Inside sources tell me that the Republicans have narrowed their search for a Congressional candidate down to two choices. Social worker Gabrielle Campo is said to be the Party's top choice with former Indianapolis City-County Councilor Scott Keller running a close second.
Campo challenged former candidate Jon Elrod earlier this year at the Republican slating convention and lost. After Elrod dropped out of the race last week, she quickly became the replacement pick for the Party. Campo currently has an active "Campo for Congress" website.
Less than 24 hours after Elrod pulled out 7th District Republican chairman John Hammond told WTHR, "There is a woman by the name of Gabrielle Campo who we think really has the kind of vigor, youth and enthusiasm and matches up well, I think, with what this district may be looking for." Hammond will lead the meeting of precinct leaders who will choose a replacement for Elrod.
Keller is being mentioned as the Party's next-in-line if Campo declines the nomination. As Keller's former City-County Council campaign manager, I can say without hesitation that he would run a spirited campaign and would be excellent on the issues important to 7th District residents.
That being said, he'd lose. For that matter, so will Campo. More thoughts after the jump.
While I don't know Ms. Campo in the least, I have a unique vision of Scott Keller. I know him to be as honest as the day is long and a workaholic. He never does anything halfway and is one of the most organized people I know.
I know Keller to be a moderate Republican that is a big believer in the basic human goodness in us all. He has a perfect record with local LGBT rights organizations and the business community loves him. The sheer number of moderate Republicans that adore him is staggering. There's a reason why he was able to raise more money than any other City-County Council candidate in the last election; while the heavily Democratic district returned to Democrat hands, Keller was supported by progressive Republicans from around the city.
Jon Elrod is another darling of the moderates. He's also gay friendly. He's also young and photogenic. None of that mattered; he got creamed by Andre Carson. No matter if the candidate is Campo or Keller, the Carson campaign will mop the floor with them.
A basic look at the facts can give us a foreshadowing of what's to come. A recent poll shows a statistical tie between Obama and McCain in Indiana. Even Mitch Daniels is desperately claiming he's "capital C" change. The 7th District heavily leans Democratic already. Obama and Carson share a lot of the same base - younger voters, African-Americans, the LGBT community and the working poor - and that base is energized this election.
After looking at Campo's website, I can see that she touts "strong values" and that she "supports pro-life legislation." I can't say for certain that she's a "conservative," but she's certainly sending all the right code words. Keller, on the other hand, is hated by the far right wing.
Which would be better for the LGBT community? If a moderate Republican goes up against Carson and loses, what message will that send to the Party? What message does it send if a conservative is the one to go down in flames?
Our Republican brothers and sisters should figure out the answers to these questions quickly if they hope to advance the cause in Indianapolis. Either way, they're going to have to find a way to make losing a victory.