Friday, February 24, 2012

Paul-Romney Alliance: You Guys Thought I Was Crazy

Back in January, I speculated that Congressman Ron Paul and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney had some sort of deal cut. An unspoken one, of course, but one nonetheless. Both have been exceedingly kind to each other in the debates, with Romney deferring questions to Paul and Paul rarely directly attacking Romney. And when he does, it isn't in the same way he's taken on former Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Senator Rick Santorum, or Texas Governor Rick Perry. And Paul's attack ads are typically focused on the Not-Romney candidates and usually only mention Romney in passing. The Washington Post also has sources speculating what the Romney camp could offer Paul and his supporters in terms of the Republican Party platform, such as an audit of the Federal Reserve.

And you all thought I was crazy.

Since then, the New York Times has documented the personal bromance between the two candidates. And the morning after CNN's latest Presidential debate, what was on everyone's tongue was the unspoken Paul-Romney alliance. Santorum and his chief strategist both commented on it, with the strategist wandering out loud if Romney offered Paul a Vice Presidential nomination. Governor Perry commented that the alliance between Paul and Romney is "interesting". Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and talk radio host Rush Limbaugh have also recently noted how friendly the two candidates are to eachother. MSNBC host Joe Scarborough even called the deal "bizarre". Scarborough goes on to note that if the deal is real, it isn't likely to sit well with many Paul supporters.

And just think of the first two contests, and how much differently they would've played out if Ron Paul wasn't there.

Paul essentially acted as a firewall in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Finishing below Ron Paul was the kiss-of-death for Perry, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Even if their vote totals didn't increase, their placing would've, and that could've changed the dynamics in South Carolina, Florida, and so on.

I won't claim to understand why this alliance was formed, or how Paul will benefit from it.

But it sure is interesting to watch.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Warming Up To Gary Johnson's Libertarian Presidential Bid

I've been critical of Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico, during his bid for the Republican Presidential nomination. He was competing for the same group that Congressman Ron Paul goes for, the libertarian leaning group. Even though Johnson offered up several policies that differentiated him from Paul, there wasn't room in that party's primary for two libertarians. Johnson's lack of stage presence and slightly awkward public speaking ability probably didn't help either. He was shut out of debates, finished low in both Iowa and New Hampshire, and eventually started exploring the nomination for the Libertarian Party.

But last night, he appeared on Alan Colmes' nightly radio show in a live interview. And Governor Johnson really represents this new wave of small L libertarian belief that can effectively work in today's modern society. Instead of the standard libertarian response of "Government shouldn't be involved in marriage at all!", Governor Johnson has fully embraced marriage equality. Johnson also spoke out against drug testing welfare beneficiaries, claiming that would be discriminatory actions against poor Americans, and said he would be against building a border fence. I think, as a former border state Governor, he'd know a thing or two about that topic.

This isn't to say that Johnson is going to appeal to absolutely everyone. He wants to cut the federal budget drastically and return a lot of that money, including much of what goes into Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, to the states to manage on their own. He's also endorsed the Fair Tax, a national sales tax that would replace federal income tax rates and FICA payroll taxes. But even on these issues, he stressed that he wouldn't get in the way of reducing the size of government if it meant compromising to get 90% of what he wanted.

Politics is the art of the possible. And Governor Johnson understands that. I don't agree with him on all counts. But considering that the Libertarian (national) Party has nominated some real looney tunes over the last handful of Presidential cycles, he would make an excellent standard bearer for the Libertarian Party.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Temporary Hiatus...Kind Of

Over the next two weeks, I have several professional, personal, and (primarily) academic priorities that need to be taken care of. Posting over the next two weeks will be relatively sparse. And when I do post, it'll likely be on the low hanging fruit of Presidential politics or me finishing up one of the dozen or so posts I have that are half written and could be published at any time.

But there's still lots to talk about. Start off with a couple of pieces by my friend Pat Andrews, who successfully fought city hall. And Indianapolis Star reporter Jon Murray has been doing City-County Councilor profiles over at this blog Deep Fried Politics.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

5th Congressional District GOP Forum: Post-Valentine's Edition

Last night, I attended a meeting of the Broad Ripple GOP that hosted four of the candidates for the 5th Congressional district: Jack Lugar, Susan Brooks, John McGoff, and David McIntosh. I arrived a bit early and asked the organizer of the event how it'd be set up. He told me it'd be a "speed dating" format. I thought that was odd at first, but it worked out really well due to the limited amount of space that was available.

Each group got about 15-20 minutes with each candidate and we were able to pepper them with questions.

I think it's clear that both McGoff and McIntosh are the most studied for this job. It helps that the two men have run for this district's seat before and served in Congress, respectively. Both expressed their past elected offices (McGoff as Marion County Coroner, McIntosh as a former Congressman) and had the most detailed answers to questions asked.

Lugar doesn't bring much to the table at this point in time. He's running sort of as the anti-candidate, but there's at least four other candidates that filed to run that didn't attend this meeting. So that vote is likely going to be split. There's still time to find his footing. And he's able to talk with people in Broad Ripple just as well as he was able to talk and connect with people in Kokomo. So that's a plus.

Susan Brooks** was clearly in her backyard and was on top of her game, which was a stark contrast to what I observed in Kokomo where she came across as a bit stiff. It probably helped that her husband, Marion County GOP operative David Brooks, was there as well as a bunch of county GOP backed candidates. However, Brooks is going to face an uphill battle in a district where only a small sliver consists of Indianapolis, while most of the rest of the district doesn't hold Indianapolis in high regards. Her selling point is that, as deputy mayor under Mayor Steve Goldsmith, she knows how to get legislation passed and work across political divides. I kind of wonder how much 5th district GOP primary voters would value that, but it'd be a handy skill to have in a legislative body where even members who have been there for a decade might not have a piece of legislation ever pass a sitting President's desk.

While several others have filed to run for the 5th district GOP primary, the only notable candidate of the bunch is Wayne Seybold. Seybold, who wasn't present at last night's forum, is the current Mayor of Marion, Indiana. Word on the street is that he's likely to be endorsed by incumbent Congressman Dan Burton, who has announced his retirement.

Though at some point, you have to ask, does anyone really want Danny's endorsement?

I also had the pleasure to finally meet Carlos May. May is running for the nomination to run as the Republican 7th Congressional district challenger to Democratic incumbent Andre Carson.

Several of the Marion County GOP's slated judicial candidates, including Helen Marshall, were also in attendance.

Finally, a note to my readers. I know a number of you consider yourselves politically independent and are hesitant to attend these functions that are hosted by partisan political organizations.

I think most event organizers are very aware of that and try to be open to even those who aren't part of the inner-party workers. Sure, they might hit you up for a donation or put you on a mailing list. But it's a small price to pay to get educated on candidates that might be representing you in the state legislature or in the halls of Congress.

A couple of other interesting tidbits happened at this event, but they aren't related to the 5th Congressional district. So I'll save that for another post.

**Full disclosure: Susan Brooks is an old family friend and both attend St. Monica in Indianapolis.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ron Paul's "Collect Delegates" Strategy for Dummies

MSNBC talk show host Rachel Maddow recently had Doug Wead on to explain what exactly is Ron Paul's path to "victory", at least victory as defined by Ron Paul's campaign. Basically, it's to become a delegate at the precinct level, which then goes to the county, which then goes to the state, where the actual delegates are assigned for the national convention. And even though precincts might've voted a certain way, these delegates will pledge their support to Ron Paul.

It's very creative. There aren't enough caucus states for Paul to win a nomination. But if say, there were three other candidates in the race until the convention, it could lead to the first brokered convention in decades.

If the above video is taken down, it's also hosted on MSNBC's site.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Jim Wallace (Basically) Ends Campaign: The Need for Electoral Reform in Indiana

This is a post that is probably going to bore a lot of readers, hence why I'm posting it on Saturday morning rather than during the week.

Jim Wallace has been running for Governor of Indiana for several months. He's traveled all across the state, from the small towns and rural counties to the urban cities and everywhere in between.

And Wallace is a wealthy man, so finances were never going to be a problem.

But he wasn't well known, and most Republicans had already settled on two possible candidates. And when Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman decided not to run, most Republicans lined up behind current Congressman Mike Pence.

And without having a campaign infrastructure, name ID or party backing, it's very hard to break through.

One of the many hurdles that non-establishment candidates face is gathering signatures to have your name be on the ballot. For statewide elections, such as Governor, you must gather 500 signatures in each of Indiana's nine congressional districts

Wallace was certified in eight of them, but fell short in the 7th district. He originally came up a bit under 200 signatures short on Tuesday. On Friday, the deadline for filing for office and turning in signatures, he fell short by 13.

Wallace says he'll continue his campaign and seek a review of the signatures that were disqualified by the various election boards at the county and state level. But that process is an uphill battle.

Electoral reform is something that is badly needed in Indiana. It's very hard, as an independent or a non-recognized third party, to get your name on the ballot in November. Even as a Republican or Democrat, it can be a daunting task as presidential candidate Rick Santorum and Wallace have experienced.

State Senator Mike Delph has been one of the few who has introduced electoral reforms this session which aren't completely partisan. He introduced SB146, which would remove straight-ticket voting as an option on a general election ballot.

He also was going to change ballot access for Presidential primary candidates from signature gathering to a flat fee. but withdrew it under constitutional concerns. And that his officially endorsed candidate, Santorum, wasn't likely to meet the signature requirement. It isn't a bad idea,but it shouldn't be done during a Presidential election year.

I don't think we should become like New Hampshire's presidential elections, which had well over 20 people on each ballot in the two major political parties. We should have some quality control to make sure joke candidates are eliminated.

But if people are serious about their efforts in running for public office, regardless of if it's county coroner, President of the United States, or anything in between, we need to make it so they can get on the ballot. Both the primary and general. And then let the voters decide.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Washington State About to Pass Marriage Equality

That is Republican state Representative Maureen Walsh of the state of Washington. Walsh is speaking out in favor of legislation that will legalize same-sex marriage. It passed both the House and Senate, and will be signed by Democratic Governor Chris Gregoire. Interesting note: Governor Gregoire was not originally a supporter of marriage equality.

I know some of my activist friends in the LGBT equality movement wish change would happen quicker. I do too. But change doesn't often come as a tidal wave. It's more of a slow movement. And occasionally, you can capture an individual changing, such as in this very moving video from Representative Walsh.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gubernatorial Candidate Rupert Boneham: For Marriage Equality

Rupert Boneham, who is seeking the Libertarian nomination to run for Governor of Indiana, has come out in favor of marriage equality for the LGBT community. Boneham also specifically says he will fight against the marriage discrimination amendment and advocate for a repeal of Indiana's Defense of Marriage Act.

Boneham, a fan-favorite and winner of the reality television show Survivor, is the first gubernatorial candidate in Indiana history to come out for marriage equality. He's also the only candidate in recent memory to even talk about Indiana's DOMA, which seems to be universally ignored when the marriage amendment gets discussed.

This is a welcome departure from the typical "government shouldn't be involved in marriage" line of thinking that my libertarian friends all too often engage in. Politics is the art of the possible, and the expansion of marriage to the LGBT community is much more possible than completely dismantling civil marriage as a feature of government.