Friday, March 30, 2012

District 37: Driskell vs Huston

The other night, I went to a candidate forum at Fishers Town Hall featuring the two GOP candidates for the new State Representative District 37 seat, which is comprised of about 80% of Fishers.  (Speaker Brian Bosma has the rest, Geist and some other areas).  The two candidates are Debbie Driskell, long-time Delaware Township Trustee and long-time GOP insider Todd Huston.

I listened with interest, as one of these candidates is likely to be the new State Representative from this district, which I live in.  The Democrats have no announced candidate, although they have some time to remedy that, and it is predominately Republican, as is most of Hamilton County.

Driskell and Huston did not disagree about a lot.  Until they got to education, and in my opinion, Huston really stepped in a big mess.  The state's schools are all graded, not just by performance, but by how well they improved from previous years.  Well, Hamilton Southeastern Schools are among the best in the state, so how much can they improve each year?  This resulted in Fishers High School and Hamilton Southeastern High School getting "C" grades (they nearly failed, but it was appealed), and Huston served on the State Board of Education.  To pretty much everyone's shock, Huston DEFENDED this system, and Driskell jumped all over that, in the biggest disagreement of the night.

Now if a local person with a long involvement in education defends a system which is so obviously wrong for our excellent local schools, something is wrong with that picture.

Driskell and Huston either agreed or dodged other issues, including their position on the city-town debate that has been raging in Fishers for the last few years, stating it was a local decision, and not a state issue, and both stated they would support whatever the voters decide.

As one of about 2 Democrats in a room full of Republicans, I found that I would disagree with both candidates about plenty of things.  But Debbie Driskell struck me as more practical, and Todd Huston more ideological.  I don't vote in the GOP primary, so this may be a moot point for me, but some might find my observations interesting.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Picking your opponent

There seems to be a trend in politics for those in one party to meddle in the selection of candidates of the other party.  This came to light in a major way in the 2008 Presidential primary when conservative Republicans responded to Rush Limbaugh's call to "Operation Chaos", asking GOP voters to cross over and vote against their (then) most-hated candidate, Hillary Clinton.  Well they did, Barack Obama won the nomination, and guess what, he won in November.

Now, the state Democratic party seems to be trying to help State Treasurer Richard Mourdock knock off long-time incumbent Senator Richard Lugar.  They think Mourdock would be an easier candidate to attack, and they are right.  They have issues with Lugar being in Congress so long, and concerns about his residency, and they are right about that.

But what if Mourdock beats Lugar, then goes on to defeat Congressman Joe Donnelly in the November election?  As no fan of Mourdock at all, as he wasted millions of dollars of the public's money trying to kill Chrysler, what service would it be to Indiana or the nation to elect this man?

Generally, I am in favor of the two best and strongest candidates competing in a battle of ideas and organization in a general election. This usually serves the public best, not that the result is always right. But trying to pick your opponent strikes me as a Bad Idea, bad politics, and bad for the public.

Beware of what you ask for, you might get it.  And regret it.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Supreme Court rules White challenge untimely

In a 4-1 ruling on this point, the Indiana Supreme Court has issued an opinion today that the Democratic Party's challenge filed after the November 2010 election for Secretary of State was untimely.  This reverses a decision by the Marion County Circuit Court.  The opinion of the Supreme Court is here.

Interestingly, the Supreme Court's decision did not decide the validity of White's voter registration, but decided the case in a way that leaves White's criminal conviction and pending appeal unaffected.   Unless the 6 felony convictions are overturned, White is still out of the Secretary of State's office.  All this decision today does is to keep Vop Osili out of that office. 

In a separate opinion, Justice Dickson disagreed with the majority and felt that the Democratic Party's challenge was in fact timely under the election law.  However, he also felt that the requirement of being a registered voter, legally or illegally, was a violation of the Indiana Constitution, which does not contain such a requirement for the office of Secretary of State. 

The oddest thing about this decision  is that it would require background investigations and challenges at a much earlier time frame, perhaps earlier than is reasonable.  In the case of White, it would have required an investigation months before I actually knew anything about White's shell game with his residence and voter registration.  In other words, we were required to act before we actually knew anything. 

But this all could have been avoided IF THE VOTERS HAD PAID ATTENTION.  A few did, but not many.  Too many voted for the party, and not the man, as I have previously written.   Voters all too often do not pay attention until very late in the process.  Our democracy suffers because of this. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Did Susan Brooks shift to the right?

One of the earliest candidates for the Fifth District Congressional seat being vacated by a (finally!) retiring Dan Burton is attorney Susan Brooks.  A former U.S. Attorney and executive at Ivy Tech, Brooks is the only female candidate in the race.

When I learned of her announcement in July 2011 that she would oppose Burton, who had not yet announced retirement, I was interested as she had a reputation as a moderate who might be pro-choice and not dogmatically Radical Right like Burton.  Apart from being female, such moderate positions would distinguish her in that race.

But with Burton out and a total of 8 GOP candidates for the nomination in the Fifth, Brooks seemingly has veered to the right with the rest of the field.  She now describes herself as a "pro-life conservative" and makes policy statements accordingly.

In doing so, has Brooks abandoned large numbers of moderate GOP women who might otherwise support her?  By shifting to the right, does she risk losing those moderate GOP women to a Democrat if she is her party's nominee?  With the altered makeup of the Fifth District, that is a very real possibility.

Bad move by Brooks.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Where does McIntosh live?

For all the recent uproar about where certain candidates do or do not live (Richard Lugar, Charlie White), another candidate has his own residency issues, which I have been looking into, but which I have not seen commented about anywhere in the Hoosier media.

That candidate is former Congressman, now running again for Congress in the Fifth District, David McIntosh.  McIntosh used to live in Muncie, where he owned a house near the campus of Ball State University.  But that house was sold some years ago.

McIntosh's own campaign bio (at the end), has him living in Arlington, Virginia.
Currently living in Arlington, VA with wife, Ruthie, and two children, Ellie and David.
McIntosh's campaign bio

When I started asking around, people told me that they thought that McIntosh lives somewhere in Pendleton. But I could not get an actual address on that.  McIntosh seems to be registered to vote in Anderson, at a house owned by someone else.  Whether or not he actually lives there is anyone's guess at this point, even if it is only part-time.

McIntosh works for a law firm in the District of Columbia as a lobbyist.  Law firm bio  He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia.  His Indiana lawyer registration lists him as working for the same law firm, but with an Anderson PO Box, not a physical address.  That PO Box is the same one used for his campaign committee.

McIntosh's ties to Virginia are so strong, that last July, the conservative PAC associated with the Citizens United group asked McIntosh to run for Congress FROM VIRGINIA:
"David McIntosh and his family have lived in Arlington, Virginia for the past 5 years. If McIntosh dreams of being a Congressman again, he should run against Congressman Jim Moran in Virginia's 8th Congressional District where he resides," said David N. Bossie, President of Citizens United. "For the elites to try and fix an election in Indiana shows they did not learn anything in 2010. The Conservative movement stands fully behind Conservative Congressman Dan Burton in his quest for reelection. DC Lobbyist David McIntosh should reevaluate a future campaign."
Press release

Virginia resident?  DC lobbyist?  I don't know how comfortable a lot of Hoosier voters will be with that.  They did elect Dan Coats to the Senate over similar objections, but it seems to me that the Charlie White and Dick Lugar residency issues may have shifted that thinking.

Article I, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution states:

"No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen."