Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Morning After: Indy Municipal Thoughts

I'm furiously refreshing the "unofficial" results at the county clerk's site as I type this.

While the details are still being hashed out, it looks like my prediction of a 17 seat council majority for the Democrats is holding true. They're headed to capturing all of the At-Large seats and gaining at LEAST one district seat as well with none of their incumbents in danger. The Republicans, however, are losing the At-Large seats and might be losing Christine Scales seat in district 4.

Democratic mayoral nominee is trailing in the votes to Mayor Greg Ballard and it looks like he'll get by with 52 or so percent of the vote (also as I predicted).

Unfortunately, the Republicans are holding onto the southern district 24 seat with Jack Sandlin. Ed Coleman and the Libertarian Party gave it a good shot, but the power of incumbency and a major party are really difficult to overcome.

A few more interesting notes: My friend Jeramy Townsley was actually ON THE BALLOT in district 9 as an independent. He got over 300 votes placing him at just under 5%. Congratulations to him. I know my friend Curt Ailes (who writes for Urban Indy) had some nice things to say about him, and it's always hard running against two major party candidates.

Finally, it looks like my friend and fellow blogger Josh Featherstone broke 5% and 300+ votes running in the near-eastside district 21. Congratulations to him! He ran way ahead of the Libertarian baseline. I'd sure like to know how he did that.

Now that I pointed out what I found interesting, here is my analyses.


I've said it before, and I'll say it again: There is a perception that Ballard is just some average guy trying to do good in the world, that he focuses on the nuts and bolts, that he isn't political, and that is part of his appeal. I know my Democratic friends will disagree, but that perception exists, even among people who normally vote for Democrats.

That can basically be summed up in "Welp, Ballard hasn't screwed up."

Kennedy, however, was rarely critical about specific policies of Mayor Ballard. Sure, she said the city should be a "better negotiator", but she never said she'd cancel the parking meter privatization, and was virtually silent on the water utility sale. She also never said what she'd do differently, outside of the area of education.

Because she couldn't demonstrate that Ballard screwed up, and couldn't give voters a reason to vote for her, she lost. I believe more than a few Democrats crossed over, supported their council candidates, and voted for Ballard.


The Democrats played the better game in terms of campaigning. Even the candidates that didn't have a ghost of a chance, like Jackie Butler in district 5 and Scott Coxey in district 23, probably wore through a few pairs of shoes in how much they canvassed their districts. Those efforts didn't pay off in their districts, but it did thrust the At-Large Democrat candidates to victory.

For the most part, Democrats put in quality candidates in the council races and put forth a lot of effort, and it shows. They won in a landslide in most of the districts they were defending and At-Large. As more precincts come in, Leroy Robinson's 4th place had enough of a buffer so 5th place finisher GOP Barbara Malone wasn't much of a threat. It also helps that Robinson is a fierce campaigner and Malone has skipped out on several candidate forums during the election cycle.

While having a council majority isn't very sexy for Democrats (councilors aren't big fundraisers, Mayors are), I think it gives them a lot more power to leverage if they choose to use it.


Democrats: They need to soul search and find out why reliable Democratic voters supported Ballard. In four years, they need to find a candidate that can articulate how a Democratic mayoral administration will be different than a Republican mayoral administration. Kennedy failed to do that, in detail, and that's part of the reason why she lost.

Republicans: They need to soul search on how to win council races. Ballard won, but he had no coattails, suggesting that independents and Democrats supported him but didn't support GOP council candidates. The powers of incumbency are great, and it'll be easy for Democrats to defend most of these seats. How do Republicans win any of them back? Frankly, I have no idea.


I remember back at HobNob, Jim Shella theorized that Ballard could win re-election, but he might win it while Democrats take back the council. Ballard just insisted "No, we'll carry the council", and said it again when Shella questioned him. I don't know if Ballard has had to work with Democrats yet. He'd be wise if he scheduled a meeting with the new caucus, and soon. Otherwise, expect a lot of his agenda to hit a brick wall come 2012.

1 comment:

  1. To answer your question about "how do Republicans win..." The broken Marion County Republican Good Ol'Boys system needs to be infiltrated with CONSERVATIVES. Take a look at how many votes the Libertarian At-Large candidates took away from the Republican At-Large candidates. Had there not been any Libertarian candidates, it's conceivable that the Republicans would have held on to a few of those seats. A Marion County Republican is not known for their conservative leanings. For some reason, Republicans don't get the hint; running a conservative campaign and voting in a conservative manner, means reelection!


Please see the Indy Student Blog Policies page for the full policy on blog comments. Verification of comments by typing in a random word is required to prevent spam. Due to recent blog inactivity, comments are now pre-screened to prevent spam advertisement.