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Saturday Slatings

In a rare joint blogging venture I asked Chris Worden of Indy’s Painfully Objective Political Analysis to tag team with me in covering the local slating conventions of both the Marion County Democratic and Republican parties.   He hung out with the Democrats while I was with the GOP.  His comments appear right after mine.


It Really Was A Grand Old Party

Whenever I want to gauge the mindset of a political operation, I look for little signs that act as canaries in the coal mine.  For the Marion County GOP , it was the slating contest for Indiana House District 99, the seat currently held by Vanessa Summers.  There was actually a contest between two candidates to take on an incumbent who won by 88 percent the last time around and there was only a Libertarian on the ballot against her.

That tells me the local GOP is caught up in the national fever that will make this a tough year for Democrats nationwide.  I also spoke to individuals who want to challenge long-time Democratic politicos like Bill Crawford and Greg Porter.    Can they win?  Maybe, maybe not, but what it does tell me is that if the GOP is willing to run into such hostile territory, and spend real time, energy and effort it forces the opposition to defend turf it isn’t used to defending and it puts a strain on resources that could be used somewhere else.  If this strategy sounds familiar it’s the same one that was done by the Obama campaign in 2008.

At the top of the ticket, the good news for Republicans is that their precinct committeemen were very excited about the candidacies of Mark Massa for prosecutor and Dennis Fishburn for Sheriff (he beat Bart McAtee and Steve Davis) and Carlos May for the 7th District.

In the race for prosecutor, I argue the controversies surrounding Carl Brizzi’s exit and Helen Marchal’s entrance and sudden exit were actually good for the party. It had held the prosecutor’s office for 16 years and was starting to get somewhat complacent.  There’s nothing like a smack in the back of the head by the winds of political fortune to make you get off your rear and get your act together. I doubt the  Democrats plan to attack Massa as a “puppet of the Governor” will get much traction, as the Governor’s approval ratings are at about 70 percent in Indianapolis.  Also, unlike Marchal, Massa doesn’t have the baggage that comes along with being part of the Brizzi administration.  He also gave a speech that was well-received by delegates.

Dennis Fishburn should prove to be an interesting candidate against John Layton.  While Layton has the backing of the Sheriff and County party, there are some potential landmines out there which could put his candidacy in a tailspin.  Fishburn will mainly have to worry for now if McAtee will use his resources to run against the slate.

For May, running in the 7th is always an uphill battle for Republicans, however in this climate no one should take anything for granted nor for a lost cause.  It will be interesting to see how May taps into the Latino vote in Marion County and whether that is enough to change any dynamics in an off-year election.

Speaking of minorities, I have covered the last five slating conventions and have never seen one with so many people of color and under 40.  It is definitely not your father’s Republican party.

Overall, my assessment for the local GOP is that they are energized and ready for battle, which they will need in a county that tends to favor the other side.  If they can pack the ballots like they did their convention hall, they should do just fine.


Democratic Slating Convention Notes

Democrats packed the Indiana State Fairground today for their slating convention.  Every seat was full and the walls were lined, which was surprising since the only contested races were for two township offices and a state rep slot.  In short, if the Democratic Party is supposed to be on its heels, somebody forgot to tell Marion County.

The voting portion got off to a rousing start when beloved labor leader, Bob Voorhies (the husband of Marion County Recorder Julie Voorhies and the father of state representative candidate Brett Voorhies), rose to make a motion to accept by acclimation a slate of uncontested candidates – Terry Curry for Prosecutor, John Clayton for Sheriff, Beth White for Clerk, Julie Voorhies for Recorder, and Billie Breaux for Auditor.

Voorhies punched the air prize-fighter style, which prompted a roar from the crowd, as he told all he was in a battle with stage-four cancer.  Voorhies said he would ignore doctors advice and go door-to-door to defeat the GOP.

Former state rep and prosecutor candidate David Orentlicher then delivered a brief “seconding speech,” that contained a strong plug for Curry.  David O. stepped aside last week and endorsed Curry, which lets you know there are certain privileges to be had if you make nice with the party).

Voting was completed with impressive efficiency and results were known quickly.

By a 39-1 vote, Voorhies won the right to challenge incumbent Republican Phil Hinkle in House District 92, wich covers Wayne and Pike Townships and the town of Speedway, where Brett has been a lifetime resident.  Hinkle will have his hands full in November.

In Warren Township, Garland Graves, the former assistant corporation counsel for Mayor Bart Peterson and current Warren Township court administrator, defeated attorney Todd Woodmansee, 48-16.  Graves got a big push from the endorsement of Marion County Clerk Beth White, and his long-term relationships with party folk paid dividends.

Graves said he was extremely humbled by the support he received today, and added that he would employ a grass-roots, door-to-door strategy.  Woodmansee promptly congratulated Graves and vowed to support his effort.

The Warren Township race became a two-man fight when incumbent Ricardo Rivera did not file for re-election.  Rivera’s mother’s illness and her subsequent passing last month made it impossible for him to campaign in the way he needed to retain the seat.  Our sympathies go out to Judge Rivera.

In Lawrence Township, Judie Conley, the wife of former city-county councilor “King Ro” Conley (who I’m told wants his seat back), defeated political newcomer Jackie Butler, 33-16.

Without impugning the credentials of Graves or Conley, some party folk I spoke with were concerned about lack of enthusiasm and ballot fatigue among African-American voters with all-white township tickets in areas that are increasingly diverse.  The fact that Warren Township Trustee Jeff Bennett’s victory in 2006 didn’t come until a recount challenge would certainly have impressed on folks the need to get voters excited about the township ticket.  The same could be said for Lawrence.
Consensus among precinct committeepersons today though, was that the biggest “problem” was too many good candidates.

Other notes of interest…

Marion County Prosecutor candidate Greg Bowes was on-hand, though he opted not to participate in the slating process.  Bowes has stated emphatically that he will stay in the race until the party’s primary voters tell him to exit.  (Look for a May checkout).

Also on hand was newly-announced Mayoral candidate Ron Gibson.  I observed Gibson for a long while, and while he was greeted warmly by a few folks, he also spent a lot of time looking like a man lost in a crowded airport.  On one occasion, a lady who was seated waved to a man several rows back.  Gibson waved back enthusiastically before realizing the wave was not intended for him.  The reception didn’t seem to bode well for Gibson’s mayoral prospects.


Special thanks to Chris for agreeing to do this.  Although we have differing political philosophies, I think he does the community a service when he presents his points of view on events.

  • bradbentley

    “Dennis Fishburn for Sheriff” has an nice ring to it!

  • IndyErnie

    Garland Graves??? You've got to be kidding!!! Garland’s a joke. It will be sooooo nice to have the Warren Township Court back in GOP hands.

  • Rico

    I too was encouraged by the number of minority/young attendees at the convention. And despite what many in the party have said in the widely-overused metaphor about 'widening our tent', compromising conservative values in order to attract more to the party is not the answer. It's simply a matter of communicating effectively that our 'tent' is already wide and that conservative policies are in all of our best interests.

    On another note: It's just a damn shame that the GOP decided to dust off Dan Coats to run against Evan Bayh. We can do better!

  • Hector

    Maybe Ron Gibson got the message today…………but I doubt it.

  • Rico

    Maybe a police officer can bitch-slap Gibson for him to get the message. That may not only be necessary, but quite entertaining as well.
    And the insider information about his orientation should be irrelevant, but with Dems it never is.

  • Hector

    Rico…what orientation are you referencing???

  • Rico

    Hell, I don't know? Ask one of the insiders.

  • slasher72

    Poor Bart

  • http://twitter.com/IndyStudent Matthew Stone

    I'm surprised Coats was able to swing in pretty much out of nowhere and gather up signatures so quickly. I consider myself fairly knowledgeable of local politics, and I had never HEARD of the name Dan Coats before a week or two ago.

    What do you think Hostettler's chances are?

  • Hector

    If you are going to reference it then YOU should be the one to explain it.

  • wilson46201

    Chris Worden added a postscript & update to his Democratic Party Slating Report: http://ipopa.blogspot.com/2010/02/slating-conve

  • Dave

    They're confused about the reason(s), but the party that goes by two names is “battling for control” of this scenario which they have created:


    Sure, they'll claim tear downs are in the interest of safety etc., but the reality is a complete lack of confidence or investment (trust) in turning around that which has been “governed” into the ground; as “It can't…” turns into “Well maybe it can, happen here.”

    Any bop to the top, won't be a coopt.

  • Hector

    Once again, I do not even understand the topic you are discussing or the point you are trying to make. You may have a legitimate point but please express it in plain standard English.

  • pascal

    Your government created a housing bubble fed by irrational exuberence. Your government based it's spending habits on the inflated values (even if you had not realized them). Your government failed to regulate financial markets, appraisors, bundlers and raters of “securities” with the result that many Madoff's stole billions of dollars while supping with the people's representatives (like Evan). Your government robbed your 401K of value thereby, has depreciated nearly all of your assets, and still wants your blood but is running out of viable veins. So, instead of having 10,000 to 15,000 homes in Indianapolis up for tax sale with NO BUYERS they would prefer to demolish them and hope the folks reponsible for the mess are never held to account. Fixing things won't be accomplished by either major political party. http://www.anncoulter.com/ for best recent reporting on who and why “the mess” was created by and who and why they turned huge profits at your expense. So long as there are no ethics in banking or Congress one cannot complain of their unethical behaviors, e.g. stealing from widows, orphans, and anyone else whose life savings they can get their hands on with impunity.

  • pascal

    http://www.anncoulter.com/cgi-local/article.cgi… In which a pattern begins to emerge under both political “parties”. Large contributors to politicians win when they win and you lose when they lose. Serious readers need to check their memory against her detailing of facts….to which I would add the Savings and Loan Crisis of a few years prior….when McCain was one of the Keating Five (wasn't he?). In my opinion, it is almost a catagorical fact that Government should never, ever, bail out a failed business. I was very much against Senator Lugar's falling from grace on this matter at the time of the first Chrysler bailout. Thanks! Idiot! for setting the precedent that any turkey who donates dollars for elections is too large to fail. And, it is better to prop up these dead horses with taxpayer blood than to let their operations transit to better managers.

  • Dave

    The party with two names resembles the state media which itself goes by several names (ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, etc.); pander bears for “power” share losing out to market shear.

    While the two headed monster courts Medusa, the tea party is looking for leaders…

  • Think Again

    This blog was cruising along nicely, then Dave and pascal veered it into oblique nonsense.

    I was at Democratic slating Saturday, too. Bob's speech, and his discussions with many, were inspirational.

    Ernie, I don't know Garland very well, but please explain why you think he's a joke. Any more than his GO predecessors were.

    My biggest concerns Saturday:

    1. Judy Conley anywhere near a ballot as a candidate. She was a piss-poor hearing examiner for DMD. And if it opens the door for King Ro to come back, I say slam the door.

    2. And Ron is just, well…sorry. Which is too bad. He tried to hint that his candidacy was a borderline-racial thing, but he walked away form a group of black PCs and they were scratching their heads.

    Chris, I circulated among many delegates, and didn't hear word one of the racial tension you mentioned. Nary a peep.

    Maybe some county chair tension, but no racial tension.

    Oh yeah, I was kinda surprised by this: Melina Kennedy appears to be wayyyyy ahead. As in signed, sealed and delivered.

  • Hector

    I was impressed with the width and depth of support for Melina Kennedy also. She has strong support in all parts of the county, in the different factions, among all races, age groups and males and females. She has done her homework. The most unkind remarks I heard re: Ron Gibson came from other African Americans.

  • ibviral

    “Jason Fishburns Dad for Sheriff”

    This will assure a win for Layton

  • craig

    Come on Abdul that is using your lawyer skills to spin the marion county gop debacle. That was Tom John's 50th public embarrassment and a slap in gop face. Everyone saw it, he messed up and then finally the Governor had enough with this clown and took over. Tulley called it right on in article, where Tom John called Mitch his dad. Your gop chair buddy has lost his mind Mitch would rather be poor than adopt him! Your opinion is solid in most cases but spinning a mess and embarrassment into a positive does not fix the mess.