Home > Political Animal > New blood, tired lack of message

New blood, tired lack of message

By Jim Sack

Fort Wayne Reader


Courtney Tritch had a head on collision with reality and reality won. She actually thought she could win her congressional campaign against first-term incumbent Jim Banks. So, she raised oodles of money, recruited a smart, young cadre of volunteers, scurried door-to-door, even got a bit of national attention … and earned just a bit more votes than the last ten election Democrat averages. Simply put, with plenty of tailwind behind her, despite a capable campaign she only managed to rally the Democratic base, failing to win the 60-65% of voters in this district who consider themselves Republican and conservative. In short, she really never had a chance to win, and Jim Banks hardly needed to campaign to win.

Ms. Tritch’s triumph is in the scores of young volunteers and novices she brought to the political arena for the first time. While they feel disillusioned and emotionally spent at the moment, many will all pop up again in local politics for decades to come. Some will run for public office, some will become neighborhood leaders, some will find themselves on the staffs of office holders from Fort Wayne to D.C,; some will become opinion leaders in other areas of civic life. As for the local Democratic Party, it now turns to re-electing Democrat Mayor Tom Henry in a city that is, itself, more Republican than Democrat, and the ACDP will be well advised to recruit members of the Tritch Team to run everything from precincts to events coordination.

As for Jim Banks, the congressional seat is now his for the coming decade, probably longer should he wish to stay in DC. Not everybody does. With his experience in the Indiana legislature, with the rigors of travel and separation from family and home, he may well opt to run for governor, or may lay in wait for the six-year, more stable gig as senator. He has a bright future in Indiana politics thanks to his 60-65% base in the 3rd, and without some remarkable shift in political perception or philosophy, this part of Indiana is likely to remain Republican for decades to come

Meanwhile at the state legislature, Fort Wayne Democrat Phil GiaQuinta, has been elected leader of the democratic caucus. Phil is a moderate Democrat who prefers consensus, cooperation and collaboration to confrontation. But in this position he will be expected to speak forcefully on behalf of democratic principles, and to rally democrats statewide to elect democratic representatives. In that effort he has the formidable support of local Democrats including his very
capable and astute brother Mark , a former city councilman and current member of the school board, not to mention Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry, sporting his record of accomplishments in reviving the flagging fortunes of Fort Wayne. If
there is currently that Shining City on the Hill in Indiana it is Fort Wayne, something Phil should be able to point to with Democratic pride as he stumps around the state on behalf of Democrats.

Our city’s revival started in the early 1980s when then Democrat mayor Win Moses led the city’s fight during the flood of 82, earned national acclaim for the city, and managed to secure GM’s move to the city. Win went on to serve in the legislature and now reigns as senior statesman among state Democrats and can be expected to help fill in his efforts. But power in the legislature is firmly in the hands of rural Republicans who hamstring urban areas. Representative GiaQuinta has a daunting task, but given his seat is as safe for Democrats as any in the state, he has years to patiently reconstruct a Democrat House majority. Let’s hope Phil gets just a bit of fire in his belly, if only for the sake of forcing Republicans to compromise and collaboration so that Fort Wayne and other urban centers may flex their creativity.

That brings us to the question of the Democrats message and whom they wish to represent. If Democrats do not have a message for farmers, townsfolk, or suburban homeowners that promises a more prosperous life, then why should voters outside the Fort Wayne urban core ever bothered to vote for Democrats? The simple equation in elections is fifty percent plus one vote. For decades the Democrats have, for some unfathomable reason, thought that just the righteousness of their being should be enough to win over duck farmers, shop owners and suburban accountants outside I–469. It has been a ridiculous assumption. Regularly democratic nominees end up winning the Fort Wayne urban core but lose nearly every other precinct in from Monroeville to Orland. Unless local Democrats spend time — real time — in Grable, Arcola, Ligonier, and at the co-op listening to the needs and frustrations of those voters, they will never stand a chance of competing in the 3rd District.

For many an election, the average of the equation is been 65% for Republicans 35% for Democrats. Courtney Tritch was a motivated, qualified, capable, and articulate candidate, but she barely moved the needle from 65/35. The problem is not with the candidate, it is with the party, or what passes for a Democratic Party in northeastern Indiana, that has no message, no platform, no program to benefit the majority of people in this part of Indiana.

How would you rate this story?
1 2 3 4 5
13 people reviwed this story with an average rating of 2.2.
FWR Archive | Contact Us | Advertise | Add Fort Wayne Reader news to your website |
©2024 Fort Wayne Reader. All rights Reserved.

©2024 Fort Wayne Reader. All rights Reserved.