Indy mayoral candidates await final endorsements

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The Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police twice endorsed Joe Hogsett—in 2015, the first year the Democrat ran for mayor, and again in 2019, when he sought reelection for the first time. This year, though, as Hogsett seeks a third term against Republican Jefferson Shreve, the organization of sworn officers opted not to endorse either candidate.

The decision, FOP President Rick Snyder told IBJ, is because neither Hogsett nor Shreve are offering the “transformational leadership” in policing that Marion County needs. He said the ‘no endorsement’ says more than an endorsement would have.

“I think what that proves and shows is that the endorsement of Indianapolis’ rank-and-file police officers is not just given out,” he said. “It’s something that has to be earned.”

Snyder said an increase in murders and an unfavorable response to the racial justice riots prevented officers from supporting Hogsett this year. And he said Shreve’s proposals for retaining officers were unconvincing. The Republican also proposed a similar gun control plan to Hogsett’s, which the FOP opposes.

The FOP endorsement is one of more than a dozen endorsements up for grabs each year in the Indianapolis mayor’s race. Most have been handed out this year—with unions generally endorsing Hogsett, as expected. But this week, the MIBOR Realtor Association’s political action committee also threw its weight behind Hogsett. And earlier this fall, the PAC of nonpartisan civic advocacy group ReCenter Indiana endorsed Shreve.

And next week, the Indy Chamber—which has endorsed Hogsett twice—will announce who it’s endorsing.

The chamber has historically favored incumbents. It endorsed then-incumbent Mayor Bart Peterson, a Democrat, when he sought a third term. Peterson was defeated by Republican Greg Ballard, whom the chamber then endorsed in his reelection bid.

This year, Hogsett and Shreve made separate appearances at the chamber’s Hobnob, an annual political networking event in August at downtown’s Columbia Club. The chamber had sought to host a mayoral debate during the event, which candidates, including Hogsett, have agreed to do in the past.

Chamber officials declined to talk about negotiations that led to this year’s event, which instead offered each candidate the opportunity for a 10-minute stump speech. But Adam Burtner, vice president of governmental affairs for Indy Chamber, said “the stump speech model works better this year, so we went with that.”

Shreve said during his time that the Hogsett campaign wouldn’t agree to a chamber debate. “Until this year, the HobNob was the signature mayoral debate in Indianapolis,” Shreve said. “And this change was made not at my behest—I would love to be standing alongside our mayor—but this is the ground rule that he set for this conversation.”

Both candidates later agreed to three debates.

The chamber has 2,000 members and its board of directors represents 120 businesses across the Indianapolis metropolitan area. Candidates are selected by the chamber’s advocacy committee, called the Business Advocacy Committee or BAC. That reach means the chamber might be in a position to help some voters make their decision, said University of Indianapolis political science professor Gregory Shufeldt.

But overall, the impact of endorsements in low-information elections during a hyper-partisan era is likely very small, he said. Municipal elections typically have low turnout and  voters are likely to have strong party affiliations that override endorsements, Shufeldt said.

Still, interest groups that frequently endorse candidates from both parties and are membership organizations, like the chamber, might be in a position to help some people make their decision, Shufeldt told IBJ..

Indy Chamber’s endorsement will be announced Oct. 10, a day before early voting begins. 

The incumbent mayor has been endorsed by more than a dozen unions across Marion County, which Shufeldt said is common. As issues become more partisan, unions are more likely to endorse Democrats.

On Thursday, Hogsett received the endorsement of the MIBOR PAC. The group represents 10,000 realtors across Boone, Brown, Decatur, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Johnson, Madison, Marion, Montgomery, Morgan and Shelby counties.

“Our continued partnership with the Hogsett administration is crucial as our urban core continues to find its way through challenges that many metro cities are facing across the nation,” Lacey Everett, MIBOR’s director of political affairs, wrote in a statement. “We look forward to continued work alongside the administration on ways to increase housing inventory, provide attainable housing options, bolster economic development, and advance initiatives in infrastructure, quality of place and public safety that are crucial to neighborhood vitality.”

Shreve was endorsed by the PAC of nonpartisan civic advocacy group ReCenter Indiana. The organization aims to cut through political partisanship and support candidates willing to work across the aisle.

Hogsett did not participate in the endorsement process.

In a press release announcing the endorsement, the PAC cited Shreve’s experience on the Indianapolis City-County Council and on leadership in civic organizations and business.

“We found Shreve to be thoughtful and nuanced in his understanding of the challenges facing Indianapolis, many of which have been exacerbated by the pandemic,” the release said.

Lawmakers at the Statehouse have “been bent on obstructing rather than assisting Indianapolis” the PAC wrote, and Hogsett has “struggled without success against the Legislature’s action to limit home rule.”

Shreve was also endorsed by Lucci’s House Pit Bull Rescue this week after unveiling his plan for Indianapolis Animal Care Services.

The unions that have endorsed Hogsett are Firefighters Local 416, Indiana State AFL-CIO, Iron Workers Local 22, LiUNA Local 120, UAW Region 2B,IBEW Local Union 481, Carpenters Local Union No. 301, SMART Local 20, AFSCME Council 962, I.U.O.E. Local 103, UFCW Local 700, CWA of Indiana and UA Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 440.

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