By Scott Tibbs, November 5, 2010
Tuesday night was a spectacular night for Republicans nationwide. Locally, Monroe County Republicans had another disappointing night, but we did make up some ground.
Ryan Langley took the second county council district despite a fraudulent "Libertarian" candidate taking 5% of the vote. Tamyra d'Ippolito initially tried to challenge Evan Bayh in the Democratic primary because she thought Bayh was not nearly far enough to the Left. The Libertarians had no business nominating a socialist to run as their candidate and shattered the party's reputation as "the party of principle." Langley's win doubles the number of Republicans on the County Council, since Marty Hawk won re-election with an overwhelming 59% of the vote.
Given Langley's win and the nature of District 1, Vic Kelson should have been challenged. As I noted a few months ago, Kelson is really the only uncontested race where the GOP needed to have a candidate, because it is nearly impossible to unseat a sitting judge. (Although Steve Galvin's contempt for the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law should motivate someone to challenge him in 2016.)
Even in the losses, we see improvement. Michael Hill lost 18281 to 15538, but that margin was closer than the 19014 to 13637 losing margin of the 2006 GOP nominee. With a strong candidate, an active campaign featuring many volunteers and solid fundraising, there is no reason we cannot take that seat in 2014. Candi Haley lost 18179 to 16243, which looks promising after the 2008 blowout losses in county elections. As expected, Republican Jim Fielder was elected as Recorder. Republicans need to get organized, take advantage of a motivated College Republicans chapter, and recruit more volunteers and donors for 2011 and 2012. That needs to start right now.
The blowout losses for Prosecutor and Sheriff were very disappointing, but it is difficult to oust popular incumbents. I saw very little from Herb Kilmer, who was much more aggressive (both in campaigning and fundraising) when he defeated an incumbent Democratic commissioner in 2002. A lot of people who voted Republican for Recorder, Clerk and Commissioner switched their votes in the Prosecutor and Sheriff contests. The good news is that we will be rid of Jim Kennedy in January 2015 thanks to term limits.
One race of interest was Bloomington Township Board. I ran for that office in 2006 and was crushed - my margin of loss was bigger than my vote total. Dave Shuee lost big on Tuesday as well, and that is to be expected in such a heavily Democratic township. Shuee did much better than I did, though, getting 2781 votes compared to my 1985 votes four years ago. Shuee's margin of loss was also much smaller than mine.
The big news of the night is that Baron Hill was completely obliterated in District 9. Hill lost by over 20,000 votes and an 11 point margin despite having significantly more money than Todd Young. The Red Baron will almost certainly try to regain his district in 2012, but he will face four significant obstacles.
- 2012 will be a bad political environment for Democrats in the 9th District. Despite losing the state, John McCain won the 9th in 2008, and 2012 will be much more unfavorable for Obama in southeast Indiana.
- The fundraising advantage The Red Baron had this time will not exist with Todd Young as an incumbent.
- The district will be redrawn by Republicans, who hold both houses of the state legislature in addition to the governor's mansion. It will almost certainly be a more Republican district.
- Now that Baron Hill has been fired twice by the voters, his credibility to seek his old job back has been damaged. That will be an easy line of attack for Young in 2012.
Brad Ellsworth lost by a large margin, as expected. Ellsworth made a significant tactical error by running for the Senate, because even with a Republican tide there is a good chance Ellsworth would have been able to hold onto the district. Larry Bucshon certainly would not have run away with it, winning with 57% of the vote if he had to face Ellsworth. Will Ellsworth try to re-take the "Bloody Eighth" in 2012? Don't bet against it.
Dan Coats won big, but he should be on notice for 2016. Coats has a horrible record on Second Amendment rights and voted to confirm the illiterate Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court. I held my nose and voted for Coats, but if he does not hold the line in the Senate I will enthusiastically oppose him in 2016. Coats should remember that 60% of Republicans rejected him in the primary.
Furthermore, Richard Lugar voted to confirm both of Barack Obama's nominees to the Supreme Court, and Lugar should face a primary challenge in 2012. Regardless of whether Lugar faces a primary challenge if he is the nominee, I will vote against him in the general election as I did in 2006.
On the ballot questions, the MCCSC property tax increase referendum passed overwhelmingly with no organized opposition to speak of. There was a very well-organized, motivated and active opposition in 1999, when the previous referendum went down in flames. The school system was much smarter this year, and while there were times when they overreached it did not prevent it from passing. I expected the property tax caps to pass, but not by 72 percent! I voted against both ballot questions.
Despite a massive Republican tide in both Congress and state legislatures, incumbent Democrat Peggy Welch still won heavily Republican District 60 by a landslide. What this demonstrates for Republicans is this: we can't defeat Peggy Welch. It doesn't matter who our candidate is or how well-qualified that candidate is, she's an unstoppable juggernaut. Nonetheless, Republicans should continue to challenge Welch, because the major parties have a duty to provide the voters with a choice. We should not fool ourselves into thinking we can win, however.
The size of the Republican landslide demonstrates how emphatically the country has rejected Barack Obama and his agenda. Rush Limbaugh was demonized by the Democrats as well as many Republicans when he said "I hope he fails" regarding Obama's presidency in early 2009. As is so often the case, Rush was right.
After almost two years, "I hope he fails" has come true - Obama has failed.