Saturday, July 25, 2009

Libertarian Party's Executive Director Responds to GOP Ward Chair Firings

Quoted in full from email:

Bloggers, this is for use as it is needed:


As the E.D. of the LPIN, I want to make it clear that Liz Karlson has not, and is not, a member of the Libertarian Party, it's Indiana affiliate, or of Marion County. She never offered to join, and we did not ask, because she is committed to growing the Republican Party, and the Republican Liberty Caucus. Liz has worked diligently in organizing the Republican Liberty Caucus, and has been picking at our membership to recruit for the Republican Party. We allowed this for two reasons: A. No one wanted to go back. And C [sic]. We are good friends with Liz. We are comfortable enough with ourselves to hang out with members of another party. To anyone who asks why Libertarian Party members don't work from within the two old parties for reform, here are your answers.

Chris Spangle
Executive Director of the Libertarian Party of Indiana

The Empire Strikes Back

Tom John and the Marion County GOP, on top of other troubles, have now sacked two ward chairmen in Washington Township, Liz Karlson and Eric Smith.

Both were supporters of Scott Schneider in the caucus earlier this week. The timing of their firings is highly coincidental, given their support for Schneider and the pressure that was very clearly exerted in favor of his opponent by Marion County GOP leadership.

This is an ugly thing, and reminiscent of the sacking by Tom John of Dave Miller, who was then Perry Township Chairman, for his support of Greg Zoeller and vocal opposition to the Marion County GOP's efforts to strong-arm delegates in the 2008 attorney general's convention fight.

The firing of Dave Miller was attributed to "competency." The firings of Smith and Carlson have been attributed to everything from them fraternizing with Libertarians to them not recognizing certain party leaders at GOP club meetings. One was accused of hosting GOP club meetings whose speakers were bloggers that were "anti-organization." They were also accused of not doing their jobs. Their job, apparently, is defined as "supporting GOP candidates and the organization in which you serve."

There you have it. If you don't salute and follow orders, they don't want you.

Curiously, the incidents cited as justification for the firings (in reference to them not doing their jobs) frequently happened many months ago. Some of them happened before the last election. Almost all of them happened before Teresa Lubbers resigned her senate seat.

I suppose we are to believe that the timing is nevertheless a coincidence, and that the support by these two ward chairmen for Scott Schneider was simply and utterly unrelated to them being relieved of their party posts. They could have been removed from their positions months ago for most of their supposed shortcomings, if those were indeed the reasons for them being sacked.

Instead, they continued in their positions for many months afterward. After the last election, which went disastrously for the Marion County GOP. After the county party reorganization. After the resignation of Senator Lubbers. But yet their sacking for offenses before these other things happens now, after the Marion County GOP's man lost in a caucus vote.

It strains credulity to believe that these firings are unrelated to what happened at that caucus this week.

A lot good happened at that caucus. The votes were cast and counted fairly. The process (with the exception of the regionalized voting machines, which I question) was fair. Capable and qualified men entered as contenders. A lengthy campaign took place, allowing ample time for consideration and thoughtful decision making by precinct committeemen. A good man will become the senator from District 30. The itself was well-run and administered (compare that to some of the caucuses held by Democrats in Marion County, for example).

But the behavior of some in Marion County before that event--and now afterward--casts a long shadow over all of those positives.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Twitter Hash Tag Poll Results

The poll I did on a possible hash tag for Hoosier Republicans and conservatives on Twitter has ended. 59 votes were cast.

Here are the results:

#RedIN - 19 (32%)
#INGOP - 17 (28%)
#INtcot - 10 (16%)
#INRed - 10 (16%)
Other - 3 (5%)

#RedIN won, but the outcome is by no means clear cut. I don't know if it would be worthwhile to do a run-off or not.

Post your thoughts in the comments.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Twitter Hash Tag for Hoosier Conservatives & Republicans: Vote in the Poll

I've noticed in my time on Twitter that politicos in other states tend to have own unique hash tags (#something; used to make tracking topics or conducting searches easier).

Conservatives and Republicans in Indiana don't have one as yet. In conversations with some of my fellow bloggers, it was suggested that we conduct a poll about what the best hash tag might be.

That poll is located over on the right. It will be up for a week. Please vote.

And if your suggestion is "other", comments have been enabled on this post for you to make your suggestion.

Please note that this post will stay at the top of the page until the poll is done, so scroll down to see the latest updates.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Another Caucus, Another Establishment Defeat

Tonight, precinct committeemen from Marion and Hamilton Counties met to select a new State Senator for District 30 to replace Teresa Lubbers. On the second ballot, by a margin of 61 to 38, former City-County Councilman Scott Schneider defeated City-County Councilman Ryan Vaughn (who works at Barnes & Thornburg, was endorsed by Mayor Greg Ballard, and was generally seen as the establishment choice).

Former state representative John Ruckelshaus (who lost to Lubbers in the primary in the district when it was an open seat) was eliminated on the first ballot. The margin on that ballot showed Schneider with 49 votes, Vaughn with 37, Ruckelshaus with 12, and one ballot spoiled. Vaughn gained only one vote on the second ballot; apparently either all of Ruckelshaus' supporters voted for Schneider on the second ballot, a substantial number of Vaughn's supporters bailed and deserted him, or there was a good bit of bandwagoning (or all of the above).

Hoosier Access streamed the caucus live online, including the pre-vote speeches of each candidate, and had interviews with all three of the candidates.

This election marks but the latest time that the Indianapolis establishment has gone to bat in a caucus, convention, or primary, only to be decisively sent packing by the party base. Indeed, Scheider's margin of victory--61 to 38--isn't all that different from Greg Zoeller's 60% to 40% convention victory over Jon Costas in June of last year.

Time and again, "wiser" insiders in Indianapolis have tried to pick winners in these contests. Time and again, they have been defeated. Delph beat Randolph, Walker beat Garton, Bailey beat Kellems, Leising beat Sponsel, Zoeller beat Costas, and now Schneider beat Vaughn.

There's also a lesson here with endorsements. Sooner or later, that lesson is going to be learned. Apparently, it will take a few more knocks for it to get through.

Endorsements from every statewide (save Steve Carter, who was for Zoeller) didn't help Jon Costas. An endorsement letter from Mayor Greg Ballard didn't help Ryan Vaughn. If anything, such endorsements appear to be found to be unimpressive, even off-putting, by the party base.

Ponder, for a moment, the decisive outcome and the circumstances under which it was reached.

First, Teresa Lubbers announced her departure some four months ago, but her resignation did not go into effect until after the special session was over. Accordingly, Marion County GOP Chairman Tom John had four entire months to appoint mummy-dummies (a Rex-Early-ism for non-working precinct committeemen who are appointed just to vote in a caucus and help get a particular outcome). You could hardly conceive of a more friendly environment to force a caucus outcome if you tried.

Second, multiple candidates (Schneider and Ruckelshaus) seemed set to splinter the base conservative vote while there was only one Indy establishment candidate and a fourth candidate (Chris Douglas, a moderate) withdrew earlier on caucus day.

Third, there were echoes of the Zoeller vs Costas race. In that race, Murray Clark intended to have delegates indicate, on the machine, which county they were from when they were voting. This would allow "accountability" in terms of determining which counties had delivered as ordered (or promised) or not. This was only stopped by efforts of Zoeller supporters at State Committee (in particular Larry Shickles, who held up a critical vote required to even hold the convention until the machines were reprogrammed; Shickles later topped the target list come reorganization time and was ousted).

In tonight's caucus, Murray Clark directed that precinct committeemen vote on three machines, determined by their geographic location (the Center Area of Marion County, the Northeast Area of Marion County, and the portion of District 30 in Hamilton County). They could have easily voted on three machines without distinction for region, but that wouldn't have allowed them to track who had delivered and who had not.

Fourth, this isn't a victory for "the right wing," regardless of what sort of spin Ice Miller is sponsoring Jim Shella's show in order for him to parrot. The epitaph of the Republican Senate majority will not be written by challenging the establishment too much, but it could be written by letting it go unchallenged entirely. Just look at Republicans in Ohio, who became complacent, decadent, lazy, and too cozy with special interests. Their once-mighty state organization was dashed in 2006 and 2008 as a result.

One of the reasons that Republicans have maintained their Senate majority in Indiana, despite the ill tide against Republicans nationally (and in this state) is the willingness of Republican caucus-goers and primary-goers in Indiana to vote out folks like Bob Garton and Larry Borst, who wanted to give themselves lifetime health care and other shady perks, and refuse to seat career lobbyists and insiders like Ryan Vaughn.

Senate Republicans are strengthened when the party is willing to cleaning its own house by sending cozy insiders packing and sending honest conservatives instead. Imagine if Republicans nationally had possessed the wherewithal and good sense to send certain crooked or shady Republicans packing instead of doubling down on a losing bet and going down with them.

Anyway, the regional results are quite telling:.

Here is a map of the district (PDF warning). The Central Marion area is the southernmost portion of the district (Broad Ripple, etc). Northeastern Marion includes Washington and Lawrence townships. Hamilton is all of Hamilton County (Delaware and Clay townships).

The results:

First Ballot:
--John Ruckelshaus: 12
----Central Marion: 2
----Northeastern Marion: 5
----Hamilton: 5
--Scott Schneider: 49
----Central Marion: 17
----Northeastern Marion: 18
----Hamilton: 14
--Ryan Vaughn: 37
----Central Marion: 25
----Northeastern Marion: 7
----Hamilton: 5
--Spoiled Ballot: 1 (marked for multiple candidates)
----Central Marion: 1
----Northeastern Marion: 0
----Hamilton: 0

Second Ballot:
--Scott Schneider: 61 (gain 12)
----Central Marion: 18 (gain 1)
----Northeastern Marion: 23 (gain 5)
----Hamilton: 20 (gain 6)
--Ryan Vaughn: 38 (gain 1)
----Central Marion: 27 (gain 2)
----Northeastern Marion: 7 (no change)
----Hamilton: 4 (lose 1)

Vaughn lost Northeastern Marion (with its heavily anti-establishment PCs in Washington Township) by a crushing margin. There weren't enough votes in the Central area, his stronghold (weak though it was), to win it for him even if he carried every PC there. In the end, Tom John simply didn't have enough mummy dummy spots available for him to be able to influence the outcome of the vote.

Hamilton County GOP Chairman Charlie White was true to his pledges of neutrality (he is friends with all three candidates); the first ballot indicates a pretty even distribution among Hamilton County PCs that eventually saw them consolidate under the (more conservative and less Indy establishment candidate) Scott Schneider. This neutral free hand goes in stark contrast to the mummy-dummy appointments seen in Marion County.

I'm told that almost half of all precinct committeemen in District 30 are estimated to be appointed "mummy dummies," but only about a dozen of those were appointed by Tom John in the four-month period since Lubbers' resignation opened the seat up.

Several proxies were challenged by Schneider's representatives, but apparently the challenges were overturned. A number of Marion County precinct committeemen were apparently appointed in this district after the 30-day deadline, and were not allowed to vote as a result.

Photo of the Day: Hornet Stack


From Strategy Page:

Eight F/A-18 Hornets assigned the River Rattlers, Strike Fighter Squadron 204, fly in a column formation over southern Louisiana's wetlands during a photo exercise. VFA 204 is stationed on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, New Orleans. Photo by John P. Curtis

Al Franken Is a Big Fat Stupid Idiot

Al Franken Is a Big Fat Stupid Idiot

The Babe

The Babe

Schneider Beats Vaughn in Senate 30 Caucus

Title says it all.

There is no joy in Grandville tonight.

Mighty Tommy has struck out.

Show Me the Money: Everybody Else

MoneyI've already looked at the fundraising numbers in the 5th and the 9th, the latter with two considerable follow-ups (here and here). This post, as the title indicates, will look at the rest of the House races (such as they are).

Outside of the 5th and the 9th, there are no party primaries on the horizon. This being said, the Journal Gazette sees one as a possibility for Mark Souder (there are rumblings from potential candidates, but no formal filings). Outside of the 9th, only the 8th has a challenger, , filed against an incumbent (and that challenger raised nothing and did not report).

Here they are, in descending order in terms of each category.

Starting Cash-on-Hand:
Pete Visclosky (D, 1st): $915,638.97
Mike Pence (R, 6th): $460,493.59
Joe Donnelly: (D, 2nd): $431,867.49
Brad Ellsworth (D, 8th): $270,293.05
Steve Buyer (R, 4th): $228,679.22
Andre Carson (D, 7th): $64,578.45
Mark Souder (R, 3rd): $27,807.07

Q2 Net Receipts (Contributions):
Mike Pence (R, 6th): $262,168.09
Andre Carson (D, 7th): $213,361.97
Joe Donnelly: (D, 2nd): $176,151.45
Pete Visclosky (D, 1st): $156,213.64
Brad Ellsworth (D, 8th): $93,182.69
Steve Buyer (R, 4th): $85,771.38
Mark Souder (R, 3rd): $69,935.60

Q2 Individual Receipts:
Mike Pence (R, 6th): $184,653.81
Andre Carson (D, 7th): $135,000.90
Joe Donnelly: (D, 2nd): $69,854.54
Brad Ellsworth (D, 8th): $46,089.29
Pete Visclosky (D, 1st): $41,250.00
Mark Souder (R, 3rd): $22,529.00
Steve Buyer (R, 4th): $8,657.14

Carson netted some $48,000 from the Keep Indiana Blue fundraiser. Ellsworth got about $40,000 from the same. Donnelly got around $39,000.

Q2 Committee Receipts (from PACs and special interests):
Pete Visclosky (D, 1st): $111,800.00
Joe Donnelly: (D, 2nd): $99,725.00
Mike Pence (R, 6th): $77,403.30
Andre Carson (D, 7th): $75,629.68
Steve Buyer (R, 4th): $75,500.00
Mark Souder (R, 3rd): $47,406.60
Brad Ellsworth (D, 8th): $42,000.00

Q2 Disbursements (Expenditures):
Mike Pence (R, 6th): $236,432.21
Pete Visclosky (D, 1st): $112,367.70
Joe Donnelly: (D, 2nd): $74,091.87
Andre Carson (D, 7th): $65,625.20
Steve Buyer (R, 4th): $48,357.56
Brad Ellsworth (D, 8th): $41,224.55
Mark Souder (R, 3rd): $28,320.36

Pence gave $95,000 to the NRCC, and $1,000 to a candidate for governor in South Carolina (!!! and after the whole Sanford affair, too, but not to Sanford). And yet he still spent more money than anyone else despite that. Somebody is up to something, no?

Ending Cash-on-Hand:
Pete Visclosky (D, 1st): $959,484.91
Joe Donnelly: (D, 2nd): $533,927.07
Mike Pence (R, 6th): $486,229.47
Brad Ellsworth (D, 8th): $322,251.19
Steve Buyer (R, 4th): $266,093.04
Andre Carson (D, 7th): $212,315.22
Mark Souder (R, 3rd): $69,422.31

Notice how Visclosky tends to be at the top of these lists? That's why, even in such huge ethics trouble as he is, he's unlikely to be vulnerable. That's also the great benefit of sitting on the Appropriations Committee.

Paul Ogden Dissents, Gets It

I'd quote his entire post--it's well worth reading--but you should click over and read it yourself.

In speaking about the problems of Greg Ballard and the Marion County GOP, Paul Ogden has hit upon a problem that plagued the first and second Bush administrations, that plagues the Indiana Republican Party, and that plagues some areas of the national GOP.

The Republican Party must have a message, in spheres both fiscal and cultural, that resonates with middle class working Americans. That message is a proven winner. Indeed, it is the return to that small government populism so appealing to Reagan Democrats that is probably necessary.

It is a message that liberals at places like FiveThirtyEight seem to view as most troublesome for their belief in the forward march of the "progressive" liberal agenda under the banners of the Democratic Party.

Even as they dismiss cultural issues entirely and assume a Democratic victory in that area, they admit a fear of the "judicious use of anti-government populism" by the GOP: a return to principles of limited government, lower taxes, less spending, less waste, and general frugality.

Not so much a "know-nothing" conservative populism, but a thinking conservative populism. We've seen it before, after all. It was best espoused in the past by a fellow by the name of Ronald Reagan.

Monday, July 20, 2009

NRA Will Score Sotomayor Vote

From Commentary:

Shortly after her questioning ended, the NRA announced it would officially oppose her confirmation. Some question then arose in conservative circles as to whether the vote would be “scored” — that is, count for the score which the NRA uses to rate incumbents on Second Amendment issues. In a close race it can make the difference, particularly in a Red state. I contacted the NRA last night. A spokesman promptly replied by email: “It’s an important vote and it will count.”

This means that you could conceivably see Dick Lugar voting for Sotomayor, and taking a hit to his NRA rating, while Evan Bayh votes against her to preserve his rating for 2010.

The world turned upside down, no?

More on the 9th District Race

I'm told that your humble correspondent was quoted in the Howey Report this morning. Well, not so much quoted as Howey copied and pasted Lesley Stedman's article from the Courier-Journal and noted my concerns about a lack of national involvement in the race.

I'm honored that he thought so highly of my comments as to be willing to right-click them and add them to his daily clipping newsletter.

Anyway, Eric Schansberg has thoughts of his own:

I don't think it looks good for the GOP in 2010. Obama's slide will continue, but I don't see it as quick enough-- and I don't see the GOP poised to take advantage. One thing that will probably slow Obama's slide: The Left is constrained by the national debt in a way that will likely prevent it from shooting itself in the foot on health care.

And speaking of Schansberg and the 9th District, Daniel Short has some thoughts about that:

The Sunday edition arrived at the end of my driveway the same as it always does. The news was bad, the opinions liberal and the weather cool. Right on the front page was a picture of our congressman, Baron Hill, with the headline "GOP eyes run against Rep. Hill." There is plenty of talk about Mike Sodrel and the two newcomers that are running. Scott Fluhr of the Hoosier Pundit even chimes in with various reasons why the two newbies cannot win. The main one? Name recognition. Todd Young and Travis Hankins don't have it. They are both bright young men and qualified candidates, but lack of money and name recognition are holding them back.

Now, I do know of a man that is very well qualified and has name recognition due to his previous campaigns. His name is Eric Scahnsberg. See, you have heard the name. Well, he belongs to a political party that the CJ does not recognize... the Libertarian Party. Maybe you have not heard of them? Trust me, in the next few election cycles you will hear plenty about the party and from the candidates. Mr. Schansberg is an economics professor which is far better than a lawyer in my books. This may be the time when Eric propels himself and his cause into the spotlight. Will he win? The pundits say no way. Will he get his message out? You betcha.

First of all, Schansberg almost certainly has better name ID than either of the current two declared GOP contenders in the 9th.

Second of all, if he were to run as a Libertarian he still would be unlikely to do better than either of them in November. That's just the way the chips fall for Libertarians.

Now if Schansberg were to take some sort of Ron Paul "small-L libertarian within the GOP" approach, and run in the Republican primary, that might be different (particularly if his campaign caught fire with the national Ron Paul supporters, who could see it as a test case for their movement having broader appeal).

That would be a very interesting primary indeed.

Interesting Rumor

I've heard from sources in Indy that the Marion County GOP's payroll checks bounced.

Rumor also has it that there's been a problem with embezzlement, not unlike that seen at the State Democratic Party some years ago.

That would be an interesting coincidence of rumors, if true.

UPDATE: Gary Welsh has heard, also, and has more info.

Quote of the Day

“Well, people that I say that to say, ‘What are you talking about, you’re telling me we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt?’ The answer is yes, I’m telling you.”
- Joe Biden

Random Interlude

State Representative Ed Clere likes French cuisine.

Vichyssoise, to be precise.

And, no, there's nothing wrong with a Republican liking French cuisine.

We now continue with your regular blogging, already in progress.

Nothing Differently

Zoeller Intern Joins 5th District Primary

And you thought there were too many people in the primary before?

Hah!

There's now a fifth primary challenger to Republican Congressman Dan Burton's reelection bid.

Adam Dolce, an intern in Attorney General Greg Zoeller's office, has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission. Dolce hasn't raised any money yet.

Burton is already facing four top-tier challengers, each with some claim to fundraising ability and backing from party insiders: former Shelbyville State Rep.Luke Messer, Indianapolis State Rep. Mike Murphy, former U.S. Senate aide Brose McVey, and former Marion County Coroner John McGoff.

McGoff challenged Burton in last year's primary, losing 52%-45%.

Dolce's MySpace page says he graduated from IUPUI's law school this year and is studying for the bar exam.

This should be interesting.

Double Standard

Double Standard

Baseball Crank puts it well:

One must attribute at least part of the vileness of these attacks, among left-wing blogs, to how very few of the leading left-wing bloggers have children of their own - were conservatives tempted to mock Obama's daughters, they would at least have to face their own daughters and sons at the end of a day of doing so. A political movement of the childless has no empathy for children. Empathy for other human beings requires human decency, and decency breeds hesitation - a hesitation the Online Left has never displayed. Were any of these people capable of shame, they would be feeling it. Instead, they have been gleefully dancing on Palin's political grave ever since. It is worth considering what the "New Politics" has looked like when applied to Sarah Palin, because it presents a cautionary tale for Republicans with families.

More Golden Eggs!

More Golden Eggs!

Impressive Backpedaling

Impressive Backpedaling

Awesomesauce from Iowahawk: “Come on America, Let's Put a Congress on the Moon”

Hilarity.

Read the whole thing:

If America wants to get back on the right track, scientific space mission-wise, we need to once again pick an inspiring, audacious goal, and man it with the kind of inspirational crew to make it happen. At long last, let us realize mankind's most cherished dream -- sending the entire United States Congress to the Moon by 2010.

When I mention this proposal to my space engineering friends at Meier's Tap, they are often skeptical. They'll argue it's impossible, that even NASA's most powerful booster rockets never anticipated a payload of 535 people including Charlie Rangel and Jerrold Nadler. Look man, I'm just the idea guy, and I'm sure those details can be worked out. When John F. Kennedy first proposed going to the Moon in 1961, did you people expect him to already have a formula for Tang? The beauty of my proposal is that our Astro-Congress is already on payroll -- and chock full of crisis tested problem-solving engineers. If they can take over the entire US auto industry and re-engineer the American heath care system in two weeks, surviving a Moon mission will be a snap!

Yes, there are potential risks. Especially with Chief Flight Engineer Ted Kennedy at the controls. But did fear of the unknown stop Lewis and Clark? Did a couple of minor impalings scare us away from playing Lawn Darts? If Congress is going to be a bunch of sissies about it, I guess we could start out with a test flight of Astro-Congress test chimpanzees. When they splash down safely, we can then send up the real Congress, while their replacement chimpanzees debate pressing national legislative issues. As for Congressmen who still refuse to join the mission, I have one word: chloroform.

Make no mistake, my proposal is not some crazy pie-in-the-sky "because it is there" stunt. Just as the Apollo mission resulted in Teflon and freeze-dried ice cream and finding my dad's stash of Playboys, my Moon Congress project will result in scientific knowledge and concrete benefits for all mankind. For example, we will learn how high-mass continuing resolutions and earmarks react to extreme low-G conditions, and whether the Moon Congress will use seniority to decide seats on the cannibalization subcommittee. Who knows? Our brave Astro-Representatives and Senators may even encounter friendly Moon creatures who will help them adapt to the harsh lunar fundraising environment.

If this mission is successful -- and I am confident it will be -- it will pave the way for further bold manned missions to the stars. It will be important that our marooned Moon Congress gets the press coverage it needs, so we should begin working immediately for a follow-up launch of the one-way Moon Media Shuttle by mid-2010. This will result in improved chloroform technology that will help us in planning the 2011 Executive Branch on Mars mission, and the 2012 Supreme Court Venus probe. By 2013, we will be ready for our most audacious space goal yet -- sending the entire Internal Revenue Service rocketing to the Black Hole of Antaraes.

Go ahead and accuse me of living in a utopian sci-fi dream world, but I believe that if we act now America's families and its elected chimpanzees will soon gather around the Quasar console TV and cheer our triumphant return to the Final Frontier, once again inspiring a new generation of our kids to bold backyard space adventures.

Only Iowahawk can make history, science, politics, and comedy all come together.

9th District Sunday: 2 Stories Look at the Race

First, Lesley Stedman of the Courier-Journal had an early look yesterday at the 9th District race. Your humble correspondent spoke with her earlier last week, and I'm quoted a couple of times near the end.

The column:

GOP hopefuls eye run against Indiana's Hill

INDIANAPOLIS — More than a year before the 2010 general election, two Republicans already are campaigning to unseat Democratic incumbent Rep. Baron Hill — and neither one is named Mike Sodrel.

After four straight elections pitting Hill, a Democrat from Seymour, against Sodrel, a trucking company executive from New Albany, it seems 9th District voters may not get another rematch.

Sodrel has not said publicly whether he will run and did not answer a call for this story.

But Republicans said privately last week that he's not expected to join the race.

William Kubik, a political science professor at Hanover College near Madison, said Sodrel's sound defeat in 2008 means it's unlikely he could regain the kind of support necessary to mount a competitive campaign.

"It might even be hard to win the primary," Kubik said. "Voters could think, 'He's had enough chances and he couldn't hold the seat.'"

If Mike were to run, his name ID alone (coupled with fundraising ability) would easily move him to the front of any primary field. I don't know if he'd want to run (this article indicates that he doesn't want to; I can't blame him).

Instead, two lesser-known Republicans have created committees to raise money and campaign — attorney Todd Young of Bloomington and Travis Hankins, a real estate developer from Columbus.

Other candidates could still run, said Erin Houchin, 9th District Republican chairwoman.

"It's very early," she said. "But those two candidates are ahead of the game with their fundraising and grass-roots organizing. They're the first out of the starting gate."

So far, Young and Hankins have taken different approaches.

Young — who practices law in Washington County, where he's also a part-time deputy prosecutor — has been nurturing the GOP organization, gaining endorsements from a number of county party chairs and Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman and speaking at numerous party events.

Previously, Young practiced law in Bloomington and in Paoli, at his father-in-law's law firm (Tucker & Tucker), at was a deputy prosecutor in Orange County (according to his website).

I didn't know he now practiced in Washington County and is the deputy prosecutor there. Maybe it's a typo. The Washington County prosecutor is the husband of Erin Houchin (the district chairwoman); that would be a small world indeed if so.

Young, 36, also has been raising money.

According to a Federal Election Commission report filed last week, he's received more than $90,000 in contributions and spent little, leaving him with about $89,000.

"We've had a pretty good showing," Young said. "We're certainly ahead of any historical benchmarks (for past candidates). That's in no way meant to diminish their efforts, but we needed to get started early, to get my name out there and introduce myself to voters."

*sigh* Again with the "ahead of any historical benchmarks" line. As I've discussed at length twice before (here and here), that's factually just not the case. Good spin has at least some basis in reality.

Non-viable Democratic placeholders running against Republicans in safe seatsin 2008 in the 3rd and 4th Districts raised more money, and their potential campaign environment was much less friendly than that seen in the 9th (and the potential of those districts to elect them much less).

Hankins, 27, has raised about $35,000 — less than half of Young's total — and spent most of it, leaving about $9,000.

He has used some of that money for an intern program to help him develop a campaign that relies on the person-to-person pitch.

He's working with a slew of young students — as many as 25 have been with the campaign at one time — from across the country to knock on doors, go with him to parades and fairs, and make phone calls to voters.

"I'm committed to the grass-roots approach," Hankins said. "It's not good enough for someone to just know my name. I'm taking the approach of building personal relationships. Five-minute conversations will have more impact than status-quo campaigning."

But Harrison County Republican Chairman Scott Fluhr, who has not endorsed either candidate, said it will take more than just hard work to beat Hill, a former state lawmaker who has served nine years in the U.S. House.

Hill was first elected in 1998, lost the seat to Sodrel in 2004, and then won it back two years later. Sodrel tried again in 2008, but Hill defeated him with 58 percent of the vote.

"One of the things about Sodrel is that he had equivalent name ID the last three times to Baron Hill," said Fluhr, who writes a blog about politics at www.hoosierpundit.com. "That kind of name ID will cost you a lot of money to get — probably more than any of the challengers to Baron Hill will have."

And Fluhr worries that Hill's big win last year means national Republican groups — who have spent heavily in the district in the past — now will think it unwinnable. The Cook Political Report, a national publication that rates U.S. House races, now says the district outlook for 2010 is "likely" Democratic.

"You have candidates who are running out there, who don't have the name ID, who don't have the fundraising pull Sodrel had and potentially won't have the national help," Fluhr said. "It looks very different now than in the past."

When you think about it, you have fifty or sixty GOP seats that were safe in 2002 and 2004, when the 9th was competitive. In 2006 and 2008, those seats were lost in an ill tide.

Given that that many of those seats were safe for the GOP at some point in the very recent past, it stands to reason that they will be more likely to return to Republicans in the 2010 cycle than a seat that was won by only the narrowest of margins at the height of the Republican tide.

If I was sitting in Washington at the NRCC and the RNC and wanted to prioritize where to focus resources for the greatest effect and to regain the most seats, I'd go with them over the 9th District as a purely practical matter. I'd love for them to target the 9th, but a dollar spent here is likely to currently have an inferior return on investment relative to literally two or three score of seats elsewhere in the country.

The cost-benefit analysis on the 9th doesn't work out to be friendly to national eyes without a much stronger candidate (a proven fundraiser or someone with strong name ID, or both). A number of potential candidates fill those criteria, but none of them have yet entered the race.

From what I have heard, those potential candidates appear to be waiting until 2012, when they believe that 1) the district will be drawn more friendly, and 2) the seat will be open if Baron runs for governor. Implicit in all of that reasoning is the apparent assumption that the seat will still be held by Baron Hill after this election. That's an unfortunately resounding vote of no-confidence in the current crop of candidates.

Hill was too busy with work on the House health-care bill to comment for this story, said his spokeswoman, Katie Moreau.

But she said Hill is not taking the next race for granted.

"He is very focused on 2010," Moreau said.

Of course not. But I bet he's even more focused on 2012.

Hill has raised more than $480,000 since the last election, according to his most recent FEC report.

He's spent $80,000 and had more than $400,000 on June 30.

He's also become more prominent in Washington this year, serving as co-chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of fiscally conservative Democrats.

Kubik said that's a tremendous help for Hill in the fairly conservative district.

"He's socially and fiscally conservative" compared with his House Democratic colleagues, he said. "He's in a very good situation. Unless things go really south with President Obama, Hill will be a difficult person to defeat."

Membership (or even leadership) in the Blue Dog group doesn't have anything to do with Baron Hill being difficult to defeat, nor does it vindicate him as some sort of moderate (because his voting record clearly isn't).

And second, is this article from the News & Tribune about 9th District fundraising:

Hill holds early money lead against likely challengers

If former Congressman Mike Sodrel decides to challenge U.S. Rep. Baron Hill again in 2010, he’ll have to overcome at least two other challengers in the May primary — with both already stocking their campaign coffers.

Sodrel, a New Albany businessman, has faced-off with Hill in the every general election for the 9th District seat since 2002. He won once, in 2004, but Hill defeated him again in 2006 after Sodrel’s only term. In their most lopsided battle, Hill beat Sodrel in 2008 with 58 percent of the vote.

Neither Sodrel nor Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson — who also has been rumored as a potential candidate — have made an official decision about running, said Dave Matthews, Floyd County’s Republican Party chairman.

Henderson and Sodrel could not be reached for comment.

Two Republican challengers have announced their bids. According to the Federal Elections Commission, Columbus real estate investor Travis Hankins has raised $34,148 and Paoli attorney Todd Young has raised more than $90,000 in 2009.

They easily trail Hill, who has raised almost $500,000 for the 2010 race.

With almost triple the money, and public support from several prominent Republicans, Young could be the early favorite to face Hill in November 2010.

Young said he has received endorsements from nine of 20 GOP county chairmen the 9th District encompasses, Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman — who endorsed Young during a stop in New Albany — and other statewide officials.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller , a Southern Indiana native, and Tony Bennett, the state superintendent of public instruction and former Greater Clark County Schools head, also have publicly supported Young, he said.

Young said he won’t need to match or exceed Hill’s campaign funds, but should have enough money to mount a serious challenge if he wins the GOP nomination.

“If we stay in this glide path, we are definitely going to have to have the resources to put a lot of television commercials on the air and be competitive in November [2010],” said Young, who didn’t start fundraising until March.

I hate to continue to rain on the parade, but that's tremendously optimistic (and factually wrong). For structural reasons (discussed here), even low-end media buys in the 9th are very expensive.

For the next cycle, a week of television covering the entire district will probably cost almost $200,000 (a low-end district media buy was $175,000 for a week in 2008; it will undoubtedly increase by 2010).

If you extrapolate the fundraising level of the two candidates forward at a straight line (which assumes that they do not drop off after the first and second quarter as they usually do once the low-hanging fruit is collected), that assumes that the remaining five quarters will leave Hankins with $160,000 and Young with $440,000 by next October. And that's before you set aside other necessary expenditures (direct mail, literature, yard signs, radio, headquarters, staff, fundraising costs), all of which will subtract from that total.

This optimistic projection (setting aside all other needed expenditure and assuming no normal decline in fundraising hauls) will mean that Young will get just over two weeks of television to introduce himself to 9th District voters. Hankins will get less, only about five and a half days' worth.

That's not enough time for either candidate to get themselves basic name ID, let alone run ads attacking Baron Hill for his voting record.

I hope to find something soon to be optimistic about in this race. I'm looking hard and not finding much.

Young and Hankins have built their campaign chest completely from individual donors, including Hankins giving to his own campaign.

According to Sodrel’s most-recent filing with the elections commission, he still has more than $1.25 million of debt left on personal loans he made to his campaign during previous races.

No Democrats have officially announced they will challenge Hill. He faced three opponents in the May 2008 primary, but won easily.

Most of Hill’s money has come from political action committees, but he also has received more than $100,000 from individuals since the start of the year.

Often, incumbents raise less from individual donors than their challengers. This does not appear to be the case here, which is strange.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Baron Hill Finds New Opportunities for Campaign Cash in Health Care Debate

Back when the rush was on for the House to pass "cap and trade," Baron Hill originally opposed the legislation. A few cosmetic amendments and a presidential fundraiser (and some money from other Democrats) later, he voted for it enthusiastically. It's his usual playbook.

Now, Baron says that he's opposed to the health care reform legislation "in its current form."

I'm not quite as easy to spin as Jim Shella; I don't think that this current opposition has anything to do with Baron feeling heat at home.

It's his usual pattern. He'll oppose "its current form," get some minor amendments tacked on that ultimately change very little, get some campaign donations, take credit for dramatically changing the legislation, and then vote for it.

Baron on health care, in today's Courier-Journal:

INDIANAPOLIS — U.S. Rep. Baron Hill, D-9th, has found himself in a position of power in the nation's health-care debate, and he's not going to let the opportunity pass.

Hill and other members of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of conservative congressional Democrats, are insisting on changes to health-insurance legislation that promises coverage to all Americans but is projected to cost as much as $1trillion over 10 years.

The Blue Dogs want cost controls that would bring the price tag down and reduce the taxes necessary to fund the legislation. Hill said Thursday that the group has the votes on the Energy and Commerce Committee to make sure it happens.

"The bill cannot pass out of committee without support of seven Blue Dogs on the committee," he said.

"We feel like we have leverage to get our ideas adopted."

The bill is being considered by three separate committees that have been instructed to finish their work this week.

That means Hill and his Blue Dog colleagues are forced to work fast — too fast, as far as Hill is concerned.

"I've expressed concerns to the president and leadership that that's moving awfully quick," he said.

Still, he's working with others to try to meet the deadline.

Top among the Blue Dogs' concerns is the bill's cost.

Currently, the legislation imposes a surtax on wealthy Americans to help pay for the plan, something Hill hopes will be unnecessary if he and other Blue Dogs get their way in imposing more cost controls.

But he's not ruling anything out.

"I've got to keep an open mind" about financing health care, Hill said. But, he added, "I think we can do a whole lot more controlling costs here before we raise taxes."

Surprise, Surprise, Baron Got Campaign Cash Before "Cap and Trade" Vote

State GOP press release:

Indiana Republicans question campaign contributions to Rep. Baron Hill on eve of cap-and-trade vote

Indiana Republican Party Chairman Murray Clark questioned contributions made from House Democrat leadership to the campaign account of Rep. Baron Hill just before Hill cast a vote for the controversial cap-and-trade legislation last month.

"The timing of this donation to Rep. Hill certainly raises some eyebrows," said Clark.

The $2,000 was given to Hill by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC). Politico reported Friday that Clyburn gave out $28,000 to vulnerable Democrats who were initially undecided, but ultimately voted for the legislation. $4,000 was also given out to Democrats by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and $16,000 from Rep. Henry Waxman, the bill's author.

"This legislation is devastating to Indiana's economy, especially in the southern part of our state," said Clark. "It would cause our utility rates to soar and result in more lost jobs. It is disturbing to me that the House Democrats were weaving the financial interests of their member's campaigns into consideration of this legislation."

The Politico article can be read online by clicking here.

I'm sure it's not a bribe, really.

The fundraising visit by the President that raised $40,000 and preceded Baron's sudden decision to vote for "cap and trade," well, that was more of a "bribe."

Baron had previously opposed the legislation and had a change of heart after a few choice cosmetic amendments to the bill and that presidential fundraiser in Indy.

To paraphrase Crocodile Dundee: "That's not a bribe. THIS is a bribe."

And it's already been established that Baron, well, Baron comes cheap (see also here, here, and here).

Courier & Press Looks at Weinzapfel's Ignominious Retreat from Stealth Tax Hike

Here:

Governor makes most of mayor's misstep
Homestead tax credit may haunt Weinzapfel

EVANSVILLE — Political gamesmanship likely wasn't the only reason Gov. Mitch Daniels intervened last week to help restore Vanderburgh County's 2009 local homestead credit, a local analyst says.

Robert L. Dion, a political scientist at the University of Evansville, said it would be presumptuous to assume self-proclaimed "tax cutter" Daniels wasn't sincere when he directed state agencies to help local officials reinstate the homestead tax credit.

But the Republican governor also surely saw an opportunity to tweak a potential Democratic candidate to succeed him in 2012, Dion said.

Without uttering Mayor Johnathan Weinzapfel's name, Daniels told the Courier & Press that the local homestead credit had been eliminated "in a sneaky way in the dark."

It was a reference to the unadvertised April 1, 2008, meeting in Weinzapfel's office in which the mayor and other city and county elected officials decided not to back renewal of the credit. Because the decision was not disclosed, it created a furor when taxpayers saw more than a year later that their property tax bills did not include the credit.

Dion called Daniels' remarks "a two-fer for the governor."

"He gets to do something that would be satisfying to local taxpayers, and it has the side benefit of reminding people of a misstep by the mayor," Dion said.

Daniels also bested Weinzapfel in the political perceptions game, Dion said, by coming out first for reinstatement of the 2009 local homestead credit.

The governor's disclosure that he had directed key state agencies to do whatever they could to help reinstate the credit preceded by several hours Weinzapfel's statement that he already had begun to pursue the reinstatement.

But Republicans apparently hope Daniels' and Weinzapfel's momentary crossing of swords has a longer-term political implication as a template for attacking the Democratic mayor should he choose to run for governor in 2012.

On the offensive

The episode also suggests Weinzapfel would respond by going on the offensive, pointing to tax increases Daniels has supported and the fact that Weinzapfel's own Downtown arena funding plan does not include the use of property taxes.

"If Gov. Daniels is the standard by which (Weinzapfel's critics) are grading people, then I'm a lot more fiscally conservative than he is," Weinzapfel said.

Alas, this just isn't true.

The Stealth Tax Hike Scorecard:
Mitch "My Man" Daniels: 0
Jonathan "Mayor Whiny" Weinzapfel: 1

That's not to say that Mitch hasn't occasionally advocated tax hikes. But he has done so quite openly when he has been of that mind. He certainly didn't do it behind closed doors in hopes of people not noticing and it not getting reported by pliant local media.

The GOP's emerging line of attack against Weinzapfel is about ethics as much as tax dollars.

Republicans say Daniels' plan was passed in the open as part of a tax relief initiative, while the elimination of the local homestead credit was done behind closed doors and no notification to the public.

Cheryl Musgrave, former commissioner of the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance and widely considered a potential GOP candidate for mayor, pressed the same line of attack.

"The governor could have spent (the $620 million in new state homestead credits for 2008 that his tax reform formula created) on state needs — education, buildings, roads," Musgrave said. "But he chose to lessen the taxation burden of people.

"Yes, most of the relief came in the first year (the new state homestead credits dipped from $620 million in 2008 to $140 million this year and will fall to $80 million next year), and yes, 2008 was an election year, but it is polar opposite from anything Mayor Weinzapfel has done. He did a sneaky tax hike when he could have just as easily, without any pain suffered in real terms to city government, let that go, and he did it to bolster government spending."

While the city is projected to lose slightly more than $327,600 in property tax revenue this year as a result of legislatively mandated tax caps, the decision not to renew this year's local homestead credit put an extra $3.1 million-plus into city coffers.

It takes real chutzpah to raise taxes by ten times the shortfall you are claiming the tax hike is necessary to prevent.

Dion said if Weinzapfel runs for governor in 2012, the charge that he held a secret meeting to raise taxes may or may not resonate.

"We're three years out from the election, so he's got time to figure out how to address it," the political scientist said. "I give credit to anybody who apologizes because the unfortunate response that many people have is to either stonewall or cover up. ..."

But Dion cautioned that the issue could be a ticking time bomb for Weinzapfel.

"If he wins the Democratic nomination, the question becomes, 'Could this be used in an ad in the fall?'" Dion said. "There are ways in a 30-second ad that you could make this look very bad."

Understatement. Of. The. Week.

Alas, the C & P article made no mention of The Bloody Eighth, where Troy Woodruff was the first to bring attention to Weinzapfel's covert effort to hike taxes on Evansville homeowners.

Horse Lovers for Dan Burton

Behind Closed Doors in the Indianapolis Star has some flotsam and jetsam on Indiana fundraising over the last quarter.

Among the little blurbs that got mentioned was this:

A weighty donation?

Among the out-of-state supporters who recently contributed to the campaign of U.S. Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., one backer stood out: weight-loss guru Jenny Craig.
What's the connection? It turns out not to be food and nutrition but horses.

Craig, who is retired from the weight-loss and nutrition company she founded and sold to Nestle in 2006, raises Thoroughbred horses. A Web site dedicated to saving wild horses promoted a bill that Burton is sponsoring that would ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption.

An assistant to Craig said her $2,400 donation was made on behalf of the Web site and because of Burton's support for the legislation.

Burton was one of 33 House Republicans who voted Friday for a similar bill to protect wild horses.

Burton's daughters and grandchildren have horses, and he finds the horse slaughter process particularly disturbing, according to his spokesman.

It doesn't say specifically, but I assume that the legislation in question is the Restore Our American Mustangs Act, which Power Line took a critical look at a few days back;

The news is coming so thick and fast these days that it's hard to keep up. The Supreme Court, socialized medicine, cap and trade, record deficits, foreign policy fecklessness--it's easy to lose track of smaller issues with all that is going on. Still, H.R. 1018 shouldn't be allowed to pass unnoticed.

H.R. 1018 is the "Restore Our American Mustangs Act." It can fairly be described as a welfare program for horses. Believe it or not--this isn't satire--here is what the bill will do:

[T]he "Restore Our American Mustangs Act" ... would create a new $700 million welfare program for wild horses. The program:
* Conducts a horse census every two years

* Provides "enhanced contraception" and birth control for horses

* Establishes an additional 19 million acres of public and private land for wild horses

* Covers $5 million tab to repair horse damage to land

* Mandates that government bureaucrats perform home inspections before Americans can adopt horses

"Enhanced contraception" for horses? Maybe I'm out of touch, but I didn't realize that wild horses use contraception at all. Maybe the measure would be worth voting for if Nancy Pelosi would commit that she will personally attempt to fit a wild stallion with an "enhanced contraception" device at a critical moment. (Just kidding, liberals.)

Nineteen million acres, by the way, is around 28 times the area of Rhode Island. If you think Rhode Island is too small to worry about, it's also more than a third of the state of Minnesota.

The roll call vote on this was here. Dan Burton was the only Indiana Republican to vote yea. Brad Ellsworth and Baron Hill, both Indiana Democrats, voted nay. 33 Republicans voted for the legislation overall (matching the Star's notation above, so I think this is the right legislation).

The Hill Looks at Indiana Races

And, for the first time in three cycles, the 9th District isn't on their radar in talking about races in Indiana.

Two other districts here did make the cut, however:

IN-5 Primary pecking order set

Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) might have thought he would slide through to reelection thanks to a crowded primary field, but former state Rep. Luke Messer (R) laid a marker in the second quarter. Messer outraised Burton and the whole primary field with his $205,000 raised. A similar thing happened in Rep. Bob Inglis’s (R-S.C.) district, where Trey Gowdy’s (R) total nearly matched Inglis and far outpaced all other primary opponents.

That the 5th would get mentioned is unsurprising. The ovewhelming lion's share of Republican money and effort in Indiana seems to be focused (foolishly, in my opinion) on ousting a Republican incumbent instead of beating a Democrat.

And then this surprise showing:

IN-8 The Hostettler curse

Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.) defeated a notoriously lazy fundraiser in 2006 in Rep. John Hostettler (R-Ind.), and it appears to have rubbed off on him a bit. Through half the year, Ellsworth has raised less than $120,000. That’s after pulling more than half a million dollars in the first six months of 2007. And he represents a district that went for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) by four points in 2008. Ellsworth isn’t at the top of anybody’s list of the most vulnerable members of Congress, but there seems to be an opening here for the right GOP candidate.

After I read the item on the 5th District, I figured that it would be the only mention of Indiana in The Hill's story. I certainly didn't expect to read further down and find the 8th showing up on their radar like this.

Is there a Republican out there that can take advantage of Ellsworth's apparent laziness, and take a stand against his pretty-face-and-empty-suit liberalism? One would hope so.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Show Me the Money: IN 5

MoneyMost of the action in terms of the 2010 Congressional elections in Indiana is happening in the safest seat of all, the hyper-Republican 5th District. Up in the 5th, Republicans have already raised almost half a million dollars to fight over whether Dan Burton will keep his Congressional seat (and, if he doesn't, who will get it).

The initial reporting on the district has focused on Luke Messer's haul of around two hundred thousand dollars. I would say that the bigger story is not how much money Messer raised, but how much money the other candidates raised. Namely, enough to keep themselves in the race. Virtually all of the candidates raised enough money to ensure that they will remain around; the field will not be narrowing any time soon.

In the sense that a divided field will never knock-off the incumbent (which is such conventional wisdom that Messer's allies have been trying to devise a scheme to pick a lone challenger), this is good news for Dan Burton.

"Winners" are in italics.

Starting Cash-on-Hand:
Carl Brizzi: $16,917.35
Dan Burton: $353,651.32
John McGoff: $2,348.72
Brose McVey: $20,486.12
Luke Messer: $0.00
Mike Murphy: $41,000.00

Q2 Net Receipts (Contributions):
Carl Brizzi: $7,218.00
Dan Burton: $152,498.30
John McGoff: $38,659.00
Brose McVey: $76,346.10
Luke Messer: $205,282.62
Mike Murphy: $62,252.00

Burton's net receipts (separate of strict contributions) include interest on his existing cash-on-hand (strangely enough). Messer gave his campaign about five thousand dollars. Murphy gave his campaign over $800.

Q2 Individual Receipts:
Carl Brizzi: $1,218.00
Dan Burton: $88,406.35
John McGoff: $38,659.00
Brose McVey: $76,346.10
Luke Messer: $199,959.55
Mike Murphy: $58,887.00

Q2 Committee Receipts (from PACs and special interests):
Carl Brizzi: $6,000.00
Dan Burton: $52,250.00
John McGoff: $0.00
Brose McVey: $0.00
Luke Messer: $0.00
Mike Murphy: $2,500.00

Q2 Disbursements (Expenditures):
Carl Brizzi: $4,581.82
Dan Burton: $87,751.82
John McGoff: $7,890.44
Brose McVey: $14,191.36
Luke Messer: $29,939.94
Mike Murphy: $22,496.41

Ending Cash-on-Hand:
Carl Brizzi: $19,553.53
Dan Burton: $418,397.80
John McGoff: $33,117.28
Brose McVey: $82,640.86
Luke Messer: $175,342.68
Mike Murphy: $80,755.59

Lots of money is going to be expended in this primary. Lots and lots of money. Not being from the 5th District, I find the whole thing a sort of distant rumble over the horizon and I can't help but wonder why that money can't be spent to, say, beat Democrats elsewhere in Indiana (since Burton is probably retiring after this cycle anyway).

Follow-Up on IN 9 Fundraising

The folks at Frugal Hoosiers are more inclined than I am to put lipstick on pigs (pardon the metaphor), but there are some objective points to be made about their post about 9th District fundraising (and it's worthwhile being objective when looking at fundraising, even if you're a normally partisan blog).

Young posted about $90,000 cash-on-hand. He raised almost $75,000 compared to Hill who raised just over $100,000. Of Hill’s total, $40,000 came from Barack Obama’s Keeping Indiana Blue fundraiser.

First of all, Baron raised almost $259,000, not $100,000. Sure, there's PAC money in that quarter-million plus number.

As much as it's politically expedient to point and shout when the other guy has PAC money and someone else doesn't (the only logical reason for Frugal Hoosiers to omit mention of the actual total number, unless they just want to lie, which I doubt), PAC money is still money. It spends just the same as money from everyone else, particularly when it's used to buy the negative ads Baron loves so much.

But as an objective judgment, Baron Hill raised almost $259,000. The $100,000 number is disingenuous, misleading, and clearly wrong.

That’s pretty strong for Young. During the same period in the year before he beat Hill, Mike Sodrel had a couple thousand dollars on hand.

I wish I could say that was a good result; it just isn't. And in Q2 of 2003, Mike Sodrel had not even taken steps to run again and was not actively fundraising (as Young has been).

And while Frugal Hoosiers likes to snidely observe how nice it is to not have someone named Sodrel running in the 9th (the only Republican to ever hold the seat and someone who has probably expended more time, money, and treasure advancing the Republican Party and conservatism in the 9th district than anybody), when comparing fundraising for the 9th involving Sodrel it's worth noting that he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money in 2002 and 2004. Todd Young--"a young guy, so to speak"--isn't going to have that luxury. Father-in-law Tucker is bound by the same FEC contribution limits as everyone else (and he's already maxed out).

I didn't always agree with how Sodrel's campaigns were run, but he had money and he ran ads. This level of fundraising simply isn't going to get Todd Young into a comparable position. I'd love to be wrong, but to think that it would is deluding and fooling ourselves.

It wasn’t until November of that year that Sodrel had close to what Young has today. It’s worth remembering that Young isn’t self-funding either, he’s out raising money in small donations.

Once he decided to run in 2004, Sodrel raised money rapidly. The first quarter after that decision was made (Q3 2003) saw him get $80,348.50. By the quarter after that (Q4 2003), he raised $100,987.54. This is, objectively, Todd's second quarter at fundraising. By Sodrel's second quarter of active fundraising in 2004, he already had raised $172,759.62.

And, I need not remind anyone, television and campaigns were considerably less expensive affairs even a few years ago than they are now. Sodrel's numbers in 2003, for example, were considered very good at that time. They're not impressive in today's light, but they're still more than what Todd Young raised.

Young is easily outperforming historic fundraising for a Republican in that district.

Let's just compare for a moment some of the Sodrel statistics with the Todd Young statistics, to look at this objectively in terms of "historic fundraising" in the 9th.

We'll take the Q1 and Q2 results for Todd Young for 2009 and compare them to the first two quarters Sodrel was running in the 2004 and 2008 cycles (omitting Sodrel's incumbent results from 2006). I'd go back further, but those results aren't available on the FEC website.

Best results at the top, worst results at the bottom in each category.

Net Receipts (Contributions):
Mike Sodrel Q1 2008: $262,601.75
Mike Sodrel Q4 2007: $178,442.21
Mike Sodrel Q4 2003: $100,987.54
Mike Sodrel Q3 2003: $80,348.50
Todd Young Q2 2009: $73,945.60
Todd Young Q1 2009: $16,392.00

Ending Cash-on-Hand:
Mike Sodrel Q1 2008: $308,643.18
Mike Sodrel Q4 2007: $165,392.61
Mike Sodrel Q4 2003: $141,140.48
Todd Young Q2 2009: $88,992.17
Mike Sodrel Q3 2003: $71,772.08
Todd Young Q1 2009: $16,392.00

Sort of speaks for itself, doesn't it?

While Baron Hill decides which of your taxes he’ll vote to raise next, Young is collecting cash and endorsements and building a winning organization to compete and win next year.

And it is precisely because of what the lack of a viable challenger in the 9th District enables Baron to do--get away with that liberal voting record--that makes this lackluster performance so significant and so disappointing.

When viably challenged, Baron Hill votes differently than when he does not believe his reelection chances are threatened. In that respect, he is no different from any career politician (Evan Bayh is another Hoosier example of this).

Baron Hill is certainly not behaving like he is going to face a viable challenger. I hope he gets one or one grows out of the current field, because he's not facing one right now.

Show Me the Money: IN 9; Rather Lackluster Fundraising Filings All Around

MoneyFederal campaign finance filings for Q2 are out, and I'll be looking at some of the more notable numbers in Indiana, district by district.

In the 9th District, there were sorry campaign fundraising numbers all around. Baron Hill posted contribution numbers significantly inferior ($218,615.89) to his fundraising in Q2 of 2007 ($322,440.73), even with having a presidential fundraiser to help bolster his campaign's war chest.

But then, Baron had a lot of money on hand already, some from the past cycle and some from his prior quarter to ensure he remains vastly ahead of both of his current potential Republican competitors in terms of cash-on-hand. And then there's the matter of the Obama fundraiser, titled "Keep Indiana Blue," which gave Baron a 20% boost on his existing lackluster fundraising.

Baron posted additional fundraising of some $40,232.88 from that event, bringing his total haul for this quarter to $258,848.77, a number that is still significantly less than Baron's haul at this point in the 2008 cycle. Part of that may be due to the economy. Part of that may be due to Baron feeling safe after he outspent Mike Sodrel three-to-one last time. Part of that may be that Baron doesn't feel threatened from the current crop of potential challengers (filed and not-filed; Richard Moss has never filed a committee to run). It may be all of the above.

As for the aforementioned challengers, their fundraising was considerably less than Baron's reduced haul (and also less than Sodrel's take at various corresponding times in his various campaigns, and neither Young nor Hankins have Sodrel's ability to self-finance). Baron has already spent more, this year, than the two of them combined have raised.

"Winners" are in italics.

Starting Cash-on-Hand:
Travis Hankins: $0.00
Baron Hill: $209,025.75
Todd Young: $16,392.00

Q2 Net Receipts (Contributions):
Travis Hankins: $34,148.00
Baron Hill: $258,848.77
Todd Young: $73,945.60

Hankins' totals here include $420 that the candidate gave his own committee. Baron's totals include the Obama fundraiser.

Q2 Individual Receipts:
Travis Hankins: $33,728.00
Baron Hill: $106,910.27
Todd Young: $73,945.60

Baron's totals here, again, include the Obama fundraiser. By its nature, the money from the fundraiser (when you look at it itemized) came from individual donors, even though it was routed through a separate entity before making its way to Baron's campaign. Including it doesn't give a "winner" that I like, but I think it's the fair way to track it.

Q2 Committee Receipts (from PACs and special interests):
Travis Hankins: $0.00
Baron Hill: $149,175.00
Todd Young: $0.00

Q2 Disbursements (Expenditures):
Travis Hankins: $25,127.81
Baron Hill: $66,373.66
Todd Young: $1,345.43

Ending Cash-on-Hand:
Travis Hankins: $9,020.19
Baron Hill: $401,500.86
Todd Young: $88,992.17

Back after the 2008 election, I had a post looking at how Sodrel got outspent and the sorts of questions that have to be asked going into the next round in the 9th District. It's a topical post, so I'll requote it here.

Getting outspent that badly will skew the outcome of any race in a district of almost any partisan or ideological composition.

There are a lot of questions that serious individuals seeking to run against Baron Hill must ask in the wake of the last election, and a lot of questions that they must answer.

Is the district competitive for Republicans in non-Republican years, or were 2006 and 2008 just that bad for Republicans? Will it revert just as much in the opposite direction in years that are just bad for Democrats?

Considerably more fundraising is going to be necessary on the part of the Republican candidate to avoid being outspent so badly in 2010 and beyond; where will that money come from? Will it have to come from a self-financing candidate (as Sodrel was at one time)?

Given the state of the national party and the Republican Congressional campaign arm, the NRCC, a GOP challenger in the 9th (and pretty much GOP challengers everywhere) cannot count on national assistance to put them over the top; can heightened fundraising or self-funding even make up that gap?

It seems clear that we are not finding affirmative (or Republican-friendly) answers to these questions given the Q2 numbers above. Neither Hankins nor Young have the ability to self-fund, and it seems clear that neither of them is going to raise enough money to run a traditional race against Baron Hill.

National Republicans, when they come to Indiana, always talk about the 9th (and sometimes the 2nd and the 8th, or even the 7th when the wind was more favorable). But the 9th--the most competitive of these districts--now rates on none of their lists when it comes time to spend money on issue ads or conduct other expenditures or efforts to soften up the incumbent in an off year.

From that, I think it is safe (though profoundly disappointing) to say that no national assistance will be forthcoming to either of these candidates. A wave or a herculean effort might get them money at the 11th hour, with perhaps a week or two left in the campaign. But they have to get themselves to that point first, and their current fundraising gives no indication of that being likely.

When national GOP folks come to Indiana and speak of the 9th being their top target in Indiana, they might as well be speaking of their top target in Massachusetts, for all of the effort they appear willing to put into the district. They may have a top target district in a state like Massachusetts, but that's a very different thing from that district even being on their radar nationally. Currently, the 9th just isn't.

The 9th is also institutionally a very difficult district to run in. There is no unified media market. Ads have to be run in the Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Louisville media markets. One week of television in the 9th alone will cost you half of what it costs to run an ad over the entire state of Indiana (excluding the Chicago market).

And because there is no unified media market, or even a minor media market within the district itself, the neighboring media markets do only token reporting on the race within the 9th itself. Even in 2006, when the 9th was ground zero nationally, news outlets in those three media markets did negligible reporting on the race.

Because of this, earned media is virtually impossible to obtain. If you want airtime in the 9th, you have to buy it. And because the local newspapers are overwhelmingly good-old-boy Democrat, if you want earned media in the newspapers, you have to buy it too. Mike Sodrel could have a rally with ten thousand people in a town of five thousand people, and the Democrats running the town newspaper would never do a story on it. They'd be sure to copy and paste Baron Hill's latest press release, though; they never miss a one.

Establishing name ID in an environment like that is virtually impossible without the expenditure of vast sums, probably between half a million and a million dollars (these days, with today's ad prices, probably more like the million, and maybe more). And that's before you start to go after Baron Hill on his liberal voting record.

Baron Hill is not stupid like Bart Peterson. He will not run negative ads against his opponent that give his opponent name ID. That name ID will have to be fought for and obtained with money. Right now, that is money that these candidates do not have and, unfortunately, it does not appear that they will soon get.

Now we have two candidates in the Republican field, and a likely primary looming. That might be worth some earned media at some point. I hope so; it could be the only way for them to get any earned media at all from some of these local news outlets.

Mighty fundraising efforts, the endorsements of every statewide elected official save the Governor, and collection of low-hanging fruit (the "easy money" that a candidate tends to get out of the box that won't be seen again in future contributions) have gotten Todd Young all of $74,000. This is less than Democratic placeholders Michael Montagano and Nels Ackerson raised in the 3rd and 4th districts in their first quarters in 2007. There are second-tier primary challengers to Dan Burton up in the 5th District that have raised more money.

There's a frightening echo of Greg Goode (who tried hard, raised a roughly similar amount in his first quarter, and then faded fast) in Young's campaign. I like Todd--he's a great guy (I liked Greg Goode too; both are hugely preferable in comparison to their opponents)--but it would be hard to spin this number as anything positive and I'm not going to try.

If the statewide elected officials, most of them from outside of the 9th District, want to intervene into the district and pick its Congressional candidate, then they should either pick a candidate that can win or be prepared to do heavy lifting on the fundraising and helping fronts to make sure that their anointed one can get the job done. As it stands, they have frozen the field and no one currently in the field seems up to the task.

Travis Hankins, who is off doing grassroots work with interns going door-to-door and attending community festivals, managed to raise half of Todd Young's total, largely in small donor contributions. He also spent almost three quarters of what he raised.

Maybe that's a grassroots strategy that could work. I'm skeptical. I assume that there is some sort of strategy involved; one should hope. The sort of thing being done by Hankins worked for Michael Bailey (focus on the base more than the money) and a variant of the same worked for John Hostettler (focus strong grassroots rather than an expensive media campaign) for years.

Can it work in the 9th? The example of Bailey would indicate that it can work in the primary. And yet the same example of Bailey (and the very strong grassroots efforts of Sodrel in 2008) would indicate that it probably can't in November.

The twin hurdles of the rural good-old-boy Democrats and the Bloomington liberals are too much to overcome without name ID and loads of money for television ads. The grassroots will not suffice, nor will endorsements from statewides in Indianapolis.

I've been pessimistic enough. I'll take a detailed look at the other districts tomorrow.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Partisan Senators Threaten to Filibuster Judicial Nominee on Purely Racist Grounds

From Hot Air:

Miguel Estrada was nominated to the DC Appellate Court by George Bush in 2001, and got filibustered by Democrats in 2003. The reason for their opposition was explicitly racist, as this memo to Senator Dick Durbin in 2001 shows:

Second, yesterday’s meeting focused on identifying the most controversial and/or vulnerable judicial nominees, and a strategy for targeting them. The group singled out three — Jeffrey Sutton (6th Circuit); Priscilla Owen (5th Circuit); and Caroline Kuhl (9th Circuit) — as a potential nominee for a contentious hearing early next year, with an eye to voting him or her down in Committee. They also identified Miguel Estrada (D.C. Circuit) as especially dangerous, because he has a minimal paper trail, he is Latino, and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment. They want to hold off Estrada as long as possible.

Democrats explicitly opposed Estrada because he was Latino. Do you remember the huge outcry this created from these Hispanic interest groups at the time this memo got revealed, and how they protested Democratic racism and bigotry?

Yeah, neither do I, and neither does Miguel Estrada.

Let's see...

What are the odds that Republicans treat Sonia Sotomayor far better than Democrats ever treated Miguel Estrada?

ACORN's Billionaire

Mitchell Blatt has an interesting and in-depth look at the billionaire funding ACORN, and the advocacy journalism outlet ProPublica he is also bankrolling.

It's not George Soros.

Skillman Declines to Tip Hand On 2012

Becky Skillman 2012
The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

As some try to draft Daniels for higher office, others wonder whether Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman will seek the state’s top post.

It appears she is at least considering it.

When having lunch with a group from the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce, Skillman was asked to announce her candidacy for governor in 2012.

The Daniels’ administration has tried to make her more visible in recent months – handling stimulus projects, announcing jobs and even attending the state Republican dinner last week in Daniels’ place. She also stood side by side with Daniels at a recent news conference after the General Assembly’s special session.

Unfortunately for her, no one asked her a question, and she didn’t speak.

While she didn’t go so far as to commit to the campaign, she didn’t deny that she would, either.

“I haven’t made any decisions,” Skillman said. “I have a little time to think about that.”

In politics, not saying no often means yes.

Ask the Hos About That

Stu Rothenberg wonders if Democrats can vote against the Obama agenda and be spared the wrath of angry voters in the midterms.

John Hostettler has an answer to that question. He voted against the prescription drug bill, against the Iraq War, and opposed many other unpopular policies of the Bush administration.

It didn't stop him--perhaps the most contrary Republican Congressman in the United States save Ron Paul--from being shown the door. I'm inclined to think that, if the voters get angry enough, even the most contrary Democrat wouldn't be able to escape either.

Tarred and Feathered?

Tarred and Feathered?

Caring About the Poor and Powerless

Caring About the Poor and Powerless

Empathetic Reading of the Constitution

Empathetic Reading of the Constitution

Preventing September 11?

All of the most important news--and the news most vindicating of George W. Bush and most damning of blindly partisan Democratic criticisms of him--seems to come out on Friday evenings.

From The Corner:

"Had [President Bush's Warrantless Surveillance Program] been in place before the [9/11] attacks, hijackers Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi almost certainly would have been identified and located."

Another Friday night, another dump by the Obama administration of a report underscoring the vital importance of President Bush's post-9/11 national security tactics.

The above quote about Midhar and Hazmi and is from Gen. Michael Hayden, the former CIA director who was director of the NSA when that agency ran Bush's "Terrorist Surveillance Program." It is a bombshell mentioned in passing on page 31 of the 38-page report [PDF warning] filed by five executive branch inspectors general (from DOJ, DOD, CIA, NSA, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence) pursuant to Congress's 2008 overhaul of FISA (the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act).

I'll have more to say about the report this week, but it also contains some other interesting facts that the folks who drop these reports late on summer Fridays would rather you didn't linger over. For example:

* Alberto Gonzales did not attempt to mislead Congress in 2007 when he testified that the controversy that erupted at the Justice Department in 2004 was not over what was popularly known as the "terrorist surveillance program" (i.e., the NSA's warrantless surveillance program to intercept suspected terrorist communications that crossed U.S. borders — the effort the Left smeared as "domestic spying"). In fact, as Gonzales told the Senate judiciary Committee, the controversy was about other intelligence activities.

* When congressional Democrats rolled their eyes, suggested that Gonzales was lying, and groused that a special prosecutor should be appointed, they well knew he wasn't lying — but they also knew he couldn't discuss the intellligence activities at the center of the controversy because those activities were (and remain) highly classified. That is, they knowingly badgered the Attorney General of the United States at a hearing in a calculated effort to make him look dishonest and to intimate something they knew to be untrue: namely, that the dispute at DOJ arose because senior officials believed warrantless surveillance was illegal.

* Before Gonzales and President Bush's then chief-of-staff, Andy Card, went to see Attorney General Ashcroft in the hospital (where he was being treated for pancreatitis), President Bush directed his administration to meet with top congressional Democrats and Republicans (Senate leaders Frist and Daschle, Speaker Hastert and House minority leader Pelosi, Roberts and Rockefeller from Senate Intel, and Goss and Harman from House Intel) to alert them that Ashcroft's deputy, Jim Comey, had refused to sign off on intelligence activities that Ashcroft had previously approved. Advised of the problem, the Gang of Eight did not agree to a quick legislative fix but, according to Gonzales's contemporaneous notes, agreed that the intelligence activities should continue. (Three years later, after Gonzales's testimony, Pelosi, Rockefeller and Daschle claimed that they hadn't agreed.)

* Only after this meeting with the bipartisan congressional leaders, and with the prior 45-day authorization for all the program's activities about to expire, did Gonzales and Card go to the hospital to visit the ailing Ashcroft — at the direction of President Bush.

* Between the time the time the collection intelligence activities that came to be known as the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" was first authorized after the 9/11 attacks until the warrantless surveillance aspect of the program was exposed by the New York Times in December 2005, the Bush administration briefed the bipartisan leadership of the congressional intelligence committees 17 times about the activities involved in the program.

In sum, congressional Democrats knew about the program and knew that the dissent of the Justice Department's senior leadership in 2004 was not about warrantless surveillance. They knew that if they postured that the dissent was about warrantless surveillance, Gonzales — not an adept communicator — would not be able to rebut them in a public hearing because the details of the dispute were classified. Congressional Democrats also knew that President Bush agreed to make changes in the program in March 2004 to assuage DOJ's concerns, and they knew that the program activities continued thereafter for a year-and-a-half (i.e., until the Times blew part of the program) without incident and with bipartisan congressional leadership continuing to be briefed.

The politicizing of the nation's security that went on here was shameful.

Power Line has two great posts, here and here, further examining the damage done by the New York Times' exposing of the NSA surveillance program and the Democrats' partisan hackery that accompanied it.

Hindsight, of course, is twenty-twenty. A lot of things could have prevented September 11. But the report does say that the surveillance program would have identified and located two of the September 11 hijackers, and the report also exposes the highly disingenuous, shameful, and partisan behavior of the Democrats--and the folks at the New York Times--that destroyed the program and eliminated it as a tool to identify and locate terrorists involved in future attacks.

More “Shock and Awe” Statism Fallout

Larry Kudlow:

Washington Is Going the Wrong Way

Are current government policies causing the U.S. to lose competitiveness in the global race for capital, prosperity, and growth?

Fortune magazine recently reported that the number of U.S. companies in the world’s top 500 fell to the lowest level ever, while more Chinese firms than ever before made the list. Thirty-seven Chinese companies now rank in the top 500, including nine new entries. Meanwhile, the number of U.S. firms has fallen to 140, the lowest total since Fortune began the list in 1995. This is not good.

China also surpassed the U.S. as the world’s biggest automaker in the first half of 2009, with June sales soaring 36.5 percent from a year earlier. The Chinese registered 6.1 million car sales for the first half of the year. That way outpaced American sales, which were only 4.8 million.

And China has no capital-gains tax. It only has a 15-to-20 percent corporate tax. The U.S., on the other hand, is raising its cap-gains tax rate to 20 percent. It’s also increasing its top personal tax rates.

In fact, the scheduled income-tax hike, plus the much-discussed health-care surtax, will balloon the top U.S. tax rate all the way to 51 percent. Compare that to the OECD average of only 42 percent. When those tax-hikes kick in, the top U.S. tax rate will rank above that of France, Germany, and Italy. That can’t be good.

Incidentally, our 40 percent corporate tax rate is already almost 15 percentage points higher than the corporate rates in most of Europe.

Washington’s enormous expansion of the government’s spending share of GDP to over 40 percent — including Bailout Nation, TARP, and government takeovers in numerous industries — is eerily reminiscent of Old Europe’s old policies. In a twist of irony, Europe seems to be moving toward a lower-tax-and-spend-and-regulate, Ronald Reagan–type approach, while we in the U.S. are regressing to the failed socialist model of Old Europe. This makes no sense.

Here’s the clincher: Year-to-date, Dow Jones stocks are off 7 percent, while China stocks are up 71 percent. The world index is up 4 percent. Emerging markets are up 25 percent. They’re all beating us. None of this is good.

We’re going the wrong way. That’s why stock markets are not voting for the United States anymore.

Now, there's all sorts of ways to look at statistics, and it's easy to distort statistics.

But absolutely none of those statistics are good.