99 Days Left Until the Election, Why Bother?
Every twelve years we have an election with no marquee race, no election that will have “national implications” that gets everyone all worked up. There won’t even be an amendment to the Indiana Constitution on the ballot as many expected, so what is there to get worked up about? I still there there are quite a few reasons people should be paying attention to this election, and not all of them are local.
Every four years we have an opportunity to decide which party will administer individual precincts and have their candidates listed first on the ballot. Whichever party wins the Secretary of State’s race in the county gets to appoint the inspectors at the precincts, basically the deciding vote on all precinct matters on Election Day. This party’s candidates are also listed first on the ballot, above the other party candidates that have been nominated.
When Charlie White was running for Secretary of State he advocated a 92 county plan, to focus resources on winning the Secretary of State race in counties where it had been close to give county party organizations in areas of the state an advantage they rarely enjoy. As a county party chairman he could certainly appreciate the difference those advantages give some candidates. In spite of the difficulties surrounding his campaign, the strategy worked pretty well – his campaign won more counties than any Secretary of State campaign since the turn of the century, 88 in all.
For starters Republicans have a quality candidate who will not be embroiled in any issues about her residency. Connie Lawson has served the state well in this role over the past two years since her appointment by then-Governor Mitch Daniels. On the flip side, the Democrats have nominated Marion County Clerk Beth White, perhaps one of the more troubled election administrators in the state, for Secretary of State. So Republicans have a better candidate and a weak opponent on the Democrat side.
The Libertarians have a candidate as well, Army veteran and information technology worker Karl Tatgenhorst from northwest Indiana. In the past they’ve mounted campaigns serious enough to preserve their ballot access and in the Secretary of State’s race their nominee hasn’t demonstrated a level of effort above and beyond what they have offered in the past.
The four counties in question are Lake, Marion, Monroe and Perry. While Lake County is a major source of Republican votes, the chances of actually winning over the county would require a shift of 10,000 votes from the Democrat candidate to the Republican if recent elections are any guide, so that is not likely one that will switch. Perry County on the other hand came very close four years ago, with just a margin of 624 votes between White and 2010 Democrat nominee Vop Osili.
Republicans actually won both Marion and Monroe counties in 2002 in the Secretary of State’s race. A slim margin separated Rokita and both of his opponents, with him losing the county in 2006. In 2010 Osili’s home county delivered a large victory for him in Marion County. Beth White and the Democrat party will be counting on that support if they are to have any hope of winning this race. While her chances statewide look good, Marion County is a tough but important county to win just due to the sheer number of elected offices held in the county and the impact a win could have on the local party’s prospects.
Monroe County, home of Bloomington and the main campus of Indiana University, could be an even tougher county to win. That said, just over 3,000 votes separated Osili from White in this county in 2010. Targeted resources and support could make the difference in a county with a significant base of voters that rotates out every four years.
Counties that were won for the first time in recent history in the last election also need to be minded… St. Joseph, Clark, LaPorte and Vigo Counties are among the fifteen counties where the Republican candidate won the Secretary of State’s race for the first time in twelve years (or more). These are important gains that shouldn’t be overlooked.
The Indiana Federation of Young Republicans have an aggressive schedule of deployments targeted toward preserving and expanding the Republican majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Indiana Republican Party is reportedly placing victory centers in each of the nine Congressional Districts. While may not be much excitement in the press about the upcoming election, there is plenty of reason to get involved and help turn out the vote.
Ninety nine days doesn’t seem like it is all that close, but the elections will be here before you know it! Find out how you can help because every little bit of effort makes a difference.