Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hogsett Steps Aside; IPOPA Pays Tribute

Terry Burns at Indianapolis Times broke the story that Indianapolis attorney and party heavyweight Joe Hogsett is stepping out of the Indianapolis mayor's race. This will be a huge momentum booster for Melina Kennedy, as many party activists with whom I've spoken were on the fence between the two. (Don't think this hasn't given the rest of the field notions of trying to coalesce all those who aren't sold on Kennedy yet, though).

But I'm saving analysis regarding the why and the political aftershocks for a later post. Now, I'll simply share two stories that show why Joe Hogsett has so many friends.

It's mid-1990, and I'm attending a fundraiser for Joe's Secretary of State campaign. By far, I'm the youngest guy in the room. I'm intimidated as hell and saying nothing because I'm standing in a circle of attorneys, many of whom I've read about in the paper. I'm not even out of college.

Joe is heading off to his next event, but before he leaves, he dips his head back into the circle and says, "Chris, I wanted to say bye before I left. You all need to watch out for this kid because when he gets out of law school, he's going to give you a run for your money." He then gives a group "goodbye" to everybody else. It changes the whole dynamic in that circle and now everybody is asking me questions.

Fast forward to October of 1992. I'm managing Pam Carter's campaign, and I'm at the state party HQ. Joe is running for U.S. Senate against Dan Coats, and he comes into the office.

"What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be on the road," I ask.

"I'm here to boost the troops' morale," Joe says, as he pulls out a stack of miniature placards bearing one of those state-fair-type caricatures of him that somebody has sketched out. "Want me to autograph one for you?"

"Sure, Joe," I say distracted while reading something. He scribbles on it and hands it to me, and I put it in my coat pocket and go on to the next thing. That night I am emptying my pockets. I pull out the card and look at it. It says:

"Chris, thanks for driving me to the Carroll County 4-H fair."

I have no idea what Joe is talking about. I sit there perplexed for about ten minutes. Then it dawns on me. During the 1990 campaign, I drove him once to an event. I barely remembered that fact, let alone where we went, let alone that it was a 4-H fair. I thought to myself, either Joe Hogsett has freakish memory or his people do amazing staff work.

How can you not like a guy that on top of things?

Yes, Joe has his critics. He went too early and often trying to help the party build momentum, and he lost in tough years for Democrats. But he stepped in the breach and took over the Indiana Democratic Party after corruption rocked its helm, and he did it again when he ran for AG in 2004 at the last minute because we didn't have a candidate.

Nobody can deny his political skill in retail politics. He's one of our party's best.



Anonymous said...

Hogsett ran for AG in 2004. Freeman-Wilson was AG in 2000.

Chris Worden said...

Yes, that was a stupid mistake. I'm changing it now. I should know this as I was IN the AG's office in early 2000.

Jon E. Easter said...

Joe is one whale of a guy and a great friend. I don't think he's necessarily done though. Your stories ring very very true. Joe's a master at doing the political thing.

Chris Worden said...

Jon: I'm not putting him out to pasture!!! Maybe not the Indianapolis Mayor's race, but he's definitely not finished. This wasn't the political version of the lifetime achievement award!