Bil Browning

In search of the perfect candidate

Filed By Bil Browning | January 03, 2008 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Congress, David Orentlicher, House of Representatives, Indiana, Indianapolis, Joanne Sanders, Julia Carson, special election

I just got off the phone with Indianapolis City-County Council minority leader Joanne Sanders. She confirmed to me that she is running for the open Congress seat caused by the passing of Congresswoman Julia Carson. She joins Andre Carson (Julia's grandson and an Indianapolis CCC member), Mike Rodman (Marion County Treasurer), and State Representative David Orentlicher as Democratic candidates. State Rep Carolene Mays is also rumored to be interested.

As I look over the current field of Democratic candidates, my first priority is how they stand on LGBT issues. Joanne Sanders and David Orentlicher stand out as great progressive candidates that would carry on Julia's legacy of supporting our community. Which politician should the Indianapolis LGBT community choose to support?

SJR-7 press conference
An early 2007 press conference opposing SJR-7, the proposed amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions. From left to right: Joanne Sanders (Democrats), Kathleen Dobie (Green Party), Mike Kole (Libertarians), Marion Wagner (NOW), Bil Browning (grassroots organizer), David Wene (Log Cabin Republicans), Zach Adamson (grassroots organizer). Not pictured: Scott Keller (Republicans) and Bill Groth (American Values Alliance).

I've worked with both Joanne and David on LGBT issues. David spoke at many of the Indiana Equality house parties that I organized. Joanne spoke at a press conference I organized last year with representatives of every Indiana political party to oppose SJR-7 (our proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions). I put a picture of the day's speakers above.

Joanne is a friend of mine, as is David. They've both been to our home and we've spent quite a bit of time with both of them. Both are stellar politicians with strong progressive records.

Which one would be the perfect candidate?

Joanne Sanders.

I don't intend my support of Joanne to take away anything from David and if he ends up the nominee, I'd be more than happy to vote for him over anyone else. He'd make an excellent Congressman that I'd be proud to support.

In my casual chats with Joanne though, I've noticed something that I really admire. She has that look in her eye when she speaks about issues like the war, LGBT rights, the environment, racism, and women's issues. She's hungry for the fight to advance the causes that are important to me.

In practical terms, Joanne is the ideal candidate. She an intelligent, attractive, hard working, successful woman with experience in the nuts and bolts of government - including leadership positions. She has a track record of thoughtful voting and is popular with the electorate. In an election where even the well funded Democratic incumbent mayor lost, Joanne was the only at-large Democratic candidate to keep her seat against the Republican onslaught.

Joanne works for a union and would obviously garner union backing. EMILY's list would endorse her more than likely. Joanne is also a party builder; she's currently in Iowa helping to organize the presidential caucus.

She risked her future political career by speaking against SJR-7 as an Indianapolis councilor. She supported and advocated for the Indianapolis inclusive human rights ordinance that includes both sexual orientation and gender identity. She has a record of achieving concrete results on our behalf - results that we can use to defend our families.

While it's important to me that politicians oppose SJR-7, that doesn't really accomplish anything - it just fends off bad legislation. Joanne's ability to help ensure passage of positive legislation really stands out to me. No other current candidate can say the same.

I want my next Congress person to have experience fighting for my rights when they go up against the bullies currently sitting on the Republican side of the House. I want a politician that will carry on Julia Carson's legacy of working on behalf of the little guy. I want a spitfire that's not afraid to work with the other side when appropriate and strategize past them when it's not.

I want a winner.

I want Joanne Sanders.

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I like Joanne Sanders, I like David O, I like Andre Carson, and I would be happy to have any of them represent me in Congress. David and Joanne have great track records, on GLBT issues and across the board, and Andre is young (a bonus for a body full of old fogies) and has, the couple of times I've seen him, projected maturity and seriousness. I'm leaning towards David myself, but I'm happy to campaign for whoever wins. We all should be.