Indiana Democrat Starts Facebook Movement to Choose Bayh’s Replacement

Sen. Evan Bayh’s surprising move last week to announce he was not running for re-election was stunning, even to many most familiar with Indiana politics. However, the timing of said move (just before the candidate filing deadline) struck some the wrong way, even in his own party. The Democrats’ inability to field a candidate via signatures leaves the ultimate decision to the party’s State Chair and Central Committee. Janette Surrisi, a Democrat in Culver, has started a Facebook group (which has 55 members as of this writing) to rally state Dems in demanding that convention delegates be the ultimate deciders. In an e-mail, she writes:

The people of Indiana deserve to choose the democratic candidate for Evan Bayh’s senate seat. Evan Bayh announced only a day before the deadline to get on the primary ballot that he would not be running for election in 2010. Many speculate that the timing was a political maneuver to make sure that the Indiana Democratic Chairperson and Central Committee could hand pick the candidate of choice for the senate seat and in doing so leave many primary voters in the cold.

To remedy this, we believe that the more than 2,000 Indiana Democratic State Convention Delegates should pick the candidate for Bayh’s seat. Delegates are elected in the primary to go to convention. If not enough candidates are elected to delegate spots, county party chairman can appoint citizens of the party to the position. Currently, democratic delegates pick their Secretary of State, State Auditor, and State Treasurer candidates at convention.

We petition that Dan Parker and the Indiana Democratic Party Central Committee allow the delegates to vote for the democratic senator candidate at convention in June. We believe that the candidate that earns the most votes from the delegates should be named by the Central Committee as the candidate on the ballot for the democrats in November.

This group is dedicated to giving Indiana voters a voice. All voters Democrat, Republican, or Independent deserve to pick their candidates.

The Impact of Bayh’s Departure

The Indiana Chamber’s Cam Carter sat down with Gerry Dick to discuss the impact of today’s surprise announcement, though the true repercussions remain to be seen:

As political observers scramble to assess the impact of Senator Evan Bayh’s decision not to seek re-election, the vice president for federal affairs at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce believes it’s too early to tell what it could mean for business in the state. In a Studio(i) interview, Cam Carter says Bayh has been under the chamber’s microscope for voting to place a labor law attorney on the National Labor Relations Board, who appeared to favor proposals including card check legislation.

Carter says the Democratic Party will have to scramble to pick a candidate to run for the Senate seat in this year’s election.

Tomorrow is the deadline to gather 4,500 signatures from around the state to get a name on the ballot and Friday is the deadline for candidate filings.

Inside INdiana Business has video here.

Obama Policy Committee Member Wonders ‘Where is Outrage?’ About Education

Our very own Candace Gwaltney recently scribed an interesting piece in BizVoice about former Wabash College grad and now Washington D.C. attorney/school choice advocate Kevin Chavous. In the article, Chavous offers evident outrage over the current state of public education, explaining 40% of all fourth graders in the U.S. are not reading at grade level, and students attending public high schools in urban areas have less than a 65% chance of graduating (way less, in many cases).

But for politicos, what you might find most interesting are the political ramifications of school choice and how it could change the shape of the left/right paradigm as we know it:

Chavous, who has served on president-elect Barack Obama’s education policy committee, says national reform can occur with bipartisan efforts locally and nationally. “That’s a challenge because the traditional Democratic, union-led education policy folks, some of which are on that policy committee as well, clearly are going to be resistant to some of the radical change that needs to happen in education.”

He notes Obama is a strong supporter of charter schools and in the last presidential debate “he didn’t pound the table on vouchers.” Chavous predicts Obama will “come to support all forms of parent choice,” which will cause a shift in the Democratic Party.

“The way forward in terms of parental choice is bipartisanship,” Chavous emphasizes. “And there are members of your (Indiana) legislature on the other side of the aisle who will be a part of this.” 

For more, read the article.

Behind the Numbers: How New Voters Put Obama on Top in Indiana

Here is one giant reason why and how Barack Obama won Indiana — new voters. 13% of voters this year were first time voters participating in their first election. Among this group, Obama beat McCain 67% to 32%. This very lopsided number resulted in Obama beating McCain in Indiana by a total of 125,671 among new voters. Obama won Indiana by just 26,012 votes. His advantage for newly registered voters was enormous.

There were 525,314 total newly registered voters in Indiana this election and 67.8% of those voted. This turnout percentage was higher than the overall turnout percentage of 60.8% (for voting age population, not registered voters). For registered voters, the turnout was 63.4%. Clearly, newly registered voters were more interested and voted in a higher percentage than already registered voters.

What does this prove? Most importantly, it proves that a far superior ground game driven by a superior registration drive can — and will — work, resulting in Indiana voting for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since 1964. Obviously, there were many other reasons why Obama won Indiana, but this is one very significant reason why.

2008 marked the first election in a number of years that any political party or candidate made truly serious efforts to grow the electorate — and these efforts paid off in a big way for the President-elect. Future candidates, from any political party, better spend considerable time and effort on these newly registered voters and make serious efforts to increase the electorate with like-minded voters if they want success in the future. 

This certainly goes for the business community, too!

Note: You can also find our updated Election Report here.

Great Lakes Region Not Trending So Great for GOP Houses

The 10 states in the Midwest/Great Lakes region have undergone significant shifts in party control in their State Houses. Following the 2004 election, eight of these 10 states had a Republican Speaker of the House. Today, nine of the 10 states have a Democratic Speaker of the House. The Midwest has been seen as a battleground the last several years for party control and for the Presidential races, but it has also shown dramatic power shifts.

During these last three elections, the Democratic Party has gained seats in ALL 10 states in both the 2006 election and the 2008 election. This has resulted in a net gain of 101 seats for the Democratic Party in this 10-state region since 2004. The most dramatic shift has been in Minnesota where the Democratic Party has gained 20 seats in the last two elections. Illinois and Indiana have changed the least with a shift of four seats each.

This sets up the Democratic Party nicely for the next decade if they are able to maintain their majorities in these nine states and control the reapportionment process in 2011. Control of the legislative agenda for the next decade has already been sealed by the Democratic Party in many of these states before the 2010 election is even over.