Andre Carson is in trouble

Dateline: Wed 12 Mar 2008

The Democrat machine in Marion County may claim victory for Andre Carson in Tuesday's special election, sending him to Washington for six weeks, but it seems like the seed may not sprout for the primary.

First, at 9:52 p.m., a press release was sent out regarding State Rep. David Orentlicher's run for the 7th Congressional District of Indiana. The word is that Orentlicher, a Dem, will kick off his campaign at noon today with Dr. Derek King -- the nephew of Martin Luther King -- at his side at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, 1702 North Broadway St.

If that isn't a message, I don't know what is, and there's more. Orentlicher, a physician and a lawyer, is a Jew. Carson's campaign has been tainted, first by the presence of Minister Farrakhan at his grandmother's funeral, and secondly by his fund-raising at a Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) event in February. The once-loyal Jewish vote for the late Julia Carson is way up in the air. Or in Orentlicher's hands.

Then, the 11 p.m. news from Channel 13 included this analysis from Peter Rusthoven, a Republican who is now commenting on politics for TV:

"Unfortunately, within 2 months, he (Carson) is, as an incumbent congressman, going to face a primary challenge from three other Democrats, two other African-Americans (former health commish Woody Myers and state legislator/Recorder publisher Carolene Mays) and David Orentlicher, who is a state representative.

"It is going to be very, very difficult for him to survive that primary, particularly with three different African-American candidates splitting the African-American vote to some degree."

Last but not least, Gary Welsh at Advance Indiana, also a Republican and an attorney, is raising pointed questions tonight on his blog. He's a close election watcher, and here is what he has to say at 11:05 p.m. about Republican Jon Elrod's efforts to beat Carson:

"I can tell you that the flash numbers Republicans were working off of tonight showed it to be a nip and tuck race. Yet I'm looking at 99% of the vote counted and Democrat Andre Carson winning 53%-43% over Elrod, a margin of less than 8,000 votes. So how could Andre under-perform his grandmother's numbers in precinct after precinct and come out winning by a margin better than some of her own races?"

Clearly, Andre Carson has had the machine behind him. But the TV coverage looked like that's pretty much who made up his crowd -- one saw state Dem chair Dan Parker and former U.S. Rep. Andy Jacobs, Julia's godfather and now Andre's mentor, standing behind Carson. Election clerk Beth White made the predictable noises about trying to get it right. I just was not impressed with that turnout. Nor are many of us impressed with Carson's mastery of the issues or his credentials, although Elrod also left a lot to be desired.

Somehow, and especially with the black Dem challenge, the Carson seed story ain't playing in Peoria. And it certainly is not playing great in Indy, either.

But time will tell. About six weeks or so, anyhow....

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