Need I say anything about yesterday’s election results? Probably not, but I will anyways! The morning after elections is always full of disappointments for the losing party and candidates, but it is also a time to regroup and understand that there is hope. So here is my assessment – purely personal of course – on the Indiana races:
Senate – Sheriff Ellsworth vs. Carpetbagger Coats:
Coats was hand-picked to drop back into Indiana after Evan Bayh decided to self-limit his senate terms. Coats and his wife were all set to retire in North Carolina – review the clip where he stated “if you don’t tell the good people of Indiana” referring to his plans to get out of Dodge permanently (although he hadn’t lived in Indiana for over a decade) and make his retirement home in North Carolina. He even noted how excited he was at the prospect of registering and voting in North Carolina.
Of course, the issue of residency reared its ugly head, so he followed what is becoming an all-too-common path to running for office – he rented a space in the appropriate jurisdiction – in this case, Indiana – to establish residency. I would imagine it is a studio or something not too expensive since he likely will not be here much, if at all.
Odds are Coats has not sold his home in North Carolina – heck – I would bet the farm he hasn’t sold his home. He will be an absentee Indiana senator, commuting to North Carolina during his term where his real home is located. Any bets on how often he will actually step foot back in Indiana – the state he abandoned years ago?
This race is one of the most puzzling, but it shows that Hoosier values is an empty phrase to all those who voted for Coats. I mean how is it he runs on Hoosier values when he hasn’t been a Hoosier for 12 years? Shouldn’t he have been espousing North Carolinian values or lobbyist values or Washington, D.C. values? Any values but Hoosier values.
At any rate, look for Coats, now 67, to run one term and then get back to his original retirement plans away from the “good people of Indiana”, which makes it almost certain he won’t spend much time in Indiana during his senate term. Why would he? He will mosey back to North Carolina, live in his $2 million dollar home, more than likely return to lobbying, and never give the “good people of Indiana” a second thought.
Both parties have probably already started thinking ahead to 2016.
House of Representatives – Hayhurst vs. Stutzman:
No surprise that this is the most disappointing of the races for me. After beginning on Tom’s campaign in September 2009, the loss is extremely discouraging. I watched Dr. Hayhurst traverse this district, walking door-to-door, speaking at events, participating in parades, and running a heart-felt campaign to be this district’s representative in Congress. Hayhurst did not jump from one race to another – he focused on the congressional seat for Indiana’s Third District and would have made a great representative for the Third District.
Stutzman was selected in June, did very little campaigning, and probably looked at the race as an “entitlement” and pretty much a given.
I have to wonder whether Stutzman’s desire for the congressional representative’s seat was sincere or simply opportunistic. Since the age of 26, Stutzman has run for or held one office after another: Indiana House of Representatives, Indiana Senate, U.S. Senate, and now U.S. House of Representatives. One gets the sense that “any old office will do.”
All the while, Stutzman continues to allege he is a “fourth-generation” farmer – but more likely he is a “FINO” – a “farmer in name only.” I mean, how do you run for four offices in eight years, participate in legislative sessions, and farm full-time? And, now as a full-time legislator, how will he keep claiming he is a farmer?
Anyone who has been involved in farming knows that you don’t climb down off a combine for a photo shoot, go back to campaigning, and then call yourself a full-time farmer. Farming is hard work and requires long hours – even with the advent of technology those agricultural products don’t magically appear on your table or the store shelves.
My guess for Stutzman’s future? He will attempt to stay in the House of Representatives until the opportunity for the 2016 senate race raises its head. He will then switch gears again and go for the open senate seat which I predict Coats will vacate to return to North Carolina. Opportunism at its height!
Morris vs. Wyss
What a disappointment – citizens complain and complain about career politicians yet continue to send the same politicians back year after year in a self-fulfilling cycle. While Wyss may be a likable guy – he is a career politician with 25 years under his belt. Maybe the voters see part-time politicians differently than full-time politicians. I have to wonder if all those voters who whine about career politicians have taken a look in the mirror and understand they are the very reason these politicians have careers in politics.
In the Indiana Senate race for District 15, the voters had an opportunity to send new blood to the state senate. Jack Morris was well-informed on the issues confronting our state while Wyss tends to author or sponsor laws that are pretty much negligible and may be difficult to enforce. Many of his efforts have been referred to as “nanny-state” legislation.
On the bright side, this race did force Wyss to campaign and remind voters who he was and what he looked like – something he hasn’t had to do much of with little competition in the past.
Ross vs. Dodge
This one was a real shocker – Codie was an excellent candidate following the path of Ed Roush’s campaign style and was well-informed on issues, especially those involving education. As a previous teacher, his background would have been valuable in the area of education and its trials and tribulations. With Daniels now poised to privatize our public schools, we need representatives who understand just what is at stake in this arena.
Dodge was also forced to campaign to keep his seat. A small business owner who is now retired, Dodge has had very little impact in the Indiana House and prefers to maintain a low profile.
Indiana General Assembly:
Daniels’ Dangerous Tri-Fecta:
With the Indiana House of Representatives a 58 to 42 majority for Republicans, Daniels will now have the trifecta of power. Republicans have whined about Obama’s trifecta for the past two years, so now let’s see if they acknowledge the danger in the trifecta they now will possess. Bet you won’t hear a peep out of them.
With Daniels’ Republican minions now in control of both House and Senate, you can kiss goodbye any hope for Indiana’s environment, education, and social services. With Daniels now in charge of two kowtowing legislative bodies, his privatization plans – even though terribly flawed in some cases – will kick into high gear. Remember Daniels’ earlier reactions when he didn’t get his way on what he wanted; he sometimes acted like a spoiled child and often was not involved in the legislative process.
In the area of environment, he has already diminished IDEM’s enforcement powers to the point of extinction along with attempting to do away with environmental regulations that protect our Hoosier air, waters, and lands. Daniels sees Indiana as one big factory farming lot and will continue his efforts to increase the number of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) regardless of the detrimental impact on air, soil, and water. But that is of no import to the pro-big business minded Daniels.
Daniels contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to candidates through his “Aiming Higher” PAC, so look for a number of representatives to be in Daniels’ pockets when it comes to key votes. Look for a new and energized Daniels to steamroller through his destructive privatization plans for our state during his remaining two years.
Sarah Palin may have considered herself a lame-duck in her first term, but you can bet Daniels will go with the label “game-duck” as in ” I am game to destroy Indiana’s environment, education, and social programs.”
The issue of partisan redistricting now leaps to the front and center. The redistricting will occur in 2011 based on the 2010 census. Todd Rokita, the soon-to-be ex-Secretary of State, has put forth a plan called “Rethinking Redistricting” under the guise of helping us poor, uniformed Hoosiers better understand the redistricting process.
I understand it quite well, thank you – redistricting is political – always has been and always will be. The party in power in the Indiana House of Representatives attempts to draw and re-draw lines to better enhance its chances of retaining control of the federal congressional legislature.
If the Republicans decide they would rather oust Joe Donnelly in the 2nd congressional district and not worry about keeping Marlin Stutzman in the 3rd congressional district, then a map will be designed to shift either all or part of the red county of Kosciusko into the 2nd district thus creating a larger Republican voter base.
Since Donnelly barely hung on in this race, a shift could cause major problems for his re-election in 2012. But what may be bad for Donnelly could be good for Third District Democrats. Removing Kosciusko County means that the Third District will need to pull in voters – most likely from the south in what is now Pence’s 6th district – as it was in the days of the old 4th district, which was somewhat more Democrat-friendly than the current 3rd district.
Indiana State Elected Officials:
Secretary of State: Vop Osili vs. Charlie “I don’t know where I live or vote” White
Who’d have thunk Hoosier Republicans would vote in a guy who is under investigation for voter fraud, and who, if convicted, probably will be removed from office? Obviously, either Republicans have again abandoned those “Hoosier” values which so often drip from their lips, or they just don’t get it.
Sure, he is innocent until proven guilty, but he has already acknowledged his “error” by resigning from the Fishers’ town council he represented. He was involved in drawing the council’s boundary lines, so his “oops, I didn’t know” act has little credibility. His resignation is one of those “I got caught” moments requiring action.
Vop was a great candidate. I got to know him back in the late winter when I asked him to speak at our Third District Breakfast Club. A graduate of Carnegie-Mellon and Columbia University, he is a small business owner. He is thoughtful, well-informed, articulate, and energetic. My prediction? Watch for Vop to continue to be a rising star in the Indiana Democratic Party, and, perhaps at the national level.
Pete Buttigieg vs. Richard “I like wasting taxpayer money” Mourdock
Another rising star in our party, Pete Buttigieg, is the son of educators and grew up in South Bend. He was valedictorian of his high school class and went on to earn a degree from Harvard before studying economics at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.
Before leaving his job to campaign full-time, Pete’s career as a businessman took him across the country and around the world. Providing analysis and insight to key decision-makers, he has worked in a variety of areas including economic development, retail strategy, energy and logistics.
Sam Locke vs. Tim “I like campaigning on the taxpayer’s dime” Berry
Sam was born and raised in Connersville, Indiana, and graduated from Connersville Senior High School. He went on to attend Indiana University – Bloomington on a ROTC scholarship and graduated with a BS in Secondary Education and BA in Political Science before being commissioned an officer in the Air Force. He earned his Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Wyoming while serving in the Air Force at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base.
Sam is another young and rising star in our party. We are truly fortunate to have had three great candidates for our state offices, and who I hope will continue to grace the Democratic party with their achievements and efforts.
Some Final Thoughts
While yesterday was a tremendous defeat for Democrats here at home and nationally, I have been around long enough to know that this is not the demise of the Democratic party. This is a cycle in our country’s political process. We watched the huge democratic victories in 2006 and in 2008, and now the victories – at least some of them – have swung back to the Republican column.
The Republicans will be no more successful at pleasing the American voter than the Democrats. And, the Tea Partiers will find they are such a small number that they will really have no impact on policies or the direction of our country. I can’t wait to hear the bellow of Rand Paul in the Senate that “we have come to take back our country” only to realize that his voice is a mere mouse squeak in the scheme of things.
Voters are becoming ever more a crowd that wants something done immediately despite the fact that most issues require time – and sometimes a lot of it. They refuse to understand that our system was created with a check and balance factor that makes the wheels turn slowly.
Americans have become conditioned to instantaneous gratification – partly as a result of technology and the fast pace of our lifestyles. When I was offline with no internet for five days this past week, I had to talk myself down from the ledge. Just kidding, of course. But think about how we all demand everything immediately. What is fast today will be slow tomorrow and on and on.
As we ramp up our expectations for speed, speed, and more speed, we are not willing to accept the notion that our Founding Fathers created a political system meant to crawl toward resolution of a myriad of issues – and those issues were not the same increasingly complicated issues we face today.
While yesterday was, indeed, a bad day for Democrats, I think of the song from the Poseidon Adventure “There’s Got to be a Morning After.” Democrats will reinvigorate themselves as in the past, and the cycle will begin anew. With the outstanding slate of candidates we fielded this election, I have tremendous hope for upcoming elections.
And, indeed, today is that morning after, and I am already looking forward to upcoming campaigns!