The Indianapolis Star and its news gathering partner WTHR TV Channel 13 in Indianapolis last night reported the results of a new poll conducted for WTHR that shows maverick Republican candidate and former local auto dealer Eric Dickerson leading the incumbent Democrat and local power broker Rep. Julia Carson for the 7th District seat. Dickerson ran an insurgent campaign to win the GOP primary back in May against the party endorsed candidate and has ran a rather austere and quixotic to some campaign from the grassroots underneath everyone’s radar.
Several dynamics at play here I believe, Carson has built a patronage machine locally that has in recent years embarassed her, including a scandal involving a bar being located in a government building where she has an office and the building is named after her. Several of her local supporters are behind the bar project and managed to muscle through the liquor permit for the bar and touched a nerve in the community in the process.
Secondly, and no local pundits have picked up on this yet, support for Mayor Bart Peterson, who has closely allied himself with the Carson machine, is much softer than he realizes. The Mayor has been making controversial decisions that have made enemies of former friends, has set priorities that many citizens feel are lower down the list of concerns to worry about in lieu of working on other issues and is in general showing signs of weakness. Coupled with weak support for the Carson machine and insurgent Republican efforts within the local GOP and you have the makings of an interesting race no one was paying attention to.