I printed out my ballot listing and made a set of first-round selections. Most of them are easy choices, since the majority of downticket contestants are not particularly rabid and they're generally upfront about their positions if you do a little research. --Not that you'd know that from the TV ads, which rarely mention party affiliation unless it's already well-known.
Democrat Evan Bayh is a sort of kindly-seeming Bond villain, a second-generation U. S. Senator who moves in a cloud fragrant with entitlement and toes the party line while trying maintain a crumbling facade of being a good old aw-shucks Hoosier youth. He is waging a vicious smear campaign with Republican Todd Young, a fresh-faced former Marine hoping to move from the House to the Senate. If you went by the ads, you wouldn't vote for either one, though Bayh seems to have been up to a little more barely-okay stuff than his challenger. Meh. I went by which one I can trust on firearms laws and invasive government, which gives Young the edge. Remember, kids, the President gets up to all kind of highly visible nonsense but he doesn't make laws; it's the House and Senate that can really mess things up long term for you and me, usually with POTUS as a distraction.
The U. S. House race has been much more quiet, perhaps because incumbent Susan Brooks and Democrat Angela Demaree haven't got up to much in the way of mischief. Or -- hey, it could happen -- perhaps they've got more decorum than the boys tussling over the lucrative Senate seat. The LP has a horse in that race but Matthew Whittlief is starting way back. Brooks is a known quantity in a pretty safe district and I'm betting we'll see her win.
Down the ballot, the GOP is running a Ruckleshaus for state senate, a long-familiar last name in Indiana politics, and I need to see what he's about. I'm leaning towards the LP's Zachary Roberts on anti-dynastic grounds, but I'm persuadable.
Way, way down, we've got the non-partisan Indianapolis Public School Board at-large candidates. Most of them have barely a web presence and their mailers are long on pretty pictures and empty phrases. I try to find the one who has done the most public service with the greatest amount of "sweat equity," with an eye towards small businessmen over rising politicians (though there's a lot of overlap). It's a thankless job and you need people who understand there's hugely more work to it than headlines.
We've also got a couple of ballot questions, one on a state constitutional amendment preserving the right to hunt and fish -- a resounding Yes from me -- and the other wanting to establish a special tax for the city to replace a crummy, low-use bus line with a crummier, dedicated-lane electrified bus line with the main purpose of shuttling hipsters and old yuppies between downtown and Broad Ripple. This line will tear up College Avenue, my main route to work, for a year or more, permanently remove one lane* from it, and stuff big bus stops into the center at numerous intersections. People who park on the street will lose spaces, which will hurt the various small businesses. No, No and Hell No.
There are a lot of other offices up for grabs. Assume I'll be voting Libertarian by default -- and I never vote to retain a judge. If that was supposed to be a lifetime job, Your Honor, the legislature would have made it a lifetime job. They did not.
* To be fair, we only have three lanes on College Avenue because there used to be streetcar tracks up the middle. We did not, however, had big ugly streetcar stops up the middle; the thing just stopped and people got on or off. If it was raining, they carried umbrellas and they always wore hats. Also, the streetcars carried low- and middle-wage workers between home and work, not from one area of trendy bars and hip apartments to another area of the same.
4 weeks ago