Incumbent Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson's campaign has finally made the switch to negative ads, probably due to Greg Ballard's recent surge in the pre-election polls. At least that is what one IUPUI political science professor, Bill Blomquist, is implying. (Story here in the Indy Star.)
For several weeks now, Peterson has been seeking his third term, content to tout his accomplishments (real or perceived) with vibrant (and almost histrionic) positive ads. But when the poll numbers are down, desperation usually sets in. This is the point, when a campaign will usually pull out the stops to slow down the opposition's momentum.
One ad recently questioned Ballard's experience to be mayor. That, within itself, is ironic because when Peterson was first elected eight years ago, he had no experience. He asked to be trusted then, but now questions the wisdom of trusting a novice.
There are two ways to look at this. Yes, Peterson can sell himself as the one with more experience. He has been in office, Ballard has held none (that I am aware of). But on the other side of the coin, we can see that experience doesn't always mean better service to the people.
Sometimes, when a machine is built, it distances itself from the people that empowered it and believes itself to be more relevant than the people that entrusted it to do their business. That is what got Mr. Peterson elected in the first place.
Jack Cottey, the corrupt Republican two-term sheriff wanted to be the kingmaker. For this reason, he persuaded the GOP candidate (Sue Anne Gilroy) of that election to join forces with him, for the specific purpose of empowering himself. He could not get elected, he has an unethical rap sheet a mile long. So, by propping her up, he thought he could assert himself as the most powerful Republican in the city. For this reason, the people wre able to see past this facade and subsequently gave Mr. Peterson a chance to shake up the status quo.
Now, Mayor Peterson, the man who brought down the GOP machine in 1999, has become a machine (unto himself) which is now the status quo. And from what I am hearing privately from lifelong Democrats, of all demographics, he is now in trouble. He is not popular. Much of this discontent is from the astronomical county income tax hike that he and the city-county council ramrodded through. This same vote is now the subject of a lawsuit, because there are questions on the legality of the vote.
All of this is making the people of Indianapolis nervous about giving another four years (with virtually no accountability) to a man that has insulated himself from the people that entrusted him to change the status quo, not to assume it.
Not only is Peterson's job hanging in the balance, many in the city-county council are under fire for supporting the Council President Monroe Gray for what is looking to be some serious ethical missteps. There is even talk of a large protest vote by pulling straight GOP tickets, in the voting booths. And from the sounds I am hearing, it may just happen.
Sit tight, folks. The ride isn't over yet.