Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hypocrisy: Todd Young of Carmel, Establishment Candidate, Campaigns Against Establishment

Todd Young hunting sparrows with a Hummer.There's a disease among certain southern Indiana career politicians. It's called Bloomington Syndrome.

Politicians seem to believe that what they say in Bloomington, stays in Bloomington, and nobody else out in the rest of southern Indiana will pay attention to what they say there.

Now, it appears that we have another case of this disorder.

From the Herald Times, courtesy of a Hoosierpundit reader:

Republican Todd Young isn’t afraid to criticize his party as he tries to win the Republican nomination and the right to face U.S. Rep. Baron Hill, D-Seymour, in the race for Indiana’s 9th District congressional seat.

Young, a Bloomington attorney, Orange County deputy prosecutor and retired U.S. Marine captain, said his primary campaign is going to be based on issues.

“It’s going to be a candid discussion amongst our Republican family about what our Republican Party should aspire to be and some different visions perhaps about where we should be headed,” Young said.

First of all, it's hard to stand in the most liberal community in Indiana--amid your country club buddies and moderate RINOs--and criticize the GOP and have anyone believe that you're honestly and sincerely complaining about the party not being true to conservative principles; it just doesn't work.

And when you are touting your base of establishment support as being an important element of your candidacy--particularly your support from the Indianapolis establishment--don't expect to be reasonably believed when you criticize the establishment of the party. The establishment of the party endorsed you.

Heck, it's right there on the front page of the campaign website right now:

Young has been campaigning for the Ninth District seat since January of last year. In that time, he has contacted thousands of voters across the district to hear their concerns; set new fundraising records for a Republican challenger in the district; and earned the public support of nearly every statewide officeholder and the bulk of the district's Republican county chairmen.

There you have it. The establishment's candidate. The Indianapolis candidate.

I bet Young has a hard time being critical of the establishment that has endorsed him while keeping a straight face. Even a lawyer would have trouble telling that whopper.

As I've already noted, the "setting new fundraising records" claim is bogus and unsubstantiated by facts.

It's also probably more accurate to say that Young has been campaigning for the 9th District seat since early 2007 (not long, according to his campaign bio, after he moved here).

Since that time, he created a front group called NOPIGS to give him an excuse to campaign across southern Indiana and get himself known.

Given that he named it the National Organization for People vs. Irresponsible Government Spending, you'd assume that it was, you know, national (and not just a slick acronym).

Show me a chapter of NOPIGS in Minnesota or Ohio or Texas or any other state outside of Indiana (or heck, any chapter outside of the person of one Todd C. Young) and it will be the first.

There are plenty of things to criticize about the Republican Party in recent years. Saying that Republicans should be more like "Republicans" (and I use that term loosely) in Bloomington and Carmel isn't a valid criticism.

It is also not a valid criticism to attack the party establishment when the party establishment (according to your own campaign website) is endorsing you.

The problem with the Republican Party is that it got away from its conservative principles. It won't return to them by looking to establishment candidates to lead the way.

Another the problem with the Republican Party is that its establishment doesn't reflect the values of its base. It won't get back to those values by nominating more establishment "chosen ones."

Todd Young may have a vision of where the Republican Party should be headed. Most Republicans aren't likely to agree with him about steering it back to the establishment.

Newspaper Reporting Quibble: The Marine Corps Retirement Guide says that an officer has to serve for 20 years before they can "retire." Todd Young did not serve in the Marine Corps for 20 years (he was on the five-year plan), ergo he isn't "a retired Marine." Reporters should get it right.

More on the 9th District Poll

Some ink in the News & Tribune:

Republican Mike Sodrel won’t stop campaigning and declare victory, but he acknowledged a SurveyUSA poll released last week showing him ahead of Rep. Baron Hill is a good sign.

“I’ve always been of the opinion that the only poll that matters is what the people say at the voting booth,” Sodrel stated in a news release.

“But a poll showing you leading by 8 percent sure beats a poll saying you’re behind.”

The survey asked if Indiana’s 9th District race came down to Sodrel and the incumbent Democrat Hill, who would they choose? Sodrel received 49 percent and Hill 41 percent of the votes.

Sodrel credited the lead to voters being concerned about the direction of the country, specifically the actions of Congress over the past two years.

“The sentiments reflected in this poll match the ones that I encounter every day as I travel across Southern Indiana, and they match what I have heard from folks for months before I entered the race,” he said. In response, Hill campaign spokeswoman Katie Moreau said it’s too early for the Congressman to be overly concerned about the numbers.

“Baron is aware of, but certainly not focused on polls,” she stated in an e-mail.

“He’s focused on fighting for the people of Southern Indiana and responding to their needs.”

Baron, of course, knows how to respond to the needs of folks in southern Indiana.

He's shown us his responsiveness many times:

Photo of the Day: Tom Crean & Mike Sodrel

IU Coach Tom Crean & Congressman Mike Sodrel

A Bit More about Buyer's Retirement

Leaving office to be with his wife, who has a potentially-terminal illness:

Buyer said he will retire from the U.S. Army Reserves as colonel on Aug. 1, and will not seek re-election to a 10th term in Congress this year.

Frequently choking up, Buyer said that in November his wife was initially diagnosed with an auto-immune disease , and that that was reconfirmed on Jan. 19 at Clarian Health Centers here. While physicians say it is incurable, Buyer said he could not accept that.

“I met Joni in the third grade. We were high school sweethearts,” he said.
But, he said, she was told to “destress” her life, so he has decided to end both his political and military careers.

There's a lot of jockeying going on already as the battle to replace Buyer begins. Josh Gillespie has a preliminary rundown of potential candidates over at Hoosier Access here.

Going to Oz: Young Oxley to Work at Prison

Dennie Ray Oxley II MugshotYes. Work at a prison. Not be in prison. Work at a prison.

You just can't make this stuff up.

From the Courier-Journal:

The state has hired former legislator Dennie Oxley Jr. of English to be a program director at the Branchville Correctional Facility in Perry County.

Oxley, a former teacher and school administrator, is set to begin Feb. 8 and will be responsible for the development, implementation and coordination of programs and projects “to help meet strategic goals of reducing recidivism and preparing offenders for re-entry,” said Doug Garrison, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Correction.

Oxley, who will earn $52,000 annually, will also be responsible for helping to assist the medium-security prison in its accreditation process. Branchville has about 1,300 inmates.

Oxley did not return a call Friday seeking comment about the new position.

Oxley served in the Indiana House for 10 years, eventually moving up to majority whip, but did not seek re-election in 2008 after Democrats picked him to be the party’s nominee for lieutenant governor. He ran with gubernatorial nominee Jill Long Thompson but the pair lost to Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels and Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman.

Later, Oxley ran into trouble with the law. Last month, he pleaded guilty to a charge of impersonating a public servant and was sentenced to three months probation in Crawford County.

That charge stemmed from an incident last summer in which police say he tried to avoid arrest on a public intoxication charge by pretending he was still a member of the General Assembly. The Indiana Constitution generally makes lawmakers immune from prosecution while the General Assembly is in session.

Police said they found Oxley walking away from a woman lying in the parking lot of a downtown Indianapolis gas station. The woman was a former Indiana House intern.

Earlier last year, Oxley was charged with drunken driving in connection with a minor traffic accident in Crawford County.

Corrections Commissioner Edwin Buss inquired about Oxley’s record before the hire but “didn’t believe it should disqualify him from state service,” Garrison said.

Because of a statewide hiring freeze, Oxley’s appointment also had to be approved by the State Strategic Hiring Committee. The committee determines whether positions meet requirements to be exempted from the freeze.

You can read a rehash of the Oxley saga here.

Support Your Local Trial Lawer: Give Money to Visclosky for Congress

Come on, folks! Open your checkbooks! Step right up! There are big legal fees to pay!

From the Indy Star:

New documents filed with the Federal Election Commission show Rep. Pete Visclosky spent about $185,000 on attorney fees for current and former aides during the last three months of 2009.

The northwest Indiana Democrat is under investigation for his ties to the now-defunct lobbying firm PMA Group, which has been a key Visclosky campaign contributor in the past.

The Times of Munster says campaign records filed Friday show Visclosky’s campaign paid nearly $45,000 in attorney fees on behalf of Charles Brimmer and Shari Davenport. Brimmer is Visclosky’s former chief of staff who has been subpoenaed in the PMA investigation. Davenport is an assistant to Visclosky.

Two Interesting Debt & Deficit Charts

Deficits by President
Overall Debt as a Percentage of GDP
Both are from the Heritage Foundation, hat tip to the guys at Power Line.

Nobody Goes Negative in Ads Like Louisiana

Evan Bayh the Big Spender

Evan Bayh the Big Spender
Frugal Hoosiers has an interesting chronology on Bayh's ever-changing positions about voting (or not voting) to raise the Federal debt ceiling.

Too Little, Too Late

Too Little, Too Late

Friday, January 29, 2010

Steve Buyer to Retire

Rumors overnight have indicated that Congressman Steve Buyer will announce his retirement today. Buyer's wife has been sick for some time and he has lately drawn some fire from liberal groups over his Frontier Foundation. His reelection chances were secure regardless of the Frontier kerfuffle, so it seems unlikely to be the reason.

Early speculation points to State Senator Brandt Hershman as a potential replacement for Buyer. Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman, interestingly, is also from Buyer's district. She represented the southern portions of the district (heavily Republican Lawrence County and the Republican western areas of Monroe County) in the State Senate and (if memory serves) currently lives in Johnson County.

The sudden timing of Buyer's departure could be intended to impact the coming battle for a successor in the heavily-Republican seat.

In 2008, Kentucky GOP Congressman Ron Lewis announced his retirement unexpectedly. His sudden departure was structured to give his chief of staff, Dan London, a leg up in replacing him. That effort was unsuccessful; then-State Senator Brett Guthrie ended up being the GOP nominee and winning the seat in November.

Interesting times ahead.

Great Moments in Twitter & Facebook

Todd Young Proven Irresponsible
Screenshot taken last night.

Tweet of the Day

"News from the campaign: Ric & Jenni report they have gotten 500 signatures validated for the 3rd Congressional District!!"
- John Hostettler (also via Facebook)

That's the first Congressional district that Hostettler has gotten certified.

It's also Marlin Stutzman's home district.

An Obama in the Bunker Spoof Video, Yet Not

An internet meme has truly arrived when you can recognize it in one line, and it can be used to laugh both at itself and at a target.

Click to enlarge.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Baron Hill Proves He's Tone Deaf, Again

Barack Obama gave a State of the Union speech that was peevish, arrogant, combative, partisan, needlessly hostile, and often downright nasty.

How did Baron Hill categorize the tone of Obama's speech?

The Courier-Journal tells us:

I found the overall tone of the president’s speech fittingly reflective and responsive. He was justifiably reflective about the accomplishments he and Congress have secured this year.

And, the president was equally reflective about the challenges both he, and this Congress, have encountered this year. However, I agree with the president that simply avoiding such big issues is a shirking of our responsibilities as legislators.

I believe the president’s focus on fiscal reforms is a responsible and responsive way of addressing the concerns many Americans, including many of my Southern Indiana constituents, have expressed over the last year.

How on earth could Baron Hill find Obama's divisive and partisan campaign speech to be have a tone that is "fittingly reflective and responsive"?

Oh wait, nevermind.

We've seen Baron's idea of a reflective and responsive tone before:

I can see Baron's town hall press release now...

I found the overall tone of my town hall fittingly reflective and responsive. I was justifiably reflective about my role as owner of my Congressional office. It's mine, not yours. No, you can't tape me for a school project. Sit down and shut up.

And, I was equally reflective about the challenges I have encountered this year from troublesome students that ask irritating questions. They are my political enemies. However, I agree with the president that listening to the will of the people is a shirking of our responsibilities as legislators. These are our Congressional offices, not theirs. We're here to execute the will of President Obama and Speaker Pelosi, not the represent the will of the people that elected us.

I believe that snarling at young students at a town hall is a responsible and responsive way of addressing the concerns many Americans, including many of my Southern Indiana constituents, have expressed over the last year.

Yup. Yessir.

Baron knows all about being reflective and responsive.

Mike Pence May Not Be Running, But Even Democrats Think Evan Bayh Is in Trouble

Evan Bayh and Barack ObamaAlas, it was not to be. Mike Pence isn't running, as I cynically expected. Cynicism is useful. If you're cynical from the outset, you're less likely to be disappointed.

However, Pence's pass doesn't mean that Evan Bayh is out of the woods.

Not by a long shot.

Bayh's bad polling numbers have caught the attention of political analyst and American politics guru Michael Barone, who finds Bayh's situation quite troubling indeed:

Sen. Bayh in danger; a look at the numbers

Pollster Scott Rasmussen has taken the first poll on the 2010 Senate race in Indiana—a race that until the last couple of weeks no one thought would be seriously contested. Rasmussen shows Democratic incumbent Evan Bayh trailing Republican Congressman Mike Pence 47%-44% and leading former Congressman John Hostettler 44%-41% and state Senator Martin Stutzman 45%-33%.

These are astounding numbers. A general rule in polling is that what an incumbent gets in a poll he gets in a general election. Everyone knows him; those not voting for him now are not likely to vote for him later. This is particularly the case with Evan Bayh, who was elected secretary of state of Indiana in 1986 at age 30, then was elected governor of Indiana in 1988 and 1992 (and saw a Democrat hold the governorship in 1996) and who was elected senator from Indiana in 1998 (when incumbent Dan Coats retired rather than face Bayh) and 2004. Bayh has to be universally known in Indiana, and over the years he has built a reputation as a moderate Democrat, which has helped him win in a state which voted Republican in every presidential election from 1968 to 2004 and which voted for Barack Obama in 2008 by the narrow margin of 50%-49%.

Moreover, Bayh’s potential opponents are not well known. Mike Pence may have been getting a fair amount of local coverage as a Republican leader in the House, but he is hardly a household name statewide. Hostettler served six terms in the House, but he is from the sparsely populated southwest corner of the state, he never spent much money on his campaigns and he lost his seat in 2006 by the unambiguous margin of 61%-39%. Stutzman is a freshman state senator.

The pattern is clear. Evan Bayh is running far behind the way he ran once Indiana voters had a chance to observe his performance as governor, significantly behind the way he ran in his first race for governor, significantly behind his father’s winning percentages in three Senate races and close only to the percentage his father won when he was defeated in the heavily Republican year of 1980, when Ronald Reagan was carrying Indiana over Jimmy Carter by a margin of 56%-38%.

This is where the Obama administration programs and the Senate health care bill, for which Evan Bayh voted, have put an attractive and well-known Democrat who has shown time and again his ability to run far ahead of his party.

There's much more where that came from and it's all worth reading. Suffice to say, Evan Bayh is in serious trouble, even if without Pence in the field. John Hostettler is within the margin of error. If he had better name ID, Marlin Stutzman probably would be so, too.

And the most glaring tell of all with regard to Bayh's trouble comes from the Democrats themselves.

Blue Indiana, for example, gave this ineffectual and flailing counter to the Rasmussen poll:

This poll is at odds with every other internal/external set of numbers we've seen. Way off. Outliers happen, folks.

Actually, it isn't. We haven't seen Bayh's internal numbers, but we've seen other external numbers that were included in these polls.

Take, for example, Mitch Daniels' approval rating. It is remarkably consistent across every poll that has been taken of late.

The Rasmussen Bayh poll gave Mitch a 70% approval rating.

Mitch had a 69% approval rating the last time it was publicly polled before that.

How about Obama's approval rating?

In the 9th District, which was 50-49 for McCain when Indiana was going 50-49 for Obama (and thus fairly in line with the rest of the state when it comes to Obama), the recent SurveyUSA poll showing Mike Sodrel leading Baron Hill puts Obama's approval-disapproval in the 9th District at 38% to 58%.

The Rasmussen poll puts it at 43% to 56%, roughly within the same range (allowing for a little geographic variability).

It's hard to call the Rasmussen poll an outlier when we're seeing similar results to its questions (like approval ratings for Obama and Daniels) in other polls.

We're left to trust the Democrats that this poll is an outlier, and their behavior suggests that they're not being entirely forthcoming. If this poll was so significantly and vastly different from Bayh's internal polling (and somebody with a gazillion special interest campaign bucks in the bank like Bayh is probably constantly polling), don't you think that he would have leaked one of those polls by now to refute the Rasmussen result? Exactly.

The damn thing was taken during the Colts game. Let me ask you: would you trust any statewide survey that was taken during an AFC Championship game featuring Peyton Manning and the boys in blue? I didn't think so.

This is rich. Evan Bayh is trying to hide behind Peyton Manning.

The poll was taken over two days. The Colts were on TV for only three hours of that, and not every single person in the State of Indiana was watching the game (or ignoring their phone) during that time.

Find a new excuse.

Rasmussen has become increasingly ideologically motivated, and timing is everything. Politico covered recent criticisms of the outfit earlier this month, and the fact that Republican money paid for this poll while Pence sits on the fence should tell you everything you need to know about the "fair and balanced" output of Rasmussen.

Oh please.

Next, they'll be saying that Rasmussen is Satan's Pollster (TM) and bizarre rites of human sacrifice and blood-drinking are conducted each time they do a poll. Spare me.

Elsewhere at the above link, Blue Indiana delves into conspiracy theories and blames Mike Pence for orchestrating a poll showing that Pence is beating Bayh.

Why would Pence orchestrate such a poll? He's not even running.

And Rasmussen has been kind to Democrats of late. Rasmussen polled the Massachusetts special election twice, and both of their polls showed Martha Coakley winning. Senator-elect Scott Brown must know all about this supposed "Republican bias" in Rasmussen's polling, right?

The sorry response of Democrats to Bayh's bad poll numbers should tell you everything you need to know about the true political situation facing Birch's boy right now.

I'll take Michael Barone over Evan Bayh's spin doctors any day.

Conservative Caucus Formed in State Senate

It's about time that conservatives get together in the Senate.


11 GOP members of the state Senate have announced the formation of a conservative caucus.

They issued a news release that says their first order of business was the passage of a resolution in support of Senate President Pro Tem David Long, who is not a member of the conservative caucus.

Look for the caucus to be a voting block in the next leadership election, however, with candidates of its own.

The members are:

Sen. James Buck (Kokomo)
Sen. Mike Delph (Carmel)
Sen. Travis Holdman (Murkle)
Sen. Jean Leising (Oldenburg)
Sen. Scott Schneider (Indianapolis)
Sen. Marlin Stutzman (Howe)
Sen. Greg Walker (Columbus)
Sen. Brent Waltz (Greenwood)
Sen. John Waterman (Shelburn)
Sen. Carlin Yoder (Middlebury)
Sen. R. Michael Young (Indianapolis)

I'm disappointed that the caucus doesn't have more members, given that the state senate is two-thirds Republican.

You would think that a majority of the Republicans in the Senate would be members of a conservative caucus.

Photos of the Day: Great Moments in Campaign Imagery - Tanks and Bulldozers

Democratic Presidential nominee Michael Dukakis in a tank.

9th District Republican hopeful Todd Young in a bulldozer.

John Edwards: Slimier Than Ever

This guy was once the preferred candidate of many southern Indiana Democrats (state representative Paul Robertson comes to mind).

I wonder what they saw in him that was so appealing?

The Campaign Spot:

Unless former John Edwards aide Andrew Young is making it all up — and at this point, Edwards has forfeited the benefit of the doubt — America came within Ohio's electoral votes of electing a mad, narcissistic, and perhaps psychopathic monster to the vice presidency.

Young says Edwards is an Atkins-dieter who hated making appearances at state fairs where “fat rednecks try to shove food down my face. I know I’m the people’s senator, but do I have to hang out with them?” Before a SEIU candidate forum in Las Vegas, Young says Edwards made him cut out a “made in the USA” label from Young’s own suit to sew in place of Edwards’s “made in Italy” label . . .

According to Young, Hunter called him in May 2007 to say she was pregnant. Young says that when he informed Edwards, the senator told him to “handle it,” to which he replied: “I can’t handle this one.” Young writes that Edward unloaded on Hunter as a “crazy slut,” said they had an “open relationship,” and put his paternity chances at “one in three.” Young says that Edwards asked him for help persuading Hunter to have an abortion. Young writes that Hunter believed the baby to be “some kind of golden child, the reincarnated spirit of a Buddhist monk who was going to help save the world.”

It can't be said enough. Almost every Democrat in the country did everything they could to put this man into the vice presidency in 2004, and quite a few of them worked hard to put him into the presidency in 2007 and 2008.

Way to go, Edwards supporters. You guys must feel really proud right now.

As one (strikingly honest and straight-shooting) Democrat in my county said when asked about something that was politically inconvenient, "Don't bother me with facts."

John McCain, Still Wanting to Poke Hoosier Conservatives in the Eye, Again

Thanks a bunch, Maverick.

Think footage from that will make it into Bayh's campaign commercials (which are due to be hitting the airwaves any day now)?

Aren't You Glad Specter Is Their Problem?

National Review's Jim Geraghty with a reassuring thought:

Remember when Arlen Specter switching parties was a sign of doom for Republicans?

Nine months later, it looks like one of the luckiest breaks for the GOP in 2009. Had he remained with the party, I suspect Pat Toomey would have beaten him in the primary, but that's not a given. And lot of the GOP establishment would have gotten sucked into defending a wobbly vote in a primary fight that would have made the current Crist-Rubio tussle look like hug therapy. Now Toomey gets a smooth ride through the primary and can harness his resources for the general election.

Instead, the Democrats get to worry about whether Specter will survive the primary — that, too, looks iffy — and if he does, they get to spend millions to tell Pennsylvanians that the fossil who's been there forever and who keeps snapping at people is their best possible choice to represent them for the next six years.

Quote of the Day: Nancy Pelosi Not Giving Up the Sinking Ship of ObamaCare

“You go through the gate. If the gate’s closed, you go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll poll vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in. But we’re going to get health care reform passed for the American people.”
- Nancy Pelosi

Obama: Stay the Course

Obama: Stay the Course
I just love how he has Evan Bayh trying to jump ship.

Delusions of Grandeur

Delusions of Grandeur

Dirty: Saints Defensive Chief Wants to Hurt Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl?

Gregg Williams, defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints, in a recent interview:

Saints Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams, from an interview on 104.5 The Zone in Nashville, going all Buddy Ryan on Peyton Manning (via ESPN’s AFC South Blog).

“This guy’s got a great clock in his head. The big thing is that he throws the ball so early that we’re going to have to do a good job of finding ways to get to him and when we do get to him we’re going to have to make sure he gets a couple ‘remember me’ shots when we get there …”

Then, when asked about his players worrying about incurring 15-yard penalties for hitting Manning, he added this:

“Here’s the deal. When you put too much of that type of worry on a warrior’s mind, he doesn’t play all out. If it happens, it happens. And the only thing you’d like for me to say is that if it happens you hope he doesn’t get back up and play again.”

I guess there are two ways to look at this. The first is that Williams is just being honest about something that every defensive coach probably says, which is, "Let's hit the quarterback, hit him often, hit him hard, and if he happens to get hurt, well hey, this is football, ladies." Anyone who's ever played at any level knows this is the reality. You'll never hear a defensive coach say, "The opposing quarterback is a precious flower, and his health is our biggest concern in this game."

It becomes a whole different thing, though, when you start talking about wanting to injure a player before the game. Not that Williams did exactly that here, but he got pretty close. Essentially, he said that he wouldn't mind a couple of personal foul penalties, and that if he does get one, he at least hopes that it injures Manning.

We're all willing to live with the fact that injuries are a part of the game, but an expressed desire to injure someone? That's something else entirely. That makes me feel dirty.

I can't imagine the commissioner liked that.

Hat tip: Doug Masson.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Todd Rokita for Senate

So sayeth Jim Shella:

GOP Secretary of State Todd Rokita has been making calls today to measure support if he chooses to run for U.S. Senate.

In an e-mail Rokita says, “I certainly share Hoosiers’ concerns that we need real leadership in Washington–leadership that we simply aren’t getting today.”

I heard about this earlier in the day, and it didn't take long before I was hearing from social conservatives who had also heard the rumors and were not taking a liking (to put it mildly) to the idea of Rokita running.

Rokita has played footsie with the idea of running for other office before; he seriously considered running for Attorney General after Steve Carter announced his retirement. That candidacy brooked significant opposition from social conservatives (see here, here, here, and here), and it seems entirely possible from the initial reactions I have seen that a Senate bid would repeat that history.

There are also the matters of time and money. Scarce time remains for Rokita to obtain the signatures necessary to get on the ballot, and he does not have a significant existing campaign organization to utilize for that purpose. Rokita's committee has some $240,000 in the bank, but those are state contributions and state campaign dollars cannot be easily rolled over into a Federal campaign. That means that paying to get the signatures, always an option for campaigns short on time but long on money, may prove impractical.

If he runs, Rokita could become something of an establishment candidate in a field of conservative outsiders. That's a bad place to be in a year such as this.

Rokita's success in the primary, assuming that he could get the signatures (no small feat at this late date), would depend almost entirely on his challengers splitting the conservative and anti-establishment votes. But it's not clear that the current field will remain settled, and it may consolidate somewhat before the primary arrives.

“This is honestly a top notch, stand up guy and somebody Republicans should WANT to represent them in every district.”

Mike SodrelKevin Tracy likes Mike Sodrel, both as a conservative and as a human being:

Mike Sodrel was one of several Indiana Republican Congressmen to lose his seat in the 2006 disaster. He tried running again in 2008, but joke of a campaign the McCain-Palin ticket ran destroyed any chance Republicans in Indiana and across the country had at winning back their seats. But that was then and this is now. The Democrats agenda has been utterly and completely rejected by the American people and a lot of seats that were lost in 2006 and 2008 are looking winnable again in 2010.

How winnable? Well, according to Survey USA, Former Congressman Sodrel is enjoying a 49% to 41% lead over the liberal incumbent who ousted him four years ago.

If Sodrel’s name sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve discussed him, Baron Hill, and Indiana’s 9th Congressional District before. This is the land of moderate Democrats. In 2002, Baron Hill won the district by 5%. In 2004, Mike Sodrel won by less than 1%, but that was with a Libertarian candidate pulling in 2%. In 2006, Hill won the seat back by 4%. In 2008, Sodrel lost by 20% (58-38) with the Libertarian candidate pulling in 4%.

Now, under any other circumstances after a 20% loss, I would say that running Sodrel again would be a disaster. So why is this situation unique? Well, first and foremost is the quality of Mike Sodrel as not only a candidate, but as a human being. This is honestly a top notch, stand up guy and somebody Republicans should WANT to represent them in every district. So he has that going in his favor.

What’s more, 2006 and 2008 were NOT good election years for Republicans. Both years, instead of working to help our candidates, the National Republican Party has been working overtime to give Republicans a reason not to come to the polls. That’s why states like North Carolina and Indiana, as red of states as one might imagine, went blue in 2008.

The Republican Party really hasn’t given us too many reasons to come to the polls in 2010. Luckily (if you can call it that), the Democrats have been doing a great job at giving conservatives a reason to come out to the polls. The truth of the matter is that the Democrats’ excessive wins in 2006 and 2008 have been flukes brought about by political incompetency by GOP “leaders” at the national level – not necessarily individual Republican lawmakers.

And Mike Sodrel is proof of that. Despite losing by a landslide in 2008, the former Congressional Representative of the district is actually ahead in the polls right now because grassroots conservatives have realized they can no longer afford to be apathetic to the political battles we’re engaged in – even if the RNC and NRSC are. Mike Sodrel and scores of hard working, loyal Republicans like him have been the hardest hit victims of the incompetency in our party’s leadership.

Thankfully, Republicans are starting to realize that and the former Congressman of Indiana’s 9th Congressional District is poised to take the grassroots momentum all the way back to Washington, DC. I wish Mike Sodrel and his campaign staff the absolute best of luck this year. Their hard work is an integral part of ousting Nancy Pelosi from her position as Speaker of the House and derailing the liberal agenda of her and the Rubber Stamp living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Read the Constitution, What a Novel Idea!

Floyd County GOP Chairman Dave Matthews taking no prisoners (and showing a little letter love to Mike Sodrel) in the News & Tribune:

Please let me respond to the arguments of Steven Fetter in his letter, “Dispelling Concerns About Health Care.” First, I recommend he actually read the Constitution. If he doesn’t have a copy, come to any of Mike Sodrel’s campaign rallies. He hands out copies regularly. Mike thinks it would be very good for Americans to actually know what the document says before we start saying what it says. I agree.

The founders wrote the document stating in the very first paragraph, known as the Preamble, what the purpose of government was supposed to be: “…establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty…”. Much has been done by our government in the last two hundred years under the clause of promoting the general welfare that might or might not have been constitutional. It can be argued that taking over private businesses so they don’t fail, punishing banks because they don’t conform to our ideals of how they should spend money and re-inventing a national health care system to replace the current one does not fall into any of the above categories.

Second, let me correct Steven’s notion that “the majority of health insurance holders have very little to say about choosing doctors.” I assume he has done a nationwide survey to make such a statement. However, everyone I know who now has health insurance, although restricted to the number of doctors they can choose from by the coverage of their insurance, at least has the right to choose among those doctors. I have changed dentists three times in the last ten years. And I have yet to find a health insurer who, when my doctor recommends Zocor demands that I use Prozac. There may be generic drugs that are actually less expensive than the brand name that they recommend, but I thought the argument actually was about reducing the cost of health care. And if you think your medication is rationed now, just wait until government gets to decide what you take!

Last, let me remind Steven that our form of government is a Republic, not a Democracy. In this country we agree, by design, to elect those who vote for us. It isn’t a perfect form of government for sure. But for 200 years it has proven to provide us with the ideal environment to bring about the greatest leap of prosperity of any country in the world throughout history.

I would recommend everyone purchase the book, “The 5,000 Year Leap.” It is the best commentary I have ever read on the principles of freedom our founding fathers said must be understood and perpetuated. In it, Samuel Adams is quoted as saying, “The Utopian schemes of leveling [re-distribution of the wealth] and community goods [central ownership of the means of production and distribution], are as visionary and impractical as those which vest all property in the Crown. [These ideas] are arbitrary, despotic, and, in our government, unconstitutional.” (William V. Wells, The Life and Public Services of Samuel Adams).

Given the choice of monarchy, Communist dictatorship, fascist regimes, military rule and republics……I think I’ll choose republic.

— Dave Matthews, Chairman, Floyd County Republican Party

Here He Comes to Save the Day

Here He Comes to Save the Day

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hope & Change: Evan Bayh Trails Pence in Polling, Hostettler Within Margin of Error

Evan Bayh and Barack ObamaExciting times in Indiana.


Mike Pence (R) - 47%
Evan Bayh (D) - 44%
Some other candidate - 3%
Not sure - 7%

John Hostettler (R) - 41%
Evan Bayh (D) - 44%
Some other candidate - 3%
Not sure - 12%

Marlin Stutzman (R) - 33%
Evan Bayh (D) - 45%
Some other candidate - 5%
Not sure - 16%

The Pence and Hostettler results are not unexpected, but still surprising (and gratifying).

The Stutzman result of about 33% (and this is just me being honest; I like Marlin a lot) is probably what you'd expect against Bayh in a more typical year (Marvin Scott got 37% against Bayh in 2004).

The rest of the poll is well worth taking a look at, also.

Mitch Daniels has a 70% approval rating (29% disapprove). Given that result, I'm surprised nobody is pushing him to run against Evan Bayh. Might they, if Pence takes a pass?

Obama's approval-disapproval is at 43%-56%.

60% oppose health care reform. 37% favor it.

Liberal political statistics blog FiveThirtyEight has had two looks at the Indiana Senate race in recent days.

This one "Post-Masspocalypse" was before the Bayh poll:

Here's a surprise -- although not really to the Republicans, who keyed into the opportunity almost immediately after Scott Brown's victory. Indiana, last year aside, is still a fairly red state, and the political climate over the past year hasn't permitted conservative Democrats like Bayh to stay smilingly above the fray. One caveat: the computer stupidly doesn't distinguish between Mike Pence and John Hostettler, because neither candidate has been polled and the only variable it uses to distinguish them is their highest level of office achieved (both have been U.S. Representatives). But Hostettler is a notoriously weak candidate and Pence, I'm sure, would be a strong one.

They were already seeing it as emerging as a competitive race post-Massachusetts (as if the ominous signs with the fates of red-state Democrats like Ben Nelson and Byron Dorgan weren't indicative of something already).

Hostettler, I'd note, seems to get no credit as a candidate based entirely upon his 2006 result.

Nobody seems to remember the six elections he ran and won before that. Those were elections that he won on the basis of his ability as a candidate and the strength of his campaigns. John Hostettler never won on the basis of a fundraising advantage.

That just strikes me as the sort of the political skill set you'd need to beat the well-financed Evan Bayh.

And here is FiveThirtyEight's take following Monday's polling:

Indiana. In Indiana, a Rasmussen poll shows incumbent Evan Bayh leading declared GOP candidate John Hostettler by 3 points, and trailing potential candidate Mike Pence by the same margin. Although this is the first poll of the state, our regression model had already flagged Indiana as being competitive, and potentially highly so. Evan Bayh's favorability rating in the poll is 58 percent, which is actually not bad, but down from previous polling which had frequently shown his approval and favorability numbers in the 60s and which may not provide enough cushion in a magenta state in a very tough cycle for the Democrats.

Overall, and despite the fact that Rasmussen polls have had a Republican-leaning house effect (which our model accounts for), we show the race as being a toss-up, regardless of the identity of the Republican candidate. Although an entry by Mike Pence would surely help Republicans, it is perhaps not as critical to their chances as is commonly believed as this is mostly about generic anti-incumbent and anti-Democratic sentiment.

I'm a cynic about Pence running. I don't think that he'll do so.

And to get the jump on Democrats crowing about how Evan Bayh escaped yet again when/if Pence decides not to run later today (or later this week), let's repeat that last bit one more time:

"...we show the race as being a toss-up, regardless of the identity of the Republican candidate. Although an entry by Mike Pence would surely help Republicans, it is perhaps not as critical to their chances as is commonly believed as this is mostly about generic anti-incumbent and anti-Democratic sentiment."

Here in Indiana, it's a brand new day.

Michael Barone on Baron's Sinking Ship

Baron HillFrom someone who is probably the foremost analyst of modern American politics comes this:

It’s unusual for a poll to show an incumbent House member trailing a challenger. So it’s interesting that a SurveyUSA poll conducted for FireDogLake shows Democratic incumbent Baron Hill of the 9th district of Indiana trailing Republican challenger Mike Sodrel 49%-41%. It should be noted that Sodrel is almost surely better known than most challengers; this is the fifth time he has run against Hill, and he won the 2004 race 49.5%-49.0%.

Hill won 51%-46% in 2002, 50%-45% in 2006 and 58%-38% in 2008. The SurveyUSA poll shows Sodrel up 9% from where he ran 14 months ago and Hill running an amazing 17% behind where he ran in 2008.

Will Hill run again? He (and Sodrel) have both proven their persistence, if nothing else, and Hill was not afraid to slam tea partiers, as Jim Geraghty of National Review Online documents. My own tentative conclusion that this southern Indiana district is part of the Jacksonian Belt where Barack Obama is unpopular (John McCain carried the district 50%-48%), and that Baron Hill looks like an underdog this time unless we see a considerable change in the climate of opinion and balance of enthusiasm.

This resurgence in mentions of a possible retirement for Baron Hill are quite interesting; he has yet to file for reelection.

I wouldn't say it's a time for Baron's opponents to get cocky.

Baron will fight hard, underdog or not, to keep "his" office so that he can use it to run for Governor as soon as he is reelected.

Side note: Invariably, below these national stories on the race (and some local ones) you find a lonely and forlorn post in the comments by Eric Schansberg trying to call attention to Travis Hankins. I'm not thinking that was the high-profile role intended for the Libertarian when he became Hankins' campaign chairman (something that Schansberg never discloses in his comments, interestingly), but maybe I'm mistaken.

Photo of the Day: A Fitting Metaphor

A Fitting Metaphor
Evan Bayh's website on Monday.

Hat tip: Derek Trovillion.

David Frum on Venezuela

I hardly ever agree with David Frum, but this is interesting.

You could be forgiven for thinking that he might just be talking about someplace else:

In our modern world, we have two main systems of democracy. In the United States, France, and Mexico, the executive and the legislature are elected separately. Powers are separated, and each checks and balances the other. In Britain and the British Commonwealth, in Japan, and in most of Europe, the legislature is elected directly and the executive derives its power from the legislative majority.

Political scientists argue about which system is better.

But all agree on which system is worst: a system where the executive controls the legislature. You can call this system by many names: guided democracy, Peronism, socialism with Chinese characteristics.

By whatever name, the system of executive supremacy over the legislature amounts to the same thing: unchecked power. Such power can never be trusted. And those who most avidly seek such power are precisely those who can least be trusted with it.

Obama the Populist: Yeah Right


Obama’s own agenda is fundamentally anti-populist. What could be worse for the little guy than to be told to go buy a big, expensive health-care plan from a big insurance company? It’s the sort of thing Democrats would rightly mock Republicans for coming up with, had the GOP the nerve to come up with such a scheme in the first place.

So when Obama now hollers about the “little guy” and expresses outrage over big, powerful forces in Washington, perhaps he should have looked more closely at the bill he was attempting to foist on the American people. A cushy deal for Big Pharma. New customers mandated by the federal government for Big Insurance. A sweetheart deal for Big Labor.

As with so much else that has gone wrong in the past year for Obama, we once again see that he mistakes (or thinks we will mistake) rhetoric for substance.

Obama (or his underlings) are trying to set up a sort of "comeback narrative," in part based on the myth that he's as angry about what's happening in Washington as everybody else (when he's been responsible for what's happening in Washington).

The media loves a good narrative, even one being forced down their throats, particularly when it's about Obama, their golden boy. He's too big to fail.

I'm sure we'll be seeing plenty of faux populist anger between now and November, and we'll probably hear about how Massachusetts was a turning point (regardless of whether it actually is or not) and how Obama is "bouncing back."

It's also highly likely that none of that will have any match with reality outside of the Beltway.

Hope & Change: No Bid Contract in Afghanistan for Obama Contributor

At a certain point, can hypocrisy become routine?

The Buck Stops There

The Buck Stops There

Just Words

Just Words from Obama

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hostettler Working on Primary Signatures

And he collected 2,000 signatures in one weekend:

It was a packed house Monday night at Evansville's Marriott Hotel, as many from Southwestern Indiana came out to show their support for the man hoping to make his return to national politics, former Congressman John Hostettler.

"I'm very encouraged that a lot of my friends have decided to get back into politics, as I have," said Hostettler, speaking of his volunteers.

Hostettler's name has not been added to the ballot, just yet. He needs 500 signatures from each of the 9 congressional districts to qualify. That's 4,500 names, and volunteers were set up at the hotel hoping to help reach that goal. Those volunteers hope to launch Hostettler into May's primary.

"The country is leaving the constitution behind to get back to the constitution and restore order in our country," said Kevin Shelley, a Hostettler supporter.

Some of those who showed up are too young to sign the petition, or even vote, but they believe they can still have an impact.

"Talking to other friends, they might tell their parents and might might vote for him from heading what they're saying," said Kendall Morrow, a supporter under the legal voting age.

Hostettler, known for his conservative views, believes in a strict interpretation of the constitution. He's against the healthcare reform bill, against gun control laws and pro-life. He ties his competitor Evan Bayh to what he calls a failed economic stimulus package.

Monday night's event was not just aimed at collecting signatures here in Southwestern Indiana. It was also about coordinating extra efforts.

"We have coordinators in the districts. We have volunteers in the districts and we're trying to convince some other folks to go into other parts of the state to help out," said Hostettler.

Hostettler hopes his volunteers will help boost him from congressional hopeful to United States Senator, and the primary is just the first step.

Hostettler is unsure of the exact number of signatures he has collected, but his volunteers say they collected close to 2,000 over the weekend.

Wednesday is the first day potential candidates can file to have their names added to the ballot. They must collect all 4,500 signatures and have them validated by February 19th.

If I had to guess from what I am hearing, I would say that all four declared Republican primary challengers are likely to get sufficient signatures to get on the ballot. I doubt that Mike Pence, should he decide in the next day or two to run (something that I seriously question), would have any trouble either.

Both John McCain and Jill Long Thompson had a terrible time getting sufficient signatures to gain ballot access back in 2008, and they started very early. At the very least, it seems that all four potential challengers to Bayh are already well ahead of both of those ill-fated campaigns.

Also, I noticed that John Hostettler has a new campaign website. It's much better (and less brown) than the old one.

“You Call Yourself a Blue Dog Democrat. Your Record Doesn’t Support That.”

Baron Hill and Barack ObamaA letter in Sunday's News & Tribune:

Resident unhappy with Hill’s votes

Dear Congressman Baron Hill,

I believe you could save the taxpayers a lot of money if you would just throw the Constitution in the trash, get rid of the House of Representatives, and Senate, with the exception of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and, of course, the president. They are making all the laws anyway.

That way we could save all your salaries, the salaries of your staffs, the expense of your offices, the expense of all those “fact-finding trips,” their travel to and from Washington, and the expense of upkeep of the Capitol. Perhaps, we could rent it to the Chinese. They will probably be looking for a large office building soon.

You may be able to see the sarcasm in the above statement. I believe in the Constitution, even if you, as my elected representative, don’t.

As I understand that document, you are to represent your constituents, not your leaders. According to the polls, 61 percent of us are against the health care bill. That doesn’t seem to affect you in your vote.

You call yourself a Blue Dog Democrat. Your record doesn’t support that. I cannot vouch for all bills, but lately you have voted right down the line with Pelosi.

The so-called “stimulus bills” have failed, I feel, and now I am hearing that the president wants another one. I have always heard that, “an idiot is one who keeps doing the same thing and expects a different outcome.”

I wish you would take a page from the Democrat’s hero playbook — President Kennedy — and reduce taxes to the people that do the hiring, putting people to work.

Tax revenues go up and we will surely need to have more tax money to pay for all the free money you have given out. This has worked every time it has been tried, so we shouldn’t get a different result.

— Gordon McCall, Charlestown

Exactly. It's like I said earlier:

Baron is always there when Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi need him.

When the vote margins on the Obama-Pelosi agenda are close or when the issue is important to them, Baron is there.

When they don't need him or when the issue is minor, Baron makes a big phony celebration of being "independent."

When Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi needed his vote for the $787 billion "stimulus" boondoggle, Baron was there.

When Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi needed his vote to raise taxes on working Americans, Baron was there.

When crooked Congressman Charlie Rangel needed Democrats to vote to cover up his corruption, Baron was there.

When Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi needed his vote for cap-and-trade to strangle Hoosier jobs, Baron was there.

When Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi needed his vote for a government takeover of health care paid for by slashing Medicare, Baron was there.

When they need him, Baron is always there.

Show me one place where Baron voted against something on final passage that Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi wanted when what they wanted didn't pass anyway, and it will be the first.

Corporations Are Not People, Are They?

Some thoughts about Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allows corporations to fund advertisements influencing elections.

First, the state aspect from the Indy Star:

The Supreme Court decision overturning the ban on campaign ads by corporations and unions won't affect state candidates in Indiana, but it paves the way for a torrent of new ads in federal campaigns.

State law limits how much corporations and unions can give to candidates, and that won't change under this decision.

Second, an editorial in the Orange County Register defending the decision (with a quote by Baron Hill):

"Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." Those words, at the heart of our Constitution's First Amendment, secure our right to speak our minds, particularly about candidates for public office during an election season. The very nature of our representative democracy depends on a robust exchange of ideas in the political arena, for it is only through such interchange that the people we elect can be held accountable to us.

Yet, for decades now, Congress has been making laws abridging the freedom of speech at its core – political speech during elections. That trend was halted last week by the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which struck down a key part of the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA, or McCain-Feingold). Civil libertarians and constitutional originalists alike, regardless of their partisan political views, should applaud the court's decision as a great victory for freedom of speech and democracy.

Although about seven years overdue, the decision should come as no surprise to the proponents of the law, for even they acknowledged during congressional debate that many of its provisions were probably unconstitutional. Rep. Baron Hill, D-Ind., noted that "Even the advocates of [the House version of the bill] believe it may not meet constitutional muster."

Baron, it should be noted, voted for this legislation despite his concerns about it being unconstitutional.

Mark Kleiman, however, has some additional considerations about the decision that I find (quite rightly) rather troubling:

Citizens United for subservience to tyrants

The Supreme Court decision in Citizens United is probably a greater catastrophe than the Mass. Senate election. In effect, it allows corporations to put unlimited amounts of cash into influencing elections.

One aspect of the ruling that hasn’t gathered much attention: as far as I can tell, the analysis doesn’t distinguish between domestic and foreign corporations. Not that it would matter much, since a foreign corporation can always establish a domestic subsidiary, or buy an American company: Cities Service, for example, is a unit of PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil company. So the ruling allows Hugo Chavez to spend as much money as he wants to helping and harming American politicians. If the Russian, Saudi, and Chinese governments don’t currently have appropriate vehicles for doing so, you can count on it: they soon will.

Nor is this a problem that can be handled by “disclosure.” The ad on TV praising the opponent of the congressman who did something to annoy Hugo Chavez won’t say “Paid for by Hugo Chavez.” It will say “Paid for by Citizens for Truth, Justice, and the American Way,” which in turn will have gotten a contribution from “Americans for Niceness,” which in turn will have gotten a contribution from a lobbyist for a subsidiary of Cities Service that no one has ever heard of.

The United States has a $13 trillion GDP, and total annual campaign spending is on the order of $2 billion. Buying influence on the American government has to be the highest-leverage activity ever invented, and Justice Kennedy and his four accomplices just invited every oligarch and tyrant in the world to play. This is not just a threat to democracy; it’s a threat to sovereignty.

Somehow I doubt this will be mentioned at any Tea Parties. But I’m very afraid.

The Economist also dissents:

Restrictions on election campaigning and corporate election spending exist throughout the democratic world, and yet actual citizens maintain their ability to express their views. That's because, as John Paul Stevens said in his dissent, for-profit corporations are different from non-profit citizens' associations and from individuals. The judges' refusal to perceive such apparently elementary distinctions will lead to a vast increase in the ability of corporations to influence politics.

I'm inclined to agree with the opponents of the decision. Corporations aren't people, and the slippery-slope aspect of this decision as it pertains to foreign corporations (or entities financed by foreign corporations, and not always transparently) are troubling indeed.

Obama on ObamaCare, In His Own Words

A Bit More on Dawn Johnsen

From today's Indy Star:

Remaining in limbo
Indiana law Professor Dawn Johnsen may be one of the losers in Massachusetts' Senate race. Republican Scott Brown's upset victory in Tuesday's special election deprived the Democrats of the 60 votes they need in the Senate to stop a filibuster.

Johnsen, President Barack Obama's nominee to head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, is opposed by conservative activists. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Johnsen is "one of the most contentious nominees" pending before the Senate.

"There have been a significant number of my conference, and I think at least some of the other side, that have not felt she should go forward," McConnell said. "As to how that'll ultimately be resolved, I couldn't tell you."

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., has said he is likely to vote for her, which would give Democrats the 60 votes they need for confirmation if all Democrats stick together. But while Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., recently reversed positions and said he would vote for Johnson, Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., has not said how he'll vote.

Nelson said Wednesday that he doubted Johnsen's nomination would be brought to a vote.

"We have to let the administration decide what they want to do," Nelson said. Asked if he has told the administration whether he'd vote for Johnsen, Nelson said he hasn't been asked.

Specter's flip is, as I noted earlier, largely irrelevant.

Before, there were 60 Democrats and 40 Republicans. One Democrat was declared against (Specter) and one Republican was declared for (Lugar). In short, a wash that favored Johnsen.

If Johnsen's nomination was going to go forward, it would have gone forward last year before the number of Republicans increased to 41. That would lend weight to reasoning that Nelson is already opposed, even if he hasn't said so publicly. From what McConnell says, others might be opposed also.

In short, her nomination doesn't appear to be going anywhere.

Colts Win

Pierre Garçon

As stupid as it was to do so in the first game against the Jets (and as stupid as it was to play the starters on a sheet of ice in the Bills game for personal milestones that could have been reached in the Jets game), resting starters worked. Bill Polian has been proven correct. Put away your pitchforks.

Angry Colts Fans
Oh, and I prefer my crow stir-fried.

Quote of the Day

On the very same day last year that the Mayor [Greg Ballard] handed out a diversity award to Barnes & Thornburg, I was in a deposition across town in which a white B&T attorney suggested that a black nurse was being unreasonable in being offended by a drawing depicting black nurses as monkeys. Unbelieveable. The African-American community, indeed everyone, should be outraged over this Mayor's continued politicization of the City's diversity awards.

- Paul Ogden

Where Is the Elder Oxley?

Lesley Stedman asks the question in her weekly column; none of us have any answers.

Lawmaker’s absence raises questions

INDIANAPOLIS — I’ve had lots of calls and e-mails recently seeking additional information about the condition of state Rep. Dennie Oxley, D-Taswell, who has missed the first three weeks of this session with an undisclosed illness.

Folks want to know if Oxley will be able to return to the Statehouse. Some in the district are concerned they are unrepresented during House votes. Others want to know if Oxley, a first term legislator, will run again.

And a few have even asked me to send best wishes to the lawmaker.

On all accounts, I wish I could help but I have little credible information about the situation.

Oxley’s family has been tightlipped about his condition since he was hospitalized just before the General Assembly’s Organization Day last November.

I had seen Oxley with his wife at the Statehouse just a week or so before Organization Day and I didn’t notice anything unusual. Later, others said he wasn’t feeling well.

Then, he was absent from Organization Day with an illness. Later, his family issued a statement saying that Oxley had been in the hospital when he suffered a heart attack. The statement said he was stable and improving.

But Oxley did not return in January.

When he missed the first week of the session, his family issued another statement, saying that he had been granted an excused absence. “We fully expect him to be back at his job serving the people of the 73rd House District very soon,” the statement said.

Since then, there have been no statements from the family and Oxley’s wife and his son, Dennie Oxley Jr., a former lawmaker, have not returned calls seeking more information.

That’s somewhat understandable. It’s not a surprise that the family doesn’t want to talk about Oxley’s illness. It’s a private matter.

But his position as a legislator makes his absence a public issue. Constituents might not have any right to know specifically what’s wrong with Oxley. But they can make a darn good argument for knowing whether he will be well enough to return.

If you take the family’s statements at face value, it would appear that Oxley could be back at the Statehouse anytime.

But it is worth noting that it has been Oxley’s family issuing the statements about his condition and asking for his excused absences from the session — not the lawmaker himself. And House Speaker Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, said he has not spoken with Oxley.

This issue has become somewhat more pressing because candidates are now able to file for the primary and it’s unclear whether Oxley can or will run.

Already, another Democrat has filed to run for Oxley’s seat.

Salem attorney Doug Leatherbury filed on the first day possible and has been traveling the district campaigning ever since.

However, Leatherbury told me — as well as some lawmakers — that he would step aside if Oxley was able to return to the Statehouse and wanted to run.

It would be helpful for the party, for constituents and for Oxley’s colleagues at the House if they knew whether that will be the case.

But for now, Oxley’s family appears content to keep that information to themselves.

One of the comments to the column is spot-on:

Oxley's constituents are entitled to representation in the legislature. If they are being denied representation, and Oxley's family has knowledge that Oxley is unable to perform the duties of his office, then it is only fitting and proper that Oxley step aside and another person be chosen to represent the interests of Oxley's constituents in the legislature. On the other hand, if Oxley's return to the legislature is imminent, his constituents have the right to know that information as well. By keeping his constituents in the dark--and unrepresented--it would appear that the constitutional rights of the voters in Oxley's district are being violated.

Down here, I've heard a variety of rumors about the elder Oxley. One holds that he's about to return any day now. Another says that he has been in a coma this whole time. A third, which I think is an unfortunate and sick joke at the expense of his troubled son, says that he is awaiting a liver transplant (a variant of this says he has liver cancer).

Nobody knows what the truth is, but I think it's safe to say that the elder Oxley is very much still in need of our prayers.

Obama's Masterpiece

Obama's Masterpiece
Click the picture to enlarge; the print is kind of small.

The Little Pickup Truck That Could

The Little Pickup Truck That Could
Slate, written before Scott Brown's victory:

President Obama flew in Sunday for a last-minute campaign stop for beleaguered senatorial candidate Martha Coakley. In his speech, besides the usual exhortations to the party faithful, he managed to work in several snide references to her opponent's truck as a symbol of false populism. Coakley's opponent, Republican Scott Brown, was flabbergasted. "Unbelievable," he said. "The leader of the free world is talking about my truck."

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hope & Change: After Just 2 Weeks, Mike Sodrel Leads Baron Hill by 8% in New Poll

You read that right. It's not a typo.

In a new poll by SurveyUSA (which has polled the district before) has Mike Sodrel leading Baron Hill, 49% to 41%. That's well outside the margin of error, and probably the first time that a Republican has ever led outside of the margin of error in a poll in the 9th Congressional District in perhaps half a century (assuming they even polled back when Republican Earl Wilson was winning the seat).

Sauce for the goose? The poll was commissioned by lefty blog Firedoglake.

The poll was taken from January 16 to January 18, which means that it was taken before the Republican victory in Massachusetts. That news could well have an additional impact (albeit limited) on the polling in terms of further invigorating conservatives and potential Republican voters that would probably be reflected through the likely voter screen.

FDL/SurveyUSA, 1/16-1/18, 600 likely voters, margin of sampling error ± 4.1%

If there were an election for US House of Representatives today, and the only two candidates on the ballot were Democrat Baron Hill and Republican Mike Sodrel, who would you vote for?

41% Baron Hill (D)
49% Mike Sodrel (R)
10% Undecided

2010 will be the fifth straight time Democratic Congressman Baron Hill has gone head-to-head with Republican former Congressman Mike Sodrel for the opportunity of representing Indiana’s 9th congressional district. The seat, in the southeast of the state, has changed hands twice.

Given the district’s electoral history, it would be safe to assume both candidates have strong name recognition.

After Hill beat Sodrel in 2008, CQ wrote that “the one-sided election result in 2008 had brought an end to the rivalry between Democratic incumbent Hill and Republican Sodrel, one of the longest-running rivalry in the nation’s congressional politics.” When Sodrel once again threw his hat into the ring last year, they said “it seems likely that Republican strategists would prefer a fresher face as their 2010 challenger to Hill.”

It’s likely that both Hill and the White House are aware of his troubles. Obama recently singled him out for praise for his courageous vote on health care, and Rahm Emanuel traveled to the district to do a fundraiser for Hill last month.

But that may hurt more than it helps. Obama’s very low job approval numbers in the district (38% approve, 58% disapprove) might be hurting Hill, too. The race had recently been rated “lean Democratic” by the Cook Political Report, making Hill’s low numbers somewhat surprising. When this poll is viewed in combination with the recent election results in Massachusetts and our polling in AR-2, OH-1, and NY-1, a pattern of strong, anti-congressional Democratic sentiment begins to emerge.

The poll also asked some questions about health care. Full crosstabs are available here.

The Hill has noted that the poll has broader implications. First, it represents a 28 point swing in Sodrel's favor since the 2008 wave election. Second, it is bound to interfere with Baron's plans to quickly get reelected and then turn around and run for Governor.

Hill has won three of four consecutive matchups with Sodrel, including by 20 points in 2008. That means the race has seen a net 28-point swing in 14 months. That's troubling if you're Hill, who has made overtures about running for governor in 2012.

Hill joins Reps. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) and Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio) in trailing by wide margins. Snyder announced his retirement soon after the poll was released.

More and more House polling will come out now that the calendar has hit 2010, and it continues to look worse for Democrats.

Given what has happened with the results of some of these polls in other districts, and Baron's declared interest in running for Governor, one can't help but wonder if that decision against retirement might be looking somewhat premature and worth reconsidering at this point.

The Republican National Committee has also taken note of the poll:

“After Tuesday’s election in Massachusetts its clear Republicans, Independents and Democrats are fed up with high unemployment and Democrat plans for government-run health care. They warned their representatives in town halls and rallies, but after voting for the Democrats’ unpopular health care bill its obvious Congressman Baron Hill wasn’t listening. Just like voters in Massachusetts, Hoosiers are energized and confident in their power to do something about it. Their message to Hill: listen or find a new job.” – RNC Spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski

The NRCC also chimed in:

“Selling out his fellow Hoosiers by being a reliable vote for the reckless Obama-Pelosi agenda has finally caught up with Baron Hill, who suddenly finds himself the underdog in his own race for re-election. This is what Baron Hill gets for trying to ram a government takeover of healthcare down the throats of southeastern Indiana voters. Baron Hill, your days as a public official are numbered.” – Tom Erickson, National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman

One can't help but think that their supposed "coolness" to Sodrel's candidacy just got replaced with a whole lot of warmth. Ultimately, Mike Sodrel is an experienced candidate and a proven fundraiser with very high name ID in the district. He has run very competitive races (with and without national help) and won before, which makes him a more serious choice to the alternatives in the primary.

One of the biggest questions among 9th District Republicans about Sodrel's candidacy has been his ability to win if he were to run. That hypothetical has now been more than answered. A fifth matchup between Mike Sodrel and Baron Hill isn't just competitive. Sodrel is leading.

Since Sodrel's announcement, the primary argument made by Todd Young (and Young's supporters) against Sodrel's return has been the 2008 result and the notion that Mike Sodrel just couldn't win. This poll utterly destroys that argument.

Add in Sodrel's rather impressive "hit the ground running" cross-district tour to all twenty counties (and the high turnout and energy at those events and rallies), and you can't help but start to come to the conclusion that this is a very different campaign (and a much more energized candidate) than the district saw in 2008.

Jim Geraghty of National Review has a parting thought, returning to what this is all about, that's worth sharing:

Baron Hill, the Jerk From the Town-Hall Meeting, Trails Challenger by 8

This week just keeps getting new layers of awesome.

You remember Archduke Czar Viscount Earl Pasha Baron Hill, right?

It's our office, not his.

And we're going to take it back.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mike Sodrel Gets Ink in Wall Street Journal

Mike SodrelThursday's Wall Street Journal:

Indiana Democrat Feels Icy Breeze From Massachusetts

MADISON, Ind.—When Rick Berry heard on Tuesday that a Republican had won the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts, he emailed one of his friends: "Maybe there's hope for the country after all!"

The message was bad news for Baron Hill, a five-term Democratic congressman who represents Mr. Berry's district. Mr. Berry, the president of Madison's city council, is a registered Democrat and a former supporter of Mr. Hill.

The political winds that buffeted Massachusetts this week are now blowing across the cornfields of southeast Indiana—smack into Mr. Hill.

After supporting President Barack Obama's health-care plan and his economic-stimulus package, the congressman stands accused by Mr. Berry and others here of jettisoning the Ninth District's bedrock fiscal conservatism.

"Being a Democrat doesn't mean you want the government to take over every single aspect of your life," according to Mr. Berry, who owns a small embroidery business. "If that health-care legislation passes, I think it will be the death knell for the economy."

Mr. Hill's constituents are split nearly evenly along party lines, making his congressional district election one of the most hotly contested this year. For the fifth time in a row, Mr. Hill is running against Republican Mike Sodrel, a self-made millionaire who beat Mr. Hill by 10,000 votes in 2004, but lost to him in tough races in 2002, 2006 and 2008.

On Wednesday, Mr. Sodrel toured the district's southeast corner in a black Escalade with a bumper sticker that said, "Mike Sodrel, Congress, one of us." At five of his stops, he was asked about Republican Scott Brown's Senate win in Massachusetts on Tuesday.

"We're moving in the right direction," Mr. Sodrel told a small crowd in Aurora, Ind., along the Ohio River. "Things are shaping up."

Mr. Sodrel complained to the 20 people gathered in Aurora about the expanding role of the federal government and how it is crowding out individual liberties, echoing themes of Mr. Brown's successful campaign in Massachusetts.

"It all comes down to this arrogance that we know better than you how your money should be spent," Mr. Sodrel said about the possibility of a second federal stimulus package. "We're trying to borrow our way out of debt and spend our way to prosperity. It doesn't work that way," he said.

Mr. Hill declined to be interviewed for this article.

A poll conducted just before Tuesday's vote in Massachusetts by USA Survey for the Web site found that, in a head-to-head match-up, Mr. Sodrel would beat Mr. Hill 49% to 41%, with 10% of the voters undecided.

The White House is aware of Mr. Hill's vulnerability. Mr. Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, recently traveled to Bloomington, the district's most liberal enclave, for a $100-a-plate fund-raiser. Then the president publicly thanked Mr. Hill for showing political courage in supporting health-care legislation.

But such praise cuts both ways in a district where many counties have unemployment rates around 10%, and rumors of impending layoffs are swapped at diners and bars. The firedoglake poll put Mr. Obama's approval rating in the district at 38%, with a disapproval rate of about 58%.

"No one knows what's going to happen between now and November, but right now I think [Mr. Obama] is going to be a big liability," Mr. Sodrel said in an interview.

Mr. Hill also faces a burgeoning Tea Party movement that has targeted the Democratic congressman. Those activists have been courted by Mr. Sodrel.

Mr. Sodrel didn't declare that he was running until last week. But he's spoken at about a dozen Tea Party events since the summer, some with crowds of more than 1,000 people.

Mr. Sodrel said that his decision to run a fifth time—despite party concerns about past losses—was based in part on his expectation of Tea Party support.

"I wanted to make sure [the Tea Party phenomenon] wasn't a flash in the pan," he said at a campaign stop at a diner in Rising Sun, Ind. "I wanted to make sure it was real."

Very nice article.

More on that poll in another post, coming shortly.