Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lugargeddon: Former Lugar Campaign Chairman Says It's Time for Mourdock



That's the same guy that got the Colts to relocate to Indianapolis. He chaired Lugar's first winning Senatorial campaign back in 1976.

“Negative Ads No Way to Get Elected”

Yet they're the only way Dick Lugar has left.

The Columbus Republic editorializes:

IN comparison with other campaigns past and present, the advertising wars being waged by incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar and his opponent in the May 8 Republican senatorial primary, State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, are fairly mild and even innocuous.

Many of the individual ads are certainly nasty, but the public has become so inured to the negativity that has come to be intrinsic to these political campaigns that the dominant reaction is a collective shoulder shrug.

There is also a measure of sadness in that Lugar, who has established a long career in public life particularly noted for the respect he has earned, would have to stoop to these tactics out of a sense of political survival.

...

The most effective response is to reject those who use these tactics at the polls.

On the other hand, since it has come to be such a common practice, it can be difficult in determining which candidate to punish.

There is no equivalency here at all. The ads being run against Lugar focus almost exclusively on issues. The ads being run against Mourdock by Lugar focus almost exclusively on personal smears, attacking Mourdock's character with incredibly blatant distortions and lies.

The voters can in fact reject those who use these tactics at the polls, as the Republic urges.

They can vote against Dick Lugar.

There was an interesting letter to the editor in the Courier & Press over the weekend noting just this very thing, and noting how similar Lugar's campaign has been to Obama's:

Lugar ads match Team Obama's

It's time to retire Sen. Richard Lugar and replace him with a true conservative, Richard Mourdock. Mr. Lugar's campaign is playing dirty by running disgraceful, negative and absolutely untrue attack ads against his opponent.

While Lugar has attempted to distance himself from President Obama and portray himself as a conservative, the fact is Lugar has not been a conservative for many years. He hasn't even lived in Indiana for 35 years.

The Lugar campaign also is using Team Obama's techniques: not focusing on the issues or voting record, but using diversionary tactics. Lugar's campaign is attempting to divert Hoosier voters from the real issue of his voting record by demonizing his opponent. This method should be beneath him, considering his reputation as such a gentleman and a statesman.

As "Obama's Favorite Republican" Lugar has consistently voted for amnesty for illegal immigrants; liberal SCOTUS justices; gun control; bailouts and increasing our national debt to unsustainable levels. Thank you, Mr. Lugar, but it's time to go!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lugargeddon: Pro-Lugar Super PAC Pulling Out

With momentum now clearly in Mourdock's favor and Washington bracing for Lugar's defeat, the question is now being raised among Lugar's former supporters, "Why hurt the eventual Republican nominee?"

The Hill:

The American Action Network, a super-PAC that backs establishment Republicans, has pulled out of Indiana's Senate race, the latest bad omen for Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.).

"We've decided we're going to let this race play out," AAN spokesman Dan Conston told The Hill Friday evening.

The group had committed to spending nearly $600,000 on television attacking Lugar's Tea Party opponent, Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R), and has been on the air in Indianapolis for two weeks. But they have pulled their online advertising and will end their TV buy on Tuesday, a week ahead of the May 8 primary.

Lugar still has a big warchest to draw from, so the loss of ads against Mourdock won't hurt him that badly in the air war. But this is the latest sign that the race is slipping away from the six-term senator, who has been badly damaged after it was revealed he's lived in Washington, D.C. for decades and is a top target of many conservative groups.

The race seems to be slipping away from Lugar and the American Action Network may want to avoid inflicting any more damage on Mourdock, the likely nominee, ahead of what could be a competitive general election race against Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.).

Let's repeat that last paragraph again:

The race seems to be slipping away from Lugar and the American Action Network may want to avoid inflicting any more damage on Mourdock, the likely nominee, ahead of what could be a competitive general election race against Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.).

Politico adds:

The sense across the party is that the race has broken in Mourdock's direction throughout Indiana.

For a group like AAN, that would raise the question of whether it makes sense to keep going after a man who looks likely to be the Republican candidate against Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly. Lugar may have been the GOP's strongest general election candidate, but if he is beyond recovery -- or close -- then the next-best thing is a relatively undamaged Mourdock.

Dick Lugar will not go quietly into the night. Richard Mourdock may have the momentum, but Lugar is not above a last-ditch attempt to cling to power.

It's now or never.

Stand with Mourdock.

Lugargeddon: Sarah Palin: Mourdock for Indiana

Palin has endorsed Mourdock.

From her Facebook page:

I join commonsense conservatives in endorsing Richard Mourdock to be the next Senator from Indiana. Conservatives of all stripes are uniting behind Richard Mourdock. It’s not just Indiana that benefits from sending the right Senator to serve for the right reasons; the nation as a whole benefits, and that is one reason why the eyes of so many around the nation are focused on the Indiana race.

Indiana deserves a conservative in the Senate who will fight for the Hoosier State, uphold our Constitution, and not just go along to get along with the vested interests of the permanent political class in D.C.

Richard Mourdock is the conservative choice for Indiana. Senator Lugar’s 36 years of service as a Senator are appreciated, but it’s time for the torch to pass to conservative leadership in Washington that promises to rein in government spending now.

Get the facts here. Learn more about Richard Mourdock at www.richardmourdock.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

- Sarah Palin

To paraphrase Mourdock's campaign slogan, it's been time for a long time.

Now it's now or never.

Richard Mourdock has the momentum.

Help him win big.

Tell Eric Cantor to Stay Out of Indiana

Legal Insurrection has the contact info for the Cantor-aligned Young Guns super PAC that is spending a $100,000 to bail out Lugar, at the expense of defeating liberal Democrats and replacing them with strong conservatives.

1st Republican Prez Candidate Not to Win Indiana in 44 Years: Vote for My Fellow RINO

Nevermind, of course, that Lugar's de facto endorsement of Obama helped McCain's opponent carry Indiana and sealed his fate in the 2008 election.

The ad:



Again comes the line of the establishment in defense of Lugar that we're lucky (in this case "fortunate"; Mitch thinks we're lucky) to have him.

That's got it backwards; he has been fortunate/lucky to represent us for this long, and he should have done a much better job of listening to the people he was fortunate/lucky to represent.

You have to be in Washington a long time and gone native there to have that sort of upside down view of being an elected representative of the people.

Lugar Opposed Sanctions on Iran

The grand statesman of foreign policy seems to have a very soft view of how to deal with America's enemies.

Legal Insurrection:

Dick Lugar’s strong point in the campaign against Richard Mourdock is Lugar’s claim to foreign policy expertise.

Yet an examination of Lugar’s history shows consistent wishful thinking on Iran, something which will be the subject of posts over the next two weeks in the run up to the May 8 primary.

For today, let’s focus on 1998. At that time, Iran was known to be embarked on an aggressive missile program, so much so that the U.S. Senate tried to push the Clinton administration into taking more aggressive action.

A bipartisan bill, the Iran Missile Proliferation Act of 1998, would have imposed sanctions on firms which provided assistance to Iran’s missile program.

The bill was non-political; it had wide support on both sides of the political aisle even in the face of a veto threat from the Clinton administration, which felt that it was an interference and might anger the Russians since Russian companies helping Iran would be most affected.

The bipartisan support was evidenced in the vote in the Senate, 90-4 in favor. The four opposing the bill were Joe Biden (D-DE), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), John Chafee (R-RI) and … Dick Lugar.

Even Diane Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, John Kerry, and Pat Leahy voted for the bill.

That tells you something.

Clinton did in fact veto the Act, but just when a vote to override the veto was scheduled, the Russians agreed to take additional measures against companies which were assisting Iran.

The overwhelming Senate vote in favor of the Iran Missile Sanctions Act had its intended effect; it sent a message to the Russians that the Congress would take action even if the Clinton administration did not.

Just think what the impact would have been had the Senate vote been unanimous, and had foreign policy luminary Dick Lugar joined with the other 90 Senators.

This would be the first in a series of Lugar missteps on Iran in which wishful thinking prevailed over the reality of the Iranian regime.

Winningham Begins Self-Funding

After having less cash-on-hand than Bloomington primary opponent Shelli Yoder, 9th District Democratic candidate Robert Winningham is having to put some of his own money into his campaign to keep it afloat according to the FEC:

FORM 6

CONTRIBUTIONS

FILING FEC-778682

Committee: WINNINGHAM FOR CONGRESS COMMITTEE

Robert Winningham

5315 Stacy Rd
Charlestown, Indiana 471118755
Employer: Unemployed
Occupation: Candidate
Date Contributed = 04/16/2012
Amount Contributed = 4785.00

Total Itemized Contributions = 4785.00

I think that the "Winningham for Congress Committee" might be better called the "Committee to Employ Adam Dickey and Richard Young III", as much of the campaign's money has gone to paying those two individuals.

Dickey, as a lesser-billed star of one of the most watched YouTube videos in southern Indiana, can afford to command top dollar.

That was, after all, Adam Dickey holding the microphone for the young lady about to be subjected to a snarl from then-Congressman Baron Hill in the infamous "this is my town hall meeting" YouTube video.

And Young, of course, is the descendant of legendary southern Indiana State Senator Richard Young. (Stop laughing; you're being mean.)

College Cheers

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lugargeddon: New Poll Shows Mourdock Over Lugar by 5%

It's no wonder Lugar has turned out two different Mitch Daniels ads in under a week, and has escalated its campaign of phony false attacks against Richard Mourdock.

Their internal polling must be telling them the same thing.

Politico:

Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar has fallen behind state Treasurer Richard Mourdock by five points, according to a new poll released Thursday.

The survey, taken Tuesday and Wednesday by Wenzel Strategies on behalf of Citizens United, places Mourdock at 44 percent and Lugar at 39 percent. Nearly 17 percent remain undecided with just 12 days to go until the Indiana Senate primary.

Wenzel found that Mourdock’s lead is powered by self-described tea party conservatives, who comprise 36 percent of the GOP electorate.

Among that group of voters, Mourdock holds a commanding 63 percent to 24 percent lead. Lugar’s ability to keep the race close is due to moderates and traditional conservatives, which both favor the incumbent, according to Wenzel.

Lugar’s favorability rating has slid nine points since the last Wenzel survey six weeks ago. It now stands at 44 percent, compared to Mourdock’s 38 percent.

Both candidates’ unfavorable ratings have climbed — a by-product of the nasty air and mail campaign.

In mid-March, a Wenzel survey showed Lugar clinging to just a 6-point advantage.

Citizens United drops the the new polling data just as the rhetoric on both sides is reaching a boiling point.

The Wenzel poll surveyed 601 likely primary voters and has a margin of error of nearly 4 percent.

Lugar's defense has been to attack the pollster, which is traditionally the refuge of campaigns that don't want to admit a poll is too close to the truth for comfort.

Lugar campaign manager Emily Krueger said the campaign’s internal polling shows “Dick Lugar is, was and will remain in the lead,” but declined to disclose their data.

“Wenzel Strategies has been widely discredited as a non-credible polling firm, most recently after releasing a poll claiming to show 20% of Republicans leading toward Obama in the 2012 election,” Krueger said.

It occurs to me that, in Indiana, I don't doubt that some not-insignificant percentage of Republicans leaned toward Obama, thanks in no small measure to Dick Lugar's de facto endorsement of him.


Conservative challengers, once in the lead in primaries like this, seldom look back.

Lugar's Desperate Low Road

This is not the Dick Lugar the Journal & Courier's Dave Bangert thought he knew, but it's the Dick Lugar we're all seeing on full display ever since Richard Mourdock emerged as a primary challenger (and most particularly in recent weeks as Lugar's once-commanding lead in polling has evaporated into a five-point deficit).

Dick Lugar is a desperate man who appears willing to say anything, and do anything, to get reelected.

Bangert:

And it all still feels so unLugar-like.

Anyone who finds this "unLugar-like" doesn't know much about Dick Lugar. This sort of nastiness was the hallmark of some of Lugar's earlier campaigns (see, for example, his losing campaign for Senate against Birch Bayh in 1974).

That we have not seen this behavior from him or his staff in recent times is a reflection of Lugar's lack of serious opposition, not a reflection of some supposed statesmanship or gentlemanliness on Lugar's part.

Lugar has managed in a few short weeks to eviscerate his own public image. His campaign's press releases bizarrely refer to him reverently as "respected" or "beloved" or (my personal favorite) "the Boy Scout of Boy Scouts" even as they vomit forth the nastiest barrage of political attacks and smears Indiana has seen in a generation, most of which have been debunked by Factcheck.org. And I say that as someone that lived up close through four matchups between Baron Hill and Mike Sodrel in the Bloody Ninth.

The wide gulf between what people used to think of Dick Lugar and the behavior they are seeing from him now is taking its toll. Just look at the polling. Lugar's lead is gone, through a combination of arrogance about his residency status and the self-immolation of his own public image and political brand.

He has done all of this to himself. Lugar has managed in a short time to transform his image in the public mind from that of a gentlemanly statesman to someone who exudes the worst stereotypes people see in career politicians.

He has cried wolf so many times with so many cheap shots at his opponent that the latest one (accusing Mourdock of being supportive of the Fairness Doctrine on a questionnaire from two decades ago), promised breathlessly in Lugar press releases as some sort of knockout punch turned out to be little more than a minor spitball in reality. Even the reporters that showed up to cover it were dismissive.

A friend of mine observed, "It's just stupid. They promised a hydrogen bomb and delivered a gerbil fart."

National Review's Brian Bolduc did a story earlier this week on Lugar's descent:

In person, Senator Dick Lugar (R., Ind.) is a model of probity. “His personal style is very moderate and very pleasant,” says Jeff Bergner, a former staffer. “He tries whenever he can to get someone to come around to his side by persuasion rather than by yelling.”

In a primary, however, he’s no-holds-barred — even juvenile.

State treasurer Richard Mourdock has trained his fire on Lugar’s voting record: his support for President Obama’s Supreme Court appointees, his sponsorship of the DREAM Act, and his backing of the ethanol mandate, to name a few examples.

Lugar’s campaign is meeting fire with fire. But Mourdock lacks a voting record, so Lugar has focused on character, maligning Mourdock’s by insinuating he’s untrustworthy.

The latest onslaught is against Mourdock’s campaign manager, Jim Holden. On March 14, Holden emailed Mourdock’s campaign staff to notify them that he had acquired log-in information for Salesforce, a voter database the state GOP uses. “Can one of you guys log in immediately and start pillaging email addresses like a Viking raider attacking a [monastery] full of unarmed monks?” Holden wrote.

An impolitic e-mail, yes, but not dastardly. Holden did copy on the e-mail an outside vendor working as a consultant for the campaign; as a result, the state GOP, concerned about maintaining security, blocked the Mourdock campaign’s access to the voter database. (The party has a rule against using the list for commercial purposes.) The Lugar campaign, however, has blown this story out of proportion. In a press release, it claimed the Mourdock campaign was “under investigation” and the subject of an “Indiana Republican-party probe.” Former state-party chairman Jim Kittle, a Lugar supporter, called the controversy a “security breach.”

But Jamey Noel, a member of the Indiana Republican state committee, says there was no probe that he knows of: “I was kind of surprised when I heard that, unless it was something that came up privately in a subcommittee meeting. It was never mentioned in the open meeting.” Crucially, the matter was referred to the party’s technology committee, not the disciplinary rules committee. The party wasn’t punishing Mourdock for a security breach; it was simply trying to ensure the voter database didn’t fall into the wrong hands.

But the Lugar campaign has made this line of attack on multiple fronts. After the free-market advocate the Club for Growth began airing aids on behalf of Mourdock, Lugar sent a letter to the Mourdock campaign asking that it push the Club for Growth to disclose its donors’ names. “I am sure you would agree with me that Hoosiers deserve to and should know from whom The Club for Growth’s money is being contributed so that we all can be assured and confident the anti-circumvention provisions, which bar attempts to launder such banned direct contributions through another entity indirectly, are followed,” Lugar wrote.

But the Club for Growth already does disclose its donors, as required by law. The American Action Network, meanwhile, a 501(c)(4) organization that is running ads to promote Lugar, does not disclose its donors, and Lugar’s campaign hasn’t so much as raised a peep. Asked about the discrepancy, Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher says: “The Club for Growth counter misses the point altogether. There is a very serious issue of public trust regarding the $7 billion Treasurer Mourdock invests on behalf of Hoosiers. And Hoosiers have very serious questions about that.”

Finally, the Lugar campaign has played fast and loose with the facts. “Both Lugar’s campaign and the American Action Network are airing misleading attack ads against Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock,” FactCheck.org writes. “The ads strain the facts to make Mourdock look like a tax cheat who makes bad investments and does not show up for work.”

Consider the Lugar attack ad “Trust.” “For years,” the ad says, “Richard Mourdock received $45,000 in illegal second-homestead tax deductions.” That’s true: Mourdock received a homestead tax deduction for both his home in Evansville and his condo in Indianapolis, although state law grants each resident only one deduction on his primary residence. According to the county auditor’s office, however, the previous owner of the condo applied for the deduction, not Mourdock. Furthermore, Mourdock notified the office that he was wrongly receiving the deduction in 2007. Because of a filing error by the auditor’s office, he received the credit for the next three years. But when he again discovered the error in June 2011, Mourdock notified the auditor’s office once more, and the office admitted its error.

In addition, an American Action Network ad, “Problems,” claims that Mourdock’s “big bet on junk bonds” drained millions from state pension funds. FactCheck.org notes: “It’s true that three state funds that purchased Chrysler debt in 2008 lost money when that company went through bankruptcy in 2009. But Mourdock didn’t oversee the investments of the Indiana Teacher’s Retirement Fund, which is the only one that actually lost ‘millions’” What’s more, junk bonds make up 3.3 percent of the state’s portfolio. And since Mourdock took office in 2007, “he has earned over $1.3 billion in investment income on the state’s cash,” the Mourdock campaign says.

Finally, Lugar’s campaign has alleged that Mourdock missed more than two-thirds of the state Board of Finance meetings. That’s technically true, but 99 percent of the time, Mourdock has either attended or a senior staffer has represented him at the meeting, his campaign says.

Thus far, Lugar’s charges against Mourdock are making up in volume what they lack in strength. The desperate nature of the attacks — and their profusion — indicates that this primary race will be close.

We've got eleven days to go, and Lugar still has new depths to plumb.

At What Price Do “Young Guns” Defend an Elderly RINO?

The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol wants to know:

Politico reports that the Young Guns Network, "a group affiliated with two former aides to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor," just spent $104,628.00 to support six-term incumbent senator Richard Lugar in his primary battle to hold his seat against state treasurer Richard Mourdock. The money, according to disclosures, went to "mailers" in favor of the 80-year-old Lugar, who now looks likely to lose to his more conservative challenger.

"Young Guns ... was designed to help leaders like Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy chart a new course for the center-right movement and the House majority,” Young Guns Action Fund super PAC founder John Murray has said. It's not clear how this donation to Lugar furthers that cause. And it's not clear why Young Guns is meddling in a GOP Senate primary. Indeed, Mike Pence, another young gun-type House member who's now running for Indiana governor, has conspicuously failed to endorse Lugar for reelection.

More important: $100,000 could go a long way to supporting a Republican against a Democrat this year in a competitive House race. Is helping a six-term Senate incumbent who's not so conservative try to beat back a conservative primary challenge by someone who would hold the Senate seat for the GOP really the best use of that money? Is it the use donors to Young Guns expected? And if Lugar loses (as many expect), won't this expenditure be particularly embarrassing?

Let me give you an example of the price Cantor would have Hoosiers pay while he supports Dick Lugar.

Cantor is headlining a fundraiser for Jackie Walorski, a great conservative that only narrowly lost a bid against Joe Donnelly in the 2nd District in 2010. It was one of the closest House races in the entire country.

Do you think that $100,000 from Cantor's super PAC would be better spent helping put a conservative like Jackie Walorski in Congress, or keeping an establishment moderate like Dick Lugar there?

EDIT: This post previously featured a copy of the flyer for the fundraiser Cantor is holding for Walorski. At the request of the Walorski campaign, the image of the flyer has been removed as the fundraiser is being held at a private residence. Should you want to donate to Jackie Walorski's campaign and send a conservative to Congress, you can click here.

Another Mitch Ad for Lugar

I just don't see Mitch's tagline in these ads as a winning argument for Lugar.

I’m not for Dick Lugar because of what he’s done, but because of what he can do.



There's a certain arrogance inherent in a politician arguing to the people that they are "lucky to have him" and "need to keep him."

Public service is an honor and a noble calling, but politicians need to have gratitude toward the people that elect them.

For Lugar to expect gratitude from those he was elected to serve is an indication that he has been in office far too long.

Another 9th District Primary Story

Grace Schneider has a great story in the Courier-Journal about the five Democrats competing to get beat by Todd Young in November:

Indiana’s 9th Congressional District has become known among political observers as the “Bloody 9th” for hard-fought battles over a seat that’s changed hands four times since 1999.

But the U.S. House race is off the national radar this spring despite a wide-open Democratic primary May 8 among five candidates hoping to challenge Republican Todd Young in November.

The reason? Political handicappers say it’s because Young, who knocked off U.S. Rep. Baron Hill, D-Seymour, in 2010, has a huge lead out of the gate with a $1 million war chest in a district where newly redrawn boundaries favor GOP candidates.

Combine that with other predictors of a strong Republican showing in Indiana — President Barack Obama’s relative unpopularity and Republican gubernatorial contender Mike Pence atop the state ballot — and that “means that Todd Young should see a substantial sophomore surge in votes,” said William Kubik, a political science professor at Hanover College.

The nonpartisan, Washington-based newsletter Rothenberg Political Report rates the House seat as “safe” for Republicans.

Read the whole thing.

In particular, watch this video of Robert Winningham in which he (seriously) says that people should vote for him and he is the best-qualified candidate because of Lee Hamilton.



There are videos of the rest of the candidates with the article, but Winningham's clearly takes the cake.

Clinging

The Club for Growth asks what's happened to Dick Lugar.

Too Long

Great new ad for Richard Mourdock.

Campaign Visits

I know there's some criticism of Obama using these college visits to campaign. But ask yourself honestly: did this guy ever stop campaigning since he got elected?

It's an Eat Dog World for Obama

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lugargeddon: “The GOP Is Bracing for Lugar's Primary Defeat”

Don't have a lot of time this evening to post, but I did want to post this photo, sent by a reader in D.C. of Paul Bedard's Washington Secrets column that ran in Tuesday's Washington Examiner.


I haven't seen it quoted anywhere else and the column doesn't appear to (currently) be available online.

...Washington Republicans aren't worried about [Utah Senator Orin Hatch] keeping his seat. All of that fear is being directed at embattled Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, who faces a primary fight in two weeks with state Treasurer Richard Mourdock.

It's no secret that Hatch, after watching the Tea Party crush his fellow Utah Sen. Bob Bennett in 2010, remade himself into a conservative firebrand while Lugar chose to sell his experience to voters. It's not working and the GOP is bracing for his primary defeat.

Let's repeat that again:

Lugar's campaign isn't working and the Washington establishment is bracing for his defeat.

As Lugar goes into the last weeks of a desperate campaign, accusing Richard Mourdock of bayoneting babies, slaughtering puppies, and committing gross crimes of every imaginable and horrible sort, Beltway insiders have already seen the writing on the wall.

Dick Lugar's campaign isn't working, and his fellow insiders are looking ahead to a Washington D.C. without him.

These smears being thrown at Richard Mourdock aren't a serious campaign about issues.

They're the death rattle of one of the longest-standing titans of the moderate GOP Washington establishment, one who has sacrificed his own reputation in a desperate last-ditch attempt to retain his grip on power.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Lugargeddon: Mourdock Takes Polling Lead

When challengers in races like this take the lead, they never look back.

National Review:

Indiana state treasurer Richard Mourdock leads Senator Dick Lugar by one point according to a poll commissioned by the Mourdock campaign. Conducted between April 16 and 17 by the firm McLaughlin and Associates, the poll surveyed 400 likely Republican primary voters and found Mourdock in the lead, 42–41, against Lugar. The poll had a 4.9 percent margin of error.

Since January, Lugar’s favorability rating has fallen ten points, from 57 to 47 percent, while Mourdock’s has risen by eleven, from 35 to 46 percent. “These results clearly demonstrate that Richard Mourdock has the momentum to win,” a memo from pollsters John McLaughlin and Stuart Polk notes.

This poll was taken after the debate between Mourdock and Lugar. So much for the media narrative that the debate was a draw.

Mitch Daniels Makes the Case for Mourdock:

I'm sure it was inadvertent, but the new ad Mitch cut for Lugar contains several references sure to remind voters about several less than flattering things they know about Indiana's "senior" senator.



Let's just parse a transcript of the ad:

The truth can take a beating in campaign time and this year it’s Dick Lugar on the receiving end.

I don't think anything compares to the gutter campaign of negativity and outright lies Dick Lugar and his campaign have waged against Richard Mourdock.

His campaign staff laughingly call their boss "the Boy Scout of Boy Scouts" as they peddle incredible falsehoods and get slammed by Factcheck.org for lying.

Richard Mourdock's great crime has been to tell the truth about Dick Lugar. Lugar and his lackeys have responded by telling lies about Richard Mourdock.

It’s funny in a way, these folks from elsewhere, here telling us who’s a real Hoosier.

It occurs to me that, by his own admission in a recent plea deal with the Marion County Election Board, Dick Lugar is one of these "folks from elsewhere, here telling us who's a real Hoosier."

To be a real Hoosier you have to, you know, live in Indiana.

It's like Lugar's bogus attack on Mourdock over a homestead exemption mistake on Mourdock's property tax bill (a mistake Mourdock caught and insisted repeatedly be fixed).

Dick Lugar couldn't claim a homestead exemption in Indiana; his home isn't here and he doesn't live here.

The way he votes, the way he lives, I can’t think of anyone so reflective of the thinking, principles, and ideals of our state.

Seriously? Hoosiers are reflected in a senator that votes for liberal pro-abortion court justices, repeated expansions of government, bailouts, amnesty for illegals, gun control, and higher levels of spending and taxation?

Not many Hoosiers I know are reflected by that mentality.

I’m not for Dick Lugar for what he’s done, but for what he can do.

This, alone, is a singular reason to vote for Mourdock. Lugar has been this liberal knowing he would have to face Hoosier voters again.

Now, getting on in years and surely not likely to seek an eighth term in office, Lugar will never again have to answer to Hoosier voters for his liberalism, let alone even bother to come back here to listen to us about how we want to be represented.

You think he was bad before? Wait until he never has to care about us again.

Our point of view gets heard and has a better chance to win out with Dick Lugar on the job.

That's said as if Lugar has been here listening to us to know what point of view we want to be heard and to win out in Washington. He hasn't.

Mitch Lectures Mitt on Negative Campaigning

I can't help but wondering what Mitch Daniels would say about the scorched earth "slash-and-burn" campaign that is being waged in Indiana right now by Dick Lugar.

CNN:

The governor, who's often cited as a potential Republican running mate for Romney, reportedly told the newspaper that "political victories that follow 'slash-and-burn' campaigns seldom lead to great accomplishments," referring to the already-bitter war underway between Romney and the president's re-election campaign.

"Spend the precious time and dollars explaining what's at stake and a constructive program to make life better," Daniels said. "And as I say, look at everything through the lens of folks who have yet to achieve."

The writer of the piece, Matthew Tully, wrote that Daniels took a pause, then continued with disappointment: "Romney doesn't talk that way."

He added: "You don't change one thing about the policies you advocate or your principles,' he said, noting instead that candidates should simply make clear how their policies would lift up those who are struggling."

No, Mitt Romney doesn't talk that way.

Dick Lugar hasn't either.

Floyd County Sheriff Endorses Yoder

This is an interesting development in the 9th District Democratic primary, and a break in what had been a relatively solid wall of support in the southern part of the district for Robert Winningham.

Bloomington resident Shelli Yoder, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Indiana’s 9th Congressional District seat, today was endorsed by Floyd County Sheriff Darrell Mills.

“I’ve seen Shelli Yoder in action, and you can take it from me, she’s the one who will be able to take on Todd Young and the Republicans, who have forgotten all about why they were sent to Washington in the first place,” stated Mills.

Mill’s endorsement of Ms. Yoder was also an opportunity for the Floyd County official to remind constituents of the importance of voting in the May 8th primary election. “This year, voters in the Democratic Primary have a really fresh, energetic, and exciting candidate to support from the beginning. Her name is Shelli Yoder, and she’s not a professional politician. Shelli is a working Mom who comes from an ordinary rural Indiana working family, and she hasn’t forgotten where she came from.”

Sheriff Mills also emphasized Yoder’s toughness, noting that she will “stand up to Republicans in Congress, who are trying to privatize Social Security and Medicare” and “fight for your family and mine.”

Pay no attention to Democrats raiding Medicare to the tune of half a trillion dollars to fund Obamacare or fiddling away doing nothing while Social Security goes bankrupt.

Anyway, Mills was unopposed for reelection for a second term in 2010. Otherwise, he likely would have been beaten (Republicans swept every contested race in Floyd County that year).

I'm quite certain the reason Republicans ran nobody against him has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Democrats ran nobody against Keith Henderson, the Republican Floyd County Prosecutor.

Lugar Now Trying Very Hard to Give Republicans Reasons Not to Reelect Him

How else do you explain this?

Mitch Daniels and John McCain are coming to Sen. Dick Lugar’s rescue, POLITICO has learned.

The Indiana governor and the Arizona senator have cut ads on Lugar’s behalf that are likely to air in the closing weeks of his neck-and-neck Republican primary contest.

While the details of the commercials are unclear, two GOP sources confirm that the two political heavyweights are featured in television and radio spots encouraging the election of Lugar to a seventh term.

A source with knowledge of their participation cautioned that no final decision has been made to run the commercials.

But the pair of high profile surrogates would make a powerful closing argument for Lugar, whose polling lead in the May 8 primary has evaporated in recent months.

The term-limited Daniels is by far the most popular politician in the state, boasting a 63 percent job approval rating according to a recent Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll.

McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee who carries immense credibility on foreign affairs, could buttress the argument that Lugar’s breadth of experience is invaluable as ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Dick Lugar is staking his reelection hopes on the endorsement of a guy that was the first Republican presidential candidate to not carry Indiana in more than a half century, in no small measure due to Dick Lugar's de facto endorsement of his opponent by appearing in Obama campaign commercials with nary a complaint.

The last time Mitch Daniels tried to tell his party's base how to vote, they voted for the other guy. You might know him. His name is Greg Zoeller and today he is Indiana's attorney general.

Rothenberg on Lugar's Cluelessness

Ouch:

On May 8, Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar will either lose to state Treasurer Richard Mourdock or squeeze by him in the GOP primary.

Lugar’s problems, however, have nothing to do with the “anti-incumbent” mood or Congress’ poor reputation. Instead, they have everything to do with his record and his horrible campaign.

Lugar’s record and style don’t fit comfortably with where his party now is, yet he made little or no effort to sooth conservatives or to prepare for a battle. If he had, he might, for example, have purchased a house or condo in the state so that he wouldn’t need to stay in a hotel when he returns to the state to campaign.

More than a year ago, I wrote in this space about Lugar’s vulnerability in a possible one-on-one primary. Almost immediately, I received a call from a Lugar staffer telling me how wrong I was and pointing out that the Senator was hugely popular and had a large campaign war chest.

In other words, Lugar’s team didn’t understand what could happen if voters were presented with a credible opponent who either had money or would be supported by outside groups willing to spend heavily to defeat the Senator. And later, the campaign didn’t understand why anyone would care that Lugar didn’t own a residence in the state.

Right to Life to Dick Lugar: Quit Lying

Their latest press release is a big slap in the face to claims made by Indiana's "senior" senator:

The Indiana Right to Life Political Action Committee is calling on Senator Richard Lugar’s campaign to stop misleading Hoosier voters by stating that he has a “100% record” with National Right to Life, a claim that has appeared consistently in Lugar campaign communications.

“The Lugar campaign’s claim is clearly designed to give the impression that he has never voted against National Right to Life, but his lifetime voting record tells another story,” states Indiana Right to Life PAC chairman Mike Fichter. “The truth is that Senator Lugar has voted against National Right to Life on numerous occasions by voting for federal funding for embryo-killing research, voting for restrictions on the free speech rights of organizations like Right to Life, and voting against restrictions on the use of tissue from aborted babies.”

Although National Right to Life does not score judicial confirmation votes, Fichter notes that this is another area in which Lugar has gone against National Right to Life, such as in the case of voting to confirm Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court.

“It is true that Senator Lugar can point to individual sessions in which he voted in alignment with National Right to Life, but when most people hear a candidate refer to a rating, the general impression is that the reference is to a lifetime rating,” says Fichter. “We believe Senator Lugar should be up front with voters in acknowledging that he has voted against Right to Life on some very high profile issues.”

Mourdock & Lugar Define Conservatism



Mourdock talks about the Constitution and the founding principles of the country. Lugar talks about voting in Washington.

Sort of sums it up, really.

Tweets of the Day

One:

Whig candidate Dick Lugar doesn't know what all the fuss is about. He has always represented at the Indiana territory and he always will.
- Loren Heal

And two:

Lugar doesn't have an Indiana Driver's License? "Of course I have a Driver's License! Driver! Put down that whip and show him our license."
- Loren Heal

Photo of the Day

Submitted by a reader, who took it in the parking lot outside the White County Lincoln Day Dinner last week.

Labor Unions: Working with Non-Union Workers Is Slavery

Yes, seriously.

Or so they say in their lawsuit over Indiana's new right-to-work law.

They're Going to Need More Charge Than That

Which Dog Got Treated Better?


I don't have a dog, but a buddy of mine has one whose favorite thing in the world is to sit in the front passenger seat of a car and stick its head out the window into the wind (tongue hanging out and all) when the car is going down the road.

I am not thinking that same dog would find being eaten for dinner very enjoyable.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Random Senate Race Thought

In a recent campaign email, the Lugar campaign defended Dick Lugar's votes for liberal Supreme Court justices like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor by saying that he also voted for John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito.

It occurs to me that such reasoning is like a husband telling his wife that it's okay that he cheats on her with another woman because he is still willing to sleep with her, too.

National Review: Mourdock for Indiana

An important endorsement for Richard Mourdock:

One need not support formal term limits to recognize the existence of informal ones, and the tightening polls in the Indiana Senate Republican primary suggest voters there may be starting to think Senator Richard Lugar has been in Washington long enough.

The conventional wisdom has been that the six-term incumbent Lugar is a safer general-election bet than his opponent, state treasurer Richard Mourdock. But the primary has heretofore shown Lugar to be out of touch with Hoosiers, an institutionalized Capitol Hiller who for a spell was ruled ineligible to vote in his own primary after a local board determined he hadn’t owned a home in Indiana in three decades. Though a subsequent ruling allowed Lugar to claim a family farm as a residence, the die is cast. Lugar has become a carpetbagger in his own state.

By contrast, the low-key Mourdock’s mantra has been “capable, competent, and conservative,” a line he used last week after a fine performance in his sole debate with Lugar, and one that could describe our impression of the man after he met with National Review editors recently. Mourdock is popular in Indiana, having won reelection as state treasurer with 63 percent of the vote, and has impressed the grassroots, securing endorsements from a number of Tea Party groups and delivering a strong speech at CPAC. Like so many who have seen the light, Mourdock became a conservative in the age of Reagan; he is a successful oil geologist whose growing interest in thinkers such as Milton Friedman led him to run for Congress and eventually win county and statewide office. As treasurer, Mourdock has shown himself to be both fiscally prudent and possessed of a certain fighting spirit, most prominently when he (unsuccessfully) sued to recover $6 million the state’s pension funds had lost when the Obama administration’s auto bailouts arbitrarily rewrote a century of bankruptcy law.

The debate between Mourdock and Lugar showed that latter still has the reflexes for the kind of homer politics that goes under the name “constituent services”; he assured the audience, for instance, that he is “thinking about corn and soybean prices every day.” But after 36 years in the Senate, Mr. Lugar evinces a political philosophy so subtle that in unfavorable light it scarcely seems to exist at all. Whether it is his limp defense of ethanol subsidies (which Mourdock opposes), his cold praise of the “scholarly” Ryan plan, or his seeming unfamiliarity with his own voting record on Social Security, Lugar cut the figure of a man grown more accustomed to the backslapping of the cloakroom than to the candid back and forth of the town hall. Even on foreign policy, where he is often praised as a statesman, Lugar lacks his opponent’s clarity on the United States’ role in the world. His opposition to the surge in Iraq was poorly thought out and, ultimately, wrong, and he was a champion of the New START treaty, which was a gift to Russia.

Lugar is a decent man who has in the past been more reliable than not on a number of important conservative issues. Arlen Specter he is not. But we can do better. Mr. Mourdock strikes us, for instance, as a man who would not cast votes, as Lugar did, to confirm Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Nor would he co-sponsor the DREAM Act, support the auto bailouts, or oppose the Vitter amendment to limit taxpayer-funded abortion, as Lugar did and does.

For these reasons we support Mr. Mourdock in the Indiana Republican primary. We think he will make a strong candidate and a good United States senator. After Lugar’s long career in Washington, Hoosiers deserve new blood and Lugar deserves a happy retirement and a gold watch. We’d be happy to spring for one.

9th District Fundraising Numbers

One thing missing from recent reporting on the 9th District race (such as it is) and the Democratic primary race there has been the fundraising numbers.

While the Indianapolis Star can quote Democrats bashing on Todd Young all day and the Courier-Journal can do in-depth columns about several of the primary challengers, none of these pieces of reporting have touched on that key aspect of the campaign.

So here are the fundraising numbers for the various candidates, current through the Q1 reporting period, which ended March 31.

As you'll see, Young holds an overwhelming lead in every category.

All information was taken from the FEC website's reporting pages, available here.

Starting Cash-on-Hand:
Todd Young (R): $575,565.01
Robert Winningham (D): $21,190.14
Jonathan George (D): $18,437.00
Shelli Yoder (D): $0.00

Q1 Net Receipts (Contributions):
Todd Young (R): $176,252.94
Robert Winningham (D): $57,109.64
Shelli Yoder (D): $33,589.95
Jonathan George (D): $18,665.11

Q1 Individual Receipts:
Todd Young (R): $127,752.94
Robert Winningham (D): $47,339.10 (plus $8670.54 from the candidate)
Shelli Yoder (D): $32,034.45 (plus $1,555.50 from the candidate)
Jonathan George (D): $16,165.11

Q1 Committee Receipts (from PACs):
Todd Young (R): $48,500.00
Jonathan George (D): $2,500.00
Robert Winningham (D): $1,100.00
Shelli Yoder (D): $0.00

Q1 Disbursements (Expenditures):
Todd Young (R): $91,573.34
Robert Winningham (D): $59,442.22
Jonathan George (D): $19,872.75
Shelli Yoder (D): $8,503.78

Ending Cash-on-Hand:
Todd Young (R): $666,591.35
Shelli Yoder (D): $25,086.17
Robert Winningham (D): $18,857.56
Jonathan George (D): $17,229.36

Note that the other two Democrats in the race (Tilford and Miller) did not report with the FEC at all and therefore are not included.

It's all well and good to cover the Democratic primary here, but it strains credulity to report with a straight face Democratic claims of Young being vulnerable without providing the context given by things like fundraising numbers.

In 2010, when Republicans were waging a much more energetic and spirited primary to see who would face Baron Hill, their fundraising was considerably better than the Democrats are showing now.

There's just no comparison at this point; the race cannot be objectively considered competitive.

Lugargeddon: Mourdock Out-Fundraises Lugar

Lugar still has more cash-on-hand (an increasingly irrelevant statistic given the escalating involvement of deep-pocketed outside organizations in the race), but this has to be seen as an important indicator of momentum, not least because Lugar's people claimed Mourdock's prior fundraising was so indicative of a supposed lack of momentum.

By their own ruler should they be judged, no?

From the Indy Star:

State Treasurer Richard Mourdock raised more campaign cash than Sen. Richard Lugar in the first quarter of 2012, but the incumbent had substantially more money on hand to spend in the final weeks of the GOP primary race, according to data that will be reported to the Federal Election Commission.

Mourdock raised $875,000 from Jan. 1 through March 31 in his bid to unseat Lugar, who has served in the U.S. Senate for six terms. But the Mourdock campaign had just $430,000 when the period ended.

Mourdock said in a statement that he has been "encouraged and overwhelmed by the vast support from Hoosiers Republicans."

Lugar meanwhile raised $817,000 for the quarter but had $2.5 million left to spend on advertising, voter calls and other campaigning.

Mourdock said his contributions came from 5,700 donors, speaking "volumes about our campaign efforts to add another conservative" to the Senate.

Mourdock and Lugar released the numbers before a Sunday deadline to submit them to the Federal Election Commission.

Mourdock's contributions total for the first quarter of 2012 is almost as high as the $1 million he raised during all of 2011. He ended last year with about $323,000 on hand, according to FEC records.

Two More Stories about the 9th District

First is the final installment of Dale Moss' series about the Democratic primary candidates. I say final because he took a buyout this past week from the Courier-Journal and won't be writing for them anymore (which is a shame).

His last installment is about Shelli Yoder.

Yoder has no campaign staff, no budget for polls. She has earned some eye-catching endorsements, nonetheless, such as one from Mike Jones, the district’s former longtime Democratic chairman. “Shelli brings new and fresh ideas to the campaign,” Jones said on Yoder’s website.

As much as Yoder can boast a couple of noteworthy endorsements from the party's liberal wing (an interesting dichotomy of the race I discussed previously), one can't help but see in quotes like the one above a resemblance to various primary challengers to Baron Hill like Tamyra D'Ippolito, whose campaign against Hill and a later attempt to get on the primary ballot to run to replace Evan Bayh were never all that well organized and never really got off the ground.

Yoder's campaign appears more capable in other ways, but that lack of funding will ultimately matter. Not that her opponents have reported all that much in the way of campaign contributions themselves.

Campaigns and the value of political races to parties are measured by their fundraising, unfortunately, and therefore this slip from the absurdly incompetent Dan Parker in the Indianapolis Star's recent story on the 9th District race is quite telling:

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker said the party's lack of involvement in the primary race shouldn't be read as disinterest.

"I'm confident that whoever wins next month will mount a very strong challenge" to Young, he said.

A challenge based on what? Whining about constituent services?

For Democrats, constituent services are all too frequently measured in the government jobs they can get for the family members of cronies. By this standard, I suppose Todd Young is deficient. By any other constituent service standard, I think he's doing quite well.

Perhaps Democrats believe that the 9th District needs a Congressman that will work harder to help live and adapt to the mandates of Obamacare for 9th District residents, instead of repealing it.

Obama Political Chief David Axelrod Explains Why You Should Vote Against His Boss

Axelrod on Fox News Sunday:

The choice in this election is between an economy that produces a growing middle class and that gives people a chance to get ahead and their kids a chance to get ahead and an economy that continues down the road we’re on.

Yet Another Scary Chart

This time it's the percentage of the population that is employed over the past few years.


Hat tip: Greg Mankiw.

Walker Leads All Challengers in WI Polling

Polling by Daily Kos, no less.

Obama Makes Excuses

Working Woman

The War on Women


You know, it doesn't appear to have occurred to anyone with the Democratic Party that mothers are probably a larger voting demographic than single women.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Senate Debate Thoughts

The Harrison County Lincoln Day Dinner is tonight, so I've been busy much of this week getting ready for it and haven't had time to post anything.

However, I did catch the debate and wanted to provide some quick thoughts.

Most Hoosiers have not seen their senator outside of carefully edited video clips or highly-structured media availabilities in many years. Lugar looked old. Not in mental acuity, but in appearance. It's the Nixon-Kennedy effect.

Mourdock, meanwhile, had only to appear intelligent, articulate, thoughtful, and not crazy. He did all of that in spades (not least because that's who Richard Mourdock is). Anyone that watched that debate tonight learned (if they didn't know it already) that Richard Mourdock is not the caricature that certain elements (Lugar and his media supporters) have painted him as. He is an excellent communicator and did well with all of the questions.

And the media's attempt to rig the debate by asking many foreign policy questions (to help Lugar) may have backfired by adding to the widespread perception of Lugar's distance from Indiana and the concerns of everyday Hoosiers. Instead of emphasizing Lugar's strength, I think it may well have served to remind everyone watching just how out of touch with Indiana he is. Here we are with high unemployment, a crisis of debt, a liberal president and administration gone wild, with countless real challenges facing everyday people in this country and very real domestic issues (spending, economy) facing the country, and Dick Lugar talked about "Sam Nunn" more than he talked about "Indiana."

Lugar had nothing to gain from last night's debate and a lot to lose. I don't think he moved his ball at all, and probably lost ground due to image and perception issues as I mentioned above. Mourdock had much to gain, but also much to lose. I do not think he lost anything, and I think he moved his ball down the field a great deal.

Political debates aren't scored on "points" like some sort of debating club. The public scores them on perception, imagery, and on how the candidates relate to them. On all of these things, Lugar did worse than Mourdock. At least around Indianapolis, the debate was on every channel and was probably seen by a lot of people. Among undecided voters, it will matter.

Anyone undecided about Richard Lugar after six terms of being a senator wants someone else, but isn't sure about the alternative. Richard Mourdock presented a more than acceptable conservative, articulate, thoughtful, and reasonable alternative to those voters last night.

The very fact that the same media talking heads that have been in the tank for Lugar since the start are calling the debate a "draw" should tell you everything you need to know about how it went and who came out ahead.

Jim Shella, for example, spent an entire news report talking about how the debate mattered, then closed with this:

And so the debate likely will be a deciding factor in the May primary only for voters who had doubts Mourdock’s credibility or Lugar’s fitness.

I am reminded of Churchill's famous quip about people stumbling upon the truth, getting up, dusting themselves off, and then proceeding on their way as if nothing at all had happened.

I think that is exactly what's on the mind of a significant number of undecided Republican primary voters, and on those two things Lugar lost ground and Mourdock made important gains.

Peter Rusthoven has been a huge supporter of Lugar since the start of the race, and his take on the debate was quoted over at National Review:

Peter Rusthoven, former associate counsel for President Ronald Reagan and a supporter of Lugar, tells NRO, “I don’t think either candidate stumbled. Mourdock is an articulate fellow, and on a great many issues, they agree. I think Senator Lugar handled it fine. Lugar is unflappable.”

Asked about Mourdock’s criticisms of Lugar’s voting record in the debate, Rusthoven responds, “I have no desire to bash Richard Mourdock.” And he defends Lugar’s conservatism: “The idea that Dick Lugar is some kind of liberal or even moderate in terms of his positions — I just never believed that that’s a credible case.”

When a zealous and avowed Lugar partisan is speaking that well of Richard Mourdock's debate performance, that should be telling you something.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Now Comes John Gregg's Accounting Hypocrisy

John Gregg wants the Department of Revenue, which has had some problems with accounting of late, to use some accounting books he bought off Amazon.com (which recently announced it was bringing hundreds of new jobs to Indiana) that he bought for use as props in a political stunt.

From the Indy Star:

John Gregg, the Democratic candidate for governor, has an offer for state government: accounting books.

Standing in front of the Statehouse the morning after the state disclosed it had shorted counties $206 million in revenue due to a programming error, Gregg said he has some basic accounting books he'd like to offer the administration.

"We've got some 'Elements of Accounting.' We've got 'Accounting for Dummies.' And we've also got a great book they use right over here at IUPUI," said Gregg, a former Indiana House speaker. "If someone at the (Office of Management and Budget) or Revenue, any of the state agencies where this mismanagement has occurred would like copies of it, I will personally deliver it to them. I'm going to carry these around with me until they ask for these copies."

Gregg, and now Pence, as well as Democratic and Republican leaders of the legislature have called for a thorough and independent investigation of what happened. GOP leaders asked Daniels to include lawmakers in the hiring process of an outside company to conduct the audit.

Hearing this out of the mouth of John Gregg is hilarious.

Some intellectual honesty and some perspective is clearly necessary here.

John Gregg's time in Indiana state government was marked by great perversions of accounting. The embezzlement of Build Indiana money, the raiding of state pension and retirement funds for teachers and police (among others) to dishonestly pretend that the budget was balanced, years of underfunded infrastructure investment, and state tax dollars funding lifetime health care for state legislators (like Gregg).

Mitch Daniels has delivered eight years of honestly balanced budgets, record investments in education and infrastructure, good management of public funds, and a sound record of fiscal common sense. None of that should be fundamentally changed, or even undermined, by the inability of some bean counters to keep track of everything.

What a strange embarrassment of riches Indiana has to keep finding extra money at a time when other states are continuing to have to make ever deeper cuts in their budgets and John Gregg's party is spending the Federal government into fiscal ruin.

Is this a mistake? Yes. Is it a bad one? Yes. Does it need to be investigated and fixed so that it never happens again? Yes. Should heads roll? Yes.

But listening to John Gregg pontificate about accounting is like taking health and fitness advice from Jabba the Hutt.

Now Comes the Tantrum: Howey Whines that Defeat for Lugar Will Give Hoosiers Senate “They Deserve”

It's an oft-repeated truism that people get the government they deserve. After all, they elected the politicians they complain about.

Now, however, with his hero Dick Lugar in dire peril of being defeated by Hoosier voters, political "reporter" Brian Howey complains that voters may get some sort of awful government "they deserve" if they dare to send Lugar into retirement. Howey's stalwart defenses and apologia for Lugar are nothing new.

I would turn that on its head; in not paying attention to their Senator and his activities for so long, Hoosiers have deserved the current Senator. Their current Senator admits that he does not live in Indiana, got in legal trouble because he couldn't vote here, has voted for countless things many Hoosiers disagree with, has supported individuals for the judiciary that hold views most Hoosiers find abhorrent, and has focused his priorities in Washington in a very different direction (you might say an entirely different part of the world) than where Hoosiers are most concerned.

Yes, we get the government we deserve. We deserve better. It's time for a change.

My Favorite Quote about the 9th District Race

This has to be it. So far, at least, and the race is still relatively young (no pun intended).

From Indiana Public Media:

9th congressional district candidate Shelli Yoder spoke to members of Indiana University’s College Democrats Monday night about her platform of stimulating the economy, creating a balanced budget and community involvement across party lines.

“This campaign is about letting everybody have a sense that they can get involved in making a difference, in turning this economy around, that it’s not just top down. It’s bottom up,” she says.

Yoder says she would promote green jobs and small business growth. She also wants to see more debt forgiveness programs through community service and civic engagement.

But after Yoder opened the floor to questions some attendees felt she didn’t have many concrete answers. IU student Darsh Suresh says Yoder made good points about job creation and education, but was not clear about other issues like how she would create a balanced budget.

“I felt that her answer to the balanced budget question was somewhat vague she mentioned something about the defense department budget cuts,” Suresh says. “But I feel like, besides that, there wasn’t a whole lot of substance.”

There's not been a lot of reporting about the 9th District race as yet, whether the general (which remains a ways off) or the Democratic primary (which is a few scarce weeks away). Three pieces by Dale Moss in the Courier-Journal provide rather unquestioning soft profiles of Todd Young, Robert "Did I mention I worked for Lee Hamilton" Winningham, and Jonathan "I worked for Obama" George.

The lack of reporting is something of a shame, since I think that what is happening right now in the 9th District, particularly as it pertains to the Democrats, is foreshadowing of the internal fight their party is going to see after 2012.

The reckoning coming among Indiana Democrats after November of 2012, long dominated by a single central figure (Evan Bayh) will not be all that different from the donnybrook now underway among 9th District Democrats. 9th District Democrats have either not had a central Democratic figure in anyone's recent lifetime (in the redder counties) or had Baron Hill as their central leader, whose fall from power was epic and shattering up and down the ballot.

9th District Democrats are divided largely along three lines at this point.

First, you have Winningham of Texas, a member of the old southern Indiana Democratic guard typified by Lee Hamilton, who want to put Humpty Dumpty back together again and hope that, somehow, they can get people elected to Washington that will vote with the liberals in the rest of the national Democratic Party and not be punished for it by much more conservative voters back home in Indiana.

In an age of an electorate informed by the internet and not just by sin-of-omission reporting in local newspapers owned largely by Democratic partisans, Baron Hill couldn't square that circle. I doubt that Robert Winningham will either. (Incidentally, this is the problem that southern Indiana Democrats now have with sending people to Indianapolis to vote with liberals in the rest of the Indiana Democratic Party.)

Adding to Winningham's problem is his reliance upon the connection to Lee Hamilton, a man that never represented much of the new district (and therefore most voters in those areas have no connection to him at all) and hasn't stood for an election in the rest of it in sixteen years (and therefore most voters in those areas have a faint and fading connection, if any at all, to him). It also bears mentioning that Hamilton was having an increasing level of difficulty getting reelected when he retired, so it's not clear that his connection will be all that valuable where it does geographically exist in November.

Second, you have General Jonathan George, who appears to have been recruited to leave the Obama administration to run for the seat by national Democrats, who in turn didn't appear to have consulted with local Democrats in doing so. George is a man without a constituency among Democrats in his own party, at least locally (which is where the voters are).

National Democrats have an interest in Indiana, to be sure, but they don't understand it and they don't really listen to or care all that much about Democrats back in Indiana. In that respect, the situation with George is not much different from what you're going to see between national Democrats and Indiana state-level Democrats down the line.

Third, you have former Miss Indiana Shelli Yoder, a Bloomington liberal around whose candidacy many fellow Bloomington liberals (and more liberal Democrats throughout the district) have started to coalesce. Such Democrats have about as much in common with conservative formerly-Democratic voters in the southern half of the 9th District as a Democrat from San Francisco.

As Winningham represents an effort to rewind the clock and go back to the good old days of the past, Yoder represents a (surprisingly clear-eyed, though perhaps not "substantive") look at the future. If Baron Hill and the cadre of southern Indiana Democrats that went down to defeat in 2010 represent southern Indiana Democrats being held accountable by conservative voters for campaigning as conservatives and going off and voting as liberals, Yoder represents an acknowledgement that this is no longer a viable electoral strategy for Democrats in this part of Indiana (and probably in much of the rest of Indiana, too).

Do Indiana Democrats have a future trying to pretend in Indiana to be something they are not? They're not conservatives. They don't govern like conservatives, and they don't vote like conservatives whether in the General Assembly or Congress.

The essential contention of Winningham's candidacy (and the old Democratic guard in Indiana of the Evan Bayh and Baron Hill stripe, like John Gregg and Joe Donnelly) contend that this charade can be kept up for a bit longer. The contrary view of the Yoder candidacy (and more liberal Democrats in the state more generally) is that it cannot, and the path to future victory in Indiana does not rest in playing a bait-and-switch game with conservative voters but instead being unabashed about their liberalism from the start.

The problem Winningham, Gregg, and Donnelly have is that they are the candidates of a day that has passed. The problem Yoder and similar liberals have is that they are candidates that the broader Hoosier electorate will not support. Hoosiers will not elect open liberals, and they only rarely vote for liberals pretending to be center-left moderates, as Obama pretended to be in 2008.

But, even then, Yoder isn't running as that sort of candidate either. And given that Hoosiers got pretty snookered by Obama in 2008, they're not likely to take a second chance with that sort of candidate any time soon.

Quote of the Day

A man’s admiration of absolute government is proportionate to the contempt he feels for those around him.

- Alexis de Tocqueville, The Old Regime and the Revolution

Like so much of Tocqueville's writings (though this was about France and not about the early United States), it is salient still today.

Obama Likes Court Rulings Except When He Doesn't

Byron York makes several excellent points:

In 1996 Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act by huge bipartisan votes -- 342 to 67 in the House and 85 to 14 in the Senate. President Bill Clinton signed the measure into law.

Now, the Obama administration says DOMA, which permits states to refuse to recognize gay marriages from other states and also creates a federal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, is unconstitutional. In Boston on Wednesday, Stuart Delery, an attorney for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, urged the First Circuit Court of Appeals to find DOMA violates the Constitution by discriminating against gays and lesbians. "I'm not here to defend [the law] on any standard," Delery told the court.

What was striking about Delery's request that a federal court strike down DOMA was that just a day or two before, President Obama railed at the very notion that a federal court would strike down any law passed by Congress.

"I'm confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress," Obama said Monday about the arguments over Obamacare before the nation's highest court. The danger presented in the health care case, the president continued, is that "an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law."

Obama immediately ran into a barrage of questions. How can the Supreme Court overturning a law be "unprecedented" when the court has done it more than 150 times in U.S. history? And does the president even recognize the court's authority to rule on the constitutionality of laws passed by Congress?

Backtracking, Obama said the next day that "the Supreme Court is the final say on our Constitution and our laws, and all of us have to respect it." He also claimed, without convincing many people, that he called the Obamacare case "unprecedented" because it's been a while since the court overturned "a law that was passed by Congress on an economic issue, like health care."

But what about that "strong majority"? When reporters pointed out that Obamacare passed the House by a narrow margin of 219 to 212 votes, White House spokesman Jay Carney quickly revised "strong majority" to simply "majority."

But all that backing and filling -- including Carney's claim that Obama was misunderstood "because he is a law professor" -- was before the DOMA arguments made news. If the president was so concerned about a court overturning a duly constituted law passed by a democratically elected Congress, why was he urging a small group of unelected judges to strike down DOMA, a measure that won passage by a far greater margin than Obamacare?

The answer is, of course, that the administration is making a political argument for its positions, not a legal one. And perhaps counterproductively, the president's decision to bring up Obamacare's history in Congress could end up reminding the public of the tangled circumstances of its passage. Even with a huge majority in the House, Democrats barely passed the bill in the face of bipartisan opposition. And in the Senate, Obamacare succeeded as the result of a set of freakish circumstances that allowed Democrats to pass an unpopular measure into law.

Those circumstances included the wrongful prosecution of a Republican senator (Ted Stevens), resulting in his seat going to a Democrat; the defection of another Republican senator (Arlen Specter) to the Democrats; and a change in one state's laws (Massachusetts) to allow a Democratic governor to immediately appoint a Democrat to succeed the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and give the Senate a 60-vote Democratic supermajority. And then there were the policy payoffs to some Democratic senators who were undecided about the bill. Even then, Democrats held a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate for just 134 days before Massachusetts elected a Republican senator, Scott Brown, who ran specifically on the platform of stopping Obamacare. But in those 134 days, Democrats managed to pass an unpopular bill into law without a single vote to spare.

Now, the timing of the arguments over Obamacare and DOMA has revealed the flexibility of the administration's arguments over constitutionality. And the flap over Obama's remarks is just a preview of what is coming when the court issues its decision on Obamacare this June.

A decision on DOMA, which has not yet arrived at the Supreme Court, lies in the future. But if those arguments come when Barack Obama is president, perhaps DOMA's defenders will remind the administration of the president's respect for duly constituted and passed laws.

One passage, in particular, bears repeating:

And perhaps counterproductively, the president's decision to bring up Obamacare's history in Congress could end up reminding the public of the tangled circumstances of its passage. Even with a huge majority in the House, Democrats barely passed the bill in the face of bipartisan opposition. And in the Senate, Obamacare succeeded as the result of a set of freakish circumstances that allowed Democrats to pass an unpopular measure into law.

Those circumstances included the wrongful prosecution of a Republican senator (Ted Stevens), resulting in his seat going to a Democrat; the defection of another Republican senator (Arlen Specter) to the Democrats; and a change in one state's laws (Massachusetts) to allow a Democratic governor to immediately appoint a Democrat to succeed the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and give the Senate a 60-vote Democratic supermajority. And then there were the policy payoffs to some Democratic senators who were undecided about the bill. Even then, Democrats held a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate for just 134 days before Massachusetts elected a Republican senator, Scott Brown, who ran specifically on the platform of stopping Obamacare. But in those 134 days, Democrats managed to pass an unpopular bill into law without a single vote to spare.

Indeed, and I would add the twisted legal mess of the Minnesota Senate race recount (Norm Coleman against leftist comedian Al Franken) to that list.

Obamacare was a sausage whose making that people did not like to watch, and they're not terribly likely to change that view if they are reminded.

Richard Mourdock & The Indianapolis Star

Richard Mourdock had an interview with the editorial board of the Indianapolis Star recently, and amid some pretty tough questions, he hit it out of the park.

The video is long, but well worth watching (or listening to in the background while you're doing something else):

What a Difference the Buffett Rule Makes

Or doesn't make, according to Political Math:

Unlimited Power

Differing Rescue Plans

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter

Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.

And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:

And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?

He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,

Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

And they remembered his words,

And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.

- Luke 24:1-9

Have a blessed Easter!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Polling: Lugar & Mourdock in Dead Heat, Mike Pence Stomping John Gregg

Among past Republican primary voters (in 2008 or 2010), Mourdock and Lugar are tied. Only with possible Democrat and independent votes does Lugar gain even the small margin he has on Mourdock in current polling (well down from his past leads of months past; the poll's results are in line with other recent polling of the race).

Mourdock, who Lugar's supporters claim would lose to Donnelly, is dead-even with the Democratic challenger even with turbulence from the primary currently impacting the polling.

The Indy Star:

A new poll shows Sen. Richard Lugar clinging to a 42 percent to 35 percent lead over his Republican challenger, State Treasurer Richard Mourdock.

The Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll, by Republican pollster Christine Matthews and Democratic pollster Fred Yang, was released Thursday. It was conducted March 26-28 of 503 likely Republican primary voters and March 26-27 of 503 likely Indiana general election voters. It has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.5 percentage points.

In her analysis, Matthews, who runs Bellwether Research and whose clients have included Gov. Mitch Daniels, said it shows Lugar "is in a tough battle to win the May 8 Republican primary . . . At 42 percent, his ballot support is far enough below the 50 percent mark to be of significant concern."

She said Lugar and Mourdock are tied among self-identified Republicans and those who voted in the May 2008 and 2010 GOP primary elections. But among those who identified themselves as either independent or "leaning Republican," Lugar is far ahead, 52 percent to 26 percent.

That means his chances of winning depend greatly on whether independents and those who don't regularly vote in the GOP primary show up to vote for him on May 8.

Romney narrowly trails Santorum, and Mitch "clings" to a 63% approval rating:


The poll also showed 35 percent of Republicans undecided about whom to support in the GOP presidential primary, with front-runner Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, backed by 26 percent and Rick Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, backed by 27 percent.

In other areas, 63 percent of those polled approved of the job Daniels is doing as governor, while just 39 percent approved of the job President Barack Obama is doing.

And Mike Pence is stomping John Gregg by 13 points:

In the first head-to-head numbers in the Indiana gubernatorial race, U.S. Rep. Mike Pence had a 44-31% lead over former Democratic House speaker John Gregg, with 5% backing Libertarian Rupert Boneham. Gregg's problem is that 71% of the general election voters have not heard of him. Of those who have, his fav/infavs stood at 10/4%. Pence's fav/unfavs in this survey stood at 32/20% with 30% having never heard of him. Among the Republican primary voters, Pence's fav/unfavs stood at 57/5%. In 1996, Lt. Gov. O'Bannon trailed Republican Stephen Goldsmith by a larger margin than Gregg trails Pence.

This is not exactly a valid comparison. John Gregg is no Frank O'Bannon. O'Bannon had all the powers of de facto incumbency at his disposal in 1996 and he used them, along with the coattails of a popular governor in office of the same party. Gregg has no such advantages.

Bank Error in Your Favor, Collect $206 Million (!)

So the Department of Revenue misplaced some of your money again. Before, it was about three hundred million dollars in corporate tax receipts.

This time, it's over two hundred million dollars that was supposed to be sent to county governments as a part of their county income tax funds (COIT, CEDIT, and CAGIT).

The Courier-Journal explains:

Gov. Mitch Daniels has ordered an outside audit of the Department of Revenue after officials discovered a second programming error that led the state to short cash-strapped local governments $206 million in income tax payments over the past 16 months. The state sent those payments — plus interest — to counties Thursday as well as increased estimates of what local governments should expect to receive in the coming months.

Meanwhile, Daniels has accepted the resignation of Department of Revenue Commissioner John Eckart, though he’ll stay on temporarily to help with the transition of the agency through the tax season. Also two Department of Revenue senior managers — Chief Information Officer Roy Gabriel and Chief Financial Officer Darrel Anderson — left the agency Wednesday. Gabriel retired and Anderson resigned, department spokesman Robert Dittmer said.

“We’re taking this very seriously,” said Adam Horst, director of the Office of Management and Budget, an umbrella agency that oversees the Department of Revenue and discovered the mistake. “Clearly controls (at the agency) are an issue.”

The announcement comes just months after Daniels revealed the Department of Revenue had made an unrelated programming mistake in its corporate tax software that essentially hid some $320 million in payments made by companies but never transferred into the state’s main checking account.

On Thursday, Horst said that internal review uncovered the most recent error and led Daniels to decide an outside look was necessary.

Despite the mistake — and the resulting repayments to local governments — the state is still projected to finish the fiscal year June 30 with more money than expected. That’s largely because of cost cutting efforts by state agencies, Horst said.

That means the Department of Revenue’s mistake will not jeopardize planned taxpayer refunds, which are expected to mean about $65 each for Hoosiers.

In case you're wondering what your county's share of the money is (mine, Harrison County, is due to get over $712K) the Department of Revenue has a PDF available that you can look at.

Bear in mind that the funding is divided between various subgroups of the county income tax (CAGIT, CEDIT, COIT, etc) and therefore some counties will have more than one line.

The state is also remitting to the counties interest earned on the $206 million, but that amount is not included in the totals in that table.