Bil Browning

Republicans narrow down Congressional choices

Filed By Bil Browning | June 25, 2008 3:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics

Inside sources tell me that the Republicans have narrowed their search for a Congressional candidate down to two choices. Social worker Gabrielle Campo is said to be the Party's top choice with former Indianapolis City-County Councilor Scott Keller running a close second.

Campo challenged former candidate Jon Elrod earlier this year at the Republican slating convention and lost. After Elrod dropped out of the race last week, she quickly became the replacement pick for the Party. Campo currently has an active "Campo for Congress" website.

Less than 24 hours after Elrod pulled out 7th District Republican chairman John Hammond told WTHR, "There is a woman by the name of Gabrielle Campo who we think really has the kind of vigor, youth and enthusiasm and matches up well, I think, with what this district may be looking for." Hammond will lead the meeting of precinct leaders who will choose a replacement for Elrod.

Keller is being mentioned as the Party's next-in-line if Campo declines the nomination. As Keller's former City-County Council campaign manager, I can say without hesitation that he would run a spirited campaign and would be excellent on the issues important to 7th District residents.

That being said, he'd lose. For that matter, so will Campo. More thoughts after the jump.

While I don't know Ms. Campo in the least, I have a unique vision of Scott Keller. I know him to be as honest as the day is long and a workaholic. He never does anything halfway and is one of the most organized people I know.

I know Keller to be a moderate Republican that is a big believer in the basic human goodness in us all. He has a perfect record with local LGBT rights organizations and the business community loves him. The sheer number of moderate Republicans that adore him is staggering. There's a reason why he was able to raise more money than any other City-County Council candidate in the last election; while the heavily Democratic district returned to Democrat hands, Keller was supported by progressive Republicans from around the city.

Jon Elrod is another darling of the moderates. He's also gay friendly. He's also young and photogenic. None of that mattered; he got creamed by Andre Carson. No matter if the candidate is Campo or Keller, the Carson campaign will mop the floor with them.

A basic look at the facts can give us a foreshadowing of what's to come. A recent poll shows a statistical tie between Obama and McCain in Indiana. Even Mitch Daniels is desperately claiming he's "capital C" change. The 7th District heavily leans Democratic already. Obama and Carson share a lot of the same base - younger voters, African-Americans, the LGBT community and the working poor - and that base is energized this election.

After looking at Campo's website, I can see that she touts "strong values" and that she "supports pro-life legislation." I can't say for certain that she's a "conservative," but she's certainly sending all the right code words. Keller, on the other hand, is hated by the far right wing.

Which would be better for the LGBT community? If a moderate Republican goes up against Carson and loses, what message will that send to the Party? What message does it send if a conservative is the one to go down in flames?

Our Republican brothers and sisters should figure out the answers to these questions quickly if they hope to advance the cause in Indianapolis. Either way, they're going to have to find a way to make losing a victory.

Tough choice.

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JK Johnson | June 25, 2008 4:32 PM


I am not in the 7th District; however, I know Scott Keller well and only wish the best for him. Scott does not need this kind of aggravation from a party that would put any candidate up for a symbolic run. The term "sacrificial lamb" comes to mind. I don't envy Campo, whoever she is, but Scott is much too savvy to be pulled into this race. Let Campo run and suffer a mighty defeat. Scott has better things to do with his time and energies.

Wilson46201 | June 25, 2008 4:40 PM

Ms. Campos website is detritus from her failed attempt this spring to gain the GOP nomination for the 7th District. She's a social worker with children which is refreshing for a Right-To-Lifer: usually they just give up on fetuses once they are born.

Scott Keller is a nice guy and may be loved by moderate Republicans everywhere but he lost his Council seat about 2 to 1 last year. Not auspicious!

If you’re talking exclusively, the LGBT community, then of course it would be a conservative candidate. That’s pretty obvious.

To be honest, as much as I hate seeing an incumbent go unchallenged, this is probably the one race I wish the Republicans weren’t expending any energy or money. With the political atmosphere this year, and with Obama at the top of the Democrat ticket, Andre Carson is an unstoppable force that Julia Carson only wished she could have been. Carson was going to smash Jon Elrod and he’s going to do even worse to whoever runs against him now. If Elrod had stayed in the race, he would have been lucky to get the 38% of the vote that Gary Hofmeister got in 1998. And it’s going to be worse for whoever is chosen, be it Campo or Keller, though Keller get’s a slight advantage because at least he’s proven at being able to raise money.

But this is just the opinion of an outside observer.

Zach Adamson | June 26, 2008 8:12 AM

Personally I think Scott shouldn't bother to do any favors for the party who has treated him so badly. Especially take such a serious blow for no reason. Elections are expensive and physically and mentally taxing. I would like to see Scott join the ranks of people who would appreciate him more. His abilities to raise funds and his general unbiased leadership would be wasted, and should be saved for not only something that he wants but something winnable.
And if someone is going to be offered up as a sacrifice to the neo con gods, its obvious the best one in my book would be the ultra conservative. Scott should decline before even offered so repubs work harder on Campo.
Lets face it. Elrod was their last best hope for the 7th. Everything else is symbolic.