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Contemplate the "ifs"
Fort Wayne Reader
On Tuesday, November 6th, Fort Wayne voters will choose either Tom Henry (D) or Matt Kelty (R) to be the city’s next mayor. As of this writing, at least three opinion polls (including one commissioned by the Kelty campaign) show Henry with a commanding lead. That’s not to say that it’s all over. In the final days of 1999’s mayoral race, polls showed Linda Buskirk with a double-digit lead over Graham Richard. We all know how that turned out. Still, the prospect of a Kelty Administration appears dim at this point. But what if he had done a few things differently?
What if Matt Kelty had been forthcoming about the real source of the loans?
During his primary campaign, Kelty boasted that if he was going to ask donors to give to his campaign then he should be willing to invest some of his own money. But instead of diving into his savings, raiding his 401K, or getting a second mortgage, Kelty got about $160,000 in unsecured loans from two campaign supporters. When questioned by GOP leaders, Kelty reportedly suggested that “frugal living” allowed him to come up with the cash. Eventually, the truth came out. Now, several felony charges loom over Kelty’s head, leaving a bad taste in voter’s mouths.
What if Kelty had worked harder to mend the rifts in the local Republican Party?
One of the biggest dangers of a contested primary campaign like the one waged by Kelty and Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters is the creation of a rift within the party. While Kelty and Peters both took the high road during the primary, Kelty’s upset vistory didn’t sit well with some in the GOP who had strongly endorsed Peters. Kelty shouldn’t be penalized for running a better campaign, but good politicians know how to mend fences and win over former opponents within the party. Instead, Kelty seemed content to make party unity GOP chair Steve Shine’s problem. Consistent with Kelty’s outsider image, many of his most strident supporters drove a wedge between Kelty and the GOP establishment. Some party members claim their offers to help were rudely rejected. Cakegate, the Kelty birthday cake ridiculing several GOP figures, didn’t help either.
What if Kelty had enlisted the aid of GOP heavyweights like Senator Richard Lugar?
Losing the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Mark Souder was a big blow to Kelty. However, Kelty’s political resume includes stints on the staffs of U.S. Senators Richard Lugar and Dan Coats. Securing the blessing of these political heavyweights could have helped. Instead, their silence was conspicuous. So is the silence of the Republicans running for Fort Wayne City Council.
Of course, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. At this stage, it all boils down to voter turnout. Make sure you cast a ballot on Nov. 6th.