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.

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.

No Indiana Reps Among Top Targets — At This Time

In 2006, three Indiana congressional seats went from the Republican side of the ledger to the Democrat column. For those straining to remember, that was Donnelly over Chocola in District 2, Ellsworth topping Hostettler in District 8 and Hill over Sodrel (the third of their four straight matchups) in District 9.

That was part of a 31-seat gain the House for Democrats, the largest increase for one party since 1974. It did, however, continue a trend of the sitting president’s political party losing ground in the mid-term election. In 2008, by the way, there were no changes in Indiana’s delegation.

The early national targets are out for 2010, and no Hoosier incumbents are included. That is the situation today. Who knows what might change in the next 17 months.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has identified the following as potential pickup opportunities: Michael Castle of Delaware, Bill Young of Florida, Joseph Cao of Louisiana, Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan and Jim Gerlach of Pennsylania.

On the GOP side, the National Republican Congressional Committee’s top Democrat targets are: Walter Minnick of Idaho, Frank Kratovil of Maryland, New Hampshire’s Carol Shea-Porter, Steve Driehaus of Ohio, and Virginia’s Glenn Nye and Tom Perriello.