Now that we know first-term Democratic Mayor Joe Hogsett is running for re-election, the big unanswered question is, who will oppose him on the GOP side?
You don’t need to tilt Republican to be concerned that the party, just six months from the May primaries, has failed to coalesce around a candidate.
That’s a problem for not just the GOP. It’s a problem for all of us who want Indianapolis to be the best city it can be—a goal that can be achieved only through a robust and candid discussion of the challenges and opportunities we face.
That’s more likely to happen if Hogsett has to fight to win re-election.
One thing we know after watching Hogsett in office for three years is that he is not a big-picture, vision guy. He’s not one to upset the status quo, as, say, former Mayor Steve Goldsmith was known to do. Hogsett also has a penchant for keeping a low profile on key issues—whether it be the transit-tax hike that ultimately passed or the downtown economic-improvement district that ultimately failed.
He excels at the personal side of politics—showing up at community events large and small. And his love for Indy seems genuine, as is his concern about issues like poverty that hold back our vulnerable residents.
But Hogsett knows that, if the GOP fails to field a serious candidate, his best path to re-election is more of the same. Grand plans draw not just supporters, but detractors as well. Why rock the boat if it’s on a winning course?
It’s preposterous that Republicans find themselves in this predicament. There are plenty of issues on which Hogsett should be vulnerable, from last spring’s pothole catastrophe to his continued struggles to combat violent crime.
A year ago, when WXIN-TV Channel 59 asked Hogsett to grade his performance, the mayor was less than effusive, saying he deserved a “C+, B-.”
“I think we’re making progress. I wouldn’t want to give myself an A—you cannot give yourself a high grade when the number of criminal homicides remain unacceptable,” he told the station.
Kudos to the mayor for his candor. No doubt, GOP strategists eager for grist for negative TV ads want to thank him, as well.
Of course, there is no guarantee that a tight mayoral race would translate into a high-minded discussion of the issues facing our city. Close political races too often degenerate into mindless talking points, as Indiana's U.S. Senate race demonstrated.
But it’s worth a shot. Central Indiana, which won national attention by embracing amateur sports in the 1980s and 1990s, finds itself at something of a crossroads, pondering what our region’s next big thing should be.
And we know we have work to do in helping more residents complete secondary programs that give them the credentials and degrees to earn higher wages—boosting their incomes while simultaneously providing relief for employers starved for skilled workers.
In highlighting these challenges, we aren’t passing judgment on whether Hogsett deserves a second term. But it’s clear he deserves a good fight. C’mon, GOP. Step up.•
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