Pumping out that Hoosier political porn

He did and he is sorry.

Would you like to see more political porn? I’ve used Merriam-Webster’s definition: “The depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction.”

There is Columbus Councilwoman Priscilla Scalf who alleged that Republican Kristen Brown was involved as an Oracle Corp. executive in a suit brought about by the federal government that resulted in a $199.5 million fine. But it wasn’t true. The Columbus Republic, in a page one banner headline the Saturday before the election, called the allegation “bogus.” It reported: Although … Brown worked as an Oracle executive at two different times in her career, she had no dealings with government contracts during her first stint, and her second job with the company came after the alleged fraud.

Columbus voters are smart. In 2007, Democratic Mayor Fred Armstrong won reelection with 74 percent, but Brown won Tuesday with 67 percent in what was expected to be a competitive race.

In Indianapolis, there was political porn everywhere. It began in August when Democrat mayoral nominee Melina Kennedy began a relentless assault on Mayor Greg Ballard. He was characterized as a crony, soft on crime, a tax and spender, and a bigot. Marion County Democrats sifted out of a debate between Kennedy and Ballard a quote where Ballard talked about unemployment in the African-American community as a “difficult population.” Kennedy declined to pressure the party to pull the ad, which ran on radio stations that have a high number of African-American listeners.

It prompted Indianapolis Star columnist Matt Tully, an unabashed Kennedy supporter, to become “disheartened,” writing: “For weeks, she has pummeled incumbent Mayor Greg Ballard, by all accounts a decent and honest man, with phony and unfair attack ads portraying him as everything from a corrupt fat cat politician to a reckless big spender eager to raise taxes. Meanwhile, she has sat back while the nasty and bullying leaders in the Marion County Democratic Party air radio ads on African-American stations suggesting, at the very least, racial insensitivity on Ballard’s part, invoking an unwelcome dose of racial politics into the campaign.”

Indianapolis voters are smart. While the Democrats claimed control of the City-County Council, Kennedy lost to Ballard 51-47 percent in a city where the baseline suggests should be a Democratic stronghold. A number of African-American pastors came to Ballard’s defense. African-American turnout was reported to be 22 percent, well below what Kennedy needed

Now to be fair, the Indiana Republican Party sent out a number of negative mailers saying that Kennedy had lost 15,353 jobs as deputy mayor, supported a 43 percent income tax increase while crime increased by 16 percent. So it’s not as if all the angels had fled to the Republican Party.

Contrast ads are fair, as was the case in Evansville where Indiana Democrats ran TV ads saying that as a Vanderburgh County Commissioner, Lloyd Winnecke had joined Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel in secretly ending the county homestead tax credit. Democrat nominee Rick Davis’s problem was the Democratic Party was fractured, and City Councilwoman Connie Robinson and Councilman Curt John endorsed the Republican, who won 54-46 percent. Joshua Claybourn told me, “Lloyd obtained 46 percent from the 4th ward, a predominantly black district – a shockingly high number for a Republican.”

Why do campaigns and political parties resort to political porn?

The campaign pros say it works. In Jeffersonville, Democratic Mayor Tom Galligan lost to Clark County Commissioner Mike Moore and he blamed his loss, in part, for refusing to go negative. But Galligan was a three-term mayor and officeholders with that kind of tenure pick up barnacles and enemies. Moore targeted him with supporting a $60 million canal project. Galligan was also hit with “Marshallgate,” after campaign consultant Mike Marshall was indicted in Jennings County on vote fraud charges.

There were places where political porn won. Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry did so after a slugfest with Republican Paula Hughes, another purveyor in political porn.

To do so is no longer a slam dunk in Indiana politics. Our most successful politicians – Mitch Daniels, Dick Lugar, Lee Hamilton – never use it.

I like writing about political porn. It’s going to be my annual fetish. Candidates of the future, you pump out the porn and I’ll write it up!

(The columnist publishes at www.howeypolitics.com. Contact Howey at bhowey2@gmail.com.)

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