The Herald Bulletin

January 4, 2013

McNabney to leave as local Democrats' chairman

Caucus to choose new leaders in March

By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — After six years at the helm of Madison County Democrats, Chairman Ronald L. McNabney has decided to step down.

He was named chairman in June 2006 following the death of Tom Ashley, who served as chairman for 17 years. McNabney was deputy chairman at the time. He ran for a full four-year term in 2009.

“It’s a full time job being chairman. I work seven days a week,” said McNabney, who also has a thriving law practice. But “I felt somebody had to step in. Now, I think we have a strong party organization and a nice headquarters.”

Two long-time party activists — Bob Stinson and Ludy Watkins — have already announced that they want to succeed McNabney. Stinson’s wife, Janice, currently serves as party secretary; and Watkins was formerly Madison County Clerk, and held other county jobs and party positions over the years.

State Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, said McNabney deserves credit for Democratic success in the 2006, 2007 and 2012 elections. The mid-term elections of 2010, in which Democrats across the country were swept from office, “shows that you’ll have ups and downs as chairman and that some things are out of your hands,” Lanane said.

Even though McNabney had a successful law practice, Lanane said, he willingly dedicated himself to keeping the party strong and its members together.

McNabney counts renovating the Democrat Party headquarters building on West Eighth Street and creating a mission statement as his most significant accomplishments.

“I think Ron has done a wonderful job,” said Lisa Hobbs, who was sworn in earlier this week as one of two new Democrat County Council members. “He was good at bringing us together and informed.”

He took over “when we were at a low point and brought us respect because he is a respectful person,” said Watkins. “We had a couple of bad years, but he can’t be blamed for that, everybody did.”

Watkins said her goal is to strengthen the party organization and keep the caliber of candidates high.

Like Watkins, Stinson said McNabney did a “great job.”

“Ashley set a good foundation and Ron built on that,” Stinson said. “I can’t say anything bad about him.”

One of the things Stinson said he wants to promote if elected party chairman is the importance of direct voter contact through door-to-door campaigning.

After all, Stinson said, “all politics is local,” quoting a phrase coined by former U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neill.

Find Stu Hirsch on Facebook and @StuHirsch on Twitter, or call 640-4861.