Hogsett prevails but now faces well-funded Shreve

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Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, left, and Jefferson Shreve

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett soundly defeated Democratic challenger Robin Shackleford in Tuesday’s primary election, setting up a November showdown with Jefferson Shreve, a largely self-funded millionaire candidate who handily won the GOP nomination.

During his primary campaign, Shreve relentlessly attacked Hogsett’s record on crime while declining to address many other issues. But now that he has received the Republican nomination, Shreve said, he plans to “put some policy meat” before voters.

Shreve and Mark Lubbers, a campaign adviser and longtime ally of former Gov. Mitch Daniels, said the short timeline between Shreve’s candidacy filing on Feb. 3 and the May 2 primary required him to hammer on the crime messaging.

“There’s no doubt that crime is the No. 1 issue for all voters. But it was especially true among Republican voters,” Lubbers said. “And so with eight weeks to win a primary, we had to do what we had to do.”

Lubbers said Shreve will now push to “reinvigorate” the mayor’s role in education policy.

While Hogsett led a more traditional primary campaign with mailers, text messages and phone banks, Shreve went on the offensive early with a blitz of TV, radio and digital ads attacking Hogsett’s record on crime and characterizing the city as crumbling under his leadership.

That messaging helped him easily defeat political commentator Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, his closest competitor.

Hogsett also faced criticism from Shackleford, a state representative and his Democratic primary foe, for not doing enough to fight crime or fix the city’s streets. He responded by pointing to historic funding levels for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, a recent decrease in homicides and a five-year, $1.1 billion infrastructure plan with provisions to improve street safety.

Shreve, a former city-county councilor, has given at least $2.5 million of his own money to his campaign, according to finance reports. Shreve’s wealth comes in part from the sale last year of his self-storage company for $590 million.

The Hogsett campaign, meanwhile, appeared to be hoarding cash, amassing $4.1 million in campaign contributions as of mid-April and spending little during the primary, apparently in anticipation of a pricey November contest.

Shreve said he intends to continue to invest in his own campaign but told IBJ “it’s crucial that other people buy into this candidacy.”

University of Indianapolis political science professor Laura Wilson said Shreve’s dominant primary win over Shabazz and the increased voter turnout it brought to the primary election might lead to a wider range of funders for the fall and a wider voter base.

Tuesday’s turnout rose to 12.5% of registered voters, up from 9% in 2019.

There’s little question that Shreve will be the best-funded GOP candidate Hogsett has faced in a mayoral election.

His previous Republican opponents—Chuck Brewer in 2015 and Jim Merritt in 2019—both complained that they were underfunded and couldn’t get the financial support they needed from the GOP to make their races more competitive. Both were outfunded by a margin of at least 4-1.

Still, denying Hogsett a third term will be a heavy lift in heavily Democratic Marion County.

The last time a Republican upset a Democratic Indianapolis mayor came in 2007. That’s when Greg Ballard defeated two-term incumbent Bart Peterson by 51% to 47% amid voter anger over rising property tax bills.

To better inoculate himself against such a fate, Hogsett needs to court Shackleford and her allies, Wilson said.

Hogsett started laying the groundwork for Democratic unity during his victory speech Tuesday night.

“Moments ago, I received a phone call from state representative Robin Shackleford,” Hogsett told supporters. “She was exceptionally gracious, and it just goes to show what kind of leader she is. We agreed that while today we may have been competitors, tomorrow we will stand united.”

He also began drawing distinctions between himself and Shreve, slamming the Republican for denigrating Indianapolis in campaign ads.

“When we all wake up tomorrow and look toward November, there will be a crystal-clear difference between the two competing visions for Indianapolis that are on the ballot this year,” Hogsett told his supporters. “One vision wants you to believe that the best way to go forward in Indianapolis is to go back to the good old days. I disagree. That’s why I’m proud of a diverse, vibrant, inclusive community, and that’s why you have my commitment that I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let someone drag us back into the past.”

“One vision apparently believes the best way to build a better future is by spending millions of dollars on negative ads that tear Indianapolis down,” Hogsett added. “I disagree. I’m proud of Indianapolis.”

Shreve, however, is betting that some Democrats are unhappy with Hogsett’s record on crime and street repair. And he acknowledged that he needs the support of disgruntled Democrats if he’s going to win.

“We’ll need Democratic voters to join us,” Shreve said, wryly adding that “there is no Democrat or Republican way to fill a pothole.”•

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24 thoughts on “Hogsett prevails but now faces well-funded Shreve

  1. Shreve sounds like a Mike Braun knock-off. No thank you. While hogsett has had plenty of bumps, I’ll take him over Shreve. Shreve just seems kind of shady. Plus…it will be a long, long time before I ever again vote for the Republican party. They’ve turned into NAZIs.

    1. Typical head spinning liberal drivel. Seems to be working well for this city, which has become an embarrassment. Even my family members who live in Seattle, and are fairly liberal themselves, remark about the crumbling infrastructure, homelessness and crime that is hard to ignore when they visit. Hogsett has been bunkered down doing nothing to improve this city. Time for someone new.

    2. Michael A.
      + 1
      Our core downtown infrastructure is in decline. Crumbling curbs,
      horibbly stained side walks, trash, nasty smell, and vacant store fronts
      The entrance to Circle Center from Illinois Streenlooks dingy.

      Then the vagrants are another issue.

      Hogsett tried to play the race card when he said they want the good ole days.
      Yes! The good ole days when downtown felt safe, store fronts were occupied,
      and we had an active retail and entertainment district downtown.

    3. Firs thought is no thank you. But one should — must — listen to the plan, the proposed methodology to achieve it, and the impact on citizens. How well does Shreve understand the issues that befall many of the residents of Indianapolis and the issues, actions, options, and cost to achieve benefits for residents, for infrastructures, and for activities such as conventions that bring revenue to the city.

      How might Shreve effect changes in education to those [many] student who are not achieving. And this is not just a matter or providing more money to schools or providing better buildings; he (and Hogsett for that matter) must address actions to improve learning recognizing that it is not only teachers’ responsibility but one that must be actively shared with parents. And charter schools are not necessarily a panacea — many do not show better learning.

      Public safety is a big concern for all. And crime is not just an issue in Indianapolis, but one unfortunately true for all large cities. However, one can not particular types of crime are indeed higher in Indianapolis and the location of many crime are within specific areas. Police are needed and a strong presence is preferred.

      What is plan — no, we do not need a vision — specifically, to increase employment opportunities, improve infrastructure, and address deteriorating residential areas? Good Bones shows great projects to renovate existing housing, but a comprehensive program and set of protocols is needed to serve as a catalyst for homeowners and landlords to efficiently maintain and improve residences and neighborhood viability.

      And how might Shreve address real issues facing the city rather than asinine culture control laws and vindictive laws from the statehouse directed to control Indianapolis planning and operations and frankly seek to thwart the Will of the People. What happened to the GOP basic tenet of holding local control on high. Or, is local control only for GOP controllers.

      Money and massive funding should not win an election, sound policies should.

    4. To the last point first. Agreed that the GOP should stick to their core belief
      of local control. But when local leaders constantly have their hands out for
      more money, then the natural inclination is to get more involved in local matters.

      There are many organizations ( non profit and not for profit ) already
      out there that deal specifically with local groups, neighborhoods, and issues.
      It’s not like they are or have been ignored. And what are the results??

      Yes, a sound policy on different issues is essential.
      Not arguing that point at all. However, sound policies must come with
      accountability and ways of measuring success and failure.
      What are the results?? Maybe a new direction with new leadership need to
      be taken.

      High crime rates can cause decline in quality of life. People and businesses will
      not tolerate degrading quality of life in a neighborhood. Those that can
      afford to will leave. High crime will effect the tax base negatively also.
      Businesses will refuse to invest. Good Bones require safe streets.
      A sound policy on fighting crime involves keeping criminals off the streets.

      The private needs a lot of attention too.The city needs strong liaisons to the private
      sector to monitor their concerns and needs. Marion County has NOT had
      one major economic development project come in in over 20 or more years.
      Let that sink in for a moment. I believe Sales Force was the last one. And even they may pull out of Indianapolis.

      It’s fine to work with community organizations, but the business sector is
      important also. No private sector, no jobs! Right now no jobs are coming
      into Indianapolis.

      We need a mayor with a proven track record in the private sector as well
      in public sector experience.

      Education needs to be addressed also. Agreed that just throwing more money
      at it will not solve the problem. But running our educational system as a
      social justice equity experiment is not going to solve the problem either.
      Our young people are not educated and ready to enter the work force,
      I’ve encountered so many young people from the IPS system that have
      no concept of job requirements or responsibility.

      We do need bold vision also.

    5. Derek said it quite well. Shreve’s bought himself a primary win, but as he even admits, he’s put nothing specific in front of voters.

      Keith, I still don’t think you understand what a major economic development project is, but an acquisition of an existing company that was promptly chased away by the Legislature sure isn’t one. Why is the stamping plant not one, or the soccer stadium for that matter if sports is your thing?

      Again, be specific. All you offer is complaints not proposed ideas or solutions. If you don’t like vagrants on the street … what’s your solution? Low barrier shelters? Buy them housing? Expanded mental health spending? Lock them up?

      I think you will find that as you look at solutions, Indianapolis can only do so much. It’s going to take a partnership from the State level. If Jefferson Shreve is going to achieve that, if he can stand up there with Marion County and important state Republicans and they all talk about how it will be a new era of cooperation, then he’s got something to sell.

      But if Shreve is just going to continue to mumble that we aren’t gonna see more state funding for roads, and no state level Republican comes within 25 miles of the campaign, then the message sent from the state level is quite clear, Indianapolis is on their own and the state is going to continue their campaign of plundering. At that point, It’s going to be much harder for Shreve to win election.

    6. Seattle-ites have absolutely no business talking about homelessness and crime. None whatsoever. You can plop that little Google man down on an intersection in downtown Seattle or one of the major streets leading downtown and have about a 50/50 chance of seeing an open heroin market, a homeless encampment, unsubtle roadside prostitution, or some combination of the three.

      I wouldn’t doubt that our roads are a lot worse than Seattle, which doesn’t really have much in the way of a freeze-thaw cycle. Roads just don’t age as quickly out there. That said, underfunded roads are certainly a problem in Indy, but not a problem that is unique to Indy.

      I want to believe what you’re saying Michael, but I just can’t. Honestly, judging from a lens of homelessness, Indianapolis looks like paradise compared to Seattle.

  2. Covid 19 has fundamentally changed downtown. The Hogset administration has done a great job in attracting more residential development which will make for much more of a 24 hour center city for Indianapolis.

    The most significant problem he has in fixing our streets is the state formula for funding. A mile of two lane country road has been getting the same per mile funding as much wider and more heavily traveled city streets. That has to change.

  3. The Hogset administration has done a great job in attracting more residential development which will make for much more of a 24 hour center city for Indianapolis.

    The most significant problem Mayor Hogset has in fixing our streets is the state formula for funding. A mile of two lane country road has been getting the same per mile funding as much wider and more heavily traveled city streets. That has to change.

  4. Primary campaign spending & number of votes:

    Hogsett: $160,583 spent; 28,293 votes
    Shackleford: $43,318 spent; 18,346 votes
    Shreve: $1,420,000 spent; 19,167 votes

    Hogsett spent very little compared to Shreve, but netted far more votes than him. Voter turnout was very high, but Hogsett had nearly as many votes in 2023 as he got in the 2019 primary. And this election, he nearly had more votes than the four Republicans on the ballot combined. Things only look better when you consider that votes for Shackleford were votes for somebody more progressive than Hogsett – these folks are very unlikely to vote for Shreve.

    At the moment, Hogsett has $4M in campaign fund. Shreve has much less campaign money left, but can self fund. Considering the huge disparity between campaign spending and votes earned in the primary & Shreve’s relative lack of securing outside donations to his campaign, Shreve might want to make an 8 digit donation to his own campaign.

    In short, Shreve’s chances are low.

    1. Lol….Shreve’s chances were very low from the outset.
      Marion County is now majority Dem with a single large demographic
      voting base that consistently votes Dem 90%

      No matter how qualified the Republican candidate is. It doesn’t matter.
      In other words, a Republican candidate doesn’t stand a snowballs
      chance in Hati of winning.

      This campaign between Hogsett and Shreve was over before it ever started.

  5. Keith B…expansion of lilly manufacturing and two new drug lines installed is pretty substantial in the last twenty years on Kentucky avenue. Also Elanco HQ moving to GM Stamping plant is pretty big economic get. You mentioned Salesforce. I can continue if you’d like…. Plus the growth and relocation to Marion county of some starting tech firms. Eleven Park is pretty big. The multitude of hotels and housing are also economic development. The continued expansion and growth of FedEx at airport that was just announced. What are you wanting or looking for? You want an amusement park?

    1. Mark W.
      Elanco moving to the old GM stamping plant is just moving
      jobs from one location to another.

      Lilly created maybe 150 to 200 jobs at the Kentucky Avenue plant.
      Look where !illy has invested heavily. North Carolina.
      And other places,

      I’m tslimg about major economic development projects like those being created
      in Nashville, Columbus, and Louisville.
      All of our economic development projects combined don’t even add up to
      just one in the cities I just listed.

      I’ve said for a very long time that Indianapolis needs to be far more aggressive
      in pursuing economic development projects. Treat economic development
      as a BLOOD SPORT!! No second place pat on the back or participation trophies.

      I thought I explained economic development projects adequately.
      Projects with hundreds of millions or more dollars that bring several
      hundred to thousands of jobs. We haven’t had one in Marion for
      over 20 years since Sales Force.

      Yet, Louisville, Columbus, Nashville, Austin, Atlanta, SanAntonio,
      the Research Triangle in NC, South Carolina, and so many other cities
      and states.
      To pretend that Indianapolis is on par with these other cities in attracting
      investment is delusional.

      Homelessness. Just get them off the streets. They’re hurting downtown
      businesses and our convention efforts.
      Se managed to relocate the homeless for the NCAA Tournament and
      other large events. Why not get them off the side walks period.

      You want businesses to open up downtown, they won’t until the homeless problem is taken care of.

      Crime! Here’s a novel idea. Stop lowering felonies to misdemeanors and
      lock up criminals. Stop worrying about hurt feelings from some activists.

    2. Keith – you’ve adequately explained you’ve got no clue what you’re talking about, and you’re not interested is solving issues, just some band aids.

      Explain how an acquisition – changing the name on the ID badge – is a major economic development project but redevelopment of a rotting industrial site in downtown Indy isn’t.

      “Just get them off the streets”.

      Yeah, because it’s that simple. Good grief.

      This is the problem with today’s Republican Party – feelings over facts, screaming over substance. It’s why they get crushed in elections.

      “Shreve can’t win”. Sure, if he doesn’t try, he won’t win. But stop with the “minorities won’t vote for him” nonsense.

      Cyndi Carasco just ran a “I’m not Ryan Mears” campaign and got drilled. Ryan Mears was easily beatable. She didn’t give anyone a reason to vote for her.

      It’s the same in the mayor’s race.

    3. Joe B.
      You live in an alternative reality of delusion.

      Cindi Carasco ran a great campaign. Ryan Meyer should have been
      very easy to beat. Meyer ran on a failed policy of social justice over criminal justice. Given the violent crime rates under Hogsett/Meyer
      it should have been a slam dunk. So a minority block that votes 90% Dem
      constantly is NOT an issue??? Lol….

      Like I said, I like Shreve, but my money is on Hogsette.

      The Old Stamping Plant being developed by Elanco is a good thing.
      But it was taking jobs from an Indianapolis suburb to downtown Indy.
      **. Where is the big job creation from that?**
      Please do the math. Moving jobs from one Indianapolis location to another??

      Yes, you get what you tolerate. Why do t you ask Rick Snyder the FOP Chairman?? Talk to some IMPD police officers about arresting criminals
      to just have them turned right back out on the streets.
      The ankle bracelet scheme isn’t working. The recidivism rate is over 75%
      for those put on home detention with ankle bracelets. Those posting bond
      have a recidivism rate far far lower.

      Again, you get what you tolerate with vagrancy downtown. The city
      miraculously were able to get the vagrants off the streets fir the NCAA Tournament. I was in downtown Nashville a few weeks ago.
      You know what you didn’t see?? Downtown vagrants. Literally not one.

      How many businesses do you think will locate where there’s a lot of vagrancy??
      I’m thinking none!
      Have you the City Market?? Do really think people like that??

    4. first, it’s Mears like the four time Indy 500 winner, not Meyer like the three time Indy 500 winner.

      Second, you said economic development should be like a blood sport. Apparently, your blood sport has limits. You should probably also recognize that the alternative to Elanco staying in Greenfield (which they were NOT doing) was moving out of Indiana altogether.

      Finally, Rick Snyder’s job is to stick up for the police, even when they clearly do wrong. All I’ve seen out of Snyder is that he wants to lock everyone in the world up, even the mentally ill.

      There’s no point in locking up the mentally ill when what they need is treatment and a place to live. How about increase the funding for that first, then order the streets to be cleared.

  6. I think we have a another problem than public works, and police. We have a growing homelessness issue that needs to be resolved. This is what I believe is going unnoticed. Despite some crime in Indianapolis, I think offering community programs in areas that maybe underserved for kids out of school, promote summer youth programs for kids 16years and up. It worked in NYC. Just my take.

  7. Hogsett is terrible – worst mayor in my lifetime. Unfortunately the people of indy will re-elect him because they lap up the democrat propaganda like the good little sheep they are. hogsett has done NOTHING for the city of Indianapolis except watch its decline.

    1. Joe Hogsett has yet to face a serious Republican challenger. Time will tell if Jefferson Shreve is a serious challenger or just Chuck Brewer with more money.

      Here’s a question … why have Indiana Republicans given up on Indianapolis? Are there no moderate Republicans left in the party? Do Republicans know they can’t win, so they won’t try?

      Or are they just interested in strip mining Indianapolis of their money and figure they can continue to pass state laws as needed?

    2. Joe,
      You and I both know that a Republican can’t win in Marion County.

      My vote is with Shreve, but my money is on Hogsett.

    3. And yet, Lora, Marion County Republicans are only behind Jefferson Shreve because he’s willing to pay for the campaign himself.

      They’ve had three years to come up with a winning strategy to beat someone who is coasting and their best idea was to find a rich guy. Promising! I guess it’s an improvement over the last two campaigns, which rivaled the Indiana Democratic Party for incompetence.

      I’m all for a campaign of ideas. Joe Hogsett has yet to face one. We shall see how much policy Shreve has to offer.

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