Look at the front page of today’s Indianapolis Star and check which has the bigger headline. This weekend’s snow storm or the passing of a political legend?
I was in the middle of teaching when I got the text message yesterday that Indiana Congresswoman Julia Carson had passed away. I was not surprised it finally happened. She was diagnosed with lung cancer and was put into hospice care, a clear sign that her time was limited. Although I was not surprised, I was saddened. Carson was old school politics; build a machine and deliver on those constituent services. That’s how she won. That’s how she built a legacy. It was a concept many of my Republican and Libertarian friends, particularly those who lived outside Marion County could never understand. I recall a number of conversations over cocktails where someone would say “I don’t see how those people in Indianapolis could vote for Julia Carson.” My response, “frankly dude the citizens of Indianapolis could care less what you think.” Carson was like a neighborhood restaurant that anyone who wasn’t from the neighborhood would never eat in, but for the locals, it was a slice of heaven. And that’s what Carson was to her constituents.
What will be interesting to see is what happens next. The civil war which I’ve been alluding to inside Democratic circles has already begun. Center Township Democrats are pushing for Andre Carson, Julia’s grandson, as the likely replacement. They are also calling for the head of County Chairman Mike O’Connor on a platter because of last November’s election losses. The problem for the Center Township crowd is that while they may want Carson, my sources tell me no one else does. Whether it’s Carolene Mays, David Orentlicher, Mike Rodman or Robin Winston, there are a significant number of Democratic insiders who want someone else. And O’Connor can get the last laugh because he has been quietly filling vacant precinct committeemen spots who are necessary to pick the party’s nominee for the next special election.
Just the very fact that there is this much chaos in Democratic circles is a clear sign that Julia is gone and Carson’s city will never be the same.