Next Tuesday, a successor to Marion Co. GOP Chairman Kyle Walker will be chosen when precinct committee persons meet to make that selection. Unfortunately, the decision has already been made, and the gathered Republican PCs will simply be asked to ratify the choice already made for them behind closed doors. The choice is a lobbyist who works for the law firm of Mayor-elect Joe Hogsett and answers to Democratic bosses at the firm like Greg Hahn. As an elected PC, it's a waste of my time to attend a coronation meant to continue a fast-track path towards the party's extinction in the state's largest county.
I have nothing personal against Jennifer Ping. As a long-time Marion Co. GOP officer, I suspect she believes in her mind she is the natural choice to assume the top leadership position in the party. As much as she wants to make herself believe she can exercise decisions as the party leader based upon what's in the best interests of the party, I and others know this is not the case. Her bigger master is the Bose McKinney & Evans law firm and the Democratic mayor her firm just invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in electing over the Republican candidate.
History has a way of repeating itself. Former State Rep. John Keeler tried serving as the county chairman while a partner at the Baker & Daniels law firm when Bart Peterson served his two terms as Indianapolis mayor. Real Republicans were disenchanted by Keeler's hands-off approach in dealing with Peterson as the leader of the opposition party. County Republicans would not learn until after he had served as chairman for several years that Keeler had signed a gag order with his law firm agreeing not to criticize Peterson in his role as Republican county chairman. That was a condition Peterson placed on the law firm under the terms of its engagement to represent the City on various legal matters.
Republicans turned to another former lawmaker, Mike Murphy, to take over from Keeler. Murphy was succeeded by Tom John, another attorney and lobbyist near the end of Peterson's second term. Republicans will recall that John urged Republicans not to contribute or waste their time helping elect Greg Ballard, the candidate's slated candidate to run against Peterson in 2007. A tax revolt propelled Ballard into office in an upset election that year without the support of either the Marion Co. GOP chairman or the state Republican Party chairman. After Ballard's election, John moved to the Ice Miller law firm. Repeatedly, the interests of his law firm's clients became the de facto party position on matters that came before the City-County Council.
When John stepped down before Ballard was re-elected to a second term, the party turned to Kyle Walker, whose wife has worked as the principal political consultant for the local party. Walker also worked as a lobbyist for an engineering firm doing business with the City. As under John, official party positions were based on what select lobbyists wanted. Any elected official who dared think for themselves like Christine Scales and adhere to traditional party principles became persona non grata. In Scales' case, party resources were spent trying to oust her in this year's primary election. Scales managed to beat back her slated primary opponent and win convincingly in the November election, one of the only bright spots in this year's municipal election for which the party could take no credit. It doesn't take an imagination to see why electing a lobbyist like Ping to run the party is bad both politically and from a policy standpoint. She is in no position to say no to Hogsett and the Democratic lobbyists to whom she owes her job. She's already contemplating that reality in a letter she penned to PCs in which she urges PCs "to resist the temptation of simply becoming the Party of No."
This problem of serving two masters is not confined to the Republican Party. Lobbyists have exerted considerable control over the Democratic members of the City-County Council throughout Ballard's two terms in office. Democratic members have been pressured by lobbyists with close ties to the party to support bad policies pursued by Ballard. These forces drove Brian Mahern from the council after he tried without success to steer his party's members from supporting some of those ill-advised policies. Those same lobbyists turned on Angela Mansfield in this past election, recruiting LeRoy Robinson to move into her newly-drawn district. Lobbyists were irked over Manfield's opposition to digital billboards, which included lobbyists Greg Hahn at Bose and Lacy Johnson at Ice Miller, who helped secure the party's backing in this year's primary election for Robinson, and which proved decisive in helping him narrowly defeat Mansfield.
Great, great article, Gary. I agree with your headline; the rise of J. Ping to Marion County GOP Chair is a huge mistake. Like you, I have nothing against Jennifer. But this is a mistake of epic magnitudes.
The Marion County GOP is now officially dead. The death of the Party can be laid of the feet of many mentioned in your article. I think you left a dastardly few out but hey... you got most of the crooks.
It is not that the Democrat machine campaigned so wisely, so bravely, not that they championed the little people that created the demographic turn... no, the Marion County GOP hanged itself so much over the years the grass roots and the public realize the Party is a rotting corpse.
My decision to NOT vote, to NOT participate in the charade, this past election is again vindicated.
Ping is a Democrat who will go along with the play to gay mafia. Read the Homosexual Manifesto by Michael Swift and tell us where she, the Chambers, Eli Lilly, Cummins, Angie's Pissed, etc. disagree.
Signs will soon go up on Keystone Avenue, Meridian Street, Michigan Road, and Binford Blvd - "Will The Last Republican Leaving Marion County for Hamilton County Please Turn Out The Lights?"
It is utterly ridiculous to think she will do a good job just because she has been there for a long time. Someone should stand up at caucus and run against her...it is time for a new group of Republicans to run the County Party. I would shoot for someone like, Logan Harrison, Christine Scales, Carlos May, Daniel Lopez, or really any number of people who have political experience.
Anon 9:37: Political experience is apparently not a recipe for any success. Many would prefer someone without experience in what has become corruption.
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