Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Hope... In Indiana? Yep-- A Week From Today (But Not In The Senate Race)


Indiana has a really important primary for progressives a week from today-- the 9th congressional district has a face-off between stalwart and brilliant progressive Dan Canon and some DC insider who's pretending to be part of the local community. Electing Dan can be a game-changing event because there are so few members of Congress like him. Most Democrats are just worthless garden variety seat-occupiers, some better than others, like Liz Watson, the one from DC opposing him. Please consider contributing to Dan's field operation here.

Meanwhile a much bigger deal is being made about a Senate race that will eventually result in electing either a very conservative Republican pr a very conservative Democrat. None of them are any good but-- surprise, surprise-- the very conservative Democrat, Joe Donnelly (rated "F" by ProgressivePunch and, according to them, the 4th worst Democrat in the Senate (after Doug Jones, Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp). But that contest is not 'til November. Next Tuesday the big race is for the GOP nomination to oppose Donnelly.

Donnelly was a crap Blue Dog in Congress, who realized he had ZERO chance of being reelected in 2012, so he went for a hail Mary pass and ran for the U.S. Senate and then lucked out when neo-fascist Richard Mourdock knocked out mainstream Republican Richard Lugar. Predictably, Mourdock-- though not running around with a swastika on his arm-- was caught saying insane enough things for Donnelly to actually beat him, albeit narrowly-- 1,281,181 (50%) to 1,133,621 (44.3%), with a Libertarian drawing 5.7% of the vote. Donnelly is probably hoping for a replay-- and he may get one, as the Republican candidates push each other further and further right in a quest for a lunatic, Trumpist party base. NBC covered the Republican primary fight for NBC News yesterday, noting that the Republicans are charging each other with things like "Drunken driving, self-dealing and false advertising," while all 3 candidates-- Congressman Todd Rokita, Congressman Luke Messer and former state Rep. Mike Braun-- are "doing their best to portray themselves as the second coming" of... SeƱor Trumpanzee.

As of the April 18 FEC reporting deadline Braun had raised the most-- $5,841,425 (though 91.6% of that, $5,350,377, was from his own pocket)-- compared to Messer ($2,895,11) and Rokita ($2,659,487). Donnelly has out-raised them all-- $9,773,228-- not counting the $3,007,557 that Schumer's Senate Majority PAC has spent on Donnelly.
If it comes down to who is the most Trump-like, Braun should have the edge.

He took the political establishment here by surprise, dumping millions of dollars of his own money into ads that introduced him to voters and framed his opponents as twin denizens of the Washington "swamp" that the president often rails against.

In one ad, Braun, 64, dressed in his trademark blue shirt with sleeves rolled, walks around with cardboard cutouts of Rokita and Messer, both in suits and matching red ties, and asks voters if they can tell his rivals apart. Spoiler alert: They can't.

Like Trump, Braun has focused on his business acumen-- in his case an auto-parts distributorship. And while critics note that he voted in Democratic primaries for many years and worked legislative levers in the Statehouse to try to win tax breaks for the timber industry, in which he has a personal stake, neither argument make him seem less like the president.

Trump won Indiana with 56 percent of the vote in 2016.

Braun lumps his primary opponents together with Donnelly, saying that the incumbent, Messer and Rokita have failed to make a positive mark in Washington-- a message that could remain consistent from the primary to the general election.

"I'm not going to waste my time," if elected, Braun told NBC News. If he can't make a dent, he pledged, "I'm going to head back to Hoosierland."

Braun has raised his profile to the point that with 45 percent still undecided in the only public poll taken, he led on April 11 with 26 percent, to Rokita's 16 percent and Messer's 13 percent. Veteran political observers here say that the combination of Braun's ad blitz, and the relatively sleepy and low-dollar campaigns of his rivals, has vaulted him to front-runner status. But they also say the race is unsettled.

"This is fascinatingly close," said former Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind. "People who are following are changing their minds. I've never seen such fluidity before."

n 2017, the American Conservative Union scored 25 votes by House members. Rokita voted with the group, which runs the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in the Washington area, all 25 times. Messer strayed just once, by voting to fund the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a federal program that shares costs with local governments and private investors to aid small and mid-size manufacturers.

Messer voted for an omnibus spending bill last month that boosted funding for both the military and domestic accounts while Rokita voted against it. But even Trump appeared to be torn on the matter, trashing it publicly before he signed it.

Both lawmakers have had to explain past allegations of driving under the influence. Messer, 49, who won his state House seat after his predecessor was killed by a drunken driver, has been convicted twice on such charges. Rokita, 48, was arrested for illegal consumption of alcohol and possessing a fake ID after a traffic stop when he was in college-- the officer reported that he seemed intoxicated-- but those charges were dismissed and his campaign has said he passed a sobriety test and was in possession only of closed-container alcohol.

Before Trump was the Republican nominee, Rokita and Messer both bashed him-- as "vulgar" and "race-baiting," respectively.

Now, though, they each want to be seen as the logical pick to help Trump advance his agenda in Washington. Messer, who represents portions of the Indianapolis suburbs and the eastern part of the state, notes that he has a slightly higher score (92.9 percent) than Rokita (90.1 percent) in FiveThirtyEight.com's rating of how often lawmakers vote with Trump.

Rokita is also talking like it's still 2016-- referring to "Crooked Hillary" on the campaign trail and keeping alive supporters' calls to "lock her up."

Tina Beck, a Trump backer who voted early for Rokita, lamented last week that Clinton had not yet been jailed, while blasting the media for trying to "get" the president.

...It's Rokita and Messer who have to make up ground in the closing days of the campaign. Both say they're better bets in November.

Rokita is embarking on a final sprint through 50 events, and his spokesman, Nathan Brand, said that push and the record he has in Congress will help put him over the top.

"Todd will continue to outwork his competition over the final days, talking directly to voters about the need for a pro-Trump, pro-life, pro-Second Amendment conservative who will stand up against the liberal elites in Washington," Brand said.

Brad Todd, a consultant to Messer's campaign, said Republicans need to put up a nominee in November who can win over swing voters in the Indianapolis suburbs.

He said honesty could be the key to the race.

"The whole argument against Donnelly is that in Washington he isn't who he says he is in Indiana," Todd said. "Braun has faced criticism for claiming to be a 'lifelong Republican' in his ads while his voter records show he was a lifelong Democrat even into the Obama years. Rokita claims to have Trump's endorsement but the president demanded he cease and desist. Luke [Messer] heads into the general with the strongest argument against Joe."

Voters here will welcome the end of the ugliness in eight days.
Pretty ugly-- all the more reason we need to elect Dan Canon to Congress-- starting with the Democratic primary next week.

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At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In DC, as long as the Pelosi and scummer cabal exist, there is no hope.

In IN, as long as it is populated by Indianans, there is no hope.


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