Friday, August 31, 2012

No Posting Til Tuesday!

Well, that Mitt Romney speech clinched it.  I'm taking the Labor Day weekend off.  See you all on Tuesday!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Just FYI, Karen Pence Teaches in Christian School

Mike Pence uses his wife to push his education policy in a new ad, and it makes sense.  After all, Karen Pence is a teacher.



She is, however, not a public school educator and may or may not be employed here in Indiana.

My research online shows Mrs. Pence is employed by Dominion Christian School in Virginia.  Another website confirms that this is where she makes her salary along with another Christian school.

None of these things are significant in themselves.  To me, teachers in Christian schools probably face many of the same challenges on a daily basis as teachers in public schools.  It could, however, be said that she has a dog in the fight when it comes to vouchers and her hubby's idea for providing more choices for parents.

Again, I'm not attacking Mrs. Pence, but I do think it sheds a little more light on her point of view and the advertisement she's a star in.

UPDATE:
I am informed that Mrs. Pence has taught in both public and private schools.  She, however, is not currently a public school teacher.

Crooks Releases First Ad of 2012 Campaign

Eighth District Democratic Congressional candidate Dave Crooks has released his first TV ad.  Without further ado...


I find it interesting.  Crooks begins by establishing his Hoosier roots, but he finishes the ad by going after the status quo in Washington saying that the government has outsourced jobs, sent money to "countries that hate us" and has cut medicare benefits.

This could be an ad by a Republican.  His target isn't necessarily Larry Bucshon, but it's government in general.  It's a slightly different message than what we've seen from other politicians on the Democratic side this year.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Happy Trails, Ben Quayle

Rep, Ben Quayle
This primary season has been pretty weird.

On Tuesday, Ben Quayle, the son of former Hoosier Congressman, Senator, and Vice President Dan Quayle, lost to fellow Congressman David Schweikert in Arizona's Republican 6th District Primary.

Quayle had been the 9th District's Congressman, but he decided to run in the 6th because it was a safer district for a Republican.  Quayle's district had been changed after the 2010 census, and his home was drawn into the 6th.  Quayle argued that more of his constituents lived in the 6th than the 9th.

Recently, Quayle got some bad press for taking a dip in the Sea of Galilee, apparently with his clothes on (unlike fellow Republican Kevin Yoder), but was on the same trip.  The margin was fairly close.

You may remember that Quayle famously released this ad in the 2010 election season.



He doubled down on the claim in 2012.



Well, going back to the first ad, I guess he didn't knock the Hell out of the place.  Now, he's going to be knocking around Arizona for a while.

Donnelly's Latest Ad Continues Strong Campaign

Congressman Joe Donnelly is still scoring all the right points when it comes to political advertising this election season.

His latest ad entitled "Home", and it features Donnelly's wife Jill.  In the ad, Jill Donnelly is talking about things Joe has done while in Congress as Joe is performing tasks like fixing the vehicle, cleaning the gutters, working on the sink, changing the oil, etc.

This certainly underscores Joe's "everyman" appeal.  It's one of his greatest assets, and I'm here to tell you that it's not an act.  Donnelly is about as unpretentious as any national politician I've met not named Carson.

Here's the excellent ad.  Whoever is doing this campaign's ad strategy is on fire!



Contrast this ad with the latest negative offering from Richard Mourdock, and you really get a feel for how different the two candidates are with their likability.



Pretty stark contrast.  Even Donnelly's negative ads have had a light touch.  All I can say is that Donnelly's perfect campaign continues.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

So Over the Fat Jokes

Chris Christie
Tonight, Chris Christie addressed the Republican convention.

While much of the banter of Facebook and in social media surrounded the content of his speech, a dirty under current simply discounted what the man had to say and went right for something that's an easy target.  That's Chris Christie's weight.

I'm tired of it.

If there's one thing I have in common with the Governor of New Jersey, it's that we both probably should turn down a buffet line every once in a while.  We can't hide that.  Neither of us can.  I've gotten comments here before about my weight, and I've even seen it pop up in other places before.  I'd  be lying if I told you that it didn't bother me a little.  For the most part, people will never tell you to your face, but you know it's there.  Yes, I'm fat.  Deal with it.  Now, can we get on with the politics?

If you're going to disagree with my politics or Chris Christie's politics, do it.  I don't care what you think about that, but PLEASE try to understand that the fat jokes are too easy.  It's why, for the most part, I try to stay away from that type of stuff here on the blog, altogether.

Yes, I'm not perfect, but I am not going to make fun of Chris Christie's weight to score points on him.  Fact of the matter is, of all the Republicans in the United States in public life, Chris Christie might be one of my top ten favorites.  I don't agree with him politically at all, and I find what he's done to education in New Jersey sad.  He has, however, worked across the aisle on many projects in the state with Democrats like Cory Booker.  On top of that, he's blunt, and he's crass.  He's not afraid of that side of his personality.

I'll say it again.  I'm just over the fat jokes.

Republican Lovefest to Begin in Tampa

Former Massachusetts Governor
Mitt Romney
Delegates to the Republican Convention will fill the convention hall in Tampa later today.  

They will hoot and holler and show off some elephant pride.  It's one big traditional dog and pony show for the Grand Ole Party.  Of course, Mitt Romney is the right man for a dog and pony show given his penchant for tying his dog to the roof of his car and dressage horses.  That was a low blow, I know.

Political conventions are simply formalities any more.  There's no surprises or intrigue.  It's a time to feel good about your party or to try to persuade a few of the persuadables over to your side.  In a tight election, it's one time in an election season where a political party can have almost complete control over how its message goes out.

It seems to me that even though President Obama is still in remarkably good shape for reelection that this election could turn one way or another on a dime.  Remember in 2008 when the economy dropped to rock bottom status in late September?  John McCain made a critical error of "suspending his campaign" to go back and deal with the situation.  His grandstanding didn't work.  He ended up having to get back on the trail.  Then, he ended up seeing his opponent pull away.

That, of course, could happen again in 2012 for either candidate.  If the economy improves and things are better over the next two months, things will get better for Obama, but, if things get worse, Romney could pull ahead in some of the battleground states.  He needs to switch Ohio and another state into his column to win.  

I still keep this a 290-248 election right now.  In almost any scenario, Romney needs to win Ohio and turn another state to make this a win for him and the GOP.  

Whatever happens, it's always great theater, and it will be interesting to see how the GOP battles the other news story of this cycle; Hurricane Issac.  Let's hope they take the high road.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pence Tells Shella He Won't Run from Social Issues as Governor

Congressman Mike Pence Riding in
to save Hoosiers souls?
So far, Mike Pence has been running a nearly perfect campaign to become Indiana's next Governor.

The only brief slip-up was when he foolishly compared the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act to the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks.  He quickly apologized and was no doubt thankful no one recorded the comments.

He may have made a second slip-up.

On Friday, WISH-TV political reporter Jim Shella penned a blog post that quoted Pence saying, "I am who I am and I hold the views that I hold.”  He followed up by saying that he would sign "pro-life" legislation because of his personal views.  Presumably, that means that any crazy anti-choice bill that comes out of the Indiana General Assembly could be law.

Let your mind wander on that one for just a moment.

Does that mean that he might sign a bill that would put even stronger restrictions on safe, legal abortions for women exercising their right to choose?  I think that's a safe bet.  Maybe without exceptions for rape and life of the mother?  Likely.

Extrapolating this further.  Pence has famously said that he's "Christian, conservative, and Republican, in that order."  Since he's Christian first, does that mean he will be putting that first above his duty to serve all Hoosiers?  Count on it.

Because of this small quote, I think this opens up a whole new line of attacks on Pence.  Quite clearly, he spent the first few months trying to reinvent himself in an "Etch-a-Sketch" moment.  Now, it slowly looks like Pence is returning to form.

The culture warrior is back!  The door cracks open for John Gregg.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

In Memoriam: Neil Armstrong

"That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind."
Neil A. Armstrong, July 20, 1969

For Americans of a certain age, he was one of the stars of one of those "where were you when" moments.  Everyone who is probably mid 40's or older can remember where they were when Neil Armstrong stepped from a module of Apollo 11 onto the moon for the first time.

Today, we learned that the man who first stepped on the moon has passed away at the age of 82.

As a lifelong space enthusiast and lover of space exploration, I want to say thanks to Neil Armstrong for helping me dream.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Wacko Texas Judge Says Civil War Possible if Obama Reelected

It seems like every day I read a comment that’s more and more ludicrous and out-of-line about President Obama and his electoral fortunes in November. 

This one, however, may take the cake.

In the State of Texas, where Governor Rick Perry famously advocated secession a few years back, Judge Tom Head, a Lubbock County Judge, said that there might be civil war if the President is reelected.

To put it into texting terms: SRSLY?

Judge Head, who clearly didn’t use his when he gave the comments, told a local Lubbock TV station:

"He's going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the U.N., and what is going to happen when that happens?" 
"I'm thinking the worst. Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war maybe. And we're not just talking a few riots here and demonstrations, we're talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy. 
"Now what's going to happen if we do that, if the public decides to do that? He's going to send in U.N. troops. I don't want 'em in Lubbock County. OK. So I'm going to stand in front of their armored personnel carrier and say 'you're not coming in here'. 
"And the sheriff, I've already asked him, I said 'you gonna back me' he said, 'yeah, I'll back you'. Well, I don't want a bunch of rookies back there. I want trained, equipped, seasoned veteran officers to back me."


The Sheriff of Lubbock County denied that there had been any such discussion.

This is way beyond free speech, in my view. This is crazy dream sequence stuff. Of course President Obama isn’t going to hand over the United States to the United Nations. That’s ludicrous, ridiculous, and, frankly, scandalous to suggest.

Later, the judge tried to backtrack saying his comments were simply taken out of context and that he was keeping the “worst case scenario” in mind.

To me, this is a “no case scenario” because it’s not going to happen. PERIOD. If it did happen, we’d likely have bigger concerns than raising taxes in Lubbock County for more sheriff’s deputies.

Sad thing is, there’s some knucklehead out there, perhaps reading this blog right now, that believes everything Judge Head told that TV station. It’s inciteful, dangerous rhetoric like this that is just not welcome in our current charged political atmosphere.

This judge should make a case for a tax increase on its own merits and not use some silly harebrained scheme he dreamed up to foster feelings of fear and discord in his constituents.

Stories like these make me think that pretty much the only things that come from Texas these days are steers and crazy politicians.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pence Campaign Ad from 2010 Reveals "OTHER" Mike Pence

John Gregg spent some time early on in the campaign season trying to portray Mike Pence as an ideologue with little more than ideas to show for his time in Congress.

While on a hunt for some political ads, I found this spot from Pence's 2010 reelection campaign for Congress.  See if this jives with the Mike Pence we've seen so far running for Governor.



Now that's a different Mike Pence, don't you think?

Ballard Signs Domestic Partnership Proposal Into Law

Mayor Greg Ballard
Earlier today, with the stroke of a pen by Mayor Greg Ballard, Indianapolis joined surrounding cities like Carmel in the 21st Century and will soon become a city that will offer domestic partnership benefits to committed straight or gay couples who are unmarried.

The debate was long and arduous, but it was, in the end, the five Republican City-County Councillors led by Bob Lutz and Benjamin Hunter that made this a reality.  Their support gave the co-sponsors of the proposal at least 20 votes which pretty much forced Mayor Greg Ballard to sign the proposal and make it an ordinance.  Anything less than 20 votes would have signaled to the Mayor that he could have vetoed the proposal and stopped the progress.

Thankfully, that did not happen.  Congratulations to the Democratic Majority and five brave Republicans who deserve a ton of credit.

Gregg Out with Second Ad

John Gregg is catching up quickly in the ad war as he battles Mike Pence and Rupert Boneham for the Governor's Office.

Gregg's second ad again takes a swipe at Mike Pence, but he does it in a good-natured, folksy way that it hardly comes across as an attack.

In the ad, Gregg is sitting at the "Clip 'N Curl" in Sandborn while the ladies of the town (including John's mother) are getting their hair done.  Gregg begins the ad much in the same way as he did the first ad of the campaign with a crack about being "the guy with two first names running for Governor."

Here's the ad in its entirety.



This ad seems to fit well with the first one, and it begins to take the attack to Pence.  I think it will play well.  Even as Gregg is attacking Pence's Congressional record, he's doing it with a smile and a chuckle.  The ad plays to Gregg's strengths.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Still No Guarantees on Domestic Partnership Ordinance

"Mayor Veto" Greg Ballard
Democrats and Republicans joined together to pass an important domestic partnership benefits proposal last Monday at the City-County Council meeting.  What action Mayor Greg Ballard will take on it is still anyone's guess.

Ballard has been out of town on a his most recent trip to China, according to the Indy Star.  Time for action is starting to run out.  The clock began ticking for Ballard to sign the DP ordinance when it passed.  He has to sign it or veto it within 10 days.  By my count, the clock runs out on Thursday.  Ballard must take action on the proposal or it is considered vetoed.

If he exercises his veto pen on Proposal 213, it gets really interesting.

Five Republicans voted for the proposal:  Mike McQuillen, Will Gooden, Bob Lutz, Ben Hunter, and Jeff Miller.  Fifteen Democrats voted for the proposal, but Jose Evans was out of town.  He would have been the 16th vote.  Therefore, Ballard needs two Republicans to switch their vote on the issue.

I don't believe you'll see Jeff Miller, Bob Lutz, or Benjamin Hunter switch.  Lutz gave a passionate defense of the proposal.  Hunter and Miller both seemed strongly in favor with Hunter co-sponsoring it.  That leaves Gooden and McQuillen.  Will those two stay on board?

I can't see Ballard vetoing this one unless he knows for sure what his caucus might do.  If his veto is overridden, the Mayor will be damaged politically.  That's why I think that the Mayor will count his votes carefully before he takes action.

We should know soon what Ballard will do.  He may have to sign this one to keep some political capital even though he really wants to veto it, deep down.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

When Romney Met Romney



Ok, to be fair, this is absolutely taking Governor Romney's words and twisting and turning them into new sentences.  That said, there's something to be said about this piece of political satire.

After all, Mitt Romney was once for the individual mandate.  Romney once supported a woman's right to choose, and he was once more liberal on gay marriage than he is today.  Of course, when you're running for President, you have to conform your views to the base.

Who knows what a President Romney might believe?  I, for one, hope we never see that day in America.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Check Out Indy Vanguard

A new progressive blog has hit the blogosphere, and it's off to a great start.

Indy Vanguard, a project of the Greater Indianapolis for Change folks, is up and running, and I really like what they are doing.

A few weeks ago, one of the founders, Jyoti Weaver, approached me about penning a post for the blog.  We all get busy, but I finally got around to putting a post together.

At noon, check out Indy Vanguard for my post.  I hope you enjoy it.  Here's a link to Indy Vanguard.  Again, thanks for the invitation, and I appreciate having more voices from the left in the local blogosphere.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Only Way is Up for Indiana Democratic Party

I'm sure you've heard by now that John Gregg is way behind Mike Pence in the most recent snapshot poll, 50 percent to 32 percent.

This polling result didn't surprise me at all even considering that the typically right-leaning Indiana Chamber of Commerce sponsored the poll.  I think the poll is likely fairly valid given that the same poll is pretty much right in step with Congressman Joe Donnelly's internal polling showing that the Senate race is a dead heat, and that doesn't surprise me at all.  Donnelly is running a well-funded and excellent campaign against a very extreme Republican candidate in Richard Mourdock.  It makes sense.  Donnelly is more of a traditional Hoosier candidate for national office.  He's moderate and reasonable...just like John Gregg.

That brings me back to this question: What is it going to take for the Indiana Democratic Party to be able to run competitively across the board again?  After all, you have two right wing Republicans in Mike Pence and Richard Mourdock and two moderate Democrats in John Gregg and Joe Donnelly and only one is making an impact in a statewide race.  How could that be?

The fact of the matter is that John Gregg is the PERFECT candidate to run against Mike Pence, and Joe Donnelly is the perfect candidate to run against Richard Mourdock.  The Indiana Democratic Party just isn't strong enough to help push Gregg, and Donnelly is getting a lot of help from out of state and from his opponent.

Indiana Democratic Party Chair
Dan Parker
It's really easy to lay this all at the feet of Dan Parker, but Parker isn't the problem.  If that contradicts what I've written here before, then I apologize.  Perhaps I've come to a new realization.  That realization is that the Indiana Democratic Party is now a group of factions battling for power.  It isn't one entity any longer.

Dan Parker may just be the guy that's holding this thing together with chewing gum and bailing wire.  He's become more of a symptom of the dysfunction than the actual dysfunction.

Take the two recent coup attempts.  Neither succeeded because neither could cull enough support to push out Parker.  There is no statewide politician that's stronger than he is.  While the factions have been battling, the Indiana GOP has grabbed Indiana politics by the shoulders and has begun to shake hard.  Now, Democrats sit on the outside looking in at the state level.  It's remarkable for a party that controlled the Governor's Office from 1989-2005 and has controlled the Indiana House as recently as January of 2011.

Look at what's happened since.  Deeper education cuts.  Education reform slammed through with vouchers and more charter schools.  Right to Work passed.  Battles over Planned Parenthood funding have been fought.  House Joint Resolution 6 was passed that could someday pave the way for discrimination to be written into the Indiana Constitution.

We've gone nowhere fast.  Hoosier voters have rejected the messages Dems have put out, and it's made the party so weak that a great candidate like John Gregg can't find traction in an election he could be dominating.

Congressman Joe Donnelly
So, what's it going to take to get back on track?

Electoral success is the first step.  If Joe Donnelly can beat Richard Mourdock, he can rally the party.  While that may not make all the factions happy, he would at least become the big fish in the pond of Democratic politics.

Call me crazy, but I am also not yet ready to write off John Gregg just yet.  If he can succeed in giving people a reason to NOT vote for Mike Pence, then I think he can still make some waves in the Governor's Race.  That, however, is honestly a very long shot.

If I'm the Indiana Democratic Party, I'm putting all my chips on Donnelly and picking up seats in the General Assembly.  Then, I'm going to cross my fingers, toes, and even my eyes and hope that voters hearts turn back left.  Indiana is a fickle state, and its voters have a way of slapping down those that get too power drunk.

The best news for Democrats is that the only way to go is up.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Gregg Way Behind in Latest Polls; Donnelly in Dead Heat

John Gregg
The Indiana Chamber of Commerce released a poll that showed John Gregg way behind Mike Pence in the battle for the Governor's Office.

According to the polling, Pence holds a 50 percent to 32 percent lead over Gregg.  Honestly, that doesn't surprise me all that much.

Pence has been running from ahead.  He's released six very solid and positive ads so far, and he's been able to define himself very well.  Gregg has only begun getting his ads up on television, and he appears to be taking a similar course as Pence is in his ads.

We are now closing in on 80 days to go very quickly, and Gregg is going to have to do some heavy lifting here to try to get back in this race.  If it's going to be done, I think Gregg is going to have to give Hoosiers some reason NOT to vote for Pence.  Then again, it could be very hard to go negative and not appear too desperate for the former House Speaker.

The same poll shows another dead heat in the Indiana U.S. Senate race.  Mourdock holds a razor thin 41 percent to 39 percent lead over Donnelly.  That seems to be a very consistent number for this race.  Donnelly's internal polling gives him a two point lead over Mourdock, according to Indy Politics.

Indy Star Goes Big on Hogsett for Mayor

U.S. Attorney
Joe Hogsett
The Indianapolis Star finally got around to rumormongering what I rumormongered in June that Joe Hogsett may be thinking about running for Mayor of Indianapolis in 2015.

At the time I threw it up there, I was just reporting what I thought made sense and what I had heard.  Of course, the Star has a lot more sources in their Rolodex than I do.

A Hogsett for Mayor campaign, if it happens, would certainly be something to watch.  He's eminently qualified for the job, and I think most people understand that his political Rolodex includes folks like Bill Clinton, Evan Bayh, and many others.  A Hogsett campaign could clear the field of a few possible candidates.

Council Vice President
Brian Mahern
I don't think it would clear out all the candidates.  If you've watched the Council lately, oftentimes it's Council Vice President Brian Mahern that seems to be taking the vocal lead on things.  Most experts and local politicos believe that Mahern wants the job so bad he can taste it.  Of course, the Mahern name is legendary in Indianapolis politics, and Brian has many positives going for him.  I'm not sure that Hogsett entering the race would cause him to drop out.  Mahern has also drawn the most attention from bloggers like Abdul-Hakim Shabazz.  All of that said, he's been right on target on things like TIFs.

Councillor
Vop Osili
I think there's a third big name in the running, and that's Vop Osili.  Vop isn't out running for the job, but I think there are many in the Marion County Democratic Party that would love to see him take a chance at the job.  If I know Vop, he's appreciative of all the attention, but he's also very careful.  He will take his time, talk to people, weigh all the options, and then make a decision at some point.  At this point, I doubt that he's as worried about 2015 as Mahern and maybe Hogsett are.

I mentioned in June that I thought John Layton might be a possible candidate for Mayor, but I somehow think that's less likely these days.  Layton seems immersed in his work as Sheriff at this point, and I doubt that he's given much thought to the possibility.  Councillor Jose Evans, business leader Brian Williams, former City-County Councillor Ron Gibson, and Sam Carson all ran last time around.  I guess they are possibilities again, but they won't generate the kind of interest that others might.

This will be a developing story to watch over the next three years.  It will also be worth watching to see if Mayor Greg Ballard will try for a third term.  Of course, that has been a bugaboo for previous Mayors not named Hudnut in the UniGov era.  I'm sure Ballard knows that.  Ryan Vaughn is certainly one name I hear most often as the Republican candidate for 2015, but there are others, too.

Never a dull moment in political forecasting!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gregg Goes on Air

Yesterday, I wrote that some were anxious to see John Gregg kick his campaign into high gear.

Yesterday, John Gregg released his first ad.  I know this was a coincidence, but it's still kind of funny to me.

The ad features John and three friends from Sandborn, Indiana, the town from which the former Indiana House Speaker hails.

Here is the ad:



While most of Mike Pence's ads have dealt with feel good messages, this ad is different for Gregg.  It has a positive message and spin except for the backhanded shot early on about roller rinks.  Like most of Pence's ads, the spot has no details of a jobs program or a way to fix some of the problems in our state.  I'm assuming those ads will come later.  This ad is about a story to tell about some Hoosiers.  Pence's ads have largely been about Mike Pence.

As John says, "It may be a small thing," and it is.  I think the ad is successful because of its positive, simple  message.  It's a strong ad and a good beginning for Gregg's air campaign.  I'm just interested to see where he goes from here and just when he gets specific on issues.

Welcome to the race, John Gregg.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mike Pence on Science

I was looking for John Gregg's first campaign ad on YouTube tonight, and I found this blast from the past.  Watch Pence squirm when challenged on the GOP's commitment to science.  Chris Matthews clearly has a point of view here, but it is, after all, Hardball.

Some Anxious for Gregg to Get Going

Former House Speaker
John Gregg
John Gregg has less cash on hand than Mike Pence, and he clearly remembers the problems that Jill Long Thompson encountered in 2008 when she ran short of campaign cash at a critical time. That doesn't make his largely earned-media campaign easier to swallow for some Hoosiers.

This past weekend I was cornered by a potential Gregg supporter.  Knowing my political stripes and blogging background, his person asked me what was going on with the Gregg campaign and why his campaign seemed to be on the slow roll out plan.

I didn't really have an answer.  Not a good one, anyway.  I just said that Gregg was probably waiting until Labor Day.  "He can't do that," said this person.  "We need to hear from him now."

Did I mention that this person was not what you would consider a liberal Democrat?  This individual is someone concerned about education policy in Indiana, and I think there are more people out there just like 'em.

I think as soon as practically possible, Gregg needs to begin expanding his message from earned to paid media.  While he's gotten good coverage so far, it's clearly not enough for at least a few potential future supporters.  We'll see what lies ahead for the man from Sandborn.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Domestic Partnership Benefits Pass Council, 20-8

The City-County Council passed Proposal 213 tonight at its meeting which would provide health benefits for couples in domestic partnerships of same sex and opposite sex couples.  Vote total was 20-8. Councillor Jose Evans was out of town.

This bi-partisan sponsored and supported proposal will now go to Mayor Greg Ballard for his signature.

The debate was a very passionate one.  Councillor Bob Lutz, Councillor Benjamin Hunter, Councillor Jeff Miller, and Councillor Pam Hickman spoke passionately in favor.  Councillor Jeff Cardwell, Councillor Jack Sandlin, and Councillor Aaron Freeman all spoke passionately against.

Cardwell couched his comments completely in cost.  Freeman did too, but he added that he supports the traditional definition of marriage.  Sandlin went off the rails.

Jack Sandlin
He managed to attack couples, gay and straight, who are raising children out of wedlock.  He cited studies that mention that two-parent homes are better for children.

If this were a discussion on that issue, I honestly wouldn't take too much issue with that assertion.  To me, it's interesting that he would pick this moment to bring this up.  Seeing this has really NOTHING to do with the proposal, I took it as a direct attack on unmarried couples raising children.  Many of those couples do so quite successfully, and injecting his comments into this particular debate was a direct slap in the face to them.

Sandlin also said that NO ONE in his district supported the proposal and that ALL opposed it based on cost.  SURRRRRRE!

If the GOP stays on board, Ballard can veto this proposal, but his veto could be overridden.  That said, his own folks have been reluctant to buck their Mayor.

Ballard Now Officially Asking For More of Your Money

Mayor Greg Ballard
When Greg Ballard backed into the Mayor's Office, he campaigned on a Grover Nordquist-like platform that he could solve all the city's woes and issues without asking for more tax dollars.  He officially now wants more of your money.

You won't find the old ads for the Ballard campaign online anywhere.  Back then before he was Mayor, Ballard said that he could do everything, "Without asking for more of your money."  Part of his new budget proposal to the City-County Council will be to do away with the homestead tax credit.

My friend Pat Andrews over at the Had Enough Indy Blog is far more attuned to the details of city government than I am, but she gives an excellent analysis here of what Ballard's planned cuts might do.  And, in the end, all of this is only temporary.

The Mayor recently gave all of his top advisers big pay raises.  Looks like those stand up in this new budget proposal even though the three percent raises to the police and fire departments will not.  Those will get rolled back.  So, that's another campaign promise broken.  You remember the one, "public safety is job one."

Ballard claims that the raises keep good talent in his office and makes Indianapolis more competitive from an employment standpoint in being able to attract the best and brightest employees.  It's too bad he's still on the fence about the domestic partnership proposal which would do the same thing on a much broader basis.

The first thing that should go if the Mayor is wanting our police officers and firefighters to give up promised raises is all the raises in the Mayor's Office.  They should be rolled back.  The Mayor must start with his own house.  While he points out that the Mayor's budget was in the black, he doesn't realize that we are all in this together.  Shared sacrifice is necessary to get ourselves and our fiscal house in order.  Ballard also has not yet showed any details of note to the City-County Council, per the Indianapolis Star.

If Ballard needs more taxpayer dollars, then fine.  Just be honest.  Rolling back the homestead credit is a tax increase for every property taxpayer in Indianapolis.  The expansion of TIF districts is a property tax increase for every taxpayer in the district.  Come clean about wanting more of our money, Mr. Mayor.  I guess you won't though.

I guess this is, to borrow his campaign slogan, "Leadership at Work".

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Nancy Hamilton Gone at 82

After an apparent tragic accident, former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton's wife, Nancy, has passed away at the age of 82.

According to an Indianapolis Star report, Nancy Hamilton had arrived at a Bloomington pet clinic with her pet for a veterinary visit when her own car rolled over her.  She died a few hours later in the hospital.

It's a horrible horrible story.  My thoughts go out to the Congressman and his family and friends.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Romney Picks Ryan

Vice Presidential Candidate
Paul Ryan
Hey, it's better than Sarah Palin!

Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney picked U.S. Representative Paul Ryan from Wisconsin as his running mate.  Ryan has been a leading advocate for fiscal responsibility in Congress.

That said, Ryan has also been somewhat controversial.  Medicare and social security advocates point out that Ryan's budget plan would largely dismantle the programs which would save tons of money but would simply not fly politically or morally.  While pushing for these social cuts which would hit seniors hard, Ryan voted for increases in defense spending, TARP, and other spending increases.

Ryan is not a bad pick, to be honest.  He's young and has several years of experience in federal government.  Born in 1970, Ryan was first elected to Congress in 1998.  I just don't see Ryan delivering too many states to Romney, if that was the aim.

Ryan won't likely pull Ohio or Pennsylvania or Michigan where his extreme views will be a detriment.  He may even hurt Romney in Florida for that same reason.  Many retirees living there may find Ryan's views threatening to the social security and medicare checks they depend on and have paid for with payroll taxes for years.

Looking state-by-state, even if Ryan can deliver Wisconsin for Romney, and I would question that, the Romney camp still has to pull one of the big states to go along with it unless Romney can pull a few other "blue states" into his column.  I don't see that happening.

Thus, this pick, in my opinion was simply an ideological one.  It was a pick that was made to, as I said earlier, solidify Romney's base.  I don't think it will trim into the Obama/Biden campaign's advantage with independents.  I still have this race at 290-248, Obama.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Crooks Trying to Unseat Bucshon in Bloody 8th

Indiana's 8th Congressional seat is back up for grabs in 2012, and Dave Crooks figures to give incumbent Larry Buschon all he wants in the fight to represent Southwest Indiana.
David Crooks

The district has changed quite a bit since Bucshon defeated Democratic challenger Trent VanHaaften in 2010 by 20 percentage points.  That was, of course, another switch in party for this district as the incumbent at that time, Brad Ellsworth, was the Democrat running for Senate against the GOP's Dan Coats.  

Redistricting has made the hard-to-predict district much more neutral than it previously was.  Bucshon still likely has the advantage on paper, but paper advantages have really made much of a difference for the voters of this independent-thinking district.

For an alternative to Bucshon, Crooks is a strong candidate.  He's popular in the area having represented a portion of the district in the Indiana General Assembly.  As a radio station owner and radio host, his name is very familiar.  He's a blue dog Democrat meaning that he has the necessary conservative credentials to succeed.  Other than Ellsworth coming back, he's about the best candidate D's could put up in 2012.
Larry Bucshon

This is a referendum on Bucshon, and, let's be honest, the Republican has really been under the radar a lot so far.  He hasn't said anything that controversial, and he stays away from the crazy wing of the party.  While his website pays homage to Tea Party talking points on the perils of liberalism, he clearly knows his district and that one stupid decision or action could end his time in Congress, just ask John Hostetler.  Bucshon got "Tea Partied" this time around in the May Primary, but he managed to win that race fairly easily.  He is rated as a moderate by GovTrack in an analysis of his votes.

Bucshon seems to succeed by staying out of everyone's way and doing his loyal weekly spot on WIBC's Garrison program.  Though he can't point to a lot of legislative victories, he can certainly say that he's kept the district out of the papers for the wrong reasons.  He hasn't gone Weiner and tweeted anyone any body parts or tried to duplicate Hostettler's feat of carrying a loaded gun through the Louisville airport.  

Libertarian Bart Gadau is also in the race.  On his website, he touts himself as a fiscal conservative who is very libertarian when it comes to social issues.  

When it comes to money, Open Secrets reports that Dave Crooks had more cash on hand as of June 30.  He had $542,191 on hand while Bucshon had $386,851 on hand.  The money should continue to pour into this race, especially if it says close.

This race remains one to watch with under 90 days to go.  It's going to come down to how the voters feel about the milquetoast Dr. Bucshon or if they want to replace him with a dynamic guy like Crooks.  Gadau could be a spoiler.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

May Hires Englehart Group; Carson Continues Southside Operation

Mitt Romney
and Carlos May
Congressional candidate Carlos May has hired Indianapolis-based campaign consultant firm, The Englehart Group, to help on his campaign.

Previously, Englehart has worked across the aisles on various candidates' campaigns including Bill Levin's and Vop Osili's City-County Council campaigns, Wayne Seybold's Congressional Campaign, and Jim Wallace's Gubernatorial bid among others.  Englehart is known for their sometimes non-traditional approach in campaigns.  This includes filming an ad with a trenchcoat-dressed Levin in Broad Ripple during a driving rainstorm, going flying with Wallace, and putting Seybold on roller skates.

Congressman Carson
in the Oval Office
As for Carson, the Congressman keeps saying this in letters and e-mails to supporters, and his campaign continues to be active in the new territories on the Southside of Indianapolis and is, by his own admission, takin.  Carson has people canvassing and phone banking in Decatur, Perry, and Franklin Townships and has had a number of campaign staffers and volunteers at various events across the three-township area.

Don't forget that this is a new-territory race for Carson.  It is still a Democratic district, but Carson is working very hard against May.  I'm interested to see how this race progresses.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ballard Raises Slap Public Safety in Face

"Public safety is job one" has long been a campaign slogan for Greg Ballard, but, after news broke a few days ago that Ballard has been giving his top aides big raises, you just wonder where Public Safety now sits on his list of priorities.  

Mayor Greg Ballard
After all, it is Mayor Ballard that is presiding over a city that has a Department of Public Safety that's deep in the red.  Despite plans to the contrary, Ballard has also stopped growing IMPD and our police force is the smallest it's been in years.  Couple this with all the other news of more budget cuts for things like parks, and you wonder just where the priorities are.

Wherever they went, it's clear that the priority of this administration has changed.  No longer is public safety job one in Indianapolis. It has become just an empty Greg Ballard promise.  Now, in his second term, Ballard is looking out for his own folks, it seems, rather than the rest of us.

To be fair, the Ballard Administration claims that it paid for the raises by just not replacing open positions.  That's great.  That money should have gone to public safety first before going to raises, in my view.  Don't forget, the Mayor put the yoke of public safety right back on his own shoulders.  When he was elected, it was the Sheriff that controlled public safety in Indianapolis.  Ballard worked a deal, and he got it back from Frank Anderson.  Now, he's handing out raises to his own before he takes care of this city's public safety needs.

Something just doesn't seem right about that.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Carson Job Fair TODAY

Congressman Andre Carson
Congressman Andre Carson's annual job fair is today from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Ivy Tech Illinois Fall Creek Center, 2535 N. Capitol Ave.

Seventy-five employers will be on hand at the job fair, which is co-sponsored by Ivy Tech.  Along with the employers being available, there will also be a career resource center for job seekers should they choose to participate.  It will focus on resume writing and interview skills.

Employers participating in the job fair include.

AAR Aircraft Services

Allison Transmission

Altec Industries

American Income Life

Amtrak

Angie's List

AWS

BCForward

Bell Techlogix

Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis

Caregivers, Inc.

CarMax

Citizens Energy Group

Coca-Cola

Colonial Life

Community Health Network

Companion Care Company

Cornerstone Associates

Eclipse Staffing

El Sol De Tala Mexican Restaurant

Elite Marketing Interactions

Elwood Staffing Services

EmployIndy/WorkOne Indianapolis

Employment Plus

Express Employment Professionals

Families First Indiana

Fastenal

FedEx Express

Franciscan St. Francis Health

Goodwill Industries

Greenwood Health & Living Community

Harlan Laboratories, Inc.

Healing Hidden Hurts

Imaging Office Systems

Indiana State Personnel Department

Indiana University Health

Indianapolis Housing Agency

Indianapolis Public Schools

IndyGo

IU Health Physicians

IUPUI Human Resources

Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Corporate College

JP Morgan Chase Bank

Kelly Services

KeyBank

Kiddie Academy

Lake Shore Marketing

LGC Associates

Marion County Sheriff's Office

Minority Services

Monarch Beverage

Noble of Indiana

Peerless Pump

PNC Bank

RCI

Ricker Oil Company

Robert Half International

Simon Property Group

Spartan Staffing

Specialty Coating Systems

Speedway

St. Vincent Seton Specialty Hospital

Starwood Hotels & Resorts

Sysco Foods

Target

The Mitchel Group

Towne Park

Trustaff

United States Postal Service

UPS

Walmart

Wishard Health Services

YMCA of Greater Indianapolis

For more information, contact the Congressman's Office at (317) 283-6516.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sikh Temple Tragedy

Domestic terrorism has once again raised its ugly head as a (so far) unidentified gunman allegedly burst into a Sikh temple in Milwaukee yesterday killing six and wounding three before being shot dead by police.  One of the wounded was a police officer who helped take down the suspect.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those injured and the families of those murdered.  I am sure more details will break on this case later.

Mourdock In Trouble

It's just one poll in a string of polls, but Richard Mourdock has to begin to wonder just exactly he stands with Hoosier voters.  He also has to wonder if it's time to push the panic button or not.
Richard Mourdock

A recent Rasmussen Poll places Mourdock just two points ahead of his Democratic opponent Joe Donnelly, 42-40.  The poll showed 11 percent undecided and is well within the five point margin for error.  It's still early, and a lot could happen, but the same poll, in which a wide majority of those called identified themselves as a Republican, showed former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney with a 51 percent to 35 percent lead over President Barack Obama in Indiana.  Mourdock should be running better in a state that has moved so far into the red recently.

Joe Donnelly
While Mourdock is simply a bad candidate, Joe Donnelly is doing his part to win running an absolutely perfect campaign right now most recently punctuated by a flawless appearance on MSNBC's Hardball.  He's a brawler, and he's used to close races.  He's run them all his political life.  Mourdock is not as disciplined, and it shows.  I think it's hampering his campaign, but I'm not complaining.

Andy Horning

While he initially attempted a move towards the center, he's been out and about saying crazy things lately.  In a race with a popular third party candidate like Libertarian Andy Horning, Mourdock should be more careful.  Even Horning attacked Mourdock's comparison of the auto bailout to slavery.  Horning turned to Facebook, posting a link to an article about Mourdock's comments and writing, "I suppose I've been guilty of invoking the usual Hitler and slavery motifs. I try to be accurate, though. This, in the context of a guy managing unconstitutional state funds, is a little over-the-top."

Donnelly is in a good position right now.  Unlike Brad Ellsworth's 2010 run, he's right in this thing heading to the late summer and into the fall.  This one is going right down to the wire.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Donnelly's Pitch Perfect Campaign Hits Hardball

In a fairly softball interview from Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball, Joe Donnelly was pitch perfect in his rhetoric and his charges against his Republican opponent Richard Mourdock.

He didn't even stumble when Matthews made a big stretch to compare Mourdock to Joe McCarthy.  Donnelly is proving to be more than skilled as a candidate and is really hard to knock off message.  This strong candidate coupled with a strong Libertarian like Andy Horning in this race is not good news for Mourdock.

You know, I'm not there on all of Donnelly's views, but he's running a nearly perfect campaign thus far.  That's what it's going to take to win in November.

Here's the interview...and someone needs to tell Matthews that Richard Lugar's name is pronounced "Lew-gerr" not "Lew-garr".


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Timing Bad for Project School Closure

Mayor Greg Ballard
No one can argue with Mayor Greg Ballard’s decision to revoke the charter of the Project School, but the way it happened still isn’t sitting well.

On July 17, less than a month before the start of the 2012/2013 school year, Ballard’s office announced that the charter for the school would be revoked. The Project School took it to court, and Judge John Hanley ruled that the school could remain operating until a federal court decided the case. That hammer came down yesterday.

Despite the hammer hit, it seems, according to media reports, that many parents loved the school despite its apparent academic challenges and were ready to send their students back again this year.

Ballard had to do what he did, but that doesn’t make the situation any easier for parents who will now scramble to find schooling for their students. Potentially, that school situation may be back in Indianapolis Public Schools, the township schools or another charter or private school. Some students may even be home schooled. The problem, though, is that many schools are beginning, and it’s hard to uproot a student from a school they might have liked to put them in a new setting or perhaps one their parents tried to leave behind altogether.

The only two things I would fault the Mayor on in this situation is the timing and the response from his office. The Indianapolis Star quoted Mayor’s Spokesman Mark Lotter as saying, “Mayor Ballard is pleased with the court’s decision.”

How could you be pleased with turning students out with this short of notice? That would be my question.  I think the timetable is because of the ridiculous way ISTEP+ scores are released.  Regardless, there are no winners in this situation. Teachers are out of a job. Parents are upset. A school community is smashed. Most importantly, students are being forced into new places they don’t maybe want to go.

I believe this is the dirty underbelly of charter schools and what happens when we perhaps allow too many of them. Unfortunately, those in the state legislature continue to expand the role of charter schools and choices instead of focusing on improving the myriad of choices students and families already have in education.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hey Man, Wrong Democrat!

From the egg on the face department, a GOP tracker hired to track Joe Donnelly tracked the wrong Democrat.

According to the Star's Mary Beth Schneider, Fishers resident Kurt Holland was hired to follow and tape the actions of Rep. Joe Donnelly by Indiana GOP spokesman Pete Seat.  Instead, he followed my good friend Marion County Superior Court Judge Jose Salinas.

Salinas, who had been at a Democratic picnic, became alarmed, the Star report says, when the same man that was seen taping the Democratic picnic followed him.  Salinas, a criminal court judge, pulled some nifty maneuvers and was able to get the license plate number of the car following him and gave the information to IMPD.

Holland claims that he thought he was following Donnelly and told Schneider that he thinks tracking is "frankly undignified."

Way to go GOP.  Keep embarrassing yourselves.

Freedom of Expression

People all day were tweeting and sharing pictures about the crowds at Chick-fil-A.  While most of them were "traditional marriage" supporters somehow taking visiting a fast food restaurant as some sort of support for the "institution", others are sending out other pictures.  This one is appearing on Facebook now with this quote from a user named Jeni Lynn.

"Dear Chick-fil-A,

My little brother & his boyfriend:). We want the world to see this."



Love comes in many shapes, sizes, and forms, and no chicken sandwich will change that fact.  Despite what people think today, history will record who was on the right side and wrong side someday.

Election Predictions Part Deux: The Legislative Races

Just 97 days to go now until the big day. Time for a look at the legislative races.

U.S. Senate Race

Richard Mourdock is about the most unappealing candidate I’ve seen come through the process in a long time. In a state that is leaning really red, he should not be locked in a tight battle with Joe Donnelly, the Democratic nominee, but he is. He has every reason to be concerned.

Joe Donnelly is a good populist candidate, and he’s running an excellent campaign so far. He hasn’t made any missteps or errors, and he’s doing what he can do to stay within hailing distance of the Tea Party favorite. In fact, I don’t see a close race favoring Mourdock. If it stays this way, Donnelly will be taking back one of Indiana’s Senate seats.

I’m not ready to call this one yet, and it could go either way. Andy Horning can definitely swing this race. The Libertarian is more likely to pull votes from Mourdock than Donnelly, and if he can pull one or two percent, that could swing the election. He is a smart cookie, and he has done this before so he has name recognition. He’ll represent his party well but will likely end up playing spoiler at best.

Congress

By Indiana District:

*-Denotes Incumbent

1-Pete Visclosky* (Democratic hold)

2-Jackie Walorski (Republican pick-up)

3-Marlin Stutzman* (Republican hold)

4-Todd Rokita* (Republican hold)

5-Susan Brooks (Republican hold)

6-Luke Messer (Republican hold)

7-André Carson* (Democratic Hold)

8-Too Close to Call (See Below)

9-Todd Young* (Republican Hold)

The Bloody 8th should be back to its old self with Republican incumbent Larry Buschon facing Democratic challenger Dave Crooks. Crooks is a very popular Democrat in the area, and he should give Buschon all he wants. If someone tied me down and shoved bamboo shoots under my fingernails for a prediction, I’d say Buschon for now, but the TV ad war has yet to begin.

Indiana House and Senate

Well, I wish I brought better news in this regard, but I can’t really do that unless you are a Republican.  There’s no chance the Democrats will take back either side. None. 
 Republicans will likely be picking up House seats. How many? Hope it’s less than seven. If they get to a supermajority of 67 seats, it’s not going to be pretty in Indiana for us liberal types. I would think Democrats might pick up a couple of seats in the Indiana Senate, but that only leaves the D’s with 15-17 seats. If the Dems want some relevancy, they need to get to 18 seats in the Indiana Senate. That would be a pick-up of five seats. It’s not probable.

It's not all bad news for the Democrats.  But the races D's are competitive in are very volatile.  Ninety seven days can make a world of difference.  Lots of twists and turns still are ahead.  All of that said, there's plenty of races to watch and no reason that Democrats should not keep on fighting the good fight through November 6.