Tuesday, May 24, 2016

3rd District Mess Leaves Democrats Scrambling

Indiana's 3rd CD
For the past few weeks, I've been trying to slowly tie up some loose ends from the May Primary.  I've been looking at the nine Congressional races.  

District 3 could be the most dysfunctional.  In the middle of dysfunction lies opportunity.

Let's begin with what happened on Election Day because that's where the fun begins.  Fun is clearly in the eye of the beholder, though.

In District 3, Democrats went to the polls and elected Tommy Schrader as their candidate for Congress.
Schrader was not the party’s choice. In fact, he wasn’t even close to being the party’s choice. For a long time, he’s been an apparent thorn in the party’s side. This time, he has the last laugh. 

A perennial candidate, Schrader has an interesting background. In 2011, he actually won the Democratic Party’s primary nomination for an at-large City Council seat in Fort Wayne. Back then, he ended up getting thrown off the ballot because he admitted that he registered to vote in Wisconsin and had been living there for some 90 days prior to the primary.

Well, he moved back to Indiana permanently, and he’s now the Democrat’s candidate for Congress in the open seat 3rd District. Currently, Schrader is living out of a motel room. He told WANE that he campaigned for Congress by carrying a yard sign around a Fort Wayne strip mall. 

To be honest, Schrader sounds like he could use a hand up.  He says he suffers from a mental illness and struggles to make ends meet because of his smoking and drinking habits.  He is not running from his vices, and there's something to be said about someone who fills out the right paper work to get their name on the ballot.
He’s pro-life, favors a higher minimum wage ($10.10/hr), and says he supports ENDA. Apparently, he also is backing Donald Trump.

It’s anyone’s guess as to why the voters selected his name out of the three running, especially with his well-known history and background as a candidate. Perhaps it was because people had heard of him.  In a three way race, it’s exactly what can happen when two candidates split the vote and a third wins. Businessman Todd Nightenhelser had been the party’s recommended candidate. He was second with 32 percent to Schrader’s 38 percent. John Roberson, a Vietnam veteran, took in 31 percent of the vote.

Not surprisingly, the Democratic establishment in the 3rd District is not backing Schrader’s run. They all but endorsed his Republican opponent, Jim Banks, a State Senator, in congratulating him on his election. I’m told prominent Libertarian Pepper Snyder will be joining the race as a third candidate. It’s a big opportunity here for the Libertarians.

It’s going to be interesting to watch this campaign develop over the summer.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Rokita Manages to Become Even More Unpopular

Rep. Todd Rokita
Photo from schoolnutrition.org
Todd Rokita is one piece of work.

While I give him credit for being a more responsive legislator than his predecessor, noted possible lettuce smoker, Steve Buyer, Rokita has made a career out of saying and doing unpopular things.

First, he was one of the guiding lights behind Indiana's voter ID bill as Secretary of State.  Then, upon getting to Congress, he insulted people like my mother who depended on Medicare and Social Security to survive.  Now, he's trying to make it harder for kids to eat free lunch at school.  If he's launching his 2018 Senate campaign, this is hardly the way to do it.  I even have his slogan, "Vote for the guy who wants to attack kids and old people!"

This gift wraps an issue for educator John Dale, the Democrat running against Rokita.  I would be using this extremely unpopular proposed bill as an issue at every campaign stop.

The thing is, children need to eat to learn.  That's an easy study.  Students who have their basic needs met learn better.  In the near 20 years I've been teaching, I've seen schools go from offering free lunch to only a few students to offering free meals three times a day for kids.  This is the only food some kids will get each day.

I'm sure Dale has seen it, too.  Dale teaches at Western Boone High School, and he has for years.  He provides a great choice for voters in the 4th Congressional District.

It would be great to see someone teach Rokita a lesson.  Why not have it be an educator like Dale?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Dana Black Represents Real Change in House District 88 Battle with Bosma

Dana Black
Last night, I had the honor of co-hosting (with JD Ford, Rick Sutton, and Bobby Owens) a fundraiser for House District 88 candidate, Dana Black.

District 88 encompasses much of the Northeastside of Indianapolis and parts of Hamilton and Hancock Counties.  The current lead weight in the seat is longtime representative and Speaker of the House, Brian Bosma.

Bosma has spent 30 years of his adult life in the Indiana General Assembly.  He's spent much of the last few years as Speaker, and, as Black points out, he has been doing a bad job representing all of Indiana and all Hoosiers.

Black, an IT professional, said, "My wife and I wrote a check just last month to pay for a government that makes our lives more difficult.  That's not right!"

When elected, Black says that she will work toward a more inclusive Indiana.  She also passionately speaks about the need to teach things like computer coding in our schools as a way to spur economic growth to all communities...even the ones that are often neglected by our legislature.

"I'm running because I want to give people in this district a choice.  This district needs a new voice," Black said.

I really can't do her justice with this short blog post.  I'll just say that I don't host many fundraisers because I am a blogger, but I met Dana for the first time on the campaign trail when I was running for City-County Council.  Something was different about her.  I saw it again a few weeks ago when she brought the Decatur Township Democrats to a standing ovation after she talked.  Dana connects with her heart and her passion is palpable for service and these critical issues.

On any issue from RFRA to HJR-3 to the current controversy with women's reproductive rights, Dana is on the right side of the issue from my perspective, but lots of people are.  Dana just has an authenticity that doesn't come along very often in politics, and I am so glad that we met and that I can call her my friend.

Brian Bosma has no idea who he's up against.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Blog Update: Day Job Reduces Blogging Time for Next Few Weeks

Posting will be a bit sporadic over the next few weeks as the day job takes up the majority of my time.

For those of you that don't know, I'm a public educator.  As the end of the semester and school year approaches, it sometimes necessitates a slowdown here at blog central.

Don't worry, things will pick back up again in June.  Until then, don't hold me to a daily post or at least don't expect something long and drawn out.  Thanks for understanding and for your readership!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Carson Continues Serving

Congressman Andre Carson
Indiana’s 7th District Congressman André Carson easily outdistanced his opponents in the primary two weeks ago. For guys like Pete Visclosky and Andre Carson, the only question about his reelection hopes is they get 60 percent of the vote?

Carson is the heavy favorite to win over Libertarian Drew Thompson and Republican Cat Ping, but what I like about Carson is that he never takes the seat for granted. You can bet Carson’s campaign will be out and walking and in support of him and other candidates down the ballot.

That’s what makes Carson special beyond the work he does in Congress for his constituents.

What amazes me is how little credit Carson gets for winning his seat. When it comes to Democrats, we are like herding cats. In 2007, when Julia Carson passed, it became clear that she wanted André to follow in her footsteps. 

In the caucus to choose a candidate for the special election, Carson easily won the nomination on the first ballot over well-known Democrats like Mike Rodman, Carolene Mays, and David Orentlicher among others. He defeated Jon Elrod to become a Congressman. Then, Carson defeated Woody Myers, Orenticher and Mays in the Primary election in May of 2008. He won his first full term in 2008, and he’s bucked some trends in tough elections for Democrats in 2010 and 2014. Carson also has consistently been at or above the baseline for the 7th District by percentage of the vote.

On the Republican side, it’s been tough to get anyone to run against him. Elrod was perhaps the best opponent. Gabrielle Campo, Marvin Scott, Carlos May, and Cat Ping have struggled to find traction. Ping nearly defeated May in 2012 and won the right to face Carson in 2014 and 2016.
She faces an uphill climb in 2016. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Ellspermann Expected to be Appointed President of Ivy Tech

(Optional Music While You Read)

Indiana's own House of Cards episode has come to a end.

On Wednesday, former Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann is expected to be appointed the new President of Ivy Tech Community College.  The board that appoints her to that position was put in place by Governor Mike Pence.

By the way, I'm not disputing the appointment.  I think Ellspermann is a very bright and talented individual who is well-suited to lead Ivy Tech.  It's just amazing how the machinations of the political machine work sometimes.

Ellspermann, you will remember, was Lieutenant Governor of Indiana under Pence for most of his first term, but there was trouble at the oasis.  A rumored ideological rift between the #1 and #2 executives in Indiana Government was very well circulated.  Rumors began to surface that Pence was ready to dump Ellspermann off the ticket.

With the Ivy Tech job opening, it gave Ellspermann a nice and soft landing spot.  Cue the resignation and the interest in the job.  Ellspermann became the first sitting Lieutenant Governor in years to be nudged off the ticket.  Loyal Republican insider Eric Holcomb jumped aboard the USS Pence Administration to fill the Lieutenant Governor seat vacated by Ellspermann giving him his own soft landing spot from his losing bid for U.S. Senate.

For everything to work out, Ellspermann had to get that Ivy Tech job.  What a shocker, she did!

Move those deck chairs, Mike.

Pence Wrong Again

Governor Mike Pence
Mike Pence is so wrong.

I’m sure you aren’t surprised that I would write those four words, but I think he’s even more wrong than normal.

Pence said that the federal government has no place in telling states what to do when it comes to discriminating against transgender Americans. Of course, it doesn’t break down in those terms exactly. This is all disguised as the current transgender bathroom controversy about whether people can use the facilities of the gender they identify with or the gender on their birth certificate.

The Governor apparently believes the residents of Indiana should decide where transgender people use the bathroom. 

That would mean that you or I could have more of a voice about where a transgender Hoosier uses the restroom than that individual. 

Sorry Governor Pence. It’s for that reason alone that the federal government should completely have the right to step in to protect the rights of the minority.  We don't put those rights on the ballot or up for majority rule. 

Governor Pence isn’t positioning himself as the late Alabama Governor George Wallace here by standing in the outhouse door as Wallace stood in the school house door to try to stop the desegregation of the University of Alabama in the 50’s, but he is close. Plus, Governor Pence is such a fan of home rule that he overrides local municipalities’ rights to govern themselves with strokes of his pen. He’s done so on local government structure, gun control, and even RFRA. 

Instead of telling us what he really believes, Pence turns tail and hides behind state’s rights. We all know Pence’s true colors on LGBT issues.

President Barack Obama saw a problem where the civil rights of what should be a protected class needed protection, and he took a step to do it. In my view, that’s exactly what the federal government exists for.

Can we stop with this bathroom banter? Let transgender Americans be Americans.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Et Tu, Joe?

Donnelly and Hill
photo from Baron Hill's Facebook
The past couple of weeks, I've been trying to get Hoosiers and Hoosier Democrats to pay attention to Indiana's critical race for U.S. Senate between Baron Hill and Todd Young.

Today, I was shocked to receive an e-mail from Senator Joe Donnelly trying to raise money for the Missouri U.S. Senate Race.

“Jason Kander, the Democratic candidate in Missouri -- the state many Democrats see as their best shot at expanding the map.”
-- Politico, May 4, 2016 
Jon --
We’re seeing new opportunities to win back the U.S. Senate this November, and I want to tell you about one of the most exciting races this year: Jason Kander in Missouri. 
A year ago, everyone thought Jason’s race was a long-shot, but last quarter he outraised his Republican opponent and Missouri’s Senate race is being called the “sleeping giant” of 2016. With that growing attention and momentum, there has been an onslaught of outside spending from right-wing groups determined to stop this seat from flipping to a Democrat. 
That’s why I’m writing you. Jason needs help from grassroots supporters like you to raise $5,000 by midnight. 

The e-mail goes on and discusses who Jason Kander is and what he plans to do.  The Missouri U.S. Senate race IS definitely very important, but the appearance here is not good.  Yes, I do get politics.

On the stump, Hill always points out that if he's elected in the fall that it will be the first time since Vance Hartke and Birch Bayh shared the U.S. Senate seats in Indiana that the state was represented by two Democrats in the Upper House of Congress.

This isn't helpful, Joe.