GOP mayoral candidates raise primary questions
The last day of filing for the May primary election is always an interesting one at the Madison County Clerk’s office as the various races come into focus.
In past decades, the hallway outside of the clerk’s office was packed with the leaders of both parties keeping a watchful eye on the candidate declarations.
There was a time in the not-so-distant past that a vacancy on one ticket or the other would result in a political unknown being brought in by the opposing party to assure a victory in November.
Those days have mostly come to an end.
This year brought a few surprises on the final day, although the rush of potential candidates failed to materialize.
Within the space of a day, two candidates filed seeking the Republican Party nomination for mayor of Anderson. Rick Gardner, currently the Madison County Auditor, filed on the first day back in January; he was joined Thursday night by former mayor and six-time candidate for the office, Kevin Smith; and JoAnna Collette, who was elected to the Anderson school board in the 1990s.
The winner will in all likelihood be running against incumbent Democrat Thomas Broderick Jr., who is being opposed in the primary by Terry May, who ran for an ACS board seat in the past.
The reality of three candidates in the GOP primary for the mayoral nomination raises several questions.
Did the Collette entry on Friday benefit Gardner or Smith?
Why would Collette, executive director of JobSource enter the mayor’s race?
Collette has been a vocal proponent of repurposing the Wigwam complex with Indianapolis based developer BWI.
The Wigwam project has stalled basically because of a lack of funding. If Collette becomes mayor, will some of the city’s economic development dollars flow to the Wigwam?
At one time they requested $5 million from the city.
Does Smith, who faced legal problems after his last term as mayor, still appeal to the majority of Republicans as a candidate?
Gardner was elected auditor in 2016 and served on the county council, but this is his first run at an executive office.
Can any of the three attract independents and Democrats in the fall election?
Speculation was that Broderick would face a significant challenge for the party’s nomination. Taking nothing against May, but it doesn’t seem likely that he can muster the money or support to unseat Broderick for the nomination.
Another concern for whoever wins the GOP nomination has to be the fact that Broderick already has $180,000 for his campaign.
Other observations from the close of filing:
• Although nine Democrats are running for the three at-large seats on the Anderson City Council, no Republicans filed for the office, which makes any hope of a Republican mayor having a majority on the city council doubtful starting in 2020.
• The second oddity is that not a single Republican filed for elective office in Elwood.
Senior Reporter Ken de la Bastide’s column publishes Sundays. Contact him at email@example.com or 765-640-4863.