Sorry to be a bit dormant this past week. Sometimes it’s "so many stories, so little time." Here’s your week in review with my quick “hits” plus a follow up on Vop Osili and "name combat."
Hawaii Special Election Victory Meaningless for GOP
Republican Charles Dijou won a three-way, Hawaiin special election for U.S. Congress against two Democrats. Dijou’s “victory” with forty percent of the vote was not surprising. The surprising part was RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s statement that the victory was significant because it was the “district where the President of the United States was born.” (Shhh! Don’t say that too loud, Mike. You might get ousted by the staggering percent of Republicans who still think the President wasn’t born in America!) Stelle undoubtedly wanted to add significance while he could since he knows they'll give this back in November, provided one of the D's clears the field.
Souder Said What?!?
Maybe I’m just burned out on politicians who lecture on morality while living below their own standards, but Mark Souder’s comments today don’t sit well with me at all. We all sin. But what galls is the idea he actually thought about sticking it out because “there was no evidence of an affair.” To know you're betraying the very ideals you claim to serve while clinging to the right to stay? That’s the greatest arrogance in this sordid affair.
GOP's Rivera Keeps Good Company
If anybody thinks the Democratic Party is not open to all comers, look at this photo of Republican, At-Large City-County Councillor (and generally amiable guy), Angel Rivera, at the Indiana Latino Democratic Pac’s Cinco De Maya membership drive. Inquiring minds want to know - did he cut a check?!?!
iPOPA Revisits "Name Combat" and Vop
Sometimes I revisit analysis after feedback from fellow politicos, friends, and fans. Today is one of those days. I’ve written about name combat, and I noted that candidates with “foreign” sounding names almost always fare poorly. But I also wrote that Vop Osili, whose name is nowhere near “Jim Smith,” would assist our party more than Tom McKenna as our Secretary of State candidate. Many have wondered about this seemingly contradictory conclusion. McKenna would clearly outperform Osili in name combat, right?
Absolutely, statewide. But here's the part that might depress you, Democrats, so I left it out. I'm not overly optimistic that either Tom or Vop can win in November. Indiana is still a Republican state, chocked full of what I call open-minded, Republican leaners (insert your joke here, Democrats). And the further you go down the ballot, the harder it is for a Democrat to win, absent staggering fundraising advantages or a very feeble Republican opponent.
To illustrate the point, consider this. Indiana hasn't seen a Democratic Secretary of State since Joe Hogsett left in 1994, an Auditor since Otis Cox in 1986, a Treasurer since Jack New left in February of 1979, and a Superintendent of Public Instruction since 1973! Democrats have done best electing Attorneys General with Pam Carter in 1992 and Jeff Modisett in 1996, but both of those campaigns lucked out to a degree in having opponents with some deficiencies Democrats exploited to draw stark contrasts.
Pam Carter had done securities enforcement, which we pitched as "white collar crime prosecution," and she was running against a criminal defense attorney, Tim Bookwalter, who had defended "rapists," "molesters," and "drug dealers." Jeff Modisett had been Marion County prosecutor while his opponent, Steve Carter, suffered from a charisma deficit and had never tried a case. "Not one." Does an AG try cases? Of course not. But this is politics, folks. Perception IS political reality.
Even Hogsett's 1990 Secretary of State win was unique because he was running against Bill Hudgnut, the Mayor of Indianapolis, the most despised city in the state for everybody who doesn't live here, and Hogsett branded Hudnut as a guy who "raised taxes 27 times." Plus, Hogsett harnessed the Evan Bayh mojo to raise over a million dollars. This year, we have my Wabash classmate, Charlie White, running as the Republican. (Could his name literally get any more vanilla for name combat purposes?) White's springboard to statewide office is his service on the Fishers Town Council. Unless there's some astonishing opposition research of which I'm not aware showing White has voted to raise some town tax over and over, this race will be very difficult.
If you start from the perspective that neither guy is likely to eke out a victory (and trust me when I tell you, I hope I'm wrong), all that's left is the question of who can do the most for the rest of the ticket. Because many African-Americans are dedicated, straight-ticket voters, that will be Vop. To do the most for the party, Vop doesn't even have to compete everywhere. He just has to drive up D turnout in high African-American areas. His core market will be people who might not vote but for their chance to elect Indiana's first African-American Secretary of State and maybe Governor.
One colleague said that any benefit from Vop on the ticket would be cumulative because in many places with high African-American populations, you already have other African-American candidates, for example, like in Indianapolis with Andre Carson. I disagree somewhat with respect to Carson. There's no doubt his a vote-getter, but his district only touches 445 of the 590 precincts that comprise Marion County. With respect to everywhere else, outside of Indianapolis, any African-American candidate would be down ticket, and they are not likely to have the money to afford the high media exposure that will motivate voters.
Is Vop a lost cause? Absolutely not. But to win, he would need to raise at least $1.5-$2 million to do a solid statewide TV buy, and he'd have to have an absolutely captivating bio ad. That's the counter to name combat deficiencies - favorable name ID (a/k/a "personal likeability"). If people know and like you, the name won't matter. The problem is that too many politicians with "funny" names never get to that level of recognition. Also, Vop would need to outspend White, and he'd need a scorched earth negative to blast a hole in White. While White's fundraising has been lackluster ($39,500 cash-on-hand as of March 31), Vop hasn't been on a million-dollar pace ($68,000 cash-on-hand on March 31 to McKenna's $96,000).
If Vop wins at the state convention, money will shake free as all the "smart money" people can quit hedging their bets and grow spines, but $1.5 million worth? That's a tall order. (Yes, it will take that much. Remember that Linda Pence raised a cool million and still lost to Greg Zoeller in 2008, which was clearly a favorable Democratic year). What is more likely is Vop having money in a range that makes media geared toward drumming up turnout more sensible than for persuasion.
On the subject of name combat, I knew Una Osili had finished 4th of 8 in her state convention delegate race, and every "African" name fared poorly (look here at state convention races), even in Marion County.
But I wondered how a "McKenna" might do in "name combat." The results from Hamilton County were encouraging...for Mary Ann McKenna. For Tom, not so much.
Take a look at this astonishing result for at-large Hamilton County state convention delegate, and see if you notice any of iPOPA's "name combat" rules in play.
3097 - 9.36% - Mary Ann Mckenna
2963 - 8.95% - Nancy Funk
2876 - 8.69% - Trish Whitcomb
2869 - 8.67% - Janet Rummel
2725 - 8.23% - Bonnie J. Kennelly
2681 - 8.10% - Rita D. Richard
2527 - 7.63% - Christopher A. Brown
2428 - 7.33% - Christian K. Renner
2344 - 7.08% - William A. "Bill" Latham
2289 - 6.91% - Alan D. Albright
2125 - 6.42% - Keith Clock
2092 - 6.32% - James Steven Bohner
2089 - 6.31% - David Snead
Did everyone pick up that the first six candidates are all women, and the last seven are all men?
Then I turned to Tom McKenna's race for state convention delegate, and, in a word, "Ouch."
1141 - 6.54% - Judy S. Goldblatt
1126 - 6.46% - Josephine E. "Jo" Latham
1118 - 6.41% - Mary Russell
1111 - 6.37% - Kathryn M. Raymore
1070 - 6.16% - Felicia D. Brown
1068 - 6.12% - Sonya P. Wendel
1062 - 6.09% - Caitlin C. Intermill
1047 - 6.00% - Monique D. Wise
1018 - 5.84% - Deborah Hejl
1015 - 5.82% - Tom Mckenna
907 - 5.20% - Patricia M. Toschlog
814 - 4.67% - Henry Winckler
803 - 4.60% - Cary A. Hudson
786 - 4.51% - Keith D. Boland
702 - 4.03% - Douglas M. Kinser
698 - 4.00% - Myron K. Richardson
674 - 3.87% - James W. Rosensteele
654 - 3.75% - Tom Decoster
620 - 3.56% - Edwin E. Russell
Tom McKenna, who has been telling Democrats he will beat Charlie White in the home county they share, finished tenth in a nineteen-person field of Democrats. You may say, "Yes, but isn't that just name combat being true to form, iPOPA? After all, unless Cary Hudson is a woman, you again have ladies in the top nine slots, then Tom, then another woman, followed by the rest of the fellas in the basement." But familiarity and likeability are supposed to trump name combat, which should tell us all something about McKenna's name ID in Hamilton County because there's no question about McKenna's likeability.
In short, I stand by my initial analysis: two likeable guys, two strenuous roads ahead.