Abortion and baggage, in short.
First, there is a litmus test within the Republican Party that every candidate fails to pass at their great peril, and it is found on the Allen County Right-to-Life questionnaire. Other political questions come and go, but the perennial question is simple, whether a candidate opposes abortion or not.
Over the years John Crawford has refused to answer. Militant right-to-lifers made their point.
Secondly, there is a vein in the Republican Party that holds a grudge against Dr. Crawford for leading the effort to outlaw smoking in most public places. This perennially angry minority within a minority never saw smoking as a health issue, rather a matter of government usurping their personal right to harm everyone else in the restaurant. Like the gun-toting purists, that group of so called libertarians don’t care about the rest of community, just their own selfish concept of rights.
Dr. Crawford certainly saved lives with his ordinance, but to the Republican fringe that didn’t matter.
But wait, there is more baggage. The small government activists who form a sizable block among Republican primary voters were also angry with Dr. Crawford for leading Fort Wayne City Council in passage of tax increases a couple years ago. To the average Republican any and every tax is a violation of a certain aspect of their political psyche, that Davy Crocket, rugged-individualist frontiersman precept where there is no need for anything but a horse, some beans and a rifle, government be damned. It didn’t matter that our roads were crumbling, that the rest of our infrastructure was literally on the verge of collapse, no, Republican voters figured that some sort of alchemy, wizardry, thoughts and prayers might cause the streets to regenerate on their own.
Dr. Crawford was individually blamed for the tax increase, regardless that most Republicans on City Council voted for the ordinance.
Was Dr. Crawford too centrist, and too willing to work with Democrats?
Nope, it wasn’t this social policy or his tax policy or any other aspect of his community service over the past two decades stuck in the craw of right-wing Republican primary voters, it was the abortion question.
So, Republicans chose Tim Smith who offers only the vaguest of promises to improve the city to run against centrist Tom Henry. The simple rule of getting elected is 50% Plus one. It is very hard to achieve that from the fringe of the fringe.