Monday, December 31, 2012

More Year-in-Review Thoughts

I often appear on the Internet talk show Civil Discourse Now as a panelist. The show, hosted by Mark Small and Paul Ogden, will be joining the Indiana Talks network of radio shows next year. This means that, in addition to streaming live on UStream and uploading video to YouTube, you can listen to streaming audio at Indiana Talks. The show will also be re-broadcasted frequently in case you miss it the first go-around.

I am honored to be on the program so frequently and am stunned at the quality show Mark and Paul have managed to put out.

Also appearing on the show is Jeff Cox, author of the up-coming book Rising Sun, Falling Sky: The Disasturous Java Sea Campaign of World War II.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Time for Reflection: I Was Wrong about John Layton

I always get into a reflective mood around the end of the year as I look back not just on the past 12 months but even beyond that, and look at how my views have changed based off of what I've learned and what I've observed.

I wrote this post a few weeks before the 2010 elections. I discussed the Marion County Sheriff's race and my concern that then-Colonel John Layton was a poor choice because he may very well continue in former Sheriff Frank Anderson's footsteps. Anderson, in my view, bungled the law enforcement merger and never met a dollar he didn't love to spend. Fellow blogger Paul Ogden has written extensively about how the privatization of the management of Marion County Jail 2 has been run poorly, due in part to Anderson giving it to contractors he was connected to.

Many of my Democratic friends did not take the post very well. At the time, I stood by it.

I am glad to report that I was completely wrong in my assessment of Sheriff John Layton.

Layton has competently led the Sheriff's Department in this era and has demonstrated the role the department has in the post-consolidation era in Marion County. Two months into his first term, he was faced with a death of a female inmate in one of the privately run facilities. He launched an investigation promising reforms, much more than what his predecessor ever did. This reform ended up in closing the facility and assigning deputies to the other privately run facilities that fall under the Sheriff's supervision. Anderson said "I need to put my own people in make sure things are getting done the way I would want them to be done."

More recently, Sheriff Layton has taken the lead for the county-run agencies who had much of their budgets cut from a line-item veto by Mayor Greg Ballard. This has largely been seen as a partisan move by a Republican mayor slashing the budgets of elected county-wide Democratic officials. Recently, Layton (or someone close to him) seems to have "accidentally" leaked an e-mail he sent to much of Indianapolis' political establishment where he roasts them for using the Sheriff's Department to score political points. In these budget discussions, Layton has maturely suggested that the Sheriff's Department assist the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department by taking part in some of the more dull law enforcement work such as traffic enforcement.

I'm not saying Layton is a perfect Sheriff. He once said that there is no fat in the Sheriff's budget, and I disagree with that particularly in the case of the take-home car program (and that is a problem at the city level as well). But based on his actions and what I've heard of the man, he's someone you can have a civil conversation with on what the role is of the MCSD in the post-consolidation age and he is willing to lead and fix when something is demonstrably broken. For that, I applaud him. Other elected Marion County officials should look to him to see how a civil servant should act in their official capacity.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Why is My Councilor Fundraising in 2012?

Council President Maggie Lewis has had a busy year. She worked out a bi-partisan supported budget for 2013, only for a good chunk of it to get line-item vetoed by Mayor Greg Ballard. That budget battle is still going on, and it seems like negotiations between the Democratic majority on the City-County Council and the 25th floor and Acting Mayor Ryan Vaughn have pretty much ceased. Lewis has had to work within her caucus between the go-along-to-get-along crowd and the more reform minded part of the council. This has led her to support both a $15 million PILOT against the Capital Improvement Board while simultaneously openly supporting many CIB initiatives  such as an extension of the Pacers' bailout for another year.

So why is my councilor fundraising in 2012? She is in a very safe Democratic district and her campaign has no debt to pay off. This has led to some speculation that she may be prepping for a run for Mayor of Indianapolis.

Personally, I don't buy it. I certainly think she has ambitions for higher office, but not Mayor.

I think fundraising needs to be viewed in context. When you become a leader within a party, you're expected to use your high profile to help out other candidates and causes important to your party. Lewis has an opportunity to use her profile and her stature to be a bit of a kingmaker in Marion County and in Indiana. A lot of these council races run on very little money, and a few hundred dollars from Lewis could do a lot in a council race when only municipal elections are on the ballot.

As for why I don't think Lewis is running for Mayor, I just don't think it suits her style of leadership. I've known Lewis for a few years now. And based off of what I know as a constituent of hers, and what I know about as a reporter, I think Lewis' style of leadership is that of a group leader and building coalitions. An executive level position removes you from that and instead of leading the group, you're the leader and that's about it.

I also have seen her work the ground as part of her political party on elections and work hard for her constituents and I believe she genuinely enjoys that type of work, and that a Mayoral position would remove her from that type of work.

And if I want to take a stab and just-barely-above-baseless-speculation, I wouldn't be all that surprised if some Democrats in the state house got sick of being in the minority. And I think a position there would suit Lewis' style of leadership there much more.

For another take on this fundraising activity, check out Jon Easter's thoughts.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Legislature Determined to Get Around to Substantial Issues...

And then they promise they'll get to those job creating bills, they just have to take a quick vote to define marriage and THEN the supermajorities in the state legislature promise to get around to economic issues and all the other major issues facing our state...oh and MAYBE they'll take up one of THREE creationism-as-science bills, but then they'll get right around to some actual, legitimate work.

While it is no secret that I'm not a fan of Governor-elect Mike Pence, I like to give public officials the benefit of the doubt when coming into a new political office. The campaign is over, the votes are counted, now it is time to get to work. And honestly, some of what he said on the campaign trail wasn't all that bad. There was some sort of agreement among the three major gubernatorial candidates that there needs to be a new focus on skilled labor, certification,and two year degrees for those who are not bound for a traditional four year college education. During the first gubernatorial debate, Pence spoke about rehabilitating criminals into productive members of society after they've served their time.

But as the state legislature now being organized, I have little hope of that happening.

Just a few days ago, the Indiana State Police Superintendent said he'd be in favor of legalizing (not decriminalizing) and taxing marijuana, saying that it isn't "going away" and that there is a lot of "victimization" that goes along with it. An ISP spokesperson quickly walked back that statement, and a spokesperson for Pence quickly noted that he is against the decriminalization of marijuana. That doesn't exactly fill me with a whole lot of hope that Governor-elect Pence would be supportive of criminal justice reform. Reform desparately needed because there are ex-cons who can be turned into productive members of society. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, there are criminal pieces of trash who don't ever deserve to be outside of a prison cell. Unfortunately, we're on the track of just locking everyone up and throwing away the key without regards to how we're going to pay for it.

Indiana Equality Action released a report detailing over 600 laws that would be affected if Indiana added the proposed marriage definition amendment to our state constitution. And the response from state legislative leaders has been deafening silence. That being said, Indiana Equality seems to have some decent leadership at the helm this time around, and I can only hope they're preparing their ground game for 2014. I sure would like some actual debate on the marriage amendment though, maybe the proponents can actually answer the questions that statehouse Democrats and same-sex marriage advocates have been asking for years, such as how will it affect current laws for unwed couples, and municipal and private sector domestic partnership programs?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Libertarian Party Added to National Dialogue in Election 2012

The Libertarian Party, and in particular, the Libertarian Party of Indiana, has worked really hard this election to add to the national dialogue and be a part of the discussion even if they aren't included in most debates and most polls.

Privately, I've shared my concerns with Libertarian folks throughout the year that part of the reason I've never become a dues-paying member of the Libertarian Party is because the national party has nominated and supported some real nutcases as nominees and as influential members of the party. Wayne Alan Root, the 2008 Vice Presidential nominee, has completely fallen for the birther conspiracy stuff surrounding President Barack Obama that it seems to be all he talks about nowadays. Bob Barr, the former Republican Congressman turned Libertarian 2008 POTUS nominee, now rolled back over to the Republicans this go-around. I could go on, but the intent of this post isn't to complain.

That is also why I had my initial reservations about former New Mexico Governor, Gary Johnson. Johnson had ran in the 2012 Republican primary for President and performed poorly. He was in two of the debates, but never gained any traction. I personally worried a repeat of Barr, that this was some guy just using the Libertarian Party to keep his name around. But Johnson has worked with the Libertarian Party to earn the nomination, and has campaigned aggressively around the country for a job he isn't likely to win.

His tag-line of "fiscal responsibility and social tolerance" sums up the Libertarian Party's beliefs quite well and his full embrace of LGBT equality seems to have significantly moved the Libertarian Party to embracing it as well over the tired line of "The government should have no role in marriage!". Oftentimes, the most vocal Libertarians seem to be ex-Republicans, and so the conversation often becomes little more than Republican-bashing. But Johnson and vice VP nominee, Jim Gray, have held Obama's feet to the fire on issues such as the use of drones and undeclared wars, and on civil liberty issues such as NDAA and the Patriot Act.

He isn't the perfect candidate by any means, but he is by far the most polished and qualified candidate the Libertarian Party has run for President. I do hope he continues to play an active role in the political process for years to come.

This post wouldn't be complete without some words for Indiana's own Libertarian Party. We're one of the few (only?) with a full-time, paid Executive Director. His job is to grow the party and promote the message, every day. And because of that one resource, the Libertarian Party in this state is better organized than in many others across the nation. Being organized, funded, and connected also leads to attracting high quality candidates, which leads me to my next subject, Rupert Boneham.

Boneham, like Johnson at the national level, didn't think he could job waltz into the LPIN nominating convention on his star power and expect to be nominated. He went out and worked with the organization. But he didn't just talk to party elders, he went out and campaigned as a candidate for Governor as well. He showed that his star-power, combined with his real-world experience in the world of not-for-profits, could make for a dynamic candidate that'd have the power to reach people in ways previous Libertarian nominees haven't been able to.

Boneham has staked out a claim that differentiates him between the two major party candidates, being in full favor of marriage equality (even saying he'd repeal the state-level Defense of Marriage Act) and having a small-government reason for repealing the anti-union Right-To-Work law.

As I said earlier, part of being a candidate for political office is personality, the way you carry yourself, the perception as much as the politics. And Rupert has that down. He knows how to look good on camera, can speak off-the-cuff, and did reasonably well in the debates. Sure he put on a suit when he needed to, but he didn't pretend to be someone he isn't.

Nominating high-quality, disciplined candidates like Johnson and Boneham is a pathway to becoming a more recognized, legitimate party in their own right rather than being the party people throw their "anti" vote to.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Other Election Prediction

I had the honor of appearing as a panelist on Civil Discourse Now. I appeared alongside Jeff Cox and Jon Easter.

Swing States: Bitterly Clinging to Their 1-2% Spread

My current electoral map projection has President Obama leading with 277 electoral votes, while Governor Romney will get 261. The swing states of Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Colorado I have going to Romney, while Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Nevada I have going for Obama.

I also believe there is a very real chance that Romney will win the popular vote but lose the Electoral College. Not because he is an amazing campaigner or anything, but because McCain seriously underperformed in many states. Not just in swing states, but in traditionally Republican states as well. It also helps that Hurricane Sandy is predicted to lower voter turnout by 340,000 from mostly Democratic, northeastern voters.

To delve a bit more into my projection:

Florida: Florida is a swing state because of the urban areas it has. Outside of there, it is a very Republican state. The incumbent Governor, Rick Scott, is arguably the most conservative governor in the country. Their junior Senator, Marco Rubio, also rode a Tea Party wave to the United States Senate. It is a much more Republican state than people give it credit for, and Romney should have a solid showing in the state. In fact, a Florida Times poll shows Romney up by 5.

North Carolina: North Carolina is one of those traditionally Republican states, like Indiana, that is likely to "come home" and vote for the Republican candidate this time around. Unlike Indiana, there are some demographic changes that might make North Carolina more of a competitive state in Presidential years, but that'll happen slowly.

Virginia: Virginia is also experiencing demographic changes, but unlike North Carolina, they're happening at a much more rapid pace. Due to Republican enthusiasm, I think Romney will win Virginia. But Republican Presidential candidates can no longer take Virginia for granted and count on it. They'll have to campaign here and campaign hard to win it, even by a few points.

New Hampshire: A lot of these swing states haven't voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate in over two decades. But that's a different case with New Hampshire. It voted for George W. Bush in 2000, and that was after he lost the Republican primary contest in the state to Senator John McCain. The polls in New Hampshire have fluctuated between Obama and Romney for a while now, and I think this is Romney's best small swing state pickup. I also think he has an outside shot at getting a Congressional district from Maine.

Colorado: This is an extremely close call, because many polls are showing this race with a decimal point separating the candidates rather than whole percentages. This is honestly a tossup, but my coin flip goes to Romney.

For the Obama swing states:

Nevada: Nevada experienced a very close re-election race two years ago, with Senator Harry Reid barely beating out Republican challenger Sharron Angle. Reid isn't well-liked, but because of this state, the Obama campaign knows every single Democrat in the state. The Obama organization machine can turn them out, and that's why I'm putting Nevada in the President's column.

Wisconsin/Iowa: Despite having elected several Republicans in the recent 2010 elections, President Obama has stubbornly led in the polls in both of these states. Wisconsin's Republican Party has a great groundgame due to the Scott Walker re-call election, and they might be getting extra attention because Republican National Committee Chairmen Reince Preibus is from Wisconsin. But neither have voted for a Republican Presidential candidate  (non-incumbent) since 1980. So the edge goes to President Obama.

On another note, over the weekend I did say Iowa would go for Romney. But with the Des Moines Register pegging Obama's lead at 5, I think it is safe to say Iowa will break for Obama.

Ohio: The President has stubbornly led in the polls most of the time. It'll be close, and it won't be safe, but I think he is poised to win it right now.

Wannabes: Pennsylvania and Michigan have been punted around as swing states during this election cycle, and while they've elected plenty of Republicans to state-wide and local offices, they're reliable Democratic states for Presidential elections.

The one thing I don't think will happen is the concept of a "firewall". That being that the candidate that loses Ohio will pick up enough of the swing states to still win. I think Mitt Romney has had to expand too many resources in North Carolina, Florida, and Virginia and he can't reliably count on a combination of Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Nevada breaking for him to make up for that loss. Similarly, I think President Obama can easily count on Iowa and Wisconsin, but can't be certain about Nevada, Colorado, and New Hampshire. The candidate who wins Ohio will win the election.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Howey Politics Poll Raises More Questions with IN's Senate Race

Indiana's US Senate race has lacked a lot of polling despite being competitive. Because Indiana outlaws so-called "robopolling", organizations like Public Policy Polling and Gallup have stayed away while mostly internal polling have dominated the polling for this tossup election.

Today's Howey Politics poll, the crosstabs of which were allegedly released during a media event but haven't been posted online either at Howey's site or elsewhere, show Democrat Joe Donnelly at 47% against Republican Richard Mourdock at 36%. with a +/-3.5% margin of error. Libertarian nominee Andrew Horning is at 6%.

Taking a look back at the May poll before the Republican primary, the HPI poll also pegged a Mourdock victory over incumbent Senator Richard Lugar in the GOP primary. They predicted Mourdock had a base of 43% and could go as high as 48%, while Lugar's base started at 35% and only topped out at 38%.

What Howey didn't predict was the surge of support for Mourdock in the Republican primary. Out of 661,606 votes cast, Mourdock earned over 60% at 400,321. Lugar even lost Marion County, the county of which he served as Mayor of Indianapolis in the 1970s.

For a while, I've been saying that Libertarian candidate Horning has been polling remarkably high and his support will likely deflate if the race remains competitive between Donnelly and Mourdock. The conventional wisdom, even among Republican movers-and-shakers, is that Donnelly is going to win and it isn't worth the time to invest more money in a losing Senate candidate. And while Horning might lose support from disaffected Democrats who will come home to vote for Donnelly, he might gain support from Republicans who can't stomach Mourdock but will vote for the GOP team in every other election.

This will be interesting to see how it all turns out.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Direct Mail War, Part I: Indiana's US Senate Race

For the first time in a while, one of Indiana's US Senate races is drawing national attention. With the defeat of Senator Richard Lugar by State Treasurer Richard Mourdock in the Republican primary, the general election race between Mourdock and Democratic Congressman Joe Donnelly is drawing attention from both sides. A year ago, it was almost a forgone conclusion that Republicans would gain a slim majority in the Senate. But now, with some primary shenanigans and a few gaffes here and there, Democrats think they might be able to hold onto a slim majority.

What gets a lot of attention in political races is the television ad wars, and to a lesser extent, Internet based ads. These types of ads are easy to access for the Gang of 500, the media people and the pundits that push the national media's narrative. Sure, they live in the Washington D.C. or New York City area, and don't see the ads on TV themselves. But they have access to media libraries and the Internet and can see them that way.

What often gets lost in that coverage is the much more effective, and often more expensive, direct mail war. There's a variety of reasons why it isn't covered, and to local media's credit they sometimes do cover them in their online content. But it is still something not talked much about.

Since I have a...shall we say, diverse primary voting history, I tend to get stuff from both political sides. And this weekend, I was bombarded with stuff from FreedomWorks. The candidate they're backing, Mourdock, had a bit of a gaffe last week and they're trying to remind people what this election is really about: How buddy-buddy Joe Donnelly is with Barack Obama, and how politically, they're basically identical.

This 39 page book is incredibly well written and produced. It includes footnotes for sources as well as a 16 page appendix if you REALLY wanted to dig into the original sources.

Having thumbed through it, I started to notice something. There is a lot about Joe Donnelly in here. There is a lot about President Obama as well, pointing out what they see as similarities. But this mailer is not about Richard Mourdock. In fact, among the 39 pages, Mourdock is only mentioned between pages 7-10 for a total of five times. Senator Lugar also gets the same amount of mentions as well, in about the same page spread.

I also received two more, more traditional mailers. Again, they focus on Donnelly, Obama, and specifically hone in on the deficit and debt. My favorite part of SuperPAC mailers is the imagery. The United States as a dollar bill, burning. The ATM just spewing money. It is great! Coke should hire these people to really lay the smack down on Pepsi.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mike Pence: I'm Running for, for Pete's sake!

Congressman Mike Pence has been running a very disciplined campaign in his quest to become Indiana's next Governor. He has generally stayed away from  so-called social issues, from which he has practically built a brand on, and focused on how much he loves America and, more specifically, how much he loves Indiana. He's also kind of, sort of said he'd like to do more of what Governor Mitch Daniels has done, but if you're wanting any specifics, you're going to have to wait until after the election.

Well, with the recent flub on abortion during a debate for one of Indiana's US Senate seat, Pence actually spoke out about abortion.

While condemning Republican candidate Richard Mourdock's remarks on abortion and rape, Pence's campaign said Pence has consistently supported the three common exceptions for abortion opponents: Rape, incest, and life of the mother.

According to findings from Niki Kelly of Fort Wayne's The Journal Gazette, Pence's campaign's statement is in contradiction with surveys Pence has filled out from Indiana Right to Life. In the most recent survey from IRTL, Pence only indicated he supported one exception for abortion: the life of the mother. In 2010, he supported no exceptions.

Pence trying to hide how conservative he is might initially be confusing to some. After all, he's running for Governor of Indiana, not Michigan. While we Hoosiers do vote for Democrats every now and then, our Democrats (regardless of if my Republican friends want to admit it or not) that have occupied state-wide office, would generally be Republicans in more purple states. We're a red state, so why is Pence trying to re-make his image?

Could it have to do with having Presidential ambitions? I joked with a local politico that "he's running for President, er, Governor, for Pete's sake!" and the politico pointed out that while he doesn't agree with Mourdock, at least Mourdock has the integrity to hold his ground while Pence throws him under the bus.

Earlier in the year, I pointed out that Congressman Pence has been very vague on his immigration stance. After all, he's running to be Governor of one of the few states who have passed a strict law, similar to Arizona's illegal immigration law. Pence's views on illegal immigration should be known to Hoosiers, who certainly have a wide variety of beliefs on the issue.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Election Day Predictions

We've got a lot of elections going on this November 7th. I'll be appearing on Civil Discourse Now the weekend before the election, and my predictions might've changed. But these are how I see the various races now.

I'm going to include both a National section and Indiana section, when applicable.

National: Barack Obama (D)
State: Mitt Romney (R)

Last week's horrible debate performance by President Obama gave Romney's campaign a new life, and more importantly, new focus. He's started closing the margin, and in some cases even leading, in swing states and national polling. Romney's poll numbers seem to be particularly improved in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, and Ohio.

The problem for the Romney camp is that the path to 270 requires him to sweep all four of those states and even then, he'll be two electoral votes short. I think the more southern swing states will ultimately swing Romney's way due to Republican enthusiasm, but I have my doubts about Ohio. I also don't see a clear small swing-state that Romney will be able to pick up. They've tried New Hampshire, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa, all without much success.

And if they lose any of the big four swing-states, they'll pretty much need to sweep among the smaller ones. And even with a game changing campaign move, that isn't likely to happen. A lot of these swing states are reliable Democratic votes when it comes to the Presidential race.

Romney has consistently led in Indiana and there is no doubt that he'll win this state's popular and electoral votes.

During the summer doldrums, there was some speculation on how third party candidates could swing the election. Specifically, Virgil Goode in Virginia and Gary Johnson in New Mexico. And while Goode's name recognition in parts of Virginia is high, he isn't even being polled nowadays and the one poll that included him put him at the standard third party percentage of 2. Johnson, similarly, has had declining numbers in his home state of New Mexico and New Mexico isn't seen as a swing state anyway. For better or for worse, the third party candidates aren't likely to act as "spoilers" this time around, as some have alleged they have in 1992 and in 2000.

National: Democratic Majority 50-49-1*
Indiana: Richard Mourdock (R)

The national pollsters tend to shy away from polling Indiana because so-called "robo polling" is illegal. So even though Indiana's US Senate contest between State Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) and Congressman Joe Donnelly (D) is seen as a toss-up, it isn't getting polled as much as other contested Senate races due to that law.

Mourdock is running a close race, and his campaign ads are mostly about Donnelly nowadays, but I ultimately believe Republican enthusiasm will overcome and he'll pull off a thin victory.

And a word about the Libertarian Party's Andrew Horning. Horning is well known among the Libertarian circles, having previously run for Mayor of Indianapolis and Governor of Indiana. But while he is very bright, he is not politically skilled. Statements like "I hate politics" can be a turnoff to potential voters, and I don't think he really enjoys campaigning.

Besides that, this race is polling close. And in close races, third party candidates generally lose a lot of support from disaffected Democrats and Republicans who go home to vote their team jersey. Horning is likely to be well behind the vote totals for Rupert Boneham and Gary Johnson. I don't think the much worried about "spoiler" will happen here.

Nationally, the US Senate and the pundit class have had an odd discussion. A year ago, it was almost all-but-certain that the Democrats would lose control. There were just so many more Democrat seats, won in the Democratic wave of 2006, up for re-election that it'd be hard to hold onto a majority. But with a handful of GOP primary challengers and some GOP nominees stepping in it, the US Senate may well stay in control of Democratic hands.

*Oh, and that 1 I predicted is Maine's former Governor Angus King. King was an Independent while Governor and still is. Maine doesn't quite fall into the liberal leanings of most of New England, having had a pair of moderate US Senators for several years, as well as going for Ron Paul in this year's Presidential caucuses. He's previously said that he might caucus with no party. But I think King fits nicely in the more conservative parts of a Democratic caucus.

This is likely to be revised as I look into the competitive races.

 Mike Pence (R)

There really is no need to go much further than this. Pence has run an extremely disciplined campaign, and Gregg is struggling to get his voice heard in a Democratic party struggling to find a state wide leader. That leader won't be Gregg, but it might be Donnelly if he can pull off a victory in the US Senate race.

I think Libertartian nominee and Survivor superstar Rupert Boneham has a chance to finish well ahead of the Libertarian baseline of 2-3%. Libertarians have been quite successful in convincing people to vote for their candidates when the race is largely seen as already decided. The 2010 Libertarian candidates for US Senate and Secretary of State finished with 5.4% and 5.8% respectively. Both of those races were largely seen as decided. With a more high profile race, the Libertarians could be looking at similar or even higher numbers unless the Gregg campaign closes the gap in the coming days.

US Congress
Nationally: Thin majority retained by Republicans
Indiana: 7R-2 D delegation

The Republican Party not only swept US House and US Senate races in 2010, but they also picked up hundreds of seats in state legislatures. This put them in control when re-districting is drawn, allowing them to draw districts that would, in theory, make it easier for Republicans to get elected to the US House of Representatives and the various state legislative bodies.

But when you have such a sweeping majority and a lot of Republicans to protect, a few are inevitably going to be left out. And on top of that, a lot of these Republicans are young guys who are still very new to politics. This might be their first re-election campaign, they don't know the media "back home" all that well, and some of them sit in purple or slightly blue districts, even after re-districting. We're already seeing the affects, with Republican Representative Thaddeus McCotter (R-Michigan) failing to gather enough eligible signatures to even get on the primary ballot and thus couldn't be nominated. Another Michigan representative, Justin Amash, had his district become a bit more blue with re-districting.

So while the Republicans are likely to hang onto a majority, they'll lose a few rising starts in the process.

On a state level, District 8 is where the Democrats are hoping to pick up a seat and District 2 is where they hope to retain a seat. I think District 8 will become more competitive in the next 1-2 election cycles, but I think Larry Buschon is a fairly disciplined candidate and will ultimately prevail. District 2 might go blue in a high enthusiasm election for Democrats, but I don't think 2012 is going to be that election.

Indiana Legislature
Indiana House: Republican majority
Indiana Senate: Republican majority

The Indiana Senate is likely to get a bit more blue due to re-districting, but I don't see the House closing the gap between the two parties all that much.

Some might draw parallels between the Congressional Republicans and Indiana Republicans. The difference is that the Indiana Republican Party is extremely disciplined in campaign season. It is a well oiled machine that other state Republican parties should be taking lessons from. Any gap that is narrowed will likely be due to demographic changes in some of the districts rather than a "throw the bums out" feel.

Your thoughts?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Polls Show Obama Ahead in Pivotal Swing States

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll of the pivotal swing states Ohio, Florida, and Virginia show President Barack Obama with a substantial lead over Republican challenger, Governor Mitt Romney. Obama has a five point lead in Florida and Virginia and a seven point lead in Ohio. The Florida and Virginia numbers are within the polls +-3.1% margin of error, but Ohio's is outside of the margin of error.

What is interesting is that the two candidates are tied on the question of who can handle the economy the best. The poll also notes that there are only 6% of undecided voters in the poll. Chuck Todd, NBC's Chief White House Correspondent, later said that these undecided voters "don't sound like they're going to vote." He notes they have low opinions of both Obama and Romney and are pessimistic of the country's direction. This further goes to show that this election, much like 2004's Presidential election, will be all about driving home the base of the two major political parties.

This poll is absolutely devastating to Romney's electoral college map. Many of the supposed "swing states", such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, have a tendency to go blue in most Presidential elections in modern times. Sure, it might not be a huge margin, but they still end up breaking that way in the end. Giving Obama those "lean blue" swing states and Florida puts his electoral vote count at 266. If he picks up just one of the smaller swing states like New Hampshire, that puts him at 270. Romney could win Ohio and Virginia, and several other states, and still lose the race.

It is very curious that these states, which went hard right just two years ago (Florida arguably elected the most conservative Governor in the country in Rick Scott), are now backing President Obama with solid numbers. I don't know what Romney needs to do in the next two months to change the electoral map, but I have a gut feeling that just a strong debate performance alone won't Romney over the top in the polls or on election day.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

If Afghanistan is a Forgotten War, Why Are We Still There?

The Republican National Convention spent a lot of time talking about the failures of President Obama's administration and building up Governor Mitt Romney as a person. But they didn't spend a lot of time on issues, particularly the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

The New York Times points out that Afghanistan was only mentioned four times, and none of those mentions were from Romney or his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan.

Neither campaign has talked a lot about Afghanistan, and I suspect the silence to continue.

And it is an absolute travesty.

According to, $111.1 billion has been earmarked for the war in Afghanistan for fiscal year 2012. That comes out to over $2 billion a week.

That is $111.1 billion dollars being dumped down the drain for a fight that can't be won. $111.1 billion dollars fighting for a people that don't want us there. $111.1 billion dollars even though Al-Qaeda as a terrorist organization is in shambles, and the Taliban shows no sign of wanting to be a world wide terrorist operation.

$111.1 billion dollars when military suicides actually outpaced military fatalities in Afghanistan in June of this year. $111.1 billion for a war where suicide accounts for one out of five deaths, and that takes into account vehicle accidents and active combat fatalities.

And that doesn't even take into account those who survived their injuries and then have to deal with the aftermath of a long term disability. Struggling to hear back from the Veteran's Administration. Struggling to find a job and adjust to civilian life.

We have failed the men and women in our military. We must do right by them. And we can start by pulling out of Afghanistan immediately and reforming the VA so that we can effectively deal with the promises we made to the men serving on our behalf.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Send TIF Proposals Back to Committee

The Metropolitan Development Committee of the City-County Council met last night to deal with a handful of, frankly, mundane proposals. What wasn't on the agenda was the stalled TIF district proposals, which would extend the downtown TIF to encompass much of Massachusetts Avenue as well as creating a new TIF district as well.

You can read the details of what happened concerning the TIF district proposal via Jon Murray's latest Indy Star contribution.

So the council finally worked through some type of compromise on TIF districts that have long been pushed by the 25th floor. Good, right? Compromise! Government at work!

Eh, not so fast.

The TIF proposal was not on last night's planned agenda, and the chairman of the committee moved for adjournment and even left the room.

While it is within the council's purview to consider proposals that aren't on the agenda, the committee is typically where the public gets to have their say. Committees are also typically the place where councilors who do not sit on committees can voice their concerns and propose amendments to proposals.

This is a violation of the council's due diligence.

At the next full council meeting, council President Maggie Lewis or Majority Leader Brian Mahern should move to send this proposal back to committee so that this proposal can go through a proper vetting and hearing.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

What the Hell is Grow Mass Ave?

My friend Abdul Hakim-Shabazz did an interview with a representative of an organization of Grow Mass Ave over at his Indy Politics site. Full disclosure: I am an occasional contributor to Indy Politics.

Despite the name of the group, don't be fooled into thinking it is some sort of neighborhood advocacy group with strong ties to the community. Grow Mass Ave is something that started to advocate for the downtown TIF district to be expanded to include the Massachusetts Avenue district. And as someone who has often followed issues of local interest, it is pretty rare for online advocacy to be done, let alone be done professionally.

"But Matt, how do you know that this organization started recently?"

Call it a hunch.

First up is that I've never heard of Grow Mass Ave.

Their domain,, was registered earlier this month by Jennifer Wagner. Wagner is a longtime Democratic activist and her husband is rumored to benefit from the proposed Mass Ave development. The address and phone number that show up on the WHOIS search of the domain name appear to be associated with Darvel Communications, a firm formerly run by Wagner which seems to have transitioned over to Mass Ave PR.

Typically, when advocates want to make their issue known, they have little choice but try to do earned media. They don't have the resources to hire someone to quickly build a website, set up social media, and competently communicate the message. They might have time to slap together a Facebook page or a bare bones website or blog, but that's about it. In rare cases, a large organization that already has an established presence and competent media and IT people at their disposal can quickly establish an online and media presence, but that's about it.

I don't say this as any slight against Wagner. She's a well connected person who has a wealth of experience. But my guess is, her services do not come cheap. So the question is, who is paying her for this cause and why? If she is successful in helping pass the downtown TIF district expansion, what does her client stand to benefit from it?

UPDATE: In a series of tweets, Wagner says she is doing the work for free. She also says that the neighborhood has supported this redevelopment for over a year. While this might answer her role in Grow Mass Ave, Grow Mass Ave itself still has plenty of questions to answer for of their own.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How Powerful Will Susan Brooks Be in the 113th Congress?

Most of my readers are political junkies of one sort or another, so consider this me providing some insight into how the US Congress works to those who don't eat and breath politics.

It is a common misconception that Congressional chairmanships, leadership positions such as majority/minority leaders and whips, and some valued committee assignments, were largely based on seniority and who had enough time to commit to the tasks and yada-yada-yada. 

In fact, the rules of the US Congress and how to obtain that sort of power has changed over the past 10 years. The Naked Capitalism blog has a nice summary of this paper. The amount of money the Democratic leadership had to raise in the 111th Congress is absolutely astounding, and it isn't too far of a reach to think that the current Republican leadership of the 112th Congress have done the same.

What does this all have to do with Susan Brooks?

I attended a forum in Kokomo during the GOP primary in the 5th Congressional District. When asked what committees she'd like to sit on, Susan Brooks mentioned that she'd like it if there was a way for freshman and less-senior members of Congress to be in leadership positions and on chairmanships of committees. 

And looking over Brooks' fundraising numbers, she might be able to score a nice leadership position or a prized committee seat.

Remember, she's raised over $800,000 with most of that being during a contested GOP primary where the other big fundraiser was a former member of Congress. The only Congressional candidate in Indiana that has raised more than her is Todd Rokita, who has far more name recognition and is an incumbent Congressman.  She could easily keep those kind of numbers up as an incumbent, and being a federal officeholder will open up even more pocketbooks to her political campaign.

The only problem is retaining that job in Congress. Congressman Dan Burton has faced two tough primary challenges, partially due to how much time he spent fundraising outside of Indiana.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Constructive Criticism

RebuildIndy was one of Mayor Greg Ballard's signature initiatives during his first term in office. Using money "realized" from the sale of public assets to private entities, Ballard ambitiously embarked on doing more of the same on a much larger scale. Much of the money has gone to re-paving and expanding streets, with a much smaller amount of money going to sidewalks, greenways, and bike lanes.

Much of the money was spent to spruce up the city before the 2012 Superbowl, but there's still construction going on across the city. And when parts of streets get closed, detour routes are planned out and signs direct motorists the appropriate direction so they can still get to their destination.

Yesterday, I encountered a detour heading north on the 6400 block of Michigan Road. The detour sign directed me to Grandview Road, which I previously knew had been under construction and closed off for some time. Maybe it had finished and I wasn't aware, so I took a chance and drove up the neighborhood street to Grandview Road. And yep, it was still closed.

At that point, the detour directions just ended. There was no sign to further direct motorists on how to get back on Michigan Road.

Someone like me, who has driven up and down and around Michigan Road a lot, would be able to find an alternate route with ease. And I did. It was a bit annoying, but not all that bad.

But someone who is from out of town, or even from another side of town, might've had a much harder time finding an alternate route.

Later in the day, a family member related to me that the detour while heading southbound on Michigan Road ALSO leads to another road closed for construction, Cooper Road.

And on a final note, I did check the Street Closing listing found on Rebuild Indy's site, but can't quite determine what, if any, of the listings is the one I encountered.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Future of The Blog

To the readers of this blog:

You might have noticed, but my posting has died down in recent weeks. To those who follow me on Twitter or Facebook, even commenting on politics or current events has been relatively rare. And while summer in an election year is usually pretty dead, that hasn't prevented me from posting before.

I'll be honest and say I'm burned out. I first thought it might be due to the intense work I put into covering several primary races, but even after that, I really couldn't get back into the groove. 

I've also never really been much of an opinion guy. While I am a "blogger" in that I do this without pay, I really don't want to be the 5th guy to opine on a story that you all have read or watched via traditional media and read four blog entries and an op-ed column on. Not only is that boring, to me, as a journalist, but it also means I'm not providing anything unique.

While I haven't been able to do it as much as I've liked, I have tried and done a handful of original news stories on this blog. Some of them have been picked up in traditional media. This is hard for a blogger to do because it often requires an intense amount of time and effort that we have to take away from our time either away from our social lives or professional lives. This type of story is rare on this blog, but it has happened. And I'm proud that I've been able to do it a few times over the years.

More often, what I try to do is analysis or connecting-the-dots. When I recently saw a news report on the rise of crime in the north side of Indianapolis, I wondered if that has anything to do with the switch from cops policing small beats to patrolling large zones, with higher concentration of cops being put into high crime areas. 

And yes, sometimes when I'm particularly passionate about an issue, I opine on it. But I really try my best not to write about the same subject all the other blogs are writing about. 

What this means is that the two types of blog posts I like writing the most are the ones that are more time intensive. And between the two hourly jobs I've worked this summer and life itself, I just haven't had the time or energy I'd normally have to sink into this blog. And I really don't want to half-ass this and turn my blog into "Indy Student: Matt Stone's Rambling Opinions".

Three years ago, I started this blog largely on the recommendation of my therapist because I had recently transferred out of the journalism school at IUPUI. He believed that I needed a creative outlet where I could do my thing outside of academics. If you had told me three years ago that this blog I started as part of my therapy would be read by thousands of people outside of my immediate family, I would've thought you were joking.

While I've always said that I write this blog for myself and I could give a damn what others think, it sure means a lot to me that you all have "tuned in" to see what I've written. I'm completely floored every time someone says they read this blog and check in daily or weekly. I'm even more floored that I'm recognized at cultural or political events. I'm incredibly grateful to everyone who has taken time to talk to me, look into issues, obtain documents, and otherwise be helpful as I try to write stories. And anyone who has ever linked to this blog on their Facebook or Twitter, that is the ultimate compliment one can give to a blogger. That's because you read something in that post so good, so informative, so unique, that you thought that it was worth sharing and getting others to read.

Is this the final curtain for the blog? Truthfully, I don't know. The school year is only 20 some days away, and academics seem to have a stabilizing affect on my life. But for the foreseeable future, posts are going to be infrequent.

Thanks for reading over the past three years. More is to come, I'm just not sure of the format yet. Or really, even the topic.

-Matthew Stone
Editor, Indy Student Blog

PS: In the mean time, I'll still be using Facebook and Twitter in more of a mini-blog sense. I'll sometimes be filling in for Abdul over at Indy Politics

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My Problem with "Freedom to Work" Proposal from the City-County Council

I'm going to make this one brief. I'm honestly pretty late to the game on this one, and the proposal has been covered extensively over at other blogs such as Indy Democrat, Ogden on Politics, and in the mainstream media via the Indy Star.

I've got a decent working relationship with the pro-union group Unite Here. And as a hospitality worker myself, I have a lot of sympathy for their concerns. The low pay, grueling hours, and the pressure to do a huge amount of work without a proper amount of time and/or supplies, is something I completely understand. People would be absolutely horrified at how some hotels in this city are run, and how corners are cut to maximize profit. Yes, there are lazy hotel workers just as there are lazy workers in any industry. But most hospitality workers want to do a good job, but are not able to because they only have so much time to deal with. Run out of a certain type of detergent? Just run the wash anyway. Spend more than 20 minutes cleaning a room for an arriving guest? Get it done in two more minutes and move onto the next and hope the guest doesn't notice anything that was missed.

That's on top of what is essentially blacklisting people from advancing in their chosen field for daring to be employed, which is what the current proposal is about. While I might not personally favor a law telling hotels what basis on they can or can't hire, I really find it confusing why employers would rule out otherwise qualified applicants because of their current employment status. Of course you can't work for two competitors in the same field, so the solution is you leave one job when you get the other. But after you've left, you shouldn't have your previous work history held against you unless you did something illegal or unethical.

So, their basis for these goals are noble. There are legitimate concerns about how these hotels operate. Especially when it comes to the downtown area hotels, which largely exist due to financial subsidies from the city and state.

So why do these ordinances, often introduced by my Democratic friends who have strong union ties, tend to only focus on problems that would benefit downtown area hotel workers? At least in one case, the proposed tax credit for hotel workers, it was written specifically to only benefit downtown hospitality workers.

One of the themes that I often heard in the 2011 municipal election, talking off the record with Democratic council candidates and Democratic volunteers, was that so much attention, time, and money has been sunk into the downtown area over the last several years. So that it is now time to turn the attention to the rest of the county and hopefully let the entire city benefit from efforts that have practically revitalized downtown.

They might be showing some resolve when it comes to expanding the downtown TIF district, something that'll only "benefit" downtown. But when it comes to hotel workers, their focus is lacking when it comes to hospitality workers outside of downtown Indianapolis.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Indy Pride: What You Need to Know

The Indianapolis Star has provided a handy list of the major events organized by Circle City IN Pride. Like many of the festivals and parades held in Indianapolis every year, Pride has expanded beyond just a parade and has several days of all types of events planned for people to attend and have fun.

You can see the list of events via the Star's article here or go to Pride's official site for a full list of events.

Praise for the Local News Media

Television junkies like me who are stuck without TIVO and are forced to endure through commercials know that television just got out of a special time of the year: May Sweeps. Sweeps is a slang term within the television industry based around the Nielsen ratings system. Nielson sends out a special type of survey to Nielsen families get a special type of survey to fill out, and networks plan their schedule to attract eyeballs within a time frame. This leads to television shows planning their big, shocking, expensive episodes during this time, and local affiliates will air their biggest news stories during this time as well.

A consequence of sweeps is that ominous music is used to promote news pieces, and often you'll see out-of-context clips of a politician walking away from a camera or an official refusing to answer questions. They often make mountains out of molehills.

Kara Kenney at WRTV had a piece about high-pressure sales tactics being used by a travel agency to convince people they can afford vacations that they probably can't. Kenney and a hidden camera attend a presentation themselves and later sit down with a sales rep. The presentation includes a PowerPoint presentation that shows off several advertisers of prominent Indiana based companies and institutions that later turns out to be less-than-truthful. Kenney later experiences a high pressure salesman that becomes more aggressive with each "No".

Kenney says this investigation all started late last year when she entered to win a car while doing holiday shopping at a mall. Soon after entering that contest, she started getting calls from a travel agency.

This isn't ground breaking scandals, but this is a good story because this is the type of scam that happens a lot and can happen to every day people, even those who think they are immune to these types of tactics.

The other excellent sweeps piece is from Channel 13. Their story details how several state agencies have been paying millions of dollars in fees just because they haven't been able to pay their bills on time. The catch is that while these agencies are paying these fees, their core budgets are being slashed and services are being cut while state legislatures and Governor Mitch Daniels are saying that the money isn't there to provide services. But apparently, it is there to pay for late fees.

WRTV and Channel 13 should be commended for giving their reporters the resources, the time, and the patience that these investigations took.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Bike To Work Day

EDITOR'S NOTE: This has been kicking around my "drafts" folder for more than a week, so here is my rambled thoughts on Bike to Work Day and the state of cycling in Indinaapolis

I'm no stranger to discussing bicycling in Indianapolis, either on this blog or on other sites. I have been critical of some of the bicycling initiatives mainly because I think most of them do little to encourage casual cyclists to use their bike for transit, and therefore all you're really doing is giving the people already dedicated to bicycling more options. This is primarily based on that I once was a casual cyclist, and riding on the road in a traffic lane...with cars!... was once absolutely terrifying to me, and it takes a while before one can make that leap from neighborhood and trail riding to riding on the streets, bike lane or no bike lane.. I think expanding the above options (and well done, regular bike lanes for those already converted) will be a benefit to the entire community, and I think it is kind of re-enforced with my experience today.

Departing from my Pike Township-based home at about 6am and coming back at around 3pm, and using my bike for all transportation during that time, here's what I think could help this city get more people cycling:

Driver education: If you read any article on bicycling, there are ALWAYS several comments complaining about cyclists. "They need to use the sidewalk" or "Get them off the road" or "They never stop at stop signs/lights/" and on and on and on. But today, a motorist stopped in the middle of the left traffic lane (I was in the right) to tell me "the trail is for bicycles". Bikes, according to Indiana Code, have full rights to the road as long as they are in compliance with the bike code (bell, a light or reflector on both ends, and breaks).

Cyclists should assume all motorists are idiots: When I was learning to drive, I was always taught by my parents to assume that all other drivers are idiots and to avoid getting into situations where an idiot makes a call that could affect my car or my health. Similarly, us cyclists should do the same for the motorists we share the road with.

Why do I say this? When I was turning onto Pennsylvania Street, with all the cars several dozen feet away at a red light, I turn left and all of a sudden see a red car coming right for me. I peddled quickly to the other side of the street to yell at the motorist who just turned the wrong way onto a one way street. While you don't normally think you need to look BOTH ways on a one way street, I might just start doing that. You can't trust other people with your safety.

Cyclists should call out our own: I don't mean go up to the complete stranger who just blew through a red light. But if you're biking in a group, insist that everyone follow the rules of the road. Lead by example.

Also, when the media reports on some jagoff bikers who brag about ignoring the rules of the road, someone from one of the several bicycling organizations needs to contact the media outlet and condemn the aforementioned jagoffs.

Take a friend: I was fortunate enough to often bike with my family or another group of cyclists when I started riding about two years ago. Instead of riding with the same group, invite someone else along. Let them borrow a helmet if they need to, and slow down so they can keep the pace.

Indy Go Involvment: I think downtown Indianapolis being easily navigable by bike is one of this city's best kept secrets. But unfortunately, more casual cyclists who live outside of downtown might find it a bit of a challenge to bike to their job downtown. If Indy Go offered free or reduced rates for one day and promoted certain routes for cyclists to get on board at, I think it could help attract more people to public transit and get more people to bike once they get into the general downtown area.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Run Gubt Like Business....Except for the Gays!!!!!

Councilor Angela Mansfield has introduced an ordinance to open up city-county employee benefits to qualifying domestic partnerships. Mansfield mentions that most Fortune 500 companies offer domestic partnership benefits and this is simply responding to how business is done and how society has changed.

What I find funny is the comments section. I've noticed that my Republican friends often talk about "running a government like a business." Well, it turns out that businesses are already doing this as are many other local and state governments. So using their logic, this is just the local government finally catching up to how employee benefits are handled nowadays.

And while the article mentions that there should be bi-partisan support,with Mayor Greg Ballard likely to sign it, I expect this ordinance to be met with bi-partisan opposition as well.

Just some food for thought.

On another note, it has been a while and I've got a couple posts lined up for the next few days.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How Susan Brooks Won

The Associated Press officially is saying that Susan Brooks is the winner of the contested 5th Congressional District race for the GOP nomination.

Susan Brooks started out in the race, according to early polling by former Congressman David McIntosh, in the single digits with little name ID outside of Hamilton and Marion counties.

And that was in February 2012, not all that long ago.

She took those numbers and hit the pavement hard. She racked up a number of high profile endorsements, including Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman and former state GOP Chairman Murray Clark. And several low profile endorsements as well from county and city elected officials across Marion and Hamilton counties and elsewhere. She also had the big endorsement of Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a rising star in the Republican Party.

In the last two weeks, she focused on her base and, just like Dan Burton did in the last two primaries, focused on driving them out.

And it paid off. She etched out John McGoff in Marion County, and her strength here and elsewhere etched out a victory from McIntosh.

She was incredibly accessible to media, both traditional and new. She attended every major candidate forum I can remember. I often heard that she sounded more sincere compared tom some of the other candidates. I saw an astounding number of Brooks supporters at the polls today, and they weren't all former or current elected Republican officials.

She also managed to win a Republican primary without an endorsement from Indiana Right to Life or the NRA. And she even had some shadowy group called "Campaign for Primary Accountability" running ads against her. These types of bridges will inevitably be built since she is the nominee, and will soon be racking up a voting record that will likely net her those endorsements in the future and stop those types of dreary ads.

The question now for Mrs. Brooks is what does she do now?

She certainly has a lot of time to think about it.

Congratulations to Mrs. Brooks and to her campaign.

My Pretend Vote for IN05: I like Wayne

The voters of the 5th Congressional District of Indiana are blessed to have several qualified candidates running for office in the Republican primary. It is a primary in one of the most Republican districts in the nation, so there isn't going to be a whole lot of ideological differences. So "character" should be more on the minds of voters than specific political issues.

But until the last two weeks, the bomb throwing was pretty low. And then it all blew up as if some type of Cold War pact was just broken.

But one candidate has remained above the fray while still having a chance to win.

That candidate is Wayne Seybold, the current mayor of Marion, Indiana.

I'm not going to try to spin his views as if they are somehow unique or exclusive to him, because they aren't. They all say they're pro-life, pro-gun, and conservatives in almost every aspect, and I take them at their word.

But Wayne is the only candidate running with significant executive office experience. That means he has crafted a city's budget on his own before. Not only will he know how to craft a budget, but he'll also know how the federal government's spending and regulations impact municipalities on the local level.

And that is something that is needed in today's Congress, that often seems disconnected from the people it supposedly represents.

He also has not demonized Democrats. He says he has a good working relationship with the many Democratic mayors in towns near Marion, and I believe he'd take that to Washington and be able to get things done.

If you live in the 5th Congressional district, I encourage you to cast a vote for Wayne Seybold.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Guest Post: Why I Support Treasurer Mourdock in the GOP Senate Primary

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one of several guest posts where voters express their support of candidates in tomorrow's primary. Brent Smith, an Indianapolis based food blogger, has chosen to vote for Treasurer Richard Mourdock in tomorrow's GOP primary. Mourdock is running against incumbent US Senator Richard Lugar. 

Conservative. Republican. Some people use the two terms almost interchangeably. However, the truth is the vast majority of us that consider ourselves the latter only do so because we are first and foremost the former. Conservatism is the philosophy that informs the choice of political party. However, as time wears on more and more of us are realizing that an elected official having an R beside their name doesn't necessarily mean they buy into our philosophy of constitutionally limited governance any more than they buy into tabloid headlines declaring JFK to be a space alien or the profitability of a Rosie O’Donnell swimsuit calendar. The only thing they really buy into is their own desperate need to cling to power, and any attempt at being principled is derided as somehow “extreme”. What nonsense.

Richard Mourdock appeals to me and other conservatives because he is one of us. A principled conservative? Yes, but absolutely mainstream in terms of conservative thought. He’s pro-life. He supports an individual right to own and use firearms. He opposes the wasting of taxpayer money on bailouts. He believes in the crazy idea that government shouldn’t spend more money than it generates in revenue. He believes that the “advice and consent” provision of the Constitution isn’t just another phrase that means rubber-stamping the President’s leftist Supreme Court nominees. These are agenda items on which every Republican should be able to agree. However, the campaign of Richard Lugar would want you to believe something entirely different.

According to the Lugar campaign such positions listed above are that of a “right wing extremist”. Are those your positions? Do you consider yourself an extremist? I know I certainly don’t. What are some positions I would describe as out of the mainstream of political thought? I’m glad you asked. Let’s list a few: Supporting a bailout for Wall Street, supporting Supreme Court justices that believe it’s perfectly constitutional for the Federal Government to make you buy a product, supporting amnesty for illegal aliens,
supporting taxpayer funded abortion, supporting restrictions on gun ownership, support for the disastrous Law of the Sea Treaty that would sacrifice American sovereignty, support for the auto industry bailout that Richard Mourdock opposed in court in order to protect secured bondholders. These are all things that Richard Lugar has supported. Do these seem like standard conservative positions to you? The Lugar campaign is right. There is one out-of-the-mainstream republican in this race. It’s their candidate.

I hate to say it, but I believe our country is in trouble. Our debt is soaring, people are dropping from the workforce like flies, our bureaucracy runs roughshod over job creators, and Dick Lugar has had 35 years to try to stop it. Unfortunately it has done nothing but get progressively worse. We have to make a change. It’s time to elect Richard Mourdock.

Guest Post: David McIntosh for Congress, IN05

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor that the David McIntosh campaign has been distributing. McIntosh is running in the GOP primary for the 5th Congressional District on May 8th. It is written by Marc Applegate, a Boone County resident.

As a Boone County Commissioner, I constantly think about how to improve the quality of life for residents and businesses in my county. From a county level, we have worked very hard to adjust to spending levels by taking necessary steps to cut our costs and to be good fiscal stewards.  The frustration is that no matter how successful we are, we feel like we have very little control of recklessness of our federal government on the lack of controls when it comes to spending.  Our citizens are fed up also and feel hopeless when it comes to this runaway spending.
The taxpayers of my county feel overtaxed and under-served. We are sending all of this money to Washington, DC, and politicians complain that it’s not enough while at the same time we’re reading about embarrassing levels of wasteful spending. Whether it’s the billions of dollars in Medicare mispayments or $800,000 parties in Las Vegas, Washington’s handling of the nation’s finances is out of control.
Besides serving as a commissioner, I am also a small business owner.  I know I can speak for all business owners when I say that the increased burden of government regulation has stymied our growth and kept us from hiring new employees.  Worse than this, the Obama administration has created an environment of uncertainty among employers by promising even more restrictive regulations, especially in health care and anything the EPA can get its hands on.
More than ever, it is crucial that we stop sending people to Washington who aren’t serious about taking on the big issues. Voters want to hear specifics about what they propose to do. We shouldn’t let candidates off the hook who remain vague on such important issues as bailouts, tax rates, regulatory reform, entitlements, and which parts of the federal government they will cut to get Washington’s spending under control.

If a Republican candidate can’t be specific on these kinds of issues, it usually means he or she will just get in step with the Republican establishment in Washington, and that’s not good enough. We’re all sick of this. We need policy leadership.
For these reasons, as a voter in the new 5th congressional district, I’ve thrown my support behind David McIntosh. There are a number of good candidates in the 5th district, but McIntosh is clearly the conservative’s conservative. He’s the only leading candidate in the race to oppose the Washington bailouts. He has gotten the highest rating of all the candidates from the NRA and is the lone candidate the NRA is endorsing. He’s also the only candidate in the race endorsed by the national free market groups, FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth, as well as National Right to Life. When Fortune magazine’s Nina Easton wrote a book on five people who have shaped the conservative movement, David McIntosh was on this list because of all he has done to fight regulatory regimes in Washington. David McIntosh was also one of the founders of the Federalist Society, which has done more than any group to raise up conservative judges around the country.
When the 5th district race began, I wasn’t sure whom I was going to support. But as I’ve read up on where candidates stand on the issues, I came to the conclusion that McIntosh is the most conservative, the clearest on the issues, and a history of doing what he says he will do. Let’s hope that in all of Indiana’s districts, we send the candidates to Washington who won’t shy from the big issues – and who aren’t afraid to tell us where they stand on them now.
Marc Applegate
Small Business Owner and Boone County Commissioner

Guest Post: Jack Lugar for US House, IN05

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following are a handful of e-mails I got in support of Jack Lugar. Lugar is running in the GOP primary in Congressional District 5. The 5th district extends from the northern parts of Marion County up to the more northern towns of Marion, Anderson, and Kokomo. He is running in a primary with seven other candidates.

After carefully comparing the qualifications of all the candidates running for 5th District Congressman, it is my firm belief that Jack Lugar is the ideal person to fulfill the demands of this position. All candidates appear to have varying levels of abilities, but it is Jack Lugar that has the best and most impressive capabilities to represent us in Washington. He is very low-key and modest in his approach while nevertheless being strong in his convictions and resolve to follow through in whatever is necessary to make the changes to restore our country's economy. His intention to maintain his residence in Indiana while commuting to Washington during Congressional sessions assures that he will maintain close communication with his constituents and best represent our interests on a current basis. While Jack has not had the advantage of widespread television exposure to promote himself as his opponents have, anyone who has read his weekly newsletters or witnessed him in the various candidate forums has no doubt that he is the best candidate running for 5th District Congressman and will be certain to vote for him on May 8. I am proud to endorse him and hope that other voters will follow suit so that we can have the best representation possible come November!

Karen Miller
Fishers, IN.

We have known Jack since birth and lived close to his family. Annually we get the families together for fun on the lake.  He has excelled in whatever he put his mind to do.  He is comfortable speaking and meeting new people.  He is well liked by family and friends.  He has the ability to get to the source of the information that he needs to make a good decesion.  We feel we need more up and coming men in our congress like Jack to make our country strong in every way.  Bill and Carol Reid from Noblesville, Indiana

I firmly believe Jack Lugar is the best candidate for Indiana’s 5th District. He is authentic and innovative; utilizing both conventional and unconventional means to reach out to Hoosiers and displays the boldness needed to represent Hoosiers in Washington. Last July, Jack entered this race and has steadily built up a very strong campaign marching in parades, walking door to door, writing a weekly newsletter, providing strong leadership in building an effective online campaign, and building relationships with Hoosiers through house gatherings and business luncheons.

Jack is a strong leader who will bring transparency and accessibility to Washington. Jack rose to the top of his field in the entertainment industry and then attended law school to prepare himself for service to his country. He is not only a great communicator whose message consistently resonates with Hoosiers, he is a devoted husband and father.

Throughout his campaign, Jack has been talking about raising up new leaders. He has dedicated himself to empowering younger generations to get involved in politics and make their voices heard. His dedication to valuing the individual and giving power to the next generation has deeply resonated. He believes in building up a strong team, training up new leaders, and extending his sphere of influence so that when he comes to the end of his self-imposed 10 year term limit the next generation will be able to carry on the mantle of leadership.

Jack has also been a strong advocate for veterans. Having met with veterans and seeing a need to create jobs, Jack came up with VIP: Veterans Introduction Program. VIP is a program that will help veterans assimilate back into the work force through a one year mentorship that will allow them to gain a skill set and give them a foundation for success.

Jack’s diverse work experience has prepared him to deal with a variety of challenges.  His work as a Realtor has given him a strong knowledge of the housing market and its importance to our economy.  His legal studies and work have offered him a solid understanding of the importance of the Constitution. In addition, he has learned how to skillfully work with opposing views while holding true to his convictions.  Jack will take this knowledge with him to Washington as he works to create jobs, reduce the deficit, promote the development of energy independence, offer workable solutions to health care, and defends our freedom.  

I believe that Jack Lugar is the everyday American Indiana’s 5th district needs as a leader to return our country to prosperity.

Elisabeth Lugar

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Guest Post: Why I Support Richard Lugar

EDITOR'S NOTE: In lieu of doing candidate profiles (which is actually quite hard to do in a primary race when candidates agree on 99% of the issues), I'm offering voters a place to voice their support for the candidates they are most passionate about. If you are interested in voicing support for a candidate, please feel free to contact me via e-mail at 

First up is a guest post from Chris Douglas of Indianapolis.  Chris is a decorated Air Force Officer, business owner, employer , and eighth generation Hoosier. He is supporting Richard Lugar in Tuesday's GOP primary.

In the Republican Primary on Tuesday, I am voting with enthusiasm not only for Richard Lugar, but against Richard Mourdock.  I encourage every Hoosier to vote in the Primary and do the same.

Why am I supporting Richard Lugar?  The list of reasons is extensive.  He is a Senator in the greatest tradition of Ancient Rome and of the New Republic that America became.   A man whose intellect, integrity to mission, and dedication to America's cause is on a historic plane.  He has changed the course of history in Indiana and the world... by effecting a unification of government in Indianapolis that redirected civic energy into a revitalized city rather than away from a crumbling one....   by guiding U.S. support suddenly from a Philippine dictatorship to a true Philippine democracy...  by navigating into U.S.  law historic arms reduction treaties with previously implacable national foes... indeed, by seeing down a long and winding road to the national and world terror that would be possible were nuclear weapons to fall into the hands of fanatic, suicidal enemies, and arresting that possibility peacefully. 

Domestically, Lugar has operated with immense political courage.  Promoting Indiana's traditional (though not universally shared) culture of compassion, Lugar supported an avenue to responsible citizenship for foreign youths within our borders who would otherwise be bereft of hope for a productive future, destined only to undermine rather than contribute to our prosperity.  Rather than buckle to extremists, he helped salvage the banking system, and thus the economy, from collapse in 2008.  (Hoosiers were never told, nor could we be for the panic it would generate, that we were within days of ATMS no longer dispensing cash; groceries no longer honoring checks or credit cards; domestic and international trade collapsing; and our employers' payrolls torched in a banking conflagration as bad as the Great Depression. )  Rather than to support gridlock and the disgraceful and dishonorable loss of our national credit rating that ensued because of extremism, Lugar took the unpopular but necessary step of supporting a raise in the short term debt ceiling, thus ensuring that the U.S. government honored payment on maturing Treasuries, without which cash even some of our greatest corporations would have failed to make payroll!   Far easier, as so many callow and cowardly politicians did, to place popular but unconscionable votes against all of these, playing upon the ignorance of Hoosiers as to the real perils at hand.  It is to master the issues on our behalf, while we are occupied with our livelihoods, that we endeavor to send great men to Washington, and Lugar is among the greatest men in Washington today. 

But I am not only supporting among the greatest men we have; I am opposing among the worst .  Mourdock has chosen to play upon our ignorance of the issues  and attack Lugar for the very votes that most reflect his integrity while he chose the national interest over his own political fortune.   That is despicable. 

Alas, my concerns about Mourdock run far deeper than his personal electioneering.  First, he from the beginning was supported not by Hoosiers, but by the shadowy network of multi-Billionaires who conceived of and established the Tea Party before Obama was even elected.  Their motivations have always been plain:  to preserve recent changes in the tax code, to which Mourdock has so helpfully pledged himself, which give to the super rich lower tax rates on passive dividend income than the tax rates on the earned income of the working class.  The patriot Lugar has made no such pledge to these billionaires, and so they must destroy him.

Without the overwhelming financial support from outside Indiana, Mourdock's bid would have died in the crib.  But it was the millions of dollars in SuperPAC money spent on his behalf that have deceived and distracted Hoosiers from our real interests.  The former Mayor of Indianapolis, military officer, Shortridge High School graduate, and holder of a farmstead in Marion County not a Hoosier?  A preposterous red herring.   The millions of dollars spent by SuperPACs to defame Lugar are still but a rounding error in the income the billionaires save annually in dividends taxed at privileged rates.  $5 million or even $10 million to distract Hoosiers and secure a senator's vote for hundreds of millions in tax privileges?  Cheap!

I'm concerned also by the fact that at least one of the billionaire families involved derives its fortune from the energy industry;  that Mr. Mourdock is an energy industry geologist who even while in office referred on at least one web page to continuing work as a "consultant"; and that this energy industry geologist wants to get rid of the Environmental Protection Agency, an institution first founded by one Republican (Nixon) and run by another.. indeed... by a Hoosier (Ruckelshaus)!  (I remember when the skies were gray in Indiana... and fox, goose, mallard duck, crane, and great blue heron were not to be seen.)

Finally, I have concerns about how it was that Indiana came to acquire the junk bonds of Chrysler in the very month in which the Corporation's collapsing value became public.  Did some lucky investor succeed in unloading their bonds into Indiana's pension funds?  Did an investor group succeed in moving the bonds into Indiana funds so that Indiana would front for the litigation that corporate insiders in that month would have known was coming?  Why didn't some other investor group lead the litigation?  Did Indiana's tax payers shoulder more expense and suffer greater losses than necessary?    The personal relationship between Indiana's Treasurer and the Chairman of Chrylser's owner, Cerberus, troubles me.  What communication took place? 

In short, the day is no doubt coming when Senator Lugar must be replaced.  On that day, let it be by a man or woman, funded and supported by Hoosiers more than by outside interests, one whose character and judgment we can trust to master issues when we cannot, and vote with courage and integrity in Hoosiers interests when we ourselves can't.  Until the day that Lugar is no longer capable and a suitable replacement is apparent, I view it as the calling of all Hoosiers to vote in the Republican Primary and to cast their vote to return Richard Lugar to Washington.