Many Placing Their Money on House GOP Surge

Many, but not all, were surprised when Massachusetts Rep. Scott Brown earned the special election victory earlier this year to replace Ted Kennedy. The same group that called that upset also predicted President Obama’s electoral vote total nearly a month before the 2008 election.

That same entity — Dublin, Ireland-based InTrade, an online futures market — now is giving House Republicans a 50-50 chance to reclaim control of their chamber in November.

On Tuesday, April 20 at 4:55 p.m., InTrade’s market for GOP control of the House hit 50.5, meaning traders believed there was a 50.5 percent chance the House would change hands in November. According to CongressDaily:

Analysts at the Wharton School of Business have pegged InTrade’s margin of error at 1 to 1.5 percent, or half that of comparable Gallup polls.

Although one or two major market-makers with deep pockets and an axe to grind can sometimes influence the betting, InTrade has proved to be accurate more often than not. That’s because traders are more likely to do their homework with actual money on the line than with a pollster’s voice on the line, Wharton professors and others argue.

At the close of trading in April 22, Democrats had only a 48.4 percent chance to retain the House. That chance has steadily declined throughout the year but only dropped below 50 percent this week. InTrade’s market for House Republicans picking up at least 35 seats hit 59.5 percent.

The Senate picture is brighter for Democrats, based on InTrade betting. The latest trading puts Senate Democrats’ chances at holding their majority at 77.9 percent. But the market for Republicans picking up at least seven seats stood at 50 percent. 

Spangle: Libertarian Party Anticipates Growth, Doubling Filed Candidates

Chris Spangle is executive director of the Libertarian Party of Indiana.

Since the closing of the polls on November 4, 2008 there has been a rush to find out exactly what a Libertarian is and why a third party may be the only viable option left for responsible government. The word is said more often now than two years ago. The failures of both Republicans and Democrats to keep their promises in the last 30 years have led to a growth of the Libertarian Party base in Indiana by Hoosiers unwilling to reform broken parties that refuse to mend. (Don’t be fooled into thinking we are all "R’s" in "L" clothing. Half of our current statewide leadership are former Democrats. It’s my vote anyways.)

We took to aggressively build our grassroots organizations. In the last year and a half, over 30 county parties began or renewed their efforts to regularly organize their county parties by outreach events and candidacies in 2010. We’ll add four more this month. We also revamped our web site at www.lpin.org and online properties to spread our message to a younger, and more receptive, audience. In fundraising, we’re close to doubling our efforts from one year ago.

Most importantly, it’s difficult to ask people to vote Libertarian if you don’t run candidates. In 2008, the party ran less than 30 federal and state level candidates combined. We anticipate that number to more than double and possibly triple. We’ll have quality candidates in all 10 federal races. For the first time ever, we had a contested federal Senate race at our version of the primary – a nominating convention. We will have anywhere from 25 to 50 candidates in the state legislative races. We nominated over 20 state legislative candidates this past weekend, and have more ballot vacancies to appoint. A complete slate of candidates is close to completion in Marion and Lake County alone.

The most important race for 2010 is the Secretary of State race. Our candidate is Greenfield resident Mike Wherry. We’ve achieved two percent in every Secretary of State’s race since 1994 to achieve consistent, automatic ballot access. We’ll need to hit that number again in 2010 to maintain automatic ballot access for the next four years. We believe now more than ever, Hoosiers need that third option. In many state legislative races, we are the second option. (At this moment, almost 38 state legislative races have one candidate.) Ballot access is crucial to the survival of our message. By achieving 10 percent we will have attained major party status, and would hold primaries (we currently have nominating conventions) and “register” Libertarian voters in Indiana. That data would greatly increase our ability to spread the libertarian message.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Out of respect for our guest bloggers, we will not be allowing anonymous comments on their blogs this week. Additionally, the Indiana Chamber does not necessarily share the opinions of our guest bloggers.

Dalton: HD19 GOP Primary has Intrigue for Northwest Indiana Voters

Steve Dalton’s popular blog Northwest Indiana Politics is read by many politicos statewide.

House District 19: The Republican primary pits former Mayor of Crown Point Dan Klein against Fran Katz, chief operating officer of the American Society of Agronomy.  

Republicans believe this seat to be particularly vulnerable to a pick-up in that first-term incumbent Shelli VanDenburgh is a Democrat in a marginally Republican district – by a small margin. In a year where one House race may determine control of redistricting, and some of those races may be determined yet again by just hundreds of votes – or less, this race has been targeted by HRCC as a key priority. During 2009, there was quite a bit of effort expended to recruit former military hero Luke Abbott to run for this office, and initially he did announce intentions to run. Early in 2010, word leaked out that his work schedule would preclude him from running and HRCC began to search to find another suitable candidate. 

Here’s where there is a bit of controversy: Instead of working closely with the new GOP chair from Lake County, Kim Krull, HRCC jumped quickly to put out former Mayor Klein’s name and freeze everyone else out. Fran Katz then, with the support of chairman Krull, filed to run as well. Chairman Krull says she will work with the winner to replace Vandenburgh, but that she was not in the loop and didn’t know that Klein was being recruited. There have been words of frustration from both camps over the apparent faux pas, but at this point there’s a primary and everyone’s working to win.

Former Mayor Klein is handicapped by his dramatic loss in the Republican primary in 2007 to the director of the Crown Point Chamber of Commerce (the Republican went on to lose the mayor’s office to Democrats in that year). There have also been persistent issues surrounding an investigation into a loan made to Plasmatronics, an economic development opportunity, while he was mayor. The discussion boards and blog comments have been littered with accusations that to date have not been anything more than that. But all handicaps and gossip mills aside, Klein has name recognition as a former mayor and current director of Habitat for Humanity. He also has the support of potential Speaker Bosma and the finance commitments that may be necessary to knock off an incumbent Democrat. Rumors that this run is merely a stepping stone to another run for mayor are probably whisper campaigns to stir up resentment only. 

Katz appears to bring a wealth of experience in sciences and research, and a lifetime of working to combat arbitrary ceilings and barriers. She does not have the name recognition that Klein holds, but she has the tacit support of the Lake County GOP organization and those in Crown Point who remember Mayor Klein less than fondly.   

I would predict a Klein win, though a smaller margin than expected by any of the internal polling, based on name recognition voting. A big turnout favors Klein; a weak turnout in heavy rain probably gives Katz a chance.  

U.S. House District One: I can keep this short and sweet. Rob Pastore has run the most aggressive campaign, and has captured the most attention among Republican candidates. I would expect him to win the primary. I would also expect that, barring major corruption charges, Pete Visclosky will win re-election. This is the safest seat in Indiana for Democrats.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Out of respect for our guest bloggers, we will not be allowing anonymous comments on their blogs this week. Additionally, the Indiana Chamber does not necessarily share the opinions of our guest bloggers.

C-SPAN Founder Lamb Looks at Past & Future of Network at Economic Club

Presidential Medal of Freedom winner and famed journalist Brian Lamb began Wednesday’s Economic Club of Indiana presentation in Indianapolis by poking fun at the C-SPAN networks he created and runs. The audience rolled with laughter as Lamb played satirical journalist Jon Stewart’s commentary on the admittedly dry nature of C-SPAN’s 24-hour congressional coverage.

With all joking aside, Lamb, a Lafayette native and Purdue alum, used archived C-SPAN video to share a variety of Hoosier success stories. Lamb demonstrated the massive archives’ true value with his uncanny ability to connect incredible happenings with the often tiny details of their origin. Lamb recently made C-SPAN’s entire 30 years of video history free and available online in hopes that educators will start making similar connections for young minds.

Going where cameras have never gone before

C-SPAN is regularly credited with gaining unprecedented government access for all media outlets – increasing the public accountability of elected officials. Not all of this access has been welcome or easily won.

“Our whole effort is public meetings and you would be surprised how hard it is to get into public meetings,” Lamb explains.

Lamb described how resistance from congressional leadership has increased over the past couple of years, but stated his belief in the need for private meetings to occur.

The times they are a changin’

Lamb, well known for avoiding even the slightest hint of his personal political views, did comment on broad changes in political media and the increasingly argumentative tone.

“I think we’re probably better off when people are at each other’s throats and challenging each other on bills,” Lamb offered, adding, “The stronger the voices are, the better…”

Lamb spoke of the three networks that dominated news when he was growing up and how much government happened behind closed doors because of the lack of available coverage. He welcomes the advent of blogging and social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.

One aspect of media evolution that Lamb views as negative is the increasing impact of money on the trade – pointing to Walter Cronkite’s hiring of a talent agent in 1952 as the first link in this chain.

The next Economic Club event is scheduled for Tuesday, May 4 and will feature Mark Miles, president of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership discussing economic development in Central Indiana. 

Learn more about the Economic Club of Indiana.

Harper: Northeast Indiana Races Favor Banks, Souder

Mitch Harper is author of the popular blog, Fort Wayne Observed. He is also a Fort Wayne City Councilman.

The news may be that multiple counties are reporting that absentee and early voting levels are only at or below the typical levels for a mid-term election. This tends to suggest that a surge of motivated voters dissatisfied with government in general and the federal government, in particular, is not occurring in the primary cycle.

That surge may yet appear this fall. But these lower primary numbers mean that the typical Republican primary voter this year looks a lot like, well, the traditional Republican primary voter.  And that probably is a favorable sign for former Senator Dan Coats and incumbent 3rd District Congressman Mark Souder.

Senate: This is home ground for former Senator Dan Coats and State Senator Marlin Stutzman. Dan Coats is less strong here on his old home turf than many would have expected. Marlin Stutzman is well regarded here and has his own base.  Marlin also benefits by being the alternative choice of voters who might otherwise be in play for Mr. Coats or Mr. Hostettler. The impression that he is gaining momentum will have him taking votes from both Coats and Hostettler here during the next week. Will it be enough to offset the older, traditional Republican voter who favorably appreciates Dan Coats’ prior service? Maybe in northeastern Indiana but Marlin needs an extraordinary vote here to give him a chance statewide. 

However, by the conduct of his campaign, Marlin Stutzman comes out a winner regardless of Tuesday’s outcome.  

Senate District 17: The race to fill the seat of retiring State Senator "Doc" Dillon is likely to be an easy win for Whitley County Councilman Jim Banks. Mr. Banks is a meticulous campaign organizer. He is regarded as being favored easily in all of the District 17 counties with the exception of Huntington, home of County Commissioner Tom Wall. It is not that Mr. Banks won’t win that county, too, it’s just that Huntington politics is always interesting. 

US Representative, Third District: US Representative Mark Souder should win renomination. The question probably is whether he wins with over 50% of the vote over three challengers. Auto dealer Bob Thomas has spent heavily and the effect has been to marginalize Phil Troyer as the alternative choice.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Out of respect for our guest bloggers, we will not be allowing anonymous comments on their blogs this week. Additionally, the Indiana Chamber does not necessarily share the opinions of our guest bloggers.

Gerard: Democrats Hoping to Capitalize on 2008 Momentum

RJ Gerard is communications director for the Indiana Democratic Party.

Indiana went Democratic blue in 2008 for the first time in 40 years because like the rest of America, Hoosiers wanted change. The Indiana Democratic delegation has worked feverishly to bring that change to Indiana. And while the upcoming primaries should not bring any significant surprises for Democrats, the Indiana Democratic Party is poised to field a solid slate of candidates from federal to local elections this fall.

Democrats are keenly focused on holding on to all of their Congressional seats at the federal level, and feel it’s critical to maintain control of the Indiana State House of Representatives. Equally important is the Indiana U.S. Senate race, which will be in the national spotlight with former Vanderburgh County Sheriff and U.S. Congressman Brad Ellsworth working hard to replace retiring Sen. Evan Bayh.

Hoosiers saw change become reality with the passing of health care and insurance reform. Showing courage and leadership, all Hoosier Democratic members of Congress, including Sen. Bayh, voted for the measure, while the entire Republican delegation voted against it.

This one issue provides insight into this upcoming election; whether to continue on the path of hope and change, or turn back to the failed policies of the past.

Repealing health care reform would be disastrous for Hoosier families; 820,000 Indiana residents would lose health care, 76,800 small businesses would lose existing tax credits and appalling insurance practices of the past – such as denying coverage due to preexisting conditions – would be reinstated.

Let us not forget that it was the Republican Party, during eight years of GOP control, that turned record surpluses into record deficits and favored the special interests and lobbyists over the interests of ordinary Hoosiers.

Even today, Hoosier Republicans are still standing with Wall Street and opposing the reforms that would protect Americans and prevent future bailouts. To the contrary, Indiana Democrats are looking out for Hoosier families and demanding accountability from Wall Street.

In response to these failed Republican policies of the past, President Obama and Hoosier Democrats have provided tax cuts to 95 percent of working Americans through the Recovery Act, tax cuts to small businesses and instituted polices that are helping to get our deficit under control, turn our economy around and create jobs.

The Indiana GOP and its candidates represent the failed ideas of the past. The time for change has come. Hoosier Democrats are working diligently to make sure it happens.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Out of respect for our guest bloggers, we will not be allowing anonymous comments on their blogs this week. Additionally, the Indiana Chamber does not necessarily share the opinions of our guest bloggers.

Clark: Primary Could Serve as Barometer for GOP Enthusiasm

Murray Clark is the Indiana Republican Party Chairman.

From every primary election, dozens of stories emerge to set up the narratives that are played over and over again through November. Which candidate won and why? How was Candidate X able to pull off an upset and will he or she be able to pull it off again in the fall? Is Candidate Y as electable in a general election against Candidate Z as he or she was in the primary? How much did Candidate Q’s fundraising advantage help?

But for all the stories one can cull from primary election season, I’m most interested in looking at the broader themes that will shape the discussion we have through the summer and fall. Which races had the most voters, and what does that tell us about enthusiasm? What are the common denominators with the candidates that won? What do the results tell us about the issues most important to the electorate?

Comparing and contrasting the candidates who will square off in November is a worthwhile endeavor and immediately helps to educate voters on the issues. However, under the surface, campaigns will look to answer questions about party momentum and the mood of the electorate. We’ll work hard to identify trends that can tell us what is most pressing with voters and what can we expect from that. This bigger picture view will do much to shape individual races, as well as give us a better idea of how voters will make that final decision on November 2. 

But it also allows those of us with the party organizations to determine if our strategy to date has been effective, or if we need to shift focus. We’ve spent a lot of time at the Indiana Republican Party highlighting the successes of the policies of Gov. Daniels and legislative Republicans, arguing that this record is one of positive change and clearly the best leadership for the state to continue its progress. We’ve also pointed out that the tax-and-spend policies of Washington Democrats that will bankrupt businesses and leave the unemployment rate stagnantly high puts the nation on the wrong track. By looking at those broader questions as they’re played out across all races, we’ll get our first chance to see if the voters agree.

So while pundits in the media start looking at those individual storylines on primary election night and beyond, I’ll be taking an aggregate view. If you want a better idea of how this fall will play out, I’d encourage you to do the same.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Out of respect for our guest bloggers, we will not be allowing anonymous comments on their blogs this week. Additionally, the Indiana Chamber does not necessarily share the opinions of our guest bloggers.

U.S. Chamber: We Need the Right Bill on Financial Reform

While we’re primarily focused on next week’s primary elections in this space throughout this week, the hot topic in Washington right now is financial regulatory reform. Tom Donohue, president/CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (there is no direct relationship between state chambers and the national organization, but we do work together on supporting policy that positively impacts jobs and the economy) offers a succinct commentary that provides solid suggestions for improving the legislation currently under consideration.

Financial regulatory reform is essential, and it needs to happen this year. But it’s not enough to pass any bill—we need the right bill. The rules set now will govern financial markets for years to come, impacting job creation and economic growth. At the time of this writing, a bipartisan deal may be in the works, but here are five ways we think that the current Senate legislation can be improved:

Consumer Protection—The Senate bill creates a $410 million Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with far-reaching powers—even over many nonfinancial businesses. In fact, any business that allows customers to pay in more than four installments or assesses a finance charge would be covered—even an orthodontic practice. The bill also opens the door to a new wave of lawsuits because state regulations are not preempted by new federal rules. Strong consumer protection can be better achieved through a council of regulators.

Too Big to Fail—Instead of eliminating the concept “too big to fail,” the Senate bill embraces it, ultimately designating firms as too big to fail and creating a $50 billion bailout fund. What’s needed is an orderly and predictable system—much like our current bankruptcy process—to unwind failing institutions quickly, fairly, and without taxpayer expense.

Derivatives—The Chamber agrees we need more transparency and disclosure in the multitrillion-dollar derivatives market, but there must be exemptions for businesses using the market to hedge risk on such things as exchange rates. These businesses do not threaten the stability of the financial system and should not be forced to post cash collateral that would otherwise be used to grow the business, invest, and create jobs.

Corporate Governance—Provisions in the current bill would trump state corporate governance laws—which have worked well for 150 years—in favor of one-size-fits-all federal laws. That would give labor unions and other special interest shareholders the power to leverage their agendas at the expense of other shareholders. These issues don’t belong in this bill.

Volcker Rule—While the Chamber agrees with the intent of the Volcker Rule to stabilize the financial system, its implementation would put American companies at a global disadvantage. Better tools—such as higher capital and liquidity requirements—can be used to achieve the same goal.

Financial regulatory reform is something Congress simply has to get right. The current bill needs more commonsense provisions to attract broad bipartisan support. The changes we outlined would do just that, while strengthening our capital markets, helping prevent future crises, and boosting our economy.

Abdul: Coats to Victory? Tea Party May Play Pivotal Role

Abdul-Hakim Shabazz is host of the popular radio program "Abdul in the Morning" on 1430 AM WXNT. He is also an attorney and columnist, and author of the blog, Indiana Barrister.

As a political talking head, I’m frequently asked who is going to win or lose elections? I tend to have a pretty good track record, but when it comes to the race for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate my prediction is more speculative than anything. But with that said, I think there is good chance for Dan Coats to walk away with the nomination, and the Tea Party crowd will be responsible for his victory.

On a macro-level, Tea Party people by their very nature are not a top-down organization but more a grass roots collective of activists, in other words there are no leaders, more like coordinators. And because of that mindset, Tea Party groups are not likely to endorse any candidates, the best you can hope for is to win a straw poll.

Take that and add the fact they all have a disdain for anything with Washington attached to its name and Dan Coats, and to a lesser degree John Hostettler, are not necessarily fan favorites. So where does that leave the Tea Party voter – to split his or her vote amongst Richard Behney, Don Bates, Jr., and Marlin Stutzman? You get enough people splitting votes…you see where this is going. It also doesn’t hurt that Coats is all over the airwaves.

Now I am not saying that the race is Coats’ to lose. There is still an x-factor in this race that’s larger than almost any I’ve ever seen in 20 years of covering politics. So anything can happen and it usually does. The point I’m making here is that since the Tea Party movement hasn’t coalesced around one “non-Washington” candidate, under this scenario Coats is the likely victor. Talk about irony.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Out of respect for our guest bloggers, we will not be allowing anonymous comments on their blogs this week. Additionally, the Indiana Chamber does not necessarily share the opinions of our guest bloggers.

Winston: 2010 Primary Season is One of New Courses

Robin Winston is a former Indiana Democratic Party Chairman, and his political commentary has been sought after by many in local media, including "Indiana Week in Review" on WFYI-TV.

This is a unique primary season because so much attention has been focused on the initiatives of President Obama. The President has charted a positive course for our nation to address a myriad of issues, including stimulating our economy, rebuilding our infrastructure, investing in education and finally addressing health care. 

A record number of Republican candidates are seeking open seats in Congressional Districts in Central Indiana. Some of those candidates represent truly divergent interests for the GOP.  May 4 will offer an opportunity to determine the strength of candidates espousing the views of “Tea Party” supporters. If successful, the Tea Party-backed candidates will change the dynamic of the GOP. If not, it will be interesting to see if they back Republican candidates in the fall.

Our party is fortunate to have Brad Ellsworth running for the U.S. Senate. A moderate and a pro-life and pro-gun Democrat, Ellsworth will bring common sense to the chaos in Washington. He has served as an Indiana sheriff longer than as a member of Congress and knows that Washington is not working for the American people. 

A few weeks ago, I joined Congressman Ellsworth for lunch and found him to be open, modest and self-deprecating. He is the epitome of a hard-working, middle-income Hoosier. He keenly understands the need for Washington to work for our interests. His past experience as a sheriff taught him that doing what is right is more important than scoring political points. That’s why he’ll work to build consensus and be an independent voice working for Hoosiers. 

Once Hoosiers get to know Brad and know more about his positions on the issues, I am confident that they will vote for him as an excellent successor to Senator Evan Bayh.

On a final note, please vote on May 4.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Out of respect for our guest bloggers, we will not be allowing anonymous comments on their blogs this week. Additionally, the Indiana Chamber does not necessarily share the opinions of our guest bloggers.