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Fifth District Hilarity: Luke Messer Supporter Proposes American Idol System for Narrowing Primary Against Dan Burton

And not just any American Idol system; one that is packed with Marion County heavyweights and tilted toward Luke Messer. P.E. McAlister was, with Jim Kittle, one of the first names supporting Messer).

I don’t normally opine much on the 5th District; I sort of view it with a distant and cynical eye. I’m inclined to think that the 2008 primary served a good purpose and that another one is a waste of finite resources that could be better spent ousting Democrats in Congressional and state legislative races in November.

Presented for your consideration, an email sent from P.E. MacAllister (Indy GOP bigwig) to various Republican leaders in the 5th District:

Some of us in Marion County are watching with interest the contest in our Fifth District, where four men are challenging the continuing tenure of Dan Burton. The issue of whether or not this is a great idea is by now irrelevant since the candidates are already in the fray, each hoping to win the primary. The nature of the field may be interesting, but impact of such a donnybrook has every prospect of doing considerable damage, despite the fact “this is a free country” and anyone who wants to run for anything is allowed to do so. If there is ample reason to challenge the incumbent, perhaps exploring some way of lessening harm done is in order.

I have discussed the race with both the Marion County and the State Republican Chairmen, hoping to minimize the adverse impact, but for reasons of his own, neither thinks it wise for him to exert the authority the party has given him, leaving us with a spectator role in this critical exercise.

The cynic in me has to pipe up and interject at this point… [after the leap]

Seriously expecting Murray Clark to take a stand on anything other than ramming the governor’s attorney general candidate down the party’s throat probably too much to ask.

But I digress. The email continues…

I appreciate their position but don’t see it helpful. My memory of the last free for all, harkens back to a sheriff’s race in Marion County an election or so ago, which got very bitter, very expensive, and was productive of zilch for either candidate.

There could be an alternative. Maybe pretty wild, but here’s one idea. Let all four challengers do their best to line up support, but by the end of the year, say by Christmas time, allow a panel of 25 party elders, respected figures, influential people, major donors, judicious folks from the district, determine which of the four is the best candidate. Let’s assume we can get the contenders to agree on this tack, which means the three losers gracefully depart the scene and support the selectee in the spring primary.

Who selects the party elders? A party elder in Hamilton County is not a party elder in Marion County is not a party elder in Howard County, etc.

A letter has gone out to 21 people here in Marion County and includes figures like Jim Morris, Jerry Semler, Fred Klipsch, Jim Dora, John Mutz, Mike Alley, Yvonne Shaheen, Don Palmer, Al Hubbard, Danny Danielson, Bob Bowen, seeking their participation as ultimate adjudicators and requesting their agreement in principal with the idea.

21 of the 25 people are supposed to come from Marion County?

Tom John reminded me that the sun does not rise and set on Marion County but beams on other counties in the district, and including them in this experiment is essential.

Marion County is the sun around which the other counties of the 5th District should revolve? Does that make Tom John, like Louis XIV, the Sun King? (I jest, obviously.)

Thus this letter to you, asking for: your reaction; requesting your cooperation as one of the “judges” and helping us in finding other worthies in your jurisdiction. The panel, in other words, is a work in process.

This program has to be impartial; has to include promise of total anonymity so no one knows how we vote. It has to include established candidate criteria…past experience, intellectual capacity, persona (charisma), ability to articulate, fundraising capacity, stance on given issues; nature of community support (who is in his list of donors and advisors), etc.

So, we have a Messer ally proposing a presumably pro-Messer panel. Who will that panel think fulfills the candidate criteria? Maybe Luke Messer?

I cannot assure all will buy in. Two of the contenders have signed on, agreeing to the principle, pending details of how it is handled.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the details are not something with which the other candidate suggesting a “pre-primary” (Brose McVey, I believe) will agree, let alone the other candidates.

We need to contact the other two, but my point will be that this is one way of determining who represents the district come the primary. The inference is if a losing candidate opts to run against us after his peers have declined support and puts his personal ambition above that of party unity, he needs not call on me next spring for money.

Cordially,
P.E. MacAllister

Maybe these party elders might decide that no primary against Burton is actually necessary. Oh wait, they won’t. The necessity of the primary is already assumed by the very structure of Mr. MacAllister’s panel at its inception, along with the apparent pro-Messer origins of the very idea.

Far be it for this southern Indiana blogger to say anything about Indianapolis or the mighty 5th District, but this is America. We have a primary system, not a court of the Star Chamber or a Guardian Council.

I’m a big believer in primaries, but the amount of money and resources that will be expended in the 5th District boggles the mind. But better a free-for-all primary than a bunch of party elites picking and choosing who gets to stand against an incumbent. But then, it’s also my opinion that a bunch of party elites shouldn’t be picking and choosing whether to keep that incumbent, either.

That’s what primaries are for.


This post is also available at Hoosierpundit.

This post was tagged under: 2010 Election, Congress, Dan Burton, GOP

18 Responses to “Fifth District Hilarity: Luke Messer Supporter Proposes American Idol System for Narrowing Primary Against Dan Burton”

  1. WritingFromNeptune says:

    From my position as far away from the Sun of Marion County as possible, I have to ask; Isn't this the same group of wizards and string pullers that gave us the Capitol Improvement Board?

  2. Grass Roots Republic says:

    This has Jennifer Hollowhead's fingerprints all over it. Let's hope she has the same success with it as she had running Rudy's New Hampshire campaign and John McCain's Mid-West campaign. Power to the People!
    Right On!

  3. Art Vandelay says:

    It strikes me that this is the first MAJOR blunder of the 2010 campaign. Luke Messer is going to spend a lot of time in Grant, Wabash, Huntington, Miami, Tipton, Hancock, Howard, Johnson, and Shelby Counties explaining why he wants 25 rich Indianapolis donors to select the next Congressman from the 5th district.

    Wasn't that what voters were supposed to do?

  4. Amazed says:

    I was favorably disposed to support Messer in 2012 if Dan Burton stepped down. Now, there is no way I could back him or anyone else that emerged from this captains and kings scenario.

  5. Get Real says:

    Nice try guys.

    This was Brose's idea–which is no surprise. If the guy could actually raise any money to win in a primary then he wouldn't have suggested this.

    The Messer folks didn't even give comment on the idea when he brought it up. Probably because they can raise money and win in a Primary.

  6. Art Vandelay says:

    Uh… Get Real, this letter was from Messer's campaign guy, not Brose's. You might try reading the post before you comment.

    Furthermore, at least Brose's proposal was a bit more democratic. This is just a bunch of moderate country club Republicans meeting in the Columbia Club downtown to vote on who THEY think should be the next Congressman.

  7. Get Real says:

    I did read the post but thanks for the tip.

    The Messer campaign has publicly opposed this idea. Maybe you should check your facts before getting on your high horse.

  8. Art Vandelay says:

    The Messer campaign has NOT opposed this idea publicly. When Brose proposed it there was NO COMMENT from Messer, clearly because Luke was working on a far less Democratic (and far less fair) proposal of his own.
    http://www.wishtv.com/dpp/news/politics/Burton_ch

    I can understand if Luke wants to distance himself from this. It's just surprising that he thought it would be well received in the first place.

  9. Talking Out of Both says:

    So did the Messer campaign publicly oppose the idea or did they not give a comment? How about your get your statements straight.

  10. Scott says:

    In the letter, PEM says:

    Two of the contenders have signed on, agreeing to the principle, pending details of how it is handled.

    So who are the two?

    Brose McVey has already proposed a pre-primary, so he's one.

    And P.E. MacAllister is a close ally of Luke Messer, so one can only assume that Messer is the second (since none of the others have come out in favor).

    At the very least, it appears that PEM believes Messer supports his idea. Is he mistaken? Or more pertinently, why would Messer throw one of his biggest supporters under the bus to run away from this horrible idea? That would say a lot about him and about the idea itself.

  11. Get Real says:

    I would assume such political insiders would read the Howey Politcal Report. That's where the Messer camapaign indicated they don't support the idea.

    P.E. MacAllister is his own man and a great number of people believe the field should be narrowed in order to have a strong opposition to Burton. There are as many ideas as to how the field should be narrowed as there are supporters of narrowing the field.

  12. LittleMissRight says:

    As a Hamilton County resident and a College Republican, I take issue with a group of Marion County elders picking Burton's opponent. Though a single opponent has a better chance of unseating Burton (if Burton's unseating is what the majority of the 5th district's constituents want), I don't think that this is the way to decide who that single opponent should be.

  13. Amazed says:

    Last Spring I received an invitation to a fundraiser for Luke Messer sponsored by P.E. MacAllister and Jim Kittle. To say that MacAllister is now a neutral party is a joke.

  14. WabashGOPer says:

    I'm tired of big shots in Marion County trying to shove stuff down our throats. Take care of your own house before going after a great Congressman. Mr. MacAllister, why don't you devote your many resources to knocking off Andre Carson.

  15. JustWondering says:

    Did MacAllister go through the phone book to look for a boy to go after Burton. Looks like he started in the "M"s. Who will the next potential Fifth District candidate be? My bet is on someone named McGillicuddy.

  16. CarlBrizziFan says:

    This MacAllister and Messer plot is incredibly insulting to talented potential candidates like Carl Brizzi. His reward for being a good Republican is to have the big shots sell him down the river! I know that I'll remember this in the future. Keep your money Pete.

  17. Give Me A Break says:

    Marion County is the hub of the State of Indiana. Money and business power is concentrated here. Why should we allow something as important as a Congressional election to be decided by chance? The sun may shine in other places, but definitely not as bright. I commend Mr. MacAllister and his cadre of great Republicans for stepping forward and trying to exert some influence. I believe that it is irrelevant that he co-sponsored a fundraising event for Luke Messer. I'm sure that he can be impartial.

  18. Shella Reporting says:

    Jim Shella from Wish TV is reporting that MacAllister is Messer's campaign Co-Chairman. Looks like Messer is throwing MacAllister under the bus. He's disavowing any knowledge of Big Mac's actions.

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