There has been a lot of discussion about Dennie Oxley and his joining the Jill Long-Thompson campaign as her running mate. (Bil reported on the Indiana Stonewall Democrats' meeting with Oxley last week.)
While I understand the sentiments of some of the folks regarding Oxley and his stances on gay and women's issues, it just doesn't sit well with me that so many will dismiss JLT's candidacy just because her Lite Guv pick isn't quite up to snuff.
On Hoosier Political Report today, Jen Wagner tackles this very same issue. She reports on an AP article that digs into the realities behind whether or not the person at the bottom of the ticket affects how people vote. The short of it: It has little to no effect.
I agree completely...
For all the complaining about Dennie Oxley I've heard in the LGBT community, I've heard little regarding how absolutely wonderful JLT is on LGBT issues. I'm trying to get an electronic copy of her interview with The Word, but in sum the interview makes clear that Jill Long-Thompson is more LGBT friendly than any past gubernatorial candidate.
Oh, and she's at the top of the ticket.
She's not like, say, John McCain, whom we can be almost certain won't make it through his first term and definitely won't make it two terms. With McCain, it makes much more sense to scrutinize the #2 simply because the #2 is very likely to become the #1 should McCain win. That's a rather distant issue with Long-Thompson. She's relatively young, she's vibrant, and she's probably good to go for 3 or 4 terms if there weren't term limits.
So is Dennie Oxley a problem? Maybe. But he's a small one and we shouldn't be focusing so much on him. He's only 50% of this ticket and he's by far the less important 50%. In reality, you could probably say it's more like 65/35 with JLT being the 65%. He takes the luster off the campaign, but he shouldn't be considered a deal-breaker.
Really, how much do you hear from Becky Skillman? It's not like the Lt. Governor's job allows for a lot of policy making. The key duty Oxley would have that could have an impact would be his duty to cast the tie-breaking vote should the Senate ever become deadlocked. Oxley has committed to casting any such vote on LGBT issues in line with Long-Thompson's positions, not his own.
Besides, people do change. Let's look at our good friend Terri Austin. Austin has been lionized for her committee vote against the marriage amendment in 2007, which effectively killed the marriage amendment. (Note: yes, it will come back, but they have to start from scratch. The "original marriage amendment" is dead.)
Austin had voted in favor of the amendment in 2005 when it passed its first hurdle toward becoming part of the constitution. She cited having learned more about the issues and the unintended consequences seen elsewhere as her reasons for changing her vote.
We don't yet know if Dennie Oxley has changed. I would argue that we have a better shot at getting him to change if the Long-Thompson ticket prevails in November. Seeing an LGBT friendly woman get elected may well sway Oxley toward more progressive stances on LGBT and women's issues.
Regardless, we have at least 4, if not 8, years before we have to worry about whether Oxley has come around enough to be in the top spot. We don't have to support him then if he's not ready. We are not beholden to him just because we support the ticket now.
My question is this: Do we want someone in the governor's office who is definitely our friend or someone in the governor's office who is definitely not our friend? With Daniels and Skillman, we have what amounts to zero support in the governor's office or the Lite Guv's office. At least with JLT, we'd have a known friend in the top job and we can work on Oxley over time.
The need to call an end to the Bush-Daniels era of mis-management and outsourcing our livelihoods is too important. If you can't square with voting for Long-Thompson because of Oxley and LGBT issues, then vote for Long-Thompson because she has good ideas for getting us back on track in Indiana.