I sat yesterday sipping a drink with a fellow Republican holding close to vest the name of another Republican thought capable of beating Bart Peterson. In my opinion, it was delusional. I don't think the ramifications on Marion County politics of yesterday's final vote in the Indiana Senate are fully understood, so I will spell them out for the Party.
1. No legislator whose final vote on the topic of SJR-7 was to void gays constitutional rights to equal protection of the laws has a realistic future in County-wide elective office in Marion County. With each vote yesterday in favor of SJR-7, the Republican senator casting that vote erased his or her ability to attract an electoral majority in Marion County.
Whereas we've been able temporarily to inoculate some Republicans from association with the broader disgrace of the Republican Party on the topic of glbt rights, and therefore preserve some degree of future electoral prospect for them in Marion County, it will be politically impossible for a glbt Republican to speak positively of any Republican who has voted for SJR-7.
A Republican candidate who is indefensible to glbt Republicans will be utterly indefensible to the glbt community at large. That candidate who is indefensible to the glbt community at large will prove unsavory to independents, let alone cross-over Democrat votes, who will find it difficult to speak positively of a candidate who will be characterized (legitimately) as hostile to the rights of their gay and lesbian family members, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. And that candidate who is indefensible to independents won't even be able to rely on moderate Republican votes, in my opinion.
Even if issues of the election seem to have nothing whatsoever to do with glbt rights, the Republican candidate who has supported SJR-7 will prove unable to gain the momentum necessary to achieve any victory across Marion County. SJR-7 has ended the County-wide prospects for every Republican Senator. (In my opinion, the prospects for re-election of at least one senator even in that senator's own district are problematic. That senator, in my estimation, is now fully defeatable in a general election.)
As George Bush Sr. said predicting the end of Saddam Hussein's occupation of Kuwait: "That's not a threat, that's not a boast, that's just the way it's going to be."
2. SJR-7 is now moving to the House of Representatives. It will do the same damage in the House that it has done in the Senate. I am aware of only one House Republican candidate who opposes SJR-7 on libertarian grounds. In my estimation, he will be the only House Republican who will emerge from this era with the potential of a future in Marion County encompassing the prospects for county-wide office.
3. As Republicans begin to speak up against SJR-7, they enhance their future in Marion County, if not immediately, then ultimately. Some already are speaking up, most recently Michael Hegg who is running for a city-county council at-large seat. (That will be a very difficult race in the absence of a compelling Republican Mayoral candidate.)
4. (And this is the tough part...) Unfortunately, I fear the Republican votes for SJR-7 will likely further damage the Marion County Republican Party, even for the good people who today I believe are striving for change. Beware: With each office holder that the Marion County Party supports who voted for SJR-7, the Party will damage its ability to distance current leadership from the anger and hurt caused by SJR-7. It will be difficult in the gay community to see any difference between an organization of new people who are forward thinking and an organization that is supporting the old political careers of office holders who have attacked the gay community at its core. In my opinion it will be tough to try and showcase any Republican for any office who has an anti-gay voting record without seriously damaging the County Party's prospects.
That problem may cause internal stress in the Party. It should.
To forward thinking Republicans in Marion County: The generation of Republican that is attempting to enact a Constitutional ban is not only taking future power from you to enact civil partnership laws and other humane measures; they are damaging your interests today. In their success will be found your failure in Marion County; in their failure will be found your success.