If Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard runs for Congress, who replaces him as mayor?
This all began when Donald Trump selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to be his running mate. Pence can’t run for governor now and so several people are vying to be his replacement on the ballot, including U.S. Rep.Susan Brooks. If she is selected, she can’t run for Congress and therefore someone else will run in her place.
The 5th District is a Republican-safe district —we haven’t had a Democrat since 1993 — so whomever the party picks to run in Brooks’ place will likely be moving to Washington D.C. In addition to Brainard, two other local candidates were mentioned: State Sen. Mike Delph and State Sen. Jim Merritt. I know both of these legislators and have met with them in person for articles in Current in Carmel and neither has been shy to imply that they have higher ambitions, but are waiting for the right opportunity.
I called Delph but he declined to comment at this time, and Merritt could not be reached as of the writing of this post, but local precinct committeemen have told me that Merritt is seeking support.
I’ve also been told that Hamilton County Councilor Fred Glynn and Doug Carter, Superintendent of the Indiana State Police, are being mentioned as possibilities.
However, some Carmelites tell me they think there’s a strong enough possibility that Brooks will be selected and then Brainard will be selected and elected. If Brainard won, then a caucus of precinct committeemen would meet to select his replacement who would then serve as mayor for the three years remaining on his term.
Rick Sharp, former president of the Carmel City Council and mayoral opponent to Brainard in the last election, told me that he’s been asked and he’s interested.
“Yes, I would be interested in the position if that were to occur,” he said. “I think I have the temperament and experience and character to be able to serve the city and build on what Mayor Brainard has started in the city. You know, a lot of people commented that I kept complimenting the mayor during the election and I did and because that’s because I’m a fair person. I just disagreed with some of his policies.”
Hamilton County Commissioner Christine Altman also told me that she’s been asked.
“I haven’t decided yet,” she said. “I thought that might be a possibility but there are so many moving parts.”
Several others have also been mentioned, including Carmel City Councilors Sue Finkam, Jeff Worrell and Kevin “Woody” Rider.
Worrell said he would be interested in becoming mayor, but said he would need to consider several things before making that decision.
“I would want to consider if I’m ready,” he said. “I would want to see if the right team would be in place at the mayor’s office. I would want to see if the people would be open to me as mayor because they’re used to same guy for the past 20 years. I think there are a lot of questions that would have to be asked. But I’m absolutely honored to be on that list.”
Multiple sources tell me that one thing that might complicate this process is the recent election of precinct committeemen in the May primary. Brainard-supported precinct committeemen didn’t win as many races, which could complicate not only his path to replacing Brooks, but also who would replace him as mayor if he wins.
Some are telling me that a conservative-leaning caucus could favor someone like Delph for Congress. It could also favor Sharp for mayor if Brainard wins.
There is also a question about some candidates drawing from similar groups, so we might see some people wait and see who else jumps in the race before they decide. I’m referring to both Congress and/or mayor, but you always have to consider whether multiple conservatives or multiple moderates would split the vote and hand the win to someone else.
Of course, for a lot of this, it is really too early to say for sure what might happen. None of this is set in stone and all of it could change, depending on what possible candidates decide and how the politics play out.
We still have to wait and see if Susan Brooks actually is chosen to replace Pence on the ballot, but we’re bringing it up because several politicians are already making phone calls to build support in case the dominoes fall a certain way.
This is a commentary blog post and is written from the viewpoint of Adam Aasen.
Update as of July 16:
Since the original posting of this blog yesterday, I have heard from several others about their interest in being considered for Carmel mayor.
Carmel City Council President Ron Carter, who has been on the council since Brainard was first elected 20 years ago, said he would be interested in becoming mayor. He said he’s had conversations with Brainard in the past about his interest if there ever was a vacancy.
Carmel City Councilor Sue Finkam told me she would be interested in being mayor if there was a vacancy but it might be too early in her opinion since there isn’t a vacancy at this point.
Carmel City Councilor Kevin “Woody” Rider also sent me a message confirming that he is indeed interested as well.