Melina Kennedy: $1 million but a yawner?

Dateline: Thu 06 Jan 2011

Melina Kennedy's war chest is fat, with almost $1 million ready to spend to slug it out against incombant Mayor Greg Ballard. Indianapolis Star reporter Jon Murray reported Wednesday on Kennedy's fortunes.

"That puts her not far behind Ballard, whose campaign estimates the Republican has $1.4 million on hand to seek re-election," says Murray, who adds that Kennedy will formally declare her candidacy Monday.

Meanwhile, Facebook's "Melina Kennedy for Indianapolis" page is recruiting volunteers under the leadership of Nick Buis, an activist and party worker.

Buis also invites Kennedy supporters to the announcement event. "Hope to see all of you on Monday at our announcement! The event will go from 11 to Noon at Canon IV. Canon IV is located at 950 Dorman Street."

But overheard at an all-women's dinner party during the holidays: Democrat stalwarts are not at all convinced Kennedy can take Ballard out. She is deemed "not exciting" and not a game-changer. Yes, she's a good foot soldier, but her speech-making leaves something to be desired. More importantly, these women thought, Ballard has done a credible job. (Trust me, these women are Democrat Party faithfuls with mature perspectives).

There was some speculation, at that pre-Christma party, that city-county councilwoman Jackie Nytes (who announced she won't seek re-election for that post) might be a more perfect mayoral candidate for the Dems. But that isn't happening, apparently.

Of course, when Ballard ran, he was an unknown and his charisma was in serious doubt by GOP regulars. Still, he gutted it out, Marine style, and, riding on the waves of tax revolters' sentiment, was elected.

Kennedy needs an issue to stir her pot. But it seems as if Indy voters might have returned to complacency. Or maybe she's not bold enough to challenge Ballard on some key weak spots?

Anyhow, we can only hope for an old-fashioned, vigorous race. Will we get it?



Gary Welsh [unverified] said:

I'm not advocating her candidacy, but I recalled her being a very able public speaker when she ran for prosecutor against Brizzi. I've not heard her mayoral stump speech, but it has to be better than Ballard's tired, overused refrains. She has a much better personality than Ballard, who still has a difficult time constructing a sentence if it isn't all written out for him. He is also extremely defensive and reacts badly to tough questioning. Hey, at least she speaks to me very friendly every time I see her even though she knows I'm a Republican. Ballard looks daggers at me every time he sees me and I was one of his more loyal supporters in 2007 when most establishment Republicans thought he was a joke. What goes around comes around. I know many Republicans who supported Ballard who will vote for the Libertarian, if not Kennedy, just to show him what happens to politicians who betray the people who put them in office.

2011-01-06 15:53:58

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Wow. Longtime northside stalwart Dem women think Melina is unexciting?

I know a lot of those women. They sat on their asses during Peterson's last campaign. Here's what they're really saying about Melina: "She's not FROM here." What goes around...

But here's the trench talk:

First, this is now a Democratic town. About 56-40 Dem. That's difficult to defeat. Peterson lost in 2007, not the other way around. Democrats sat on their hands all over town.

Secondly, however she got to a million, she's there. That's the baseline, and she made it.

Third, Greg Ballard has been an unmitigated disaster. He's become the Pillsbury Doughboy. He had some promise, as a guy who owed no one, but he sold his soul to big law firms and promoted two ridiculously stupid deals--water and parking--that lined the pockets of his backers. For God's sake, we're paying for 3-7 year lifespan street projects, with 50-70 year water bonds. Only lawyers make money on that deal. He can't string together two coherent sentences. I hate to say it about a mayor--but he's embarrassing.

I hated the ground Goldsmith walked on. But he never embarrassed this city. He was smart and articulate.

Jackie Nytes might have been a good candidate. I don't know. She's got a great job now that prohibited another council term. She's worn out, and I don't blame her. She just lost her dad this week after a long illness which required much travel north. She carried huge water on multiple Peterson budget issues. She's earned the rest.

Ballard may have money, but he has an unenthusiastic GOP ground organization. He doesn't know how to run a city-wide campaign, because he was the rebel in 2007, on a shoestring in every respect. You can count on one hand the number of powerful GOP ward chairs who were working hard for him in 07.

Melina knows a good ground game. The remnants of the Obama field team are still around--and they were terrific. Need any confirmation of that? Look at the November election results.

Barring something unforseen--this one won't even be close.

And it's about damned time we had a female mayor. The men have effed it up royally. She's smart, articulate and headstrong.

We could do a lot worse.

2011-01-06 16:44:47

ruthholl [Member] said:

Well, I was surprised by the drift of the conversation. I considered these women insiders and party contributors, who get around. But hey -- maybe there was an ax to grind, or ??? And god knows, this was a very small sampling of idle chitchat, hardly a scientific poll.
You both make valid points on her behalf, and Indy being a Dem city now is first and foremost, I think.
But I also agree with Gary, that Ballard has issues; who doesn't?
I'd like to hear Melina speak. Guess there will be lots of opportunity.
I can say, from my days at the Star, that she was a tireless campaigner and, like Gary says, warm and friendly and in the trenches.
Maybe it will be a good race!

2011-01-06 17:49:30

hendy [Member] said:

For all one might think, TTT, Indy elected Ballard because voters were pissed off. They still are.

Melina Kennedy and Jackie Nytes are both very astute and very wise foot soldiers. Like Jill Long, they lack charisma and bite. I wish it weren't so, but the media needs to have a leader with guts and glory and brand. Kennedy doesn't have a brand, and she's unable to muster a lot of get-out-the-vote. Ballard showed that it takes less than $100K to become mayor if you have the brand and message. Sadly, that's what we're down to these days.

2011-01-06 23:36:16

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Good blogFriend Hendy, you make some wide observations, but here's a coupla facts to consider:

Ballard didn't raise $100,000 in 2007. He raised almost $400,000, much of it at the very end, in a flurry of "hedge bets" by the law firms and big contributors. It was just enough to pound home a populist message the last week.

That hedge money came largely from folks who had contributed much more to Peterson over the prior seven years. It came largely because they were hearing on the streets, what eventually happened:

Peterson had listened to the wrong folks for too long.

Couple that with the disastrous beginning of property tax overhaul, and you've got a disaster for Peterson. He had not one iota of responsibility for the mechanics of the proptax overhaul. but he got tagged with it. Then came that fateful August budget meeting.

He presented his 2008 budget to the City Council in a media event. His cabinet and heavy hitters occupied the first four rows of reserved seats. A crowd of 20-30 residents was locked out of the packed house, and they cooled their hells in 90 degree heat outside.
Peterson didn't know that, and when he found out, he sent an aide to let them in and he ordered the VOP seats vacated for the citizens. But it was too late.

Bart never shook that image.

Ballard had no message in 2007 except "I'm not Peterson." It barely worked. He was the lucky lightning strike of opportunity.

And that was his peak.

I'm not happy about that...I wish he would've worked out. But he's eschewed good government for buffets, parades, foreign trips and the big law firms.

And don't confuse Jackie and Melina for Ms. Long. Campaign-wise, it's not even close.

2011-01-07 05:47:11

B2 [unverified] said:

Wow, the anti-Ballard vitriol spews forth, kicked off by Indy's most relentlessly negative blogger, Mr. Welsh, whose bitterness spews forth because Hizzoner didn't grant him a job in his administration and refused his learned counsel.

A more objective view is that Ballard, for a political neophyte lacking oratory skills, surrounded himself with capable folks (David Reynolds comes to mind) and has managed the city fairly well through the most challeging economic times in 80 years. He's also worked his ass off. Yes, there have been fumbles and bumbles along the way, but they happen in government and even to the most experienced politicians. He has not, I submit, been the unmitigated disaster many thought he would be. Do I expect him to be re-elected? No, but it has more to do with the Marion County demographics than his policy decisions. If Mrs. Kennedy occupies the 25th floor of the CC Building, I will hope the best for her, but don't think the issues Indy faces -- the same that virtually all major American cities face -- will magically be resolved. And don't think she will be immune from the pressures and influences of those downtown law firms and business interests so many seem to distrust.

Just sayin'

2011-01-07 08:42:09

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

Ruth sez: Kennedy needs an issue to stir her pot.

Oh, lordy. Issues? There are myriad issues!

Where to begin: water company, Straub, CIB, parking meters, Pacers....

Despite B2's assertions, Ballard is NOT regarded as a good manager. "Fumbles and bumbles" are his hallmark.

2011-01-07 14:23:50

B2 [unverified] said:

Splitting verbal hairs, Ms. C, but what I wrote is that he has "managed the city fairly well" during an unprecedented economic downturn. And Ms. Kennedy will have to deal with the same tough issues ... infrastructure and how to pay for it, police issues and yes, even the Pacers ... if she is elected.

2011-01-07 14:47:17

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

B2, she's going to be elected. Unless a huge event takes her out somehow. I suppose that could happen.

And if you think Ballard is "working his ass off," you're unique among some top GOPers I know around town. They think quite the opposite. They're embarrassed about it, to be candid.

And if I were you, I'd resist the ass reference. He's obviously not missed any buffets. Maybe he's in a race with Brainard for heft.

Reynolds may have been a good hire. Here's a list of those who were disastrous hires:

Lowry and Colvin at Parks (God-awful, arrogant), Straub, Dep Mayor for Neighborhoods whose name I will never again mention; Corporation Counsel Cockerill; I could go on.

I distrust the law firms now, because they have a stooge in office, whom they can manipulate at will, and they have.

Melina is no stooge.

Only 358 more days.

2011-01-07 19:45:11

hendy [Member] said:

TTT-- don't be so sure. Voter bile is nearing peak. Ballard, for all of his mistakes and boorish demeanor, is still a formidable competitor. You forget that the S Side of Indy is still solidly Republican, and the City Council reflects a conservative majority-- and a solid one at that. Don't trivialize the hurdles that Kennedy has to surmount. Kennedy and Ballard have about the same charisma level in my mind, and voters remain seriously miffed over a number of issues that Kennedy has so far failed to capture, in terms of populist sentiment. She might be no stooge, but she hasn't captured any leadership fervor. A negative campaign won't work-- look what happened to Hill and the ex-sheriff of Evansville when they went negative.

My hope: someone gets a grip and leads instead of getting good-old-boy politicking votes. Issues, not personalities. Action, not rhetoric. Advancement, not business-as-usual.

2011-01-08 12:28:41

Gary Welsh [unverified] said:

B2, Up yours. I never applied for any job in the Ballard administration. That was a lie repeated over and over again by the lowest rated radio talk show host in Indianapolis. It's interesting that the Ballard defenders always level their attacks on his critics anonymously. What are you hiding from? Man up.

2011-01-08 21:02:31

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Of for God's sake Hendy, this one won't even be close. Seriously.

The campaign probably will go negative, and it probably will work.


The conservative block you mention on the council is a funny one. It includes dimwits like Susie Day. She will probably get out, and run for mayor of Beech grove.

Poor Beech Grove.

2011-01-08 22:50:38

John M [unverified] said:

Hendy, while the south side may remain a relative stronghold for Republicans, a look at the 2010 election results for Marion County, in what was a Republican wave election nationally, should be sobering for local Republicans. Democratic straight-ticket ballots exceeded Rs 57-41. Brad Ellsworth won the county by 12; Vop Osili by 10; all of the Dems seeking countywide office won by 9-10 points. The only close races on which the whole county voted were in the state auditor and treasurer voted, where incumbents Tim Berry and Richard Murdock won, but even in those races, the Democrat barely won the county. Certainly, that suggests that incumbency matters, but almost all Republicans are now fighting an uphill battle here.

2011-01-09 09:23:54

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

John: Add this to the mix:

Until 1999, Democrats were "in the wilderness" as far as City hall goes. Unigov was a cleverly-crafted plan to keep Democrats in the minority for a generation (plus). It worked.

Once Peterson was elected, that wilderness was gone. Their eyes were opened to all kinds of opportunity and, sadly, in some cases, a sense of entitlement. I'll leave you to fill in the blanks where "entitlement" is concerned, but here's one shining example: the city had a Dept. of Metro Develpment hearing officer for at least four years who set this city back decades in the zoning precedence department. She was there because her husband was Majority Leader of the Council--and for no other reason.


When you lose that new-found power, you're hungrier to get it back.

The lack of Kennedy "ooomph" cited above, by Hendy and others, could be there in the "public' sense. But let me assure you, behind the scenes, some important stuff has been happening.

Some powerhouse candidates have been edged out--Hogsett, Willliams, and to a lesser extent last weekend, Evans--and issue development has been going non-stop.

Do you really think those things just "happen" ? With no influence or persuasion by the candidate herself?

2011-01-10 06:27:46

Jason [unverified] said:

Ballard has been... underwhelming in many ways to a lot of people. Melina is essentially going to be Peterson redux, which people are going to come to loathe. Either way, Ballard had his chance and he's blown it, bigtime. She at least deserves a chance, and she'll get it.

I find it hard to believe the anti-Peterson crowd will vote for Melina. They'll probably just write in their neighbor or stay at home. These are the same people who were the driving force behind Ballard's first election. For a guy who wasn't supposed to be beholden to anyone, well, let's just say I'm surprised he's even running for reelection.

Sorry I don't know demographic shifts and polling numbers. Just going from the gut on this one.

2011-01-10 11:01:43

Comments are closed.


or Register


Syndicate Blog