There’s a new phrase starting to emerge in the lexicon of the Indiana Statehouse: “Getting Ritzed.”
It refers to the stunning Nov. 6 electoral victory of political newcomer Glenda Ritz over her giant of an opponent, Tony Bennett, in the race for superintendent of public instruction.
More so, it refers to the kind of campaign that rocketed Ritz past Bennett to win 1.3 million Hoosier votes.
Employing a mastery of social media that tapped into widening skepticism about the K-12 education overhaul that Bennett championed, the Ritz campaign pulled off the seemingly impossible: They beat the Republican incumbent in a Republican-loving state and did it with a fraction of the money, TV airtime, and powerful partisan pull that Bennett enjoyed. (And, and often noted since, they managed to get more votes for Ritz than Gov.-elect Mike Pence.)
Getting Ritzed is the 21st century version of the biblical tale of David and Goliath. (David Galvin, the engineer of Ritz’s social media campaign, tapped into that analogy in a fascinating article he wrote for the Nov. 15 issue of Howey Politics Indiana.)
If you remember the story from Sunday school, you’ll remember that little David picked up that slingshot because he figured out that his coat of mail, his brass helmet, and that sword girded to his side weren’t going to get him to where he needed.
“I cannot go in these,” David said, as he cast aside the conventional battle plan and scooped up a handful of rocks, “for I am unused to it.”
Hard not to think of that tale when listening to Republicans who are unused to losing.
As first reported by Maureen Groppe of the Indianapolis Star, outgoing Gov. Mitch Daniels — the true champion of the education reforms that the teachers’ union loathes — is still seething about Bennett’s loss. Speaking at a Washington, D.C., meeting of the Foundation for Excellence in Education last week, Daniels claimed that public school teachers used illegal and improper methods to oust Bennett.
He accused teachers of sending out anti-Bennett emails on school time and trashing Bennett during parent-teacher conferences. “Despite the great progress that’s been made in states like ours, the forces of reaction never quit,” Daniels said. “The last twitch of the dinosaur’s tail can still kill you, and that’s what happened.”
That’s strong stuff, assigning a dinosaur mentality to 1.3 million voters who picked Ritz over Bennett.
It also overlooks the possibility that those votes were neither a massive rejection of reforms that have brought things like more teacher accountability and more parental choice, nor the collective act of tiny-brained creatures controlled by disgruntled teachers.
In emails that I continue to receive, weeks after I wrote a column asking for Republicans to tell me why they voted for the Democrat Ritz, it seems much more complex and nuanced than that.
The changes brought during the Bennett-Daniels era came at schools, students, parents and communities in a fast-and-furious way and they didn’t always seem to make sense to the end-users.
Teacher accountability sounds great, for example, but is more high-stakes testing for students and a complicated A-to-F grading system for schools among the best way to accomplish that?
To mix up the metaphor, Ritz remains a David-like character as she readies herself to walk into the lions’ den that awaits her in the GOP-controlled Statehouse. Too early to know if she’ll get torn to shreds or emerge with hard-earned respect.
Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at email@example.com.
There’s a new phrase starting to emerge in the lexicon of the Indiana Statehouse: “Getting Ritzed.”
- State News
2 new suits target Indiana’s gay marriage ban
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Two new federal lawsuits are taking aim at Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban, boosting to four the number of legal challenges to the law filed in a week.
Pence signs military relief fund changes into law
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Mike Pence has signed into law a measure allowing more of Indiana’s veterans and their families access to a fund that helps them pay for food, housing and other expenses.
New lawsuit challenges Indiana gay marriage ban
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriages faces a new challenge in a lawsuit filed by a national gay rights group.
Nature trust expands Owen-Putnam State Forest
POLAND, Ind. (AP) — State officials say funding from the Bicentennial Nature Trust has helped the Indiana Department of Natural Resources expand a central Indiana state forest by 84 acres.
Indiana court says child welfare agency went too far
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Supreme Court says the state’s child welfare agency went too far when it took custody of a woman’s five children when she had trouble making ends meet during one child’s medical crisis.
Indiana schools get options for making up snow days
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana schools won’t get a free pass for the mounting number of days lost to weather cancellations this winter.
Consumers asked to weigh in on proposed water rate hike
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A state agency is inviting consumers to voice their opinions on a rate increase requested by the Indiana American Water Company.
37 flu-related deaths in Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — State health officials say at least seven more people have died in Indiana from flu-related illnesses as this year’s strains are hitting some young and middle-aged adults harder than usual.
Schools could be allowed option on makeup days
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The state school superintendent says school districts could make up some snow days by having longer school days or having online instruction on a Saturday.
State AG offers help to Hoosiers facing critical propane shortage
INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced today, Feb. 5, that his office will assist consumers who face critically low propane levels and experience supplier issues - especially as temperatures continue to drop.
Indiana plans $75M push to demolish abandoned homes
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana officials plan to use a $75 million federal grant to demolish thousands of blighted houses in the state.
Pence asks Hoosiers to check for extra propane
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Mike Pence is asking farmers and others to return any unused propane to their suppliers as the state struggles through an ongoing shortage.
Indiana sees number of flu deaths jump to 11
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — State health officials say the number of Indiana influenza deaths this season has jumped to 11, up from three reported a week ago.
- Inventor hopes Bike Zeppelin takes off GREENSBURG - A local civil engineer has created a Zeppelin-shaped apparatus that allows bicyclists to ride in the rain without getting wet. Greensburg resident Jim Gorman remembers the day that inspiration struck: Nov. 22, 2011. It rained all day, an
Text of Gov. Pence’s 2nd State of the State speech
INDIANAPOLIS (Jan. 14) — Speaker Bosma, President Pro Tem Long, Lt. Governor Ellspermann, Senator Lanane, Representative Pelath, distinguished members of the General Assembly and Judiciary, honored guests, my fellow Hoosiers.
Thank you for that warm welcome. After last week, warm is my favorite word! I want to thank all of you in this room and your families for your service to the people of Indiana in this historic place.
Pence looks to sell lawmakers on 2014 agenda
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is heading into his second State of the State address with a broad agenda and friendly Republican majorities in the audience of lawmakers he’ll be addressing.
Indiana senator retiring after cancer diagnosis
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A longtime Republican state senator will not seek re-election after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
State health officials announce 3 influenza deaths
INDIANAPOLIS — State health officials today reported the first influenza deaths of the 2013-14 flu season. Influenza is now widespread across Indiana, said State Health Commissioner William VanNess.
School at heart of grade-change flap drops to ‘F’
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indianapolis charter school at the center of Indiana’s grade-changing scandal saw its grade drop from an “A” to an “F” in school grades released today.
Indiana’s unemployment rate drops to 5-year low
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.5 percent for October, marking its lowest level since late 2008 as the recession deepened.
Indiana lawmakers proposing new day care rules
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana day cares that receive federal money would face new requirements for training and staff-to-child ratios under bills three lawmakers plan to introduce in the next legislative session.
Pence asks Sebelius for meeting on health care
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Mike Pence has requested a meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to discuss issues that may be blocking a federal approval of using the state’s health savings accounts to expand Medicaid coverage for needy people in Indiana.
MAUREEN HAYDEN: Democrat leaders want marriage amendment pulled
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s Democratic leaders in the Statehouse called for their Republican counterparts to pull the controversial same-sex marriage ban amendment off the legislative table, urging them to focus their energies instead on education, the economy and jobs.
Chaotic education board raises ‘Rules’ questions
Amid the chaos and fighting that has become Indiana’s Board of Education meetings of late, the question has popped up: Why not follow Robert’s Rules of Order?
UPDATE: Ex-Indiana schools chief faces ethics complaint
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Former Indiana schools Superintendent Tony Bennett is accused of using state resources for political reasons in a complaint filed with the state’s ethics commission today.
Bayh among new advisers to Middle East think tank
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh is joining a Middle East think tank in Washington.
Gov. Pence issues proclamation declaring Larry Bird Day in Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence today issued a proclamation declaring Saturday, Nov. 9 as Larry Bird Day in Indiana. The proclamation coincides with the official dedication of a 15-foot bronze statue of Bird at Indiana State University in Terre Haute.
MAUREEN HAYDEN: 'Return on Investment' report by Indiana Commission on Higher Ed compares value of college degrees
Indiana higher education officials have long been promoting the value of a college degree, but a new report shows some degrees are much more valuable than others.
Judge hears from AG in Ritz-board of ed legal tilt
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A Marion County judge is considering Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s argument that state schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz cannot sue members of the State Board of Education without his permission.
Pence announces school safety grants
Flanked by fourth-grade members of the Ambassadors Club and student council at Cedar Elementary School here, Gov. Mike Pence announced more than $9 million in grants for schools statewide to enhance their security.
- More State News Headlines
- 2 new suits target Indiana’s gay marriage ban