Indiana Could be Factor in GOP Primary

Whether in support of Romney, Gingrich, or even Paul, Indiana Republicans and primary crossovers could play a key role in deciding who the 2012 GOP presidential nominee will be. The Times of Northwest Indiana reports how:

The early presidential caucus and primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina will be the center of the Republican Party’s world next month, but Indiana’s May 8 primary could prove more important.

Republican Party rule changes, penalties for early primary states, and candidates with enough money and supporters to remain in the race may all combine to give Indiana Republicans a taste of the campaign fun Democrats enjoyed in 2008.

Gov. Mitch Daniels is among the Hoosier Republicans rooting for a drawn-out nominating process.

"One can conjure a scenario … that might lead to a situation that’s still in play when May gets here, and that’d be terrific," Daniels said. "I thought it was so great when it mattered on the Democratic side last time."

Republicans changed their rules for awarding convention delegates last year hoping to capture the excitement Democrats had as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton battled for months to win the nomination in 2008.

As a result, most early primary states in 2012 will award convention delegates proportionately, based on a candidate’s share of the state’s primary vote, instead of winner-take-all.

In addition, five states that moved their primaries to before March 1 were penalized by the GOP and lost half their delegates.

That means the minimum 1,142 delegates needed for nomination won’t be selected until March 24 and no candidate is likely to win every one of them, putting later primary states with a lot of delegates, such as Indiana’s 46, in play.

Jesse Benton, campaign manager for Ron Paul, said the Texas congressman will strategically compete for delegates throughout the primary process.

"Our campaign has a comprehensive plan to win the delegates needed to either secure the nomination or enter into a brokered convention in Tampa," Benton told POLITICO.

The last time a Republican convention opened without the front-runner in control of enough delegates to win the nomination was 1976 when Ronald Reagan tried to wrest the GOP nomination from President Gerald Ford. Ford lost in the general election that year to Jimmy Carter.

Daniels, who briefly considered running for president earlier this year, believes a brokered convention might not be all bad, even though intra-party fights tend to turn off undecided general election voters.

"At a time when the country is facing just terribly consequential issues, if it led to a good healthy debate about not merely personalities but about what kind of program of change to bring to America, I could convince myself it’s not the worst outcome," Daniels said.

The term-limited governor said he won’t be throwing his hat in the ring at a brokered convention, but he’d enjoy watching it.

"I’ve always said the greatest spectator sport, forget the Super Bowl, if either party ever had a truly deliberative convention in the mini-camera world, it would be spectacular," Daniels said.

Not all Republicans believe the nomination will be up in the air when their convention begins Aug. 27.

Schererville Republican Dan Dumezich, who is leading Mitt Romney’s Indiana campaign, is confident the former Massachusetts governor will have the nomination locked up.

"I think we’re going to have an answer a lot sooner than most people think," Dumezich said. "I’m hoping we have one by January 31."

GOP, Dems Working on Overhauling Primary Process

Are you so burned out on politics by this point that you’ve placed a V-chip block on MSNBC and Fox News, and are focused solely on your fantasy football draft or the home stretch of "Project Runway?"

I wouldn’t know about that last part, just that it’s a popular show right now … but isn’t Michael Kors always just so right on in his critiques? I definitely agree with him more than I do with Nina Garcia. What?

Anyway,  according to a Stateline report, both the GOP and Democrats are using convention time this year to revamp their primary processes by 2012 in an effort to prevent such a long, drawn out effort.

Democrats plan to create a commission this week to draw up a new calendar and process for the 2012 presidential nominating schedule, while Republicans will likewise begin meeting this Wednesday (Aug. 27) to discuss a possible overhaul of the primary calendar in advance of their own convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul Sept. 1-4.
 

IBRG Goes 16 for 16 in ’08 Primaries

There is success — and then there is a "100% grand slam, we did everything we intended to do" outcome.

The latter sums up Tuesday for Indiana Business for Responsive Government (IBRG) , the political action arm of the Indiana Chamber. IBRG is in the business of electing state legislators focused on a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda. It endorsed 16 candidates (nine in the House and seven in the Senate). All 16 were winners.

Among the highlights:
* IBRG was part of a coalition supporting challenger Wes Culver (R-Goshen) against incumbent John Ulmer, also of Goshen, in House District 49. Culver earned a most impressive 70.7% of the vote

* IBRG was active in the re-election effort of Dan Leonard (R-Huntington), who collected more than 58% of the vote in handily defeating two challengers in House District 50

* An open-seat Senate race saw IBRG help Republican Jean Leising (a former state senator from Oldenburg) collect more than 48% of the vote in a four-way battle in District 42

IBRG bases its endorsements on legislator voting records (as documented in the Legislative Vote Analysis) and candidate interviews. There won’t be too much time for pats on the back, however, as the general election awaits — as does the effort to elect legislators ready to work for an economic climate that rewards Indiana companies and their employees.

UPDATE: Indiana political blog Hoosier Access has also taken note of IBRG’s success, heralding the PAC as the big winner on election night.