Is anyone else feeling like Jan Brady right now? (Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!)
Yes, friends, it seems bilerico.com has gone all Kiser all the time in the past couple of days. It's not that we don't love you Julia, it's just that Mr. Kiser makes for much more interesting copy.
As everyone from here to China knows, we had to take down a post by the fabulous Marla Stevens yesterday under threat of legal action by the Kiser campaign. (OK. I should make clear that during our meeting with Mr. Kiser, he and his staff made clear they are not suing us, but they may seek legal recourse against one of our contributors.)
Anyway, I want to talk about my impressions of Mr. Kiser and his campaign. I've refrained from public comment on this race until now.
So, yesterday, after Bil got a call from Kiser's campaign manager, Rick Sutton, we went down to a local pub to meet with his campaign and discuss this brouhaha.
My first thought upon meeting Mr. Kiser was: "Why is Ed Begley Jr. playing a congressional candidate. Am I on TV?" This was mildly amusing, but very judgmental and trite, so I thought I'd better put it out of my head.
Mr. Kiser brought along Mr. Sutton, his partner Darrell, and another campaign staffer whose name I didn't catch over the din of the pub.
The discussion started almost immediately with Mr. Kiser launching into a soliloquy about his partner, his outrage, and his roots in Indianapolis. He produced business cards from his last 20 years of jobs, his Bar Association card, and even his Eagle Scout ID card. Good stuff.
He was prepped with "date stamped" pictures of his partner and his family co-mingling in different settings. He produced a picture of himself at age 18 working for a local ice delivery company to prove his roots.
He told us how he had run a clean campaign, he'd never attacked Julia, he'd never said an ill word of her in public, he has deep respect for all she's done. In this, I honestly found he was totally sincere. I truly believe he has respect for Julia, but only a fool wouldn't.
So, we sat through the seemingly practiced dog and pony show to prove Kiser's 9 year relationship, gay credentials, honorable campaign, and hometown roots. There is no doubt that Mr. Kiser has roots in Indianapolis. There is no doubt that Mr. Kiser has respect for his opponent. There is no doubt that Mr. Kiser is a proud, gay man. But the certainties stop there.
I'm not at all saying that the allegations against Mr. Kiser are true, but I am saying that the evidence Mr. Kiser produced to refute them isn't going to win over any critics. In my 8 year relationship, we have a number of pictures, but we also have legal documents with our names on them, leases, bills, car titles, the list goes on. There is a clear intertwining of lives.
I have no trust or faith in the boy scouts. For one, I never was a scout, but after their anti-gay policies and total lack of respect for all children, I can't say that Scout's Honor does a lot for me. The Freemason's (of which Kiser also claimed membership) think of themselves as the divinely ordained guardians of Democracy, and I find that just plain weird. Finally, passing the Bar simply means you went to law school and paid attention.
I had hoped to be able to report that we were giving the guy a bad wrap with all the negative ink he's been receiving, but the best I can say is that he's adamant that we're giving him a bad wrap and he's got some pictures and his scout's honor to back it up. That's not enough to allay a single critic and my opinion on any of the charges are just that, my opinion. I've heard the case from both sides, I've heard many more charges and allegations that I won't dare repeat (again from BOTH sides.) But I'm still not swayed either way.
In the end, let me say this. Kris Kiser has every right to run for Congress. I think it is admirable that a gay man is willing to stick his neck out and make a run for office.
However, Julia's been a friend to the community for longer than the "16 years" Mr. Kiser has been absent from Indianapolis. She's represented this district with honor, grace, and humility. She has been to every Pride event I've ever attended. She took the local Democrats to the woodshed to help get the Indianapolis HRO passed. Julia is a truly honorable congressional representative and I see absolutely no reason to upset the apple cart now.
Her health isn't the best, but does anyone know about Kiser's health? Is he fit, trim, and in fighting condition? What about the other Democratic primary candidates running against Julia? There are rumors out there on more than one of these candidates that I won't repeat here. I think each candidate knows best if their health will prevent them from fulfilling the duties of their office.
To make a long story short...I'm still voting for Julia Carson on Tuesday and I strongly urge everyone in the 7th Congressional District to do the same.