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FixCam on Location: A Closer Look at Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The Fix is in Indiana today to attend a debate between the two Democratic candidates for governor, do a little bit of speechifying and, yes, eat at Chick-Fil-A. (Who knew? There's one in the Indianapolis airport.)

Indiana was at the epicenter of Democratic House gains in 2006 as challengers knocked off Republican Reps. Chris Chocola, John Hostettler and Baron Hill; a full 10 percent of Democrats' total gains in the House came from the Hoosier State.

The 2008 election cycle promises to be a bit quieter although Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) faces a serious challenge from either of the two candidates who have descended on the historic Walker Theater to debate today: architect Jim Schellinger and former Rep. Jill Long Thompson.

Daniels' job approval ratings are only so-so and Democrats believe they can build on the gains they made in 2006 by taking back the governor's mansion in 2008.

Brian Howey, a political analyst and author of the nonpartisan Howey Political Report, is more skeptical.

Daniels, he said, laid out a roadmap of his plans for the state when he was elected four years ago and by and large has accomplished those goals. "The Indiana Democratic Party needs a vision," said Howey. "They need someone who will lay out a vision for where they will take the state."

That's not to say Daniels' should put his re-election bid in cruise control, however. The biggest threat to Daniels, according to Howey, is a negative national political environment that afflicts anyone with an "R" after their name. "Mitch Daniels is probably most vulnerable to an adverse reaction to Iraq," said Howey.

For the moment, Indiana is one of the most competitive governors races on the ballot in 2008. (Missouri is the other.) That competitiveness means a lot of national money will be spent on both sides in the coming 13 months.

On the House side, the race to watch is in the 9th district where Rep. Baron Hill (D) and former Rep. Mike Sodrel (R) are facing off for the fourth time in as many elections. There's no love lost between these two men and this race promises to be one of the most bruising battles of the 2008 cycle.

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 23, 2007; 6:00 PM ET
Categories:  FixCam  
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For the record, WWI was paid for largely by jacking inflation up to 118%--we inflated the debt away.

We carried a huge debt from the Revolutionary War for a long time after. But that war was more justifiable, and successful, than Iraq.

Posted by: jon.morgan.1999 | October 26, 2007 3:30 AM | Report abuse

You sure IN was the epicenter of the House in 06?? We beat 3 incumbents there, compared to 4 in PA. With the 7th, 15th, and 16th districts open, and the 1st, 2nd, and 14th competitive, could Ohio be the epicenter of this cycle's House races?? It will already be the #1 state in the presidential.

When you're in Indianapolis, you MUST go to Shapiro's Deli, 808 S. Meridian St. (at McCarty, exit 79B off I-70) for the best Jewish deli food in the Midwest. This is not up for debate! No more of that Chuck-Fil-A nonsense.

Aren't the bathrooms at IND clean???

Posted by: jon.morgan.1999 | October 26, 2007 3:25 AM | Report abuse

You and me both. I just can't quite figure why it got any traction at this point in time. I assumed that anybody that was in Congress would be cognizant of the implications of bringing this up now. But as the saying goes, you know what happens when you assume... But I would much prefer to assign ignorance than other motives to this.

Posted by: dave | October 24, 2007 9:48 PM | Report abuse

dave - I completely agree about this resolution and only meant to point out that it keeps coming back like a bad penny. Someone here, I think, said that Pelosi had been woodshedded and was going to quietly drop it off the agenda. Hope so.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 24, 2007 8:33 PM | Report abuse

It would actually be quite shocking if Mitch were to lose this race. The Democrats that are being put forward are completely anemic and unknown by the general populace.

Compared to that, even though there has been several unpopular (in regions) policy proposals that Mitch has implemented, everyone knows that Mitch DOES things. Right now, property taxes are a big issue and he is the only one that is making real proposals to get that under control.

Add to that a huge negative vote here if Clinton is on the Presidential ballot (even if Bayh is selected as her running mate) and Mitch will do very well. I anticipate at least a 10 point win and probably closer to 15 points.

Posted by: jedh | October 24, 2007 4:49 PM | Report abuse

AndyR3 and mark_in_austin,
So if the US already passed a resolution in 1996, what is the impetus to do it again now? I'm certainly not defending the Turks or genocide, but are there really that many Armenian Americans to where America needs to condemn something that happened long before most of us were born on the other side of the world that, for the most part, did not involve the US? And if so, does it have to be done right now?

The Turkey thing COULD become a big problem. It's not quite just yet. Northern Iraq has been relatively stable for a long while now. Back in July (the same time the surge reached full strength), Maj. Gen Mixon, commander of US forces in Northern Iraq had begun to talk about a plan to begin moving troops out of there starting Jan 2008 and transitioning security to Iraqi forces. Three provences had already transitioned. I had not heard this had been accelerated. Mixon was commander of all of 24,000 troops in July and had just had his troop strength increased from 3,500 in May (apparently the surge was driving militants out of the Baghdad area to his region and he needed the increase to handle it). He said he might be able to reduce the 24,000 total by one-half in the 12 months to 18 months after beginning a transition in January. In the article I read, he talked a lot about wanting to make sure that we didn't lose any ground in a transition of troops out of the area. Based on what I have read, I don't think that the surge is the reason there are problems on the northern border.

Posted by: dave | October 24, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

AndyR3, I agree that genocide ought not to be tolerated, but it seems to me that the recent House resolution on the Armenian genocide is doing more harm than good, even setting aside the issue of the cross-border raids. The United States is extraordinarily unpopular among the Turkish people: polling data I read not long ago stated that the percentage of Turks who viewed the U.S. in a positive light was in the single digits, and that 65 percent of Turks saw the U.S. as a threat to Turkey's security. Under these circumstances, Turkey is likely to bristle at any recommendations that the U.S. might make, no matter how good the intentions or how important the cause. Rather than advancing recognition of the Armenian genocide, an American lecture will likely set back such recognition.

To make an analogy, imagine that, during the 1960s, the Soviet Union had issued a high-profile statement condemning the Jim Crow laws. Would the USSR have been right to condemn American racism? Absolutely. Would such condemnation have helped the civil rights movement? On the whole, probably not.

Posted by: tjmaness | October 24, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse


It was nice to meet you at the HPR Forum yesterday in Indy. Please keep an eye on the 7th District race. Carson's health may be much worse than her staff is telling the public, which has been very little to date. This race could break wide open shortly after Indianapolis' municipal election in a couple of weeks.

Gary Welsh

Posted by: gwelsh | October 24, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

WW2 was shouldered by debt too. That is really when our national debt took off.

Posted by: AndyR3 | October 24, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Turkey has been putting forces on the border for a while now. If you read the BBC or things like the economist then they have been reporting on this for a while.

One of the reasons Turkey agreed finally to work with us on Iraq before the invasion was that we promised them that we would put a stop to the cross-border attacks by the Kurdish rebels because our troops would hold the border. The problem is that the main part of the troops that we had on the border left a while back because the kurdish region was generally stable and they were needed for the "surge" in Anbar and Baghdad.
Now, the KKD could start attacking Turkey without real threat of the US forces stopping them, which they did. So when people say "the surge is working", yes Baghdad isn't Mogadishu right now (more of a sister city if you will), but we have the current problem with Turkey. Also if you include the Turkish soldiers (allied forces?) that have died on the border then your stats of October seeing a decrease in killings doesn't stand up. That is the story of Iraq as I see it. For every success that we have there is one or two new problems that pop-up, and this Turkey thing is a BIG problem.

Now the Democratic led resolution that was voted on in committee definitly didn't help the situation, but to say that it caused it is just not true. And IMO genocide is genocide, we should call out other countries and our allies ESPECIALLY for supporting or participating in acts of genocide. It should never be tolerated under any circumstances no matter the political, economic, or cultural ramifications.

Posted by: AndyR3 | October 24, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

claudialong wrote:
"Does anyone know if this is the first time the US has ever funded a war entirely with borrowed money?"

As a matter of fact, it isn't. The Revolutionary War was funded primarily with French and Dutch loans.

Posted by: tjmaness | October 24, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

USA Today leads with a new Congressional Budget Office estimate scheduled to be released today that says the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq could cost $2.4 trillion. The new estimate not only takes into account the increased requests for funding, but also adds billions in interest, which is recognition that the wars are "being funded with borrowed money."

Finally -- actual reporting. Nice to see a little of that for a change. Does anyone know if this is the first time the US has ever funded a war entirely with borrowed money?

Posted by: drindl | October 24, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

'But bad news for Dems - the war is getting better. '

dave -- this is a really nauseating thing to say -- and I am getting tired of this BS coming from your siide. Do you really think accusing two-thirds or three-fourths of your fellow citiziens [this is how many oppose the Iraq occupation now] of being happy that american kids are getitng blown up is intelligent discourse? why do you hate America?

judge -- it's a strange idea but if push comes to shove --and it probably wiill-- we'll have to start looking at pretty drastic solutions. This one somehow sounds like it will heavily invoke the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Oh and as far as Blackwater, I've no doubt that the self-righteous murderer Erik Prince will eventually get a Presidential Medal of Honor, which nowadays seems to be reserved for the Most Heinous Criminal in the US.

Posted by: drindl | October 24, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Drindl: thought you might be interested in this link:

Of course, it would open up whatever government that tried this to lawsuits whenever somebody slipped on the snow but hey, if they can shield the scum at Blackwater from well-deserved murder raps....

Posted by: judgeccrater | October 24, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

dave, the former R Congress passed something just as bad in '96. The Armenian and Greek Americans push this all the time.

Look at the '96 Resolution:
104th Congress
2nd Session

House Resolution 3540

An Act

Making appropriations for foreign operations, export financing, and related programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1997, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,



SEC. 547. Not more than $22,000,000 of the funds appropriated in this Act under the heading "Economic Support Fund" may be made available to the Government of Turkey, except when it is made known to the Federal official having authority to obligate or expend such funds that the Government of Turkey has (1) joined the United States in acknowledging the atrocity committed against the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923; and (2) taken all appropriate steps to honor the memory of the victims of the Armenian genocide.


That the following sums are appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1997, and for other purposes, namely:


Passed the House of Representatives June 11, 1996.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 24, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately I have not been able to watch it - i'll give it a view on line when i get a chance. Actually, I'd be more interested for a show to document our (or anybody's) successes in the middle east and what a successful policy might be. It seems to me that numerous policies have been tried and all have experienced failure or bad unintended consequences. When you think of ME success, the Carter peace accords immediately jump to mind. But even that had results that have caused problems, Hamas being one of the problems that comes to mind. While I am all for reviewing what you have done and analyzing your mistakes, that is a lot easier to do then figuring out where to go from here and not make the same or new mistakes. I'm a pessimist that thinks "Middle East peace" is an oxymoron and I am not convinced that there really is a solution or even a successful policy. I'd be happy with a policy that just keeps a lid on things over there.

Posted by: dave | October 24, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

dave, I have thought of Pelosi as no better than an "operative" and I can only hope that she will listen to wiser heads and kill the Armenian genocide resolution.

For historical record, this was last raised by R Congress during Clinton Admin and the Rs agreed to kill it at Clinton's request ['99?].

I think it has come up on House side 5 times since Truman and until now has always been killed before a floor vote.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 24, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

It is interesting that the Turkey issue is progressing at this time. It is rather curious timing, coming shortly after House Foreign Affairs Committee approved the Armenian Genocide resolution and Pelosi has vowed to bring it to a full vote (in Nov). I think everyone knows that Turkey is a critical country to have on board in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bush administration, certainly not known for their prognostication abilities, had this to say about that resolution. Rice - "...would be "very problematic" for ties with Turkey and for Middle East peace." and "But the passage of this resolution at this time would, indeed, be very problematic for everything that we're trying to do in the Middle East because we are very dependent on a good Turkish strategic ally for this." Gates - "...would be very destabilizing for our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Now there are obviously other things in play in this situation but this action by Democrats at this time is certainly not helpful, and potentially disasterous. And the timing of it (reports of surge having some successes, election) is just curiouser and curiouser.

Posted by: dave | October 24, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Chris writes
"The biggest threat to Daniels, according to Howey, is a negative national political environment that afflicts anyone with an "R" after their name. "Mitch Daniels is probably most vulnerable to an adverse reaction to Iraq," said Howey."

While somewhat true, I think some pundits are putting too much credence on this theory - particularly with reference to non-federal elections. In MN in 2006, for instance, the Dems put up a less-than-ideal candidate for Gov, and the R Gov (Pawlenty, watch for that name, friends) beat him. Compare that to the Senate blowout where Klobuchar (D) decimated Kennedy (R). So, in short, the Ds have an opportunity, but taking advantage of the opportunity requires good candidates & hard work.

Mark- that Franken is collecting a lot of outside-MN dollars. Dallas is a surprise though.

Posted by: bsimon | October 24, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Andy, Did you see "Frontline" last night?

The last two weeks of "Frontline" have provided compelling testimony to the failures of our Middle East policies.

dave, I hope you watched them, too.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 24, 2007 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Daniels has never gotten his approval ratings above 50% since 2005. I don't see how he survives a challenge unless they make a monumental slip-up. The Indiana Toll Road privatization is a major drag on his chances, and although the rest of his tenure might have been good he needs the commuters (ie white suburbanites) that were hurt by the toll road deal to come back to his side if he wants to win.

Taken with the national feelings towards the war, SCHIP, and apprehension towards the economy I see Daniels going down.

And Dave if you think for one second that the situation in Iraq is anything less then terrible then you are delusional. We'll be lucky if Turkey doesn't invade northern Iraq in the next week, and if that happens look for Iran and Saudi Arabia to amp up there influence too (ie arms to their respective factions). You know that regional conflict that the experts warned the war mongers about FOUR years ago, well it is happening.

Posted by: AndyR3 | October 24, 2007 8:37 AM | Report abuse

"Indiana was at the epicenter of Democratic House gains in 2006 as challengers knocked off Republican Reps. Chris Chocola, John Hostettler and Baron Hill; a full 10 percent of Democrats' total gains in the House came from the Hoosier State."

Baron Hill was the Democratic winner. He knocked off Republican Rep. Mike Sodrel.

Posted by: stardevo | October 24, 2007 4:31 AM | Report abuse

bsimon -

Franken is doing a $500+ / person fundraiser in DALLAS!

Marc Stanley invites you to a luncheon with Al Franken

October 24, 2007 Noon-1:30 p.m.
House of Blues
2200 N. Lamar Street
Dallas, TX

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 23, 2007 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to be OT, but continuing from last thread --For you, JD -- this should be someone you respect:

'Lloyd's of London, the oldest insurance market in the world, yesterday urged its members to start taking global warming more seriously, by increasing prices to avoid being "swept away" in a sea of future financial claims.

Premiums will have to rise and some risks might even be classed as uninsurable due to greenhouse gases and rising sea levels, warned Lloyd's in a report entitled Climate Change, Adapt or Bust.

"Although it's almost two decades since the UN recognised that climate change was a catastrophic threat to the Earth, it's clear that the insurance industry has not taken catastrophe trends seriously enough. Climate change is today's problem not tomorrow's. If we don't take action now to understand the changing nature of our planet we will face extinction," said Lloyd's director, Rolf Tolle.',,1791115,00.html

Now you see what I'm sayin?

Posted by: drindl | October 23, 2007 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Hill-Sodrel sounds like it will be one of the most interesting races to watch in the nation. I think the national trend might be the deciding factor. But bad news for Dems - the war is getting better. From the AP: October is on course to record the second consecutive decline in U.S. military and Iraqi civilian deaths and Americans commanders say they know why: the U.S. troop increase and an Iraqi groundswell against al-Qaida and Shiite militia extremists.

Posted by: dave | October 23, 2007 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Indiana is featuring four competitive House seats next year. IN-9 is rated toss-up in the latest house rankings put out by Campaign Diaries, while IN-2, IN-8 and Democratic-held IN-7 are all lean-retention:

Posted by: yfreemark | October 23, 2007 6:43 PM | Report abuse

" a little bit of speechifying..."

I'm going to take you seriously and ask: to whom will you be speaking?

" at Chick-Fil-A..."

Is that the nutritional mecca for on the road political reporters? My kids eat that stuff; I stick to their wraps.

"The biggest threat to Daniels, according to Howey, is a negative national political environment that afflicts anyone with an "R" after their name. "Mitch Daniels is probably most vulnerable to an adverse reaction to Iraq," said Howey."

Which makes this very interesting and a possible more realistic barometer of the national mood in contrast with the through-the-looking-glass result in Louisiana. As far as R's are concerned it could be "Indiana DOESN'T want me, Lord I can't go back there..."

Posted by: judgeccrater | October 23, 2007 6:28 PM | Report abuse

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