OK, I’ve been rusty and out of shape from not covering political campaigns for a year.
But I’ve been working out and getting ready as the 2010 political campaign’s starting to heat up. So as you enjoy your Thanksgiving, here’s the first look at the key races and contests shaping up next year and why our African-American community should be concerned.
Who Replaces Frank? Frank Anderson, the second African-American county sheriff in Indiana history (Grant County’s Otis Archey was the first), is term limited and can’t run again. That prospect has the Republicans hoping that they can recapture the office.
Tim Motsinger and Bart McAtee are running for the Republican nomination while Mark Brown and John Layton are running for the Democratic nomination.
Bart McAtee is related to former Sheriff Joe McAtee. He’s trying to be hip by using social Internet networks like Twitter. I went to McAtee’s Twitter page where I learned he’s already filmed TV commercials (and the primary isn’t until May). I also learned that he campaigned during the Circle City Classic. Odd, he must have been campaigning invisibly because no one saw him.
Tim Motsinger, on the other hand, hasn’t been shy about being seen in the African-American community. He’s attended Concerned Clergy meetings and was highly visible at last August’s Back to School rally at Coleman Middle School. McAtee was invisible there too.
John Layton is the preferred choice of Sheriff Anderson and I suspect of most Democratic Party activists and precinct committeepersons.
The wild card in the Democratic primary is Mark Brown (no relation), who is African-American. His campaign has a vehicle with logos painted on it and some enthusiastic campaign volunteers. Yet some question Brown’s Democratic Party credentials, especially an allegedly less than perfect Democratic primary voting record.
The problem all four sheriff’s candidates have is since the 2007 merger with the Indianapolis Police Department the responsibilities of the Marion County Sheriff have been vastly reduced.
I visited all candidates Web sites, from Layton’s (the sparsest) to McAtee’s (most detailed). None of the Web sites except McAtee’s discusses any issues and even McAtee’s was vague and superficial.
That’s because the Sheriff of Marion County has been reduced to running the jail, serving warrants and summons, maintaining the Sex Offender registry and other mundane duties. In 2010 there won’t be the sizzling public safety issues of past campaigns.
The Sheriff’s race will also be a major test of how energized and enthused African-American voters will be in 2010.
Frank Anderson’s presence on the ballot in 1998 and 2002 energized and motivated our Black community. With his retirement, the only African-American name on the countywide ticket will be Marion County Auditor Billie Breaux.
I’m assuming she’s running for re-election as I assume will the other countywide Democratic incumbents, County Clerk Beth White and County Recorder Julie Voorhies.
African-American sheriff candidate Mark Brown could energize and excite our community, but he’s got to get known in our community quickly with a strong cadre of campaign workers in key city/county Black precincts and he must have the finances to heavily blitz our community with newspaper and radio ads.
State ticket impact – The potential contest for the Democratic nomination for Secretary of State could also energize our community in 2010.
Vop Osili, the young, dynamic African-American architect and entrepreneur has traveled the length and breadth of Indiana meeting with Democratic Party officials and activists looking for their support to be Secretary of State. If Osili’s on the ballot, he could energize Black Obama voters and help lead the ticket here.
But if the party kicks Osili to the curb, in favor of his opponent, former Joe Kernan loyalist Tom McKenna, that could suppress Black turnout in Marion County, which hurts the Democrats’ statewide and county tickets.
The Prosecutor’s Race or WWBD – What Will Brizzi Do? Three Democrats are running for the right to go up against the one Republican political certainty right now in Indianapolis, Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi.
Former State Representative David Orentlicher, attorney Terry Curry and Marion County Assessor Greg Bowes are all actively running for the Democratic nomination for Prosecutor.
All year Orentlicher has been quietly trying to gain party support. His biggest endorsement so far has been former Congressman Andy Jacobs.
Bowes is committed to running in the May primary regardless of whether he gets the party’s slating (endorsement). Curry started his campaign late, but seems to be picking up steam among party loyalists and committeepersons.
The eventual Democratic nominee will probably face the incumbent Brizzi. I say probably because it’s been apparent for some months that Brizzi’s blowing hot and cold about wanting a third term as Prosecutor.
Brizzi’s suffering from Goldsmith-itis. A peculiar Indianapolis ailment that occurs when a qualified Republican officeholder has served eight years in office and wants to move up, but has nowhere to go.
Carl Brizzi really wants another office. Congress is out because Congressman André Carson would beat him and there’s too many Republicans running against Congressman Dan Burton.
Brizzi probably would like to be Mayor, but he’d have to endure a primary battle against the current Mayor that would tear the party apart. Plus there are no signs Mayor Ballard isn’t running for re-election.
So Brizzi seems stuck running for a third term as Prosecutor. Something no Marion County Prosecutor has done for decades, maybe ever.
If Brizzi runs he’d be the favorite, though he barely won four years ago against Melina Kennedy.
If he doesn’t run, the race is thrown into turmoil because there’s no apparent GOP successor.
The challenge for David Orentlicher, Terry Curry and Greg Bowes is to engage the African-American community on the issues in the prosecutor’s race.
How prosecution is done; whether white collar crime has been prosecuted as toughly as crimes by blue collar folks; the continuing inefficiencies in child support; has the Prosecutor’s Office been effective and efficient during Carl Brizzi’s eight year tenure? These are all valid issues of concern to our community that Brizzi’s opponents must address.
If they do and get our community excited, they have a chance. If they don’t, it’s Carl Brizzi for an unprecedented third term in a walk.
So, let the 2010 campaign games begin. I can’t wait!
Happy Thanksgiving, see ‘ya next week!