It has been interesting to watch a Noblesville City Council primary contest disintegrate and to note the words and actions of the incumbent, Kathie Stretch.
Stretch, a Republican, faced a potential primary challenge by Wil Hampton- yes, the same of WRTV 6. Stretch obviously took this potential challenge very seriously. After all, the conventional wisdom is that in Hamilton County, all elections are won and lost in the Republican primary.
Stretch immediately siezed upon Hampton's media position as an 'unfair advantage'. From her letter to the Noblesville Daily Times:
Certain circumstances preclude individuals from the political arena. Arnold Schwarzenegger can never run for President because he wasn’t born in America. Should we ignore that rule because the folks in California think he’s done a good job as governor? What about term limits? No one doubts that Rudy Giuliani was extraordinary during the 9-11 attacks. Many wanted him to run again but term limits made that impossible and he chose not to challenge the law. While some laws may seem to be unfair in certain cases, on the whole they are effective and exist because they protect the majority of people.
Can you guess from this paragraph that Stretch pushed Hampton's employer? That's no stretch, har har. Hampton withdrew his candidacy.
Links to other articles in the saga: Column. Column.
While Stretch asserts that the majority of people were protected here somehow, I'll say that certainly one person was protected- incumbent Kathie Stretch.
I can tell you that as a recent candidate myself, the greatest advantage any candidate has is to be the incumbent. As the incumbent, you have the greatest ability to generate free media publicity, simply by sending out a press release, holding a press conference, or writing a new ordinance. Incumbents have the advantage of being able to build up campaign war chests over the duration of their term. They have a track record of prior electoral success. They have the experience of having done what it takes to win an election to guide future course while the challenger, novice that he is, guesses and stumbles along.
The incumbent for city councils have their names pasted to every sign on a construction project in their district, and on every set of construction plans approved within the city while in office. They accidently rub elbows with every mover and shaker in the city. The litany of 'unfair advantages' goes on and on.
I'm betting though, that she regards the advantages of her incumbency as perfectly fair, and besides, majority better served or not, it's legal!
Whew, that's convenient!
As for me and probably the citizens of District 4, it might have been even better to have two candidates take the forum of ideas and let the voters decide. As usually happens with election rules, the existing laws penalize the challenger, and let the incumbent coast home safely. After all- they were written by incumbents.
Nobody is fooled by her actions or letter. Indeed, these make her more worthy of an opponent, not less.