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January 22, 2014

KITCHELL: Logansport's political past revealed on WFYI

(Continued)

At some point, the question becomes whether the glory days of Logansport’s political sons and daughters is really in the past or if it’s in the future. If the next generation of leaders from both parties or independents is to leave the marks many of their predecessors have, there are some barriers to overcome. One is the lack of a major media market. Indianapolis is a rapidly growing market in addition to being a state capital, but Logansport is on the outer fringe of that market and receives little attention for much of anything that goes on here.

Another barrier is population shift. Logansport and Cass County have been fairly consistent in population for almost a century. But other counties, particularly the doughnut counties surrounding Indianapolis, have grown markedly. Additionally, other urban counties in Indiana such as Tippecanoe have grown significantly, producing more candidates and earning more media attention in their own urban markets.

What candidates from either major party have on their side in this county is that they are not from Indianapolis, in the same sense that candidates who go to Washington from outside the Beltway go there to “clean up the mess in Washington”. Electing people from places like Cass County to statewide offices is like pushing a reset button and starting anew.

There are few examples of small-town politicians hitting it big in Washington today. Maybe the best is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who hails from the small town of Searchlight, Nevada. In past years in Indiana politics, Republicans produced governors from Seymour in Ed Whitcomb and Bremen in Otis Bowen. Evan Bayh came from the community of Shirkieville.

In a perfect world, candidates from any party who are effective in government at the local level ought to aspire to higher levels of government, but what we haven’t yet learned in the 21st century is if the Twitter/Facebook generation of the electorate can level the playing field for these candidates. For that matter, it’s unclear if party organizations from the county level, to the district level to the state level can provide equal opportunity for the best qualified candidates regardless of where they reside or well known they are.

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