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Saturday, November 01, 2014
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Thursday, October 30, 2014 11:22 AM

By CHRIS SAUTTER

WASHINGTON – There’s a little known fact about Democratic congressional challengers in Indiana. They only defeat Republican incumbents in midterm elections. The last time a Democratic challenger knocked off a Republican incumbent to win a seat in the U.S House of Represenatatives in a presidential year was in 1964 when Lee Hamilton defeated Earl Wilson in the 9th District. Since 1964 Democrats have defeated congressional Republican incumbents only in off-year elections—1974, 1982, 1990, and 2006. No Democratic Senate candidate has won over an incumbent since Birch Bayh upset 3-term incumbent Senator Homer Capehart in 1962.  So why have Hoosier Democrats only won in midterm elections and why are they not more competitive in this year’s election?
    
One simple answer to the first question is that Indiana is a Republican state — the “reddest” in the Midwest. The GOP presidential nominee almost always wins in Indiana with coattails large enough to ensure re-election for incumbent Republican members of Congress, while occasionally picking up additional seats held by Democrats. Unlike other states, in Indiana the presidential year only voter is more likely to vote Republican than Democrat. The Democratic presidential nominee has won Indiana only twice since 1940 —  in 1964 and 2008. Lee Hamilton readily admits that Lyndon Johnson’s landslide victory paved the way for his first win in 1964. Barack Obama’s victory in 2008 over John McCain was too narrow to have coattails. However, Democrats picked up three congressional seats in 2006 in the most competitive districts in the state — the 2nd, the 8th, and the 9th — rendering a Democratic congressional pickup in 2008 unlikely in any event.
    
The answer to the second question is that midterm elections are historically bad for the party in the White House. Since World War II, the party controlling the White House has lost seats in every midterm election except two--in 1998 and 2002. Indiana Democrats have only knocked off House Republicans in midterm elections when Republicans controlled the White House. This year, only one Democratic challenger—Joe Bock in Indiana’s 2nd District—appears to be mounting anything approaching a serious campaign.

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  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    ENGLISH, Ind. – In the 2008 election cycle, we had the epic Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton presidential primary, and then Obama broke a 44-year Republican lock on Indiana’s Electoral College vote as the Obamas, Clintons, McCains and Palins made more than 150 campaign appearances on Hoosier soil. In the 2010 midterms, the Republicans stormed back, taking two congressional seats, Evan Bayh’s Senate seat and a 60-40 majority in the Indiana House. In 2012, we had the $50 million U.S. Senate race that saw Richard Mourdock depose Sen. Dick Lugar in the primary, only to blunder and watch Democrat Joe Donnelly capture the seat, saw Mike Pence become the first governor in half a century without 50 percent of the vote, and Republicans took super majorities in both legislative chambers. And the 2014 midterm? A comparative yawner. Yes there is the historic all-female Republican statewide ticket, with this trio of Connie Lawson, Kelly Mitchell and Suzanne Crouch expected to prevail. Yes, there are a cluster of Indiana House seats where Democrats are pressing Republican incumbents like Reps. Ed Soliday and Hal Slager in The Region, Alan “Landslide” Morrison in Western Indiana and Jack Lutz in Anderson. There’s another set of Indiana Senate seats along the Ohio River that are tossups, including incumbent Republican Sens. Jim Smith and Ron Grooms and Democrat Richard Young fighting for their political lives. And freshman U.S. Jackie Walorski is facing a spirited challenge from Notre Dame’s Joe Bock. But compared to the last three election cycles, this has been a letdown, or, perhaps, just a breather. 
  • By MORTON J. MARCUS
    INDIANAPOLIS – Those concerned with economic development often believe that raising per capita personal income (PCPI) is their numeric objective. They see this number as the measure of economic well-being. I contend PCPI should not be the focus of their efforts since they have little influence over PCPI. We’ll get to that next week. However, let’s see how Indiana and its counties have done over the long run, 1970 to 2012, a period of time sufficient to judge the results of an economic development plan or the performance of those responsible for implementing that plan. We’ll consider ourselves in terms of the nation rather than the more limiting comparison to Indiana alone. In 1970, Indiana’s PCPI was 8.6 percent below the national figure; by 2012 it was 13.7 percent short of the U.S. PCPI.  Where the U.S. grew by an average annual rate of 4.66 percent in those 52 years, Indiana advanced by 4.54 percent. That seemingly small difference, compounded over a half century, was worth nearly $2,300 in 2012 for every Hoosier, the difference between $38,622 per person in 2012 and the $40,914 we could have enjoyed if we grew at the national rate.  
     
  • By JACK COLWELL
    SOUTH BEND – How Democratic is St. Joseph County? Well, if Republicans win two key County Council races, it won’t be Democratic at all in either the executive or legislative branches of county government. Republicans already have and are sure to retain 2-1 control of the Board of Commissioners, the executive branch. Republican campaign strategists are targeting those crucial council races, seeking to win 5-4 control of the council, the legislative branch. Needless to say, county Democratic Chairman Jason Critchlow is seeking to get out the vote, always potentially the majority vote for his party in the Democratic-leaning but not Democratic-dominant county.
            
     
  • By MICHAEL HICKS
    MUNCIE – Though a large swing is predicted to favor the GOP, it is clearly out of frustration with the current administration. The midterm elections offer your columnist a delicious opportunity to write about elections. To start, I have to note that a search of Google Scholar, a ready outlet for academic research, yields some three-quarters of a million hits on elections and economy. It is a broad topic, so I will focus on three things. First, this election demonstrates the short duration of some political “revolutions.” It is six years into President Obama’s term, and if the polls and prediction markets prove right, this election will see the largest GOP majority since the Truman presidency, along with a strong senate majority. This too may not last, but it is a remarkable a turnaround in political fortunes, animated almost wholly by an electorate dissatisfied with the outcomes of public policy. 
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Mike Claytor TV ad: Cost of corruption
Democratic state auditor nominee Mike Claytor's TV ad pitches the candidate as a CPA, not a politician. Claytor is challenging Republican Auditor Suzanne Crouch.
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  • Horse Race: Mitchell forecast to win treasurers race
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    BLOOMINGTON – Republican Kelly Mitchell won a three-way Republican convention floor fight last June and ended up with a Democratic opponent, Mike Boland, who served in the Illinois General Assembly. Boland has said conducted a spirited campaign and offered to donate his salary to charity. Indiana Republican Chairman Tim Berry responded, “It’s easy for Mike Boland to pledge to donate his salary when he still collects two pensions from the State of Illinois totaling nearly $100,000 a year. Mike helped bankrupt Illinois public pensions and hike income taxes 67 percent as a legislator in Illinois. Hoosiers don’t take too kindly to that kind of reckless spending.” Boland’s campaign responded to Berry on Thursday, saying, “The Republican state chairman is at it again making negative attacks and twisting Mike Boland's record because they do not know how to deal with a candidate who wants to give back by donating his salary to charity and scholarships."
     
  • Crouch has more than incumbency edge over Claytor
    By MAUREEN HAYDEN
    CNHI Statehouse Bureau

        
    INDIANAPOLIS – Suzanne Crouch has more than incumbency to her advantage in the race for state auditor. Appointed last December to fill the vacant post, Crouch has taken to the campaign trail with verve. She’s turned her red eyeglasses into a signature look, passing out red plastic frames to supporters. The Republican’s gregarious nature – she once sang on the floor of the state’s House of Representatives in support of a music therapy bill – gives her an edge with voters over her more introverted opponent, Democrat Mike Claytor, an accountant who’s never run for office.
     
  • Little noticed secretary of state race carries big consquences

    By MAUREEN HAYDEN
    CNHI Statehouse Bureau   
     

    INDIANAPOLIS – At 4 feet, 11 inches tall, Democratic candidate Beth White may be height-challenged but wants voters to know that she doesn’t suffer from a shortage of humor. In a campaign ad, one of the first launched in this lackluster election year, the two-term Marion County clerk makes fun of her physical stature as she pledges to create shorter waiting times for voters if elected secretary of state. “Sometimes shorter is better,” she says as she’s seen walking under a low-hanging tree branch that smacks a taller passerby in the face.
    White must make a big leap to win an office held by a candidate who is better known and better funded. Republican Connie Lawson, a former Hendricks County clerk and state senator, was appointed to the post in 2012 after her predecessor was convicted of felony voter fraud. To become the state’s chief elections officer, both women are counting on years of experience in political office and the loyalty of party voters.

     
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  • Zoeller warns candidates on late robo calls
    “There are appropriate ways to reach voters by phone, and I will take swift action against candidates who disregard our laws in an attempt to solicit votes.” - Attorney General Greg Zoeller, warning candidates not to use robo calls in the homestretch of the campaign. 
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Toll Road

Should the Indiana Toll Road revert back to the state since the bankrupt leasor is not living up to maintenance agreements?


 

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