Thursday, March 1, 2012

IN-CD 05: Questioning Susan Brooks' Path to Victory

5th Congressional district candidate Susan Brooks released a huge list of endorsements via her campaign web site earlier today in support of her bid for the GOP nomination But I'm not sure how much she really wants to publicize these endorsements, especially in the cases of the various Indianapolis based politicians.

The 5th congressional district includes more of Marion County now than it did previously, but it still encompasses a large part outside of central Indiana. And as often demonstrated by our state legislature, there is an anti-Indianapolis vibe outside of...well, Indianapolis. It seems that the politicians who try to run for higher offices who make their career in Indianapolis' political culture often fail, such as when Steve Goldsmith failed to carry Marion County during his 1996 gubernatorial campaign.

But the 5th district is tricky in that it does encompass some of Marion County and a good chunk of Hamilton County. While they might not have a lot of the raw number of votes, they do contain a lot of GOP donors. Candidates will have to walk the fine line of being connected enough to raise funds in Marion and Hamilton counties, but still being able to connect with voters who live outside of Indianapolis and Carmel.

So it seems strange to me that Brooks releases this list of endorsement of dozens of Indianapolis based politicians. It isn't like these current and former City-County Councilors have a whole lot of pull. Councilor Ryan Vaughn tried to leapfrog to an open seat in the Indiana Senate in 2009 and failed at convincing his fellow Republicans to vote for him. A handful of them are FORMER councilors (after having lost a re-election bid), and several of them represent(ed) Indianapolis council districts that don't fall within the boundaries if the 5th congressional district.

This is a stark contrast to Brooks' fellow candidate, Dr. John McGoff, who recently declined an invitation to be a part of the "Young Guns" program. The program, sponsored by the National Republican Congressional Committee, is a sort of a training program for prospective Congressional candidates to help them for the primary and general elections. McGoff is likely hoping this will resonate with 5th district voters to help capture an anti-establishment vote.

That being said, running as an anti-establishment outsider only really works if there's an insider also running. Without an incumbent, I wonder if McGoff, or any of the other candidates, can successfully pin any of the other candidates as ultimate Washington D.C. insiders.


  1. Best thing you've ever written, Matt. Consise and to the point. Shortest blog column ever.

  2. Okay, now you have written the column and made my last comment look silly.

    Excellent column. I do not understand the mindset of candidates running in non-Marion County territory thinking endorsements from Marion County pols are going to help. Remember when Ballard sent the letter to Hamilton County precinct committeemen in favor of Ryan Vaughn for Senate? I don't know who thought that was a good idea.


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