It was yet another bad night for Monroe County Republicans, who cannot seem to get out of the slump we have been in since the anti-Bush tide of 2004. It was only ten years ago that Republicans picked up two seats on the county council for a 5-2 majority and unseated an incumbent county commissioner for a 2-1 majority. Republicans even defeated the mayor of Bloomington in the secretary of state race when Todd Rokita got more votes than John Fernandez in Monroe County, but 2002 seems like a lifetime ago now.
Even so, I am unwilling to say that Republicans cannot win Monroe County. Remember, as of three years ago the Republican Party in Monroe County for all intents and purposes did not even exist. We were utterly decimated in 2008, between the Barack Obama landslide and the discouraged Republican base. Basically, we are building a party organization from scratch and it is unrealistic to expect a new political party to win right away. It may take a couple more election cycles but we can win.
There are reasons to be hopeful. In terms of party organization, we had very little in 2010 other than Todd Young’s campaign and some very motivated IU College Republicans, and Ryan Langley won his seat on the county council anyway. Even with the losses in 2012, The 40% Republican base vote is there.
Even with the Monroe County GOP in a rebuilding phase, there was no excuse for electing a Democrat as county auditor. This just shows the voters are not qualified to make these decisions, and that these jobs should be appointed rather than elected. No private corporation that handles the kind of money county government does would have their chief financial officer decided by a vote of employees and customers – they have the human resources department pick the most qualified person.
That said, I doubt any private corporation that handles that much money could hire a competent Chief Financial Officer for the money we pay the county auditor. If we are going to hire someone qualified, we are going to have to pay enough to get a qualified person. This means that the salary for the position is going to have to double, and maybe increase above that. No one qualified to serve as a hired county auditor is going to be willing to work for $53,778 per year.
Here’s the key to winning local elections in 2014 and 2016 – we cannot stop fighting. We need to keep plugging away at local issues, publicly. We need to keep informing and educating Monroe County voters. We need people at city council meetings, county council meetings, county commissioner meetings and plan commission meetings. We need to watch township government, because the Herald-Times will not.
The one thing that will assure that we will never win is giving up.