Abdul-Hakim Shabazz announces run for Indianapolis mayor

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Abdul-Hakim Shabazz

After several months of speculation and consideration, political commentator Abdul-Hakim Shabazz on Thursday morning announced plans to run as a Republican for Indianapolis mayor.

Shabazz said on WIBC-FM 93.1’s “Kendall & Casey Show” that he planned to file paperwork with the Marion County Clerk’s Office later in the morning to make his candidacy official. Shabazz’s filing will set the stage for a Republican primary that includes the Rev. James W. Jackson and John L. Couch. 

His goal is to unseat Mayor Joe Hogsett, who is running for a third term.

“The city needs direction,” he said. “I feel like we been wandering, aimlessly drifting. … Indy doesn’t feel like it’s on track. Whether it’s the crime situation. Whether it’s the roads. Whether it’s just the attitude in general. And part of that leadership comes from the 25th floor (mayor’s office), and I feel like after eight years, eight is enough.”

Shabazz hosts a weekly radio show on WIBC called “Abdul At Large,” which will be put on hiatus once his run is official, station leaders told IBJ on Jan. 20. He is also an attorney, a longtime political pundit and editor of IndyPolitics.org. He also writes commentary and has frequently contributed to IBJ’s opinion publications

His potential candidacy has already meant the end of his guest appearance gigs.

Rumblings of a potential run for the radio host began in September. Shabazz took another step in December when he said he would create an exploratory committee.

Since then, Shabazz has received pushback from the state chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, who say he can’t ethically cover the Indiana Statehouse while exploring a run for office himself. 

Indianapolis has never had a non-white, non-male mayor. Now, the race would have at least five Black candidates vying for the position as the city’s first African American mayor: Shabazz, Jackson, State Rep. Robin Shackleford, Gregory Meriweather and Larry Vaughn.

Through Shabazz’s various media pursuits, he has been a frequent critic of incumbent Mayor Joe Hogsett. Now the two could face off in the general election in November.

In Democratic primary, Hogsett will face Shackleford, Meriweather, community activist Clif Marsiglio and perennial candidates Bob Kern and Vaughn. These candidates will face the uphill battle of overcoming incumbent Mayor Joe Hogsett’s $3.6 million campaign war chest.

Several of the recently-announced candidates were not required to file campaign finance reports for 2022. Meriweather reported $0 in his campaign coffers, while Shackleford loaned her mayoral campaign $25,000 with an additional $10,000 from her Statehouse campaign. She ended the year with $40,300 cash on hand.

On the Republican side, Jackson was the only candidate required to file a campaign finance report. He ended 2022 with $1,920.

The filing deadline for candidates is Feb. 3 at noon. The primary election is May 2.

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28 thoughts on “Abdul-Hakim Shabazz announces run for Indianapolis mayor

  1. I would love to see some new ideas and new leadership in Indy. Hogsett has done nothing but allow downtown Indy be ruined and unsafe while not backing his police force. Now if only we could rid the city of Mears as prosecutor also!!!

    1. IMPD has seen the largest budget increases in over a decade under Hogsett…. do they also need hugs and safe spaces to feel “backed”?

    2. Anyone spouting off about crime downtown doesn’t live downtown. And any other struggles downtown is experiencing are the same as every other central business district in every other city in the country, which results from the changing work dynamics driven by technology advances and the pandemic.

    3. And the last city budget passed with every Republican voting yes.


      I’m all for new ideas for an Indianapolis. Republicans don’t have any other than “we aren’t the Democrats”. How’d ”Fire Ryan Mears” work for Cyndi Carrasco? She got smoked.

      I’d like to see Rick Snyder run. The FOP chief seems rather sure that he knows the best way to combat crime … maybe take that vision to the voters and see how it goes…

    4. Joe B.
      Kind of disingenuous suggesting Rick Snyder be City Prosecutor. Synder knows
      how to combat crime and Mears doesn’t. Mears came in as a social justice
      warrior social justice focus. His racial equity nonsense has been terrible.
      It’s hurting the city. This will have negative effects on trying to bring
      in economic development and jobs.

      Carrrasco got beat because she’s a Republican. That’s the only reason.
      Marion County is now
      a Democratic County. Marion County will probably never see a
      Republican administration again.

      Downtown looks dingy, dull, and unkempt all along Illinois Street past
      Washington Street. Monument Circle is in the worst shape ever.
      And nothing is being done about it.

      You state the R’s don’t have a plan, but Dems don’t either. The Dems
      are to focused on political correctness and identity politics”.

      Indianapolis is at a crossroads right now. It’s not looking good.
      Our local CEO’s are sounding the alarm bells and the city administration
      is NOT listening.
      **. I would not be surprised one bit if we start losing corporations ( especially
      downtown ) to other cities.

    5. Robert F.

      Do you spend time along Illinois Street, Georgia Street, or up on
      Monument Circle?? Seriously, that whole corridor looks dull, and dingy.
      It needs a lot of attention and beautification.
      The homeless problem is terrible.

      There’s a reason by the CEO’s of Elanco, Lilly, Jim Irsay, and others are sounding
      the alarm bells.

    6. That’s because I wanted Snyder to run for mayor, Keith.

      And if you want to blame Democrats for the miserable state of downtown, just remember that any number of businesses can and have moved to the suburbs. We are still losing businesses because Republicans are focused on pumping more HS grads out into a state that needs more college graduates if it’s got any chance of keeping or gaining big employers.

      Go read what Lilly’s CEO said. He didn’t say a thing about downtown Indianapolis. And I remind you that Indianapolis is working on exactly the type of shelter needed to get people off the streets, dare their presence offends your sensibilities. I don’t see Statehouse Republicans hurrying to help the city of Indianapolis with such a thing.


    7. This is why I go on about building a low barrier shelter all the time.

      “Many of these new initiatives rely heavily on an old idea known as “treatment first”. That is, government agencies provide people with housing, but only on the condition that they stay on mental health medications or not return to misusing drugs.

      Yet we have known since at least the early 2000s that there is a better way. During the administration of George W. Bush, the US changed federal policy to prioritise a “housing first” approach. The fundamental idea behind it is that people are far more likely to manage serious health problems like addictions and mental illness if they have somewhere to live, as opposed to requiring abstinence and treatment compliance as a condition of having a home. When you are constantly cycling through rehab and temporary housing because you get expelled when you don’t maintain perfect abstinence, the instability itself makes recovery more difficult.

      Since then, numerous studies have shown that, when funded and managed appropriately, housing first works: it is associated with significant declines in homelessness.”


    8. Joe B.

      The vast majority of those homeless people don’t want help.
      As you know they are mentally ill and not capable of taking care of themselves
      properly or functioning in society.
      They have burned all their bridges with family members and friends.
      But they do get by.
      They are also hurting downtown badly. So it’s not my sensiblilities that
      are of concern.
      ****its Convention groups thinking about
      bringing conventions to downtown have said so.*****

      We need a solid working plan vision for downtown.
      I don’t care where it comes from. Dems, the R’s, or the private sector.
      But what we are doing now is NOT working.

      How long till Simmons, Athem, or even Lilly pull out.
      I’m sure Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte, Austin are looking pretty good.

      Our universities are pumping out plenty of grads. They’re not staying here
      because we don’t have the jobs for them.

      I’m not letting the R’s off the hook either. I’ve said manytimes that I don’t
      like either party as they currently function.
      That’s why I constantly stress the private sector to take the steps.

      Another thing, the deals that we cut with Irsay were rediculious.
      That I absolutely blame on the party in power at the time for that.
      It was the Republicans. We are losing countless revenue dollars that are
      badly needed to help maintain downtown.

      We also need a working plan to turn IUPUI into an independent
      university. That should have been done over 40 years ago.
      Does anyone really believe that IU or Purdue are really going to
      invest in research hubs in downtown???

      I’m not bitching at you. Just voicing frustration with what I’m observing.

      If we’re not careful, this city is in danger of following other Dem run cities
      down the drain. Because we both know the R’s don’t stand a
      snowballs chance in Hati of winning in MV.

    9. Keith – just FYI. The mayors of Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte, Austin are all … Democrats.

      Also, the number of grads we are pumping out is both a) not enough and b) we’ve decreased the number of in-state students that go to our big universities. When the Legislature made cuts back in 2008 to higher Ed, they responded by taking more out of state and international students to make ends meet. And most of those students are just here for the degree. We need more in-state students to go to our universities and we currently focused on pumping out more HS graduates, which is exactly what we don’t need.

      Related, IU and Purdue aren’t going to spin off IUPUI to become a competitor. And the odds of the state of Indiana stepping in to fund a new major university in Indianapolis, or grow an existing school like U Indy or Marian? Less than zero.

      I am not sure you read what I shared. Many of those people are on the streets because they can’t abide the rules to stay in existing shelters. The research shows that you get better results if you offer housing first, then try to help with the issues … than if you make housing dependent on sobriety or going to church services or whatever.

      I am perfectly fine with clearing the streets once that low barrier shelter is up and operating. I care not one whit about “being taken advantage of”. Until then, it’s just a shell game of moving people to different parts of town like we did for the Super Bowl. Doesn’t make the problem go away.

      We have simply cut taxes too low. You have to spend money to make money. We get distribution centers because that’s what we have the workforce for, and the poor shape of local roads doesn’t matter when all you use is the federal highway system.

  2. Glad to see a non politician in the mix. GOP’s 3 candidates so far are:
    Abdul, a guy with a deep criminal history and probably insane, and a “pastor” who’s plan is to pray for the City

    My point is; do democrats like “Frankie” have such a lockdown on the city that the GOP is conceding the election? Will be telling to see how much party support Abdul receives

    1. No one wants to run who is worth a damn… If you have earning potential why would you go make 91k for 4-8 years?

      With the requirements of being a Mayor your spouse would need to stop working possibly as well – how do you give up earning potential to be hated by 49.9% of the city?

    2. Is the Indy Mayor salary really only $91K?! That’s ridiculously low, especially to live in a fish bowl 24/7. Brainard makes about twice that. One would have to be either independently wealthy or a crook to be Mayor if Indy!

  3. Congrats to Abdul, and good luck to him! Let the left and the Dem attacks begin, or maybe let them begin to understand that closed mindedness and blind party support has other options? Also, thanks to Mrs Shabazz for letting Abdul chase his dream, as we need his energy, creativity, and ability to push the current status quo into a new beginning!

    1. Please let me know where I can send the bill for a new computer. See, I just ruined mine when I spit my coffee all over it when someone dared lecture Democrats about blind party loyalty …

      … after an election in which Diego Morales just got elected.

  4. Encouraging that someone from the private sector that hasn’t been living of the government teat is willing to take on the punishing job of recovery in Indianapolis. All you have to do is walk downtown to see what we are doing isn’t working. It would seem to do the same thing (re-elect the incumbant again) and expect different results would qualify as insanity.

    1. Abdul is literally living off the teat of those who live off the teat….

      What do you think a pundit does…. lol

  5. I look forward to, hopefully, the Marion County Republicans coming up with some kind of platform and vision that hopefully moves the city forward. It’s not by accident that Republicans are out-numbered 20-5 on the city County council … getting smoked in the last two elections, held using maps they drew themselves. They are lost and it’s no accident that most city councilors on their side have given up and gone to the Statehouse, where they can just pass state laws to do what they want to Indianapolis, things like hinder IndyGo or pass laws to protect bad landlords.

    Are Marion County Democrats great? No, but you don’t have to be great against the Marion County Republican Party. (And, yes, the inverse is true at the state level.)

    I mean, it’s all fine and good to complain about roads. But they’re bad because of the Republicans down at the west end of Market Street, who are fine with bad roads in Indianapolis because it means lower taxes for them out elsewhere and better roads in their towns … that Indianapolis is paying for. I’d like to see one of the Republican candidates explain how they’re going to come up with the many millions required, yearly, to get (and keep) Indianapolis’ roads in good shape, despite the lack of funding.

    The idea of the last Republican mayor was to privatize city assets to cover funding shortfalls. Which is fine, I guess, but there’s only a finite number of things you can sell and you’re left with the same issues when the money runs out.

    1. The MC GOP is lost, I agree, but it’s because they couldn’t get JC elected dog catcher, as a result of so many urban voters pulling the D lever automatically. Diego Morales was just elected to a state office. A strong “R” district may vote 65% Republican. A strong “D” district in the city will vote 95% Democrat. And when a thoughtful, constituent-oriented public servant like Janice McHenry lost her District 6 Council seat in 2019 — a district she walked regularly and where she is still highly regarded — to a kid with no experience, nor clue why she’s even running, then it was obvious the city was lost to the Dems, as a result of clueless straight-ticket voters. And every potential GOP candidate for MC office, the folks with $ to contribute, and the local business community all know it. That said, Abdul is one person who may be able to crack that block. One thing for sure: the MC Dem party will throw the kitchen sink at him if he actually threatens their stranglehold on the city. We need a viable MC GOP to hold the MC Dems accountable. As it is, they are completely unaccountable except for the primary, which effectively now serves as the general for MC.

    2. I’d argue that Democrats made big gains in 2019 partly because Jim Merritt ran an awful campaign. He got a lower percentage than the sandwich shop owner did in 2015 … reminder, this city elected Republican majorities just 12 years ago.

      Republicans would label JC a woke liberal RINO … but that’s the type of candidate they need to run to win in Indianapolis. There’s that tension they have to work out, too – they demand blind loyalty to ideas that just aren’t going to fly in an urban area. A bunch of candidates running to see who’s the most conservative will lead to a disaster again in November.

      Also, your number for Democrats is 30% high if you look at the 2022 election results. Just about all Democratic candidates got 60-65%.


    3. What ideas do Republicans demand blind loyalty to? That’s as much nonsense as your claim JC would be viewed as woke. JC would be for charity that helps people climb out of poverty, rather than making them permanently dependent, so their vote is owned forever. Thank you for correcting me on the voting patterns by district. I incorrectly typed district when I meant to type precinct, when I referred to Rs voting 65% in block and Ds voting 95% in block. The point is, the blind loyalty is much stronger among Dems than Rs.

    4. @ Steven There is blind loyalty on both sides of the aisle. It’s about time we got rid of straight ticket voting in the vain hope that voters might actually look at who they vote for.

    5. You’re out of your mind if you think Democrats are more blindly loyal than Republicans.

      I’ve watched Republican after Republican get chased from the national party for not being sufficiently loyal to a certain former President. I mean, if you stand up and say “the 2020 election was free and fair and Donald Trump lost”, you’re out.

      But they tolerate folks like Diego Morales, who, reminder, twice got fired from the very office he’s leading. Because he tells them the lies they want to hear even though not a one of them would hire Diego to work for them.

      Ronald Reagan would not be welcome in today’s Republican Party. Eisenhower would be deemed a socialist for pushing for the construction of the interstate highway system.

      There’s a reason Republicans are pushing to make school board elections partisan.

      So, what Jolf said. Both sides are bad, sure.

    6. I’ve followed American political/economics issues and politics closely for over 45 years, and I know these claims of yours are just absurd: “Ronald Reagan would not be welcome in today’s Republican Party. Eisenhower would be deemed a socialist for pushing for the construction of the interstate highway system.” Either you’ve been misled badly or you’re trying to mislead others.

      On what issue is the conservative wing of today”s GOP materially different from Reagan?

      What is true is that there would be no place for JFK or even Bill Clinton in today’s progressive, left-wing Democrat party. Look at Biden. He has moved so far toward the progressive Left in 40+ years, just to stay in the mainstream of the Democrat Party, his old self wouldn’t recognize his new self.

    7. Lessee … they’re friendly to Russia, and their foreign policy is to disengage from the world as opposed to lead it. There’s two off the top of my head. Reagan also believed in free trade and Trump is … let’s be clear, a protectionist.

      And there’s also the minor issue of that whole January 6th insurrection. If you don’t talk it down, well, you were attacked and chased from the Republican Party. All because loyalty to the Constitution was deemed secondary to the feelings of a demagogue who couldn’t admit he lost an election by roughly the same slim margin he won it four years prior. Solid conservatives chased from the party because of that one issue.

      I know, Democrats do that too. I remember that time on January 6 2001 when Al Gore exhorted that mob to storm the Capitol and Strom Thurmond banded together with Trent Lott to fight them all off.

      Next you’re going to tell me that Obama was a dangerous left-winger because he implemented a health care plan … that’s as pretty darn similar to what a bunch of Republicans suggested in the 90’s.

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