Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pete Repeat Good News for South Bend

Pete Buttigieg, the Democratic candidate who ran for state treasurer but lost in November is keeping his running shoes on and making a bid for Mayor of South Bend.

The seat is open after current Democratic Mayor Steve Luecke announced he will not run for re-election.

Anticipating his opponents' future efforts to paint two quicks runs in an unflattering light, Buttigieg notes:

While running two back-to-back campaigns is not a decision to take lightly, I cannot ignore this opportunity to make a difference. I was fortunate enough to have a great upbringing here, but our community struggles with the same kinds of issues I highlighted in the campaign for Treasurer. Without economic growth and more good-paying jobs, we risk falling into a cycle of decline in our neighborhoods, streets, schools, and economy.

There are four other names being bandied about - Pastor Barrett Berry of the Pentecostal Cathedral church, State Representative Ryan Dvorak, Work One business service representative Mike Dollinger, and St. Joseph County Councilor Mike Hamann. But I hope the city's Democrats pick Pete.

I've been around a lot of political people, and I don't remember being as excited about a candidate's long-term prospects since Evan Bayh was elected Secretary of State. Pete exudes intelligence, and every aspect of his campaign was pitch perfect, making him one of the few Willy Wonk-ish types who successfully tamed their inner professorial instinct. Nobody, except perhaps a clone of Pete with Meg Whitman's money, was going to be the Everlasting GOPstopper this year.

The biggest knock I've heard on Pete is that he looks really, really young, an affliction I wish I had. Of course, this is precisely why Pete can engage a new generation of Democratic leaders in not only South Bend, but throughout the state.

Buttigieg will need to corral support quickly to keep this venture from turning into a world of pure imagination. But if he is able to do so and win the general election, the sky (in a glass elevator) will be the limit.

(Somebody remind me to stop eating chocolate before I go to sleep).


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bayh Out, Pence Definite Now?

Evan Bayh announced today that he would not run for governor in 2012, adding to the sizeable wake of political devastation he has left for Democrats from his exit out of politics.

With Bayh waving off, Mike Pence's "fork in the road" just turned into a choice between a presidential path covered with savage brush and a road paved with gold leading to the Indiana statehouse.

I previously wrote that no citizen or party loyalist can demand someone's service or soul simply because they have political strength. If Bayh was, as he stated, burned out on the partisanship of D.C., nobody had the right to make him stay. Likewise, nobody had the right to make him campaign again.

Bayh says his decision was based, principally, on the well-being of his sons:

While Susan and I prefer Indiana to Washington, D.C., at this time, a statewide campaign would require relocating our children; it would require a change of schools, separation from their friends and athletic teams—all during a formative time in their lives. In addition, while adults seeking public office knowingly accept the rigor and occasional nastiness of modern campaigns, imposing the process on children—particularly teenagers—would be especially onerous.

Bayh also notes his desire to contribute differently:
. . .there are many honorable ways to contribute to society—creating jobs, growing a business, helping guide an institution of higher learning, or helping run a worthy charitable endeavor. I’ll continue to serve, but my contributions will take a different form and on a different stage. I will reassume the most important role any one can play in a democracy—involved citizen.

Among angry, progressive, Democratic activitists, there was already a developing meme that Bayh runs from a fight, and that he exited from the Senate race for fear he might have either lost or won so narrowly as to tarnish his "untouchable" status. The fact Pence was strongly looking at the gubernatorial race and would be a formidable foe had Bayh chose to run certainly doesn't detract from this narrative.

Accordingly, I would anticipate many people will question if burnout or kids are Bayh's real motivation for leaving. But such speculation, ironically, confirms the very public cynicism that would, standing alone, be sufficient grounds to prompt Bayh to go running screaming into the night.

But Bayh now has ten million dollars in the bank and no campaign. While he had no duty to stay, he arguably has a duty to mitigate the damage of his exit. If he wants to patch over the sore spots with people in his own party, he should cut a check for the whole balance to the Indiana Democratic Party.

After all, if Bayh is now content just to be an "involved citizen" for the rest of his life, why hoard the money? Even a small portion of that ten million could capture a lot of mayor chairs in 2011, which could then be used to help raise money for Democrats in 2012.

But I would anticipate Bayh will instead do what a politician would do - strategically dole out his money while accruing chits nationally, thereby maintaining influence well in excess of those "involved citizens" who find themselves shy of ten million.

Unfortunately, if Bayh chooses the later route, he will continue to be, for many Hoosier Democrats, what Lebron James is to Cleveland - the man who gave us some greatness before guaranteeing we'd be less competitive by moving to a greener pasture and taking his money with him.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Libertarians Call Out Mayor Ballard on Epic Budget Cut Failure

You can't accuse the Marion County Libertarian Party of not living up to its principles, even if it puts them at odds with a mayor whose election they backed strongly.

In a release today accompanied by damning video of Greg Ballard uttering a campaign promise I knew would haunt him like "read my lips," the MCLP says it was surprised to hear Ballard is running for re-election because he said he wouldn't unless he could cut the City's budget by ten percent by the third year.

The MCLP says the Mayor fell way short. From MCLP Chair, Tim Maguire:

"I am very surprised that Ballard decided against honoring his campaign promise not to run again if he wasn’t able to cut the budget by 10%, especially since the budget cuts necessary would have been so easy to make. Even without the benefit of a full time team of lawyers and accountants, we were able to find at least $65 million that could have been cut off the top of the 2011 budget."

Libertarian City-County Councillor Ed Coleman added this gasoline to the fire:
When I ran as part of the 2007 GOP campaign team, it was because I and other small government advocates believed Greg Ballard's promise to reform government and reduce the spending. It was broken promises like this that prompted me to abandon the failed Republican Party and its bloated-government policies.

The 25th Floor of the City-County Building has undoubtedly assembled its team of lawyers to figure a palatable way for the Mayor to tell the public he met his promise to eradicate all the "fluff," but if you look at the Libertarian Party's analysis, you'll realize how quickly our Mayor will be resorting to a defense akin to "it depends on what the definition of 'is' is."