marion Co. GOP Chairman Kyle Walker, whose consent Markle had not sought or obtained.

Interestingly, the only mention I could find on the Internet about Markle's candidacy until his announced departure from the party was a discussion of his candidacy by Democratic blogger Jon Easter at the IndyDemocrat blog. "As Republicans go, Andy Markle already appears to be a different kind of Republican," Easter wrote. "Markle is openly gay, pro-choice, against HJR-6, and is not afraid to take on the establishment." Markle claimed to be the first openly gay Republican candidate for state representative in Indiana, a claim that is untrue. Brent Mullikan of North Vernon ran for the House District 69 seat as a Republican in 2006 before his untimely illness and death ended his campaign. Former State Rep. Sam Turpin (R-Brownsburg) served in the House for several terms and briefly chaired the powerful House Ways & Means Committee before resigning from office under an ethical cloud, although Turpin did not publicly identify as a gay man during his service in the House. It was also common knowledge that former State Sen. Bill Soards (R-Indianapolis), a long-time member of the Senate, was gay, although he also didn't publicly identify as such. Former State Rep. Mike Marshall (D-North Vernon), who is also gay, served in the House for several terms. He was indicted in October, 2011 for his role in a massive absentee vote fraud scandal carried out to benefit Democratic candidates in Southern Indiana and later pleaded guilty. Interestingly, Marshall's vote fraud activities helped elect Terry Goodin, the Democratic candidate who unseated the Republican incumbent that Mullikan had sought to unseat in the 2006 Republican primary election.

Prior to Easter's October 14, 2013 post about Markle being a Republican candidate to watch, he first gained note by designing a website mocking Gov. Mike Pence for blocking comments posted to Pence's Facebook website that took views contrary to his public positions, www.pencership.com. WISH-TV political reporter Jim Shella reported last June on Markle's grassroots campaign against the Republican governor:
In a small office in Broad Ripple Andy Markle is working on the website that didn’t exist until late Thursday afternoon.  “The reason “pencership” came into existence,” said Markle, “is because I thought that people needed know that the governor was violating their first amendment rights by deleting comments that were pretty innocuous.”
The comments on the governor’s Facebook page were made in response to a statement posted Wednesday expressing disappointment over the Supreme Court decision that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.  Some were deleted for being uncivil but some civil messages that expressed an opposing point of view were also deleted.
And that’s where Markle comes in.  He is a marketing specialist who is working with a group of friends to counter the governor’s actions.
He is experiencing unexpected success.  "Within the last 12 hours we’ve received almost 5,000 unique visitors, he said.  “Then we had over 1,000 “likes” on Facebook and we’ve had 176 tweets to the Facebook directly, or the website directly."
The governor, meantime, posted this new statement on his Facebook page expressing regret that some comments that weren’t offensive were deleted.  He directed his staff to develop new standards for the page and promised to post them –quote– in the days ahead.
Interestingly, Shella's report makes no mention of Markle being a gay Republican, let alone a candidate for public office as Republican. Markle set up a website for his campaign at www.andymarkle.com, which Markle registered at GoDaddy.com on September 17, 2012.
Call me skeptical, but I smell a rat. I can't help but wonder if Markle's aborted campaign as a Republican candidate in a House district where no Republican has a realistic chance of winning was nothing more than a ruse. His LinkedIn profile lists a variety of jobs he's held over the past several years. He currently identifies himself as executive director of a little-known education group, Educating Indiana, Inc., a non-profit group about which I could find no information on Guidestar.com and which was only registered with the Indiana Secretary of State's office on June 26, 2013. Markle is listed as the incorporator and registered agent for Educating Indiana with a business address listed as 28 E. 16th Street, Apt. #507 in Indianapolis.


Anonymous said...

Interesting story. Great journalism, Gary.

Jon E. Easter said...

Andy came to my attention after the whole "Pencership" deal.

I've never met him face-to-face, and I just found his campaign profile and bio, as presented, interesting. I admittedly don't have the time, interest, nor resources to dive in depth as you do into people's background.

If you read my entire piece, in context, I don't make any bones about his long odds versus Summers.

Gary R. Welsh said...

My post doesn't claim, Jon, that you believed he had a realistic chance of beating Summers.

Unigov said...

Never heard of Markle. Kudos to him for doing 100% of what he could to combat hjr3. The only bullet he had, as a nobody, was to make as big a deal as posible out of chnging parties.