by Abdul-Hakim Shabazz

Whenever I attend the 500 Festival Parade it’s usually to hang out with friends at the Columbia Club, enjoy a cocktail, cigar and the pleasant company.  This year is going to be different. I still plan to have my cocktail and cigar, but I also plan to pay close attention the parade.  In fact,  I will be particularly interested in one parade participant, Governor Mike Pence.

As tradition dictates, the Governor of Indiana is part of the parade.   And I haven’t seen or heard anything to indicate he won’t be participating this year.

Why does this matter?  Easy, we are in a post-RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) world and I will be very interested to see how the crowd reacts to the Governor’s presence.   The Governor’s poll numbers have taken quite a hit lately because of RFRA and he’s also planning to announce June 18 that he is seeking re-election.

This is not the political crowd that shows up to Lincoln Day dinners.  Nor is it the crowd that makes up the political and business class.   These are real people and for most of them politics is a peripheral issue. So how will they react? Will they applaud the Governor as he goes by?  Will there be polite golf applause?  Will they boo? Will they jeer? That’s what I want to see.

I think that will go a long way to telling how much work Governor Pence will have to do to win re-election next year.   If he does well with the 500 Festival crowd, he should be fine.  If not, he has a lot more work than any of us anticipated.

And luckily, I have a front seat right there on Monument Circle to see it all happen.

Abdul-Hakim is the editor and publisher of IndyPolitics.Org.  You can reach him at