Well it wasn’t dinner, but a very polite conversation and I couldn’t come up with a better blog title. I spoke with Democratic City-County Councilor Andre Carson tonight about his candidacy for the seat that was held by his grandmother, Julia Carson, until her death last year.
Carson says he’s been hitting the precincts pretty hard in anticipation of the January 12 special slating of Marion County Democrats to nominate a candidate to run in a special election to fill out the rest of the late Congresswoman’s term. He says he expects a competitive race as some of his opponents worked to line up precinct committeeman votes while he was in mourning and he also expects some to run against the slate in a general election.
I asked Carson about the criticism levied at him that he is being “anointed” for the seat because he is Julia’s grandson. He says it is legitimate concern because of the potential for abuse, but he he was running to continue his grandmother’s tradition of being a voice for those citizens who had none and not about carrying on a family name. He also says he supports removing most American troops from Iraq, but realizes some would have to stay for stability. And while he believes in universal health care, universal insurance will likely be the more pragmatic route to go. He also said he would be an advocate for community block grants and providing schools with funding so they could comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Carson also said his age and experience are legitimate issues, acknowledging that the candidates who have filed or will soon file have impressive resumes, but he does question whether some of those candidates are running because they want to be advocates, saying he is not going for the job to add to his resume. He also pointed to other elected officials such as former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford who had little political experience before taking office.
I also asked Carson about his ties with controversial figure Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan, who spoke at Julia’s funeral. He says Farrakhan spoke at his grandmother’s request and he takes a more moderate approach to his Islamic faith, even though he was raised a Christian.
Carson was just elected to his first full-term as a City-County Councilor in District 15. He ran unopposed. He was appointed last year to take the place of former Councilor Patrice Abduallah who resigned after it was discovered he did not live in his District.
On the Democratic side, the list of contenders includes State Representatives Carolene Mays, David Orentlicher, Greg Porter, County Treasurer Mike Rodman, former State Party Chairman Robin Winston and former state health commissioner Woody Myers.
State Representatives Carolene Mays, David Orentlicher, Greg Porter, County Treasurer Mike Rodman, former State Party Chairman Robin Winston and former state health commissioner Woody Myers.