Self-described "political virgin" Tamyra D'Ippolito says she will have the required number of signatures to qualify for the Democratic primary for Senate in Indiana, raising the specter of a huge showdown with the national party, which she says is "out to get her."
But no sooner did she tell the Huffington Post that she had the 4,500 supporters needed to run -- "no problem" -- than reports surfaced of her falling far short. Hotline reported mid-day Tuesday that D'Ippolito had turned in just three signatures in Marion County, far short of the 500 needed in that specific locale.
[UPDATE: State officials confirm that D'Ippolito did not collect the required petition signatures to qualify to be on the ballot, meaning that the Indiana state Democratic party will now have the power to choose their nominee in 2010.]
In an interview with the Huffington Post, D'Ippolito cautioned that it would take "days to weeks" for elections officials to determine whether he name will appear on the ballot. Vaulted into the national spotlight after Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) abruptly announced his retirement on Monday, she warned of a concerted effort by state and national Democrats to depress her chances of getting on the primary ballot.
D'Ippolito is far from the traditional Senate aspirant and her shortcomings running a political campaign are evident. Her campaign website lists her personal cell phone number on virtually every page resulting in her being bombarded by media calls over the past 24 hours. Her email address was offered at the bottom of a recent local newspaper story on her long-shot candidacy. And on Monday night she announced to the political world that she didn't have an election lawyer - a campaign void that was since rectified. "I talked to one for two hours last night."
The lack of polish is refreshing for some, including the anti-establishment progressive crowd and conservatives who are wishing her candidacy all the best. But the pitfalls could be problematic.
Discussing her support of term limits, she casually dropped a phrase that, while often accepted in private conversation, has been nothing short of explosive recently. "It is just like a president, one to two term limits," she said. "You don't need to be in office for 45 years -- that's just retarded."
Continuing with the theme that she was a "political virgin," D'Ippolito -- who served as campaign chair for Gretchen Clearwater, who challenged U.S. Rep. Baron Hill in the 2008 primary, playfully acknowledged that this election would be "her first time."
D'Ippolito struck an Orwellian tone, telling the Huffington Post that the Democratic political "machine" was out to ruin her chances of running. "They are dying to put someone else in the slot," she said. "Come on, it is probably in their best interest they want to out someone on their team. They want an Evan Bayh clone, an Evan Bayh look alike. And Evan and I are not that closely related."
In a separate interview with The Plum Line's Greg Sargent, she insisted that "the machine" had also convinced MSNBC's Rachel Maddow (a liberal voice if there ever was one) to back out of a scheduled interview.
"The car was coming," she recalled. "Fifteen minutes before, I got a call saying, `We've canceled the interview.'"