Hogsett wins chance to seek a third term, will face best-funded GOP foe yet

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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 in Tuesday’s GOP primary.

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, said he has given at least $2.5 million of his own money to his campaign. 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 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 to 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 the GOP’s 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 wins chance to seek a third term, will face best-funded GOP foe yet

  1. Aside from his opposition to “no turn on red” in downtown Indianapolis, it’ll be interesting what Shreve’s “policy meat” will be (especially considering the GOP super-majority in the state legislature likes to meddle with local officials’ leadership). Maybe he should start by extracting a pledge from his party’s cohorts in the Capitol to butt out of city affairs.

    1. Yeah, good luck with that. I suspect his idea to fix roads is to sell off more city assets, just like Ballard.

      I also suspect that “let police do their jobs” is code for rolling back any number of police reforms, like changing the membership of the oversight board from 4 police, 3 civilians … to 4 civilians, 3 police, which has been loudly decried for reasons unclear to me.

    2. He already stated on the record he will not be able to accomplish this as mayor…. really inspiring stuff to get people to the polls

    3. Hogsett playingbthe race card saying that the GOP want to go
      back to the god ole days.

      Hosgsett threw IMPD under the bus during the riot. His prosecutor is
      not prosecuting. Businesses and people are leaving downtown because
      of crime.

      We have NOT HAD ONE major economic investment in Indianapolis in over
      20 years. Not one major building go up in over 30 years.

      What we have got is abandoned store fronts, high crime, and vagrants

      Indianapolis/Marion county is still bleeding population. High crime
      and no economic development projects. Stagnant Downtown.

      Thanks Hogsett!!

    4. Indianapolis did grow from 2010 to 2020.
      But 2021 we started losing population.

      2020 to 2021 we can chalk that up to Covid. But 2021 to 2022 is probably
      more attributable to people moving out because of crime. Crime will
      take a toll. People and businesses will not tolerate a deteriorating
      quality of life.

      Second, Indianapolis is stagnating. Can you name one major economic development project coming to Indianapolis in the last twenty years??
      I can’t think of one. Nashville, Louisville, and other cities are killing it
      on economic development projects.

      We need a pro business mayor. A mayor that understands the needs
      of the private sector.

      The good ole days we had a thriving downtown with a great nightlife

    5. Joe,
      That’s my point.
      I can’t name one major economic development project in
      Marion County in the last 20 years other than Sales Force coming in.
      The only reason Sales Force came in was because they bought a very successful
      local tech company that had an owner dedicated to to advancing Indianapolis.

      We need major economic development projects.
      We need one probably every year or two to keep the momentum of
      our city growing.

      Heck Joe, we haven’t even built a major building over 376 feet tall. Even
      Louisville, Milwaukee, and other regional cities that we should be dominating
      are building grander skylines than Indianapolis.

      Whether you want to admit it or not. Indianapolis ( downtown included ) is
      Crime and a lack of creative vision are driving that stagnation.

      We need bold creative people.

      I know we have very solid younger people running our economic development
      organizations. We have many local ( downtown included ) Chamber affiliated
      groups. Maybe to many. Maybe to a point where theyve become more
      bureaucratic than effective.

    6. Keith, i’m not sure you can even define what you’re after. Try telling us what other states are doing and we can work backwards.

      Also, SalesForce was promptly chased away by the focus on social issues legislation at the state level and are slow motion moving to Chicago. The CEO made this crystal clear back in 2015-2016. Wasted opportunity but very little can be pinned on Hogsett. It does take a partnership between city/local leaders and state legislators but the legislators have made it crystal clear that they are done listening to businesses on social issues, and if they don’t like the laws passed, they are welcome to leave. Seems like a dangerous game of chicken to me but what do I know?

      Nice job insulting the youths who are here on the way out. Maybe all they need are us olds … to shut up and sit down and get out of the way.

    7. Joe,
      Full agreement that the state legislature should stay away from social issues
      as much as possible. But Indiana is hardly alone in that regard.

      The economic development projects I’m talking about are major local expansions
      and out of town corporations coming in and setting up shop. Investing hundreds
      of millions to billions of dollars with plans to employ anywhere from
      hundreds to thousands of new employees.

      Major economic projects that I want to see are like the ones Nashville,
      Louisville, Columbus, and other cities are getting. Major investment dollars
      with several hundred to thousands of new jobs.
      We have not had one such economic development project in Marion County
      in over 20 years. Evidently Indianapolis is being over looked.

      Not one major new building built in over 30 years in our downtown.
      Heck, even Milwaukee is building up their skyline bigger than ours.

      Where did I say the young should shut up and get out of the way??
      I said we have a lot great young talent running our chamber organizations
      in Indianapolis.
      My concern is that we have so many that they maybe infringing upon
      each other’s role making them ineffective. Too bureaucratic.

      I’m glad we have a young diverse professionals working in our local and state
      chambers. Hopefully these young people are HUNGRY to make Indianapolis
      a more attractive place to do business.
      Hopefully these young people reach out to corporations throughout country
      aggressively. Treat job creation and economic development as blood sport.

    8. You know why we don’t get those big plants? Why we get passed over by Intel and others?

      We don’t have the workforce. And business leaders have been saying it for some time.

      We have the workforce for the jobs we end up with – distribution centers.

      What did we do this last legislative session to fix that, to listen to business leaders? We decided that charter and religious schools need more money.

      That ain’t a mayor thing. And neither is attracting big employers, that’s a state of Indiana IEDC thing.

      As far as new buildings, I don’t think you’re paying attention to the post-COVID reality. Lots of downtown real estate is converting from office space to residential as work from home has become permanent. That’s been a lot larger factor in the downtown area struggling, as the substrate of office workers simply isn’t there and will never be there again.

      Again, tell me what other cities are doing. Convention center? Indy already has one and oh yeah Hogsett was trying to make it better with the Pan Am Plaza project. Stadiums? Ours are new or being refurbished and those are of very questionable economic benefit anyway unless you own the team.

      What’s needed is the low barrier shelter and more spending on infrastructure and mental health.

    9. Keith – there are currently 17 BILLION in economic development projects occurring within 1.5 miles of downtown circle… maybe read the paper you are subscribing to?

    10. Loathe as I am to agree with Frankie on much of anything, I see a great deal of navel-gazing with Keith B’s black-pilled portrayal of Indianapolis. Almost makes it look like he’s never visited any of these other cities that have such great investment downtown. I mean, Louisville? Milwaukee?

      Louisville has been the regional capital of race riots, competing with the big winner Minneapolis. Milwaukee is the most segregated city in America.

      Crime is pretty awful in Center Township, and the ~50% rise in homicides would be a crisis point if the prevailing party running our cities actually had a Fourth Estate that kept them in check. But plenty of other cities have had 80% rise in homicides. Indy is just average among big cities.

      This seems like a big-time “grass is greener” worldview. Don’t worry Keith: right now it’s crappy in cities everywhere.

  2. Shreve will bring city management from a businessman’s perspective. Obviously successful in his own right. We had a businessman running our country a few years back and never had it better

    1. This is akin to assuming that a successful football coach would also be a good mayor.

      Why do people assume that government should be run like a business?

      You could argue that Indianapolis’ most successful mayor was a preacher.

    2. We are currently paying for all the shortsighted policies of the trump administration…. you think inflation just magically occurs overnight?

    1. Sure, post it, along with what Republicans plan to actually do. Running on the “I’m not Joe Hogsett” platform may get some votes, but as Keith told us, “the minority vote will never allow a Republican candidate no matter how good to win”.

      It’s easy to win the election for Republicans. Just explain how you’re going to impact the murder rate and how you will fix the roads.

      If they run on the “I’m not the other guy” plan, odds are it’ll be a drubbing like Cyndi Carrasco got. Sure, there’s a chance that he pulls a stunner and buy himself the office … but if he gets it, what does he plan to do? He’s still got to deal with a likely heavily majority Democratic council.

    2. Here’s an idea Joe,
      Replace the current city prosecutor that’s more concerned with social justice
      and equity than keeping the city safe.

      1). Meet with the police. The police have been saying for a long time
      that they need the support of the city ( which they feel they do not have ).
      F.O.P. Chairman Rick Snyder would be a great person for the mayor to
      sit down with to talk strategy and tactics, and areas for improvement.

      2). Meet with local business leaders to see what their needs are to expa
      and grow in our city. Ask them, why aren’t you expanding locally??
      What can we do to make that happen. The city needs strong effective liaisons with our local business community.

      Local business leaders need to be consulted on their concerns and needs
      just as the local activists groups do. Who ever the next mayor is, the mayor
      needs to be much more intouch and in tune with our local business leaders.

      Like I said in an earlier post. My money is on Hogsett for obvious reasons that will contribute to the city stagnating
      and deteriorating.

    3. Locking up marijuana users isn’t going to make streets safer. Rick Snyder’s answer in the past was lock up everyone.

      I’m all for getting someone better than Hogsett. No one has been able to explain to me how Shreve is an improvement. You’re just playing buzzword bingo.

    4. Rick Snyder is a moron…. he is basically the Hogsett of IMPM

      never passes up a camera opportunity, but then never actually says anything…

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