Why Does Marsha Get Her Way? Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!
UPDATED – 6:42 pm 7/19/2013 – See below
As we shared with you when we originally handicapped potential candidates for Governor Mike Pence’s selection for Indiana National Republican Committeewoman, it was entirely possible he’d go with someone who wasn’t being publicly mentioned and wouldn’t be an obvious choice. Marsha Coats fit both ends of that statement to a “T,” but what does her selection mean given the criteria laid out in our original piece?
The bottom line is that the selection of Coats promotes unity within the party and projects strength to key fundraisers in the party that they will be able to work with this party organization. I would suggest that Tim Berry’s selection as party chairman laid the groundwork for that position and the selection of Coats drove a nail through it.
She promotes unity because working with her husband, Senator Dan Coats, they have done an admirable job of reaching out and communicating with key stakeholders at all levels of the party organization. There are no significant segments of the party who are upset with Coats for anything he’s done, and she has been a great partner with him as they travel around the state and connect with activists.
While she may not be as familiar with the inner workings of the national committee as some of the candidates we mentioned, she does know Washington, D.C. and has been around these political circles for decades. There are few positions that might prepare you for life on the national committee better than that as the spouse of a U.S. ambassador. Coats will ably hold court and represent the interests of Indiana Republicans on the national committee and still be held in high regard by those who disagree with her.
One item we brought up in our original post that is not addressed by selecting Coats is how the state party plans to stay connected with northwest Indiana. The Region had been an area that former Governor Mitch Daniels targeted for growing the party. The way things are shaking out, it looks as if the Republicans won’t have anyone at the higher levels of the state party leadership nor on the statewide ticket representing this part of the state. While this challenge is not a new challenge and the importance of geographic balance on state tickets has come into question of late, I am sure Gov. Pence and Berry will bear in mind the importance of building up the party in this vital area of the state.
Another question regarding selecting Coats for this position is how the others under consideration will react. I think that most of those interested in the position will defer to Pence’s selection. To extend the Brandy Bunch analogy alluded to in title, many of those who wanted to be considered would be people who find themselves in the Coats orbit and would be satisfied with deferring to her selection, much as Cindy always looked up to her elder sister.
The one outlier might be Christy Stutzman. We heard from many sources that she was very interested in the role and by not only passing on her but instead selecting the wife of her husband’s former primary rival, Pence’s camp may have actually created a conflict with the dean of the Hoosier Republican Congressional delegation. Again, extending the metaphor comparing candidates like Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Hollowell to Cindy Brady, then Christy Stutzman could be compared to Jan Brady in this deal. One could make the argument that it was their idea to have the spouse of a member as national committeewoman, so why should Marsha get picked for the job?
These kinds of conflicts rarely spill out in the public eye. More often than not it creates friction between staff and the families themselves, which can make planning events difficult, but not impossible. A great example of where this conflict might be more acutely felt would be if the state convention comes to northeastern Indiana. If feelings between Pence’s team and Stutzman’s team are still bruised it could be awkward planning a picnic in someone else’s backyard and not inviting them to the party. There is plenty of time for these conflicts to get resolved but is sure to be there as a result of this selection.
Outside of that outlier, selecting Coats for the position seems to be viewed by most of the party as a good selection and should produce mostly beneficial results for the state party and the Pence organization.
[UPDATE] Rep. Stutzman’s Chief of Staff, Matt Lloyd, was kind enough to call me after this piece was published and to say he believes Hoosier Access readers would only draw the conclusion that there is definitely a rift between Gov. Pence and Rep. Stutzman based on my piece. He wanted to be sure our readers understand that there is no rift between them and any suggestion to the contrary is irresponsible journalism.