By Scott Tibbs, November 7, 2007
Well, it was another disappointing night for local Republicans, who lost the District V seat they had held for the past 12 years and were unable to pick up student-heavy District VI or an at-large seat. David Sabbagh's margin of loss was especially disappointing for many Republicans. The 2007 numbers, in perspective:
- John Fernandez -- 7,020 -- 53%
- Kirk White -- 6,347 -- 47%
- Mark Kruzan -- 7,566 -- 63%
- Fred Prall -- 4,529 -- 37%
- Mark Kruzan -- 5,998 -- 61%
- David Sabbagh -- 3,826 -- 39%
I am surprised that Sabbagh got around 700 fewer votes than Prall did in 2003. Since Kruzan's vote total was significantly down from his numbers in 2003, Sabbagh's percentage of the vote was slightly better than Prall's. Sabbagh certainly had crossover appeal with Democrats. Both Kruzan and City Clerk Regina Moore won his district in 2003, but enough Kruzan and Moore voters crossed over for Sabbagh that he won a close race anyway. However, there were Republicans who were turned off by Sabbagh's liberal views, especially his sponsorship of the city's "gender identity" ordinance. (See here, here and here.)
I supported Sabbagh's bid for Mayor, mostly because Mark Kruzan has decided he is above the law, something that is dangerous for the Constitutional liberties of Bloomington's population. If I had it to do over again, I would not have voted for Sabbagh, mostly because of his sponsorship of the "gender identity" ordinance, but also because of his vote for the smoking ban in 2003 and his vote for signage regulations in the past. Nonetheless, I told Sabbagh I was going to vote for him a few months ago and I felt I was obligated to honor my word.
Sabbagh said during his concession speech that "we have to stop attacking each other." As I've said in the past, you cannot expect people with deeply-held views to not speak their minds on issues of importance. I did tell Sabbagh back in February that I was not going to attack him during this election, because he would have been a significant improvement over Mark Kruzan. However, I think the constant calls for "party unity" are actually divisive. The statement about "attacking each other" is pretty much irrelevant for this past election anyway, because conservative criticism of David Sabbagh was mostly muted. In fact, many ideologically conservative Republicans (including me) were on board as supporting Sabbagh. I even endorsed him in the newspaper.
Some are going to again place the blame for this loss on Republican Party chairman Franklin Andrew. But how much responsibility do Andrew's critics place on the candidates themselves? Despite what some so-called "moderates" might say, when the vast majority of people step into the voting booth, they don't vote for or against the Republican Party chairman or mostly irrelevant activists like Scott Tibbs. At the end of the day, the buck stops with the candidates and the candidates are the ones who win or lose elections. If the Republicans had won locally in 2004, 2006 and 2007, would John Shean or Franklin Andrew have gotten credit for it, or would all of the credit have gone to the candidates? Do I even need to ask this question?
I'm shocked that Bart Peterson was defeated in his bid for re-election. That was the upset of the night and I would not be surprised to see this talked about nationally. Peterson became the first Democrat mayor of Indianapolis in many years when he won in 1999, and his convincing victory in 2003 and continuing popularity made him a contender to either challenge Mitch Daniels for governor in 2008 or run for an open seat in 2012. I wondered why Peterson was running the kind of highly negative attack ads against his opponent, but I guess Peterson knew he was in trouble. My guess is anger over the property tax issue contributed to Peterson's loss. Will this light a fire under the Indiana Legislature to fix the problem?
More than anything, I am disappointed in the low turnout. Yes, there was only one Republican candidate running at-large and no Republican ran in districts I, III* and IV. (Carl Lamb actually filed to run in District III, but was disqualified because he moved outside of city limits when he moved into a house on the other side of the street but still inside city planning and zoning jurisdiction.) But people could still vote in the Mayor's race and there was some choice at-large. Mostly, though, far too many people decided to simply not participate in deciding the course of city government for the next four years. That is truly disappointing and it needs to change.