Council President Maggie Lewis has had a busy year. She worked out a bi-partisan supported budget for 2013, only for a good chunk of it to get line-item vetoed by Mayor Greg Ballard. That budget battle is still going on, and it seems like negotiations between the Democratic majority on the City-County Council and the 25th floor and Acting Mayor Ryan Vaughn have pretty much ceased. Lewis has had to work within her caucus between the go-along-to-get-along crowd and the more reform minded part of the council. This has led her to support both a $15 million PILOT against the Capital Improvement Board while simultaneously openly supporting many CIB initiatives such as an extension of the Pacers' bailout for another year.
So why is my councilor fundraising in 2012? She is in a very safe Democratic district and her campaign has no debt to pay off. This has led to some speculation that she may be prepping for a run for Mayor of Indianapolis.
Personally, I don't buy it. I certainly think she has ambitions for higher office, but not Mayor.
I think fundraising needs to be viewed in context. When you become a leader within a party, you're expected to use your high profile to help out other candidates and causes important to your party. Lewis has an opportunity to use her profile and her stature to be a bit of a kingmaker in Marion County and in Indiana. A lot of these council races run on very little money, and a few hundred dollars from Lewis could do a lot in a council race when only municipal elections are on the ballot.
As for why I don't think Lewis is running for Mayor, I just don't think it suits her style of leadership. I've known Lewis for a few years now. And based off of what I know as a constituent of hers, and what I know about as a reporter, I think Lewis' style of leadership is that of a group leader and building coalitions. An executive level position removes you from that and instead of leading the group, you're the leader and that's about it.
I also have seen her work the ground as part of her political party on elections and work hard for her constituents and I believe she genuinely enjoys that type of work, and that a Mayoral position would remove her from that type of work.
And if I want to take a stab and just-barely-above-baseless-speculation, I wouldn't be all that surprised if some Democrats in the state house got sick of being in the minority. And I think a position there would suit Lewis' style of leadership there much more.
For another take on this fundraising activity, check out Jon Easter's thoughts.