Although we’re still quite a bit away from the 2012 elections, Democrats are slowly lining up to take on Republicans. Former Speaker of the House John Gregg is forming an exploratory committee to run for Governor. There is also talk State Senate Democratic Leader Vi Simpson may also make a run, appealing to the more progressive wing of the party. Former State Representative Dave Crooks of Washington tells me he’s planning to run in the new 8th Congressional District against Larry Buschon. And Sam Locke recently sent out an e-mail last week saying he’s looking at taking on Todd Young in the 9th. And all signs are pointing to a Joe Donnelly run for the U.S. Senate.
Simpson and Locke not withstanding; Gregg, Donnelly and Crooks can fairly be categorized as conservative Democrats, which is definitely something Democrats will need. Let’s all be honest here, this is Indiana and flaming liberals need not apply in most places. However, despite some potential vulnerabilities I see on the Republican side of the equation, Democrats are going to have to bring something else to the table in 2012 that they did not do a lot of 2010, new ideas.
You may not have liked the Republican agenda this year, but at least they had one. I had yet to see Democrats, as a whole, offer up any real, concrete policy positions on education, job creation, government reform etc. Even the House attempts at redistricting was highly lacking in detail. And no offense, but running across the border didn’t really change a whole lot at the end of the day. Yes, right-to-work was taken off the table, but all you’re getting in its place is an anti-bolting statute with $1000 fines attached to it.
The Democrats can’t just pin their hopes on the Barack Obama Presidential campaign and the uneasiness some moderate and independent voters might have with respect to a Mike Pence gubernatorial campaign and the social issues it would bring with it. They are going to have to give voters a reason to throw the Republicans out. One promising sign for the Democrats was in two recent polls taken (one on the walkout, the other on school reform) a majority of voters did think the state was on the wrong track, although neither went into specifics. But to really capitalize on that angst and anxiety, the party is going to have to offer some ideas. One group that has been offering suggestions is Indiana Democrats for Education Reform. They’re doing what a good advocacy group should do, offer praise when warranted, criticize when necessary, and bring ideas to table all the time. It would be nice if other segments of the Democratic Party did the same thing.
In order for Indiana’s political climate to remain healthy it needs a strong two-party system; three if you count the Libertarians. Hopefully, the familiar faces who are jumping into the pool will bring some new ideas with them, otherwise it will just be business as usual and Republican landslides will just become another everyday occurrence.