Howey Political Report
Mourdock, Lugar, Chocola and earmarks PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 28 February 2012 19:33

Mourdock, Lugar, Chocola and earmarks
by Brian Howey
INDIANAPOLIS - A cornerstone to Richard Mourdock's Republican primary challenge to U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar has been his vociferous opposition to Congressional earmarks.
“Sen. Lugar has become so out of touch with Hoosier voters he doesn’t understand the need to end a practice that lends itself to abuse and corruption at taxpayers’ expense and which continues to add to our national debt," Mourdock says in a TV ad. “Dick Lugar won’t vote to end wasteful spending and earmarks. I will.”
On Feb. 14, the Club for Growth, headed by former Indiana congressman Chris Chocola, endorsed Mourdock in large part because Lugar was one of 13 Republican senators who refused to support a permanent earmark ban. In an op-ed article for the National Review, Chocola reasoned, “‘Earmarks,' also known as pork-barrel spending, are considered a ‘gateway drug’ to corruption and bigger government in Washington."
And Lugar's stance: ceding Congressional earmarks to the executive branch is simply populist showboating. When I asked him about it on Monday, he called it a “bogus issue,” explaining that it won’t save a penny. “The money will still be there. The bureaucrats are going to spend the money.”
"Instead of surrendering Constitutional authority to Washington bureaucrats and the Obama Administration, Congress should focus on reducing spending on both entitlement and discretionary spending programs,” Lugar said in 2010.
Here's the reality of earmarks: If Congress eliminated 100 percent of them in fiscal year 2010, it would have cut the federal budget by less than 0.5 percent. U.S. Treasury statistics revealed in 2010 the federal government spent $3.46 trillion while running a deficit of $1.29 trillion. The Office of Management and Budget reported that earmarks accounted for $11.1 billion.
Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent observed in his Plumline column, "Conservatives target earmarks because, in isolation, they're often hard to defend, and they're an easy symbol of Washington greed to rail against. The problem is that while they are frequent fodder for political rhetoric, they account for less than one percent of the federal budget."
Now, is Lugar a typical incumbent who can't pull the trigger on spending cuts?
No.
He and U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman introduced the Rural Economic Farm and Ranch Sustainability and Hunger Act (REFRESH) which would cut $40 billion from federal spending. Specifically, it would reform farm programs, cutting $16 billion, a 24.5 percent reduction. Conservation programs would be updated and streamlined for a savings of $11.3 billion, a 17.6 percent reduction. Nutrition program eligibility loopholes would be closed saving $13.9 billion, only a two percent reduction. Roughly two-thirds of the savings would come from farm and conservation programs, and a third from nutrition programs, which represent three-fourths of the USDA budget.
“This bill provides good farm and nutrition policy and saves $40 billion," Lugar said. "Farm Bill politics has long frustrated reform efforts by myself and others. The current urgency to meet our deficit reduction targets gives us the chance to make smart changes."
U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, like Mourdock and the Club for Growth, have pressed for the end of earmarks. It's interesting, however, that Pence's 6th Congressional District ranked 42nd out of 435 districts in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2010, receiving $1.24 billion, according to the Environmental Working Group. Of Indiana’s nine districts, eight ranked in the top 100.
Now, what was Chocola - a born again deficit hawk - doing during his two terms in Congress from 2003 to 2007? In May 2006, he voted to extend the Bush tax cuts which helped push the Clinton era budget surpluses to a $400 billion deficit. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Medicare prescription drug plan passed in 2004, the Great Recession of 2008-09 and the various federal bailouts ended the Bush presidency with a $1.4 trillion deficit.
As Congressman Chocola, he was an earmark aficionado, coming at a time when the federal deficits were exploding. In an Aug. 24, 2006 South Bend Tribune article on earmarks for Notre Dame University, Chocola said, "I'm happy to defend anything that I would request.”
On Feb. 19, 2004, Chocola also personally delivered a $1 million check for the Hoosier Heartland Highway at Logansport and cited the benefits of a safer interchange.
And in 2006, Chocola said in BizVoice Magazine,  “If they are taken out, they will really not reduce spending. That money will be spent anyway, and it will be spent in an arbitrary formula or by some bureaucrat either in Indianapolis or in Washington, D.C.”
Chocola refused my interview requests. Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller told me, "Chris Chocola isn’t on the ballot in Indiana, Senator Lugar is."
While Mourdock is an ardent purist on an earmark ban that will have negligible impact on the deficits, his key patron - Chocola - who will fund much of his race against Lugar with bundled SuperPAC money from donors whose identity will be shielded from voters - appears to prescribe to the theory of "do as I say, not as I do."
(The columnist publishes at www.howeypolitics.com. Contact Howey at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .)

by Brian Howey

INDIANAPOLIS - A cornerstone to Richard Mourdock's Republican primary challenge to U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar has been his vociferous opposition to Congressional earmarks.

“Sen. Lugar has become so out of touch with Hoosier voters he doesn’t understand the need to end a practice that lends itself to abuse and corruption at taxpayers’ expense and which continues to add to our national debt," Mourdock says in a TV ad. “Dick Lugar won’t vote to end wasteful spending and earmarks. I will.”

 
House Democrats exodus is a crisis for the party PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 22 February 2012 15:46

by Brian Howey
GREENCASTLE, Ind. - The magnitude of seismic Republican Statehouse gains that have Indiana Democrats careening from disaster to catastrophe came into clearer focus on Feb. 10 when 12 House Democrats with a combined tenure of 236 years did not file for reelection.
The looming retirements make the Republican super majority of 67 seats - needing a pickup of seven - a distinct possibility. A Howey Politics Indiana analysis of House races shows that of the ten open seats due to redistricting, Republicans are in the driver’s seat in just about all of them. A 70-seat majority is not beyond the scope.
State Reps. Chet Dobis, Nancy Dembowski and Craig Fry did not file for reelection last Friday, joining Dale Grubb, Dan Stevenson, William Crawford, John Day, Jeb Bardon, Dave Cheatham, Scott Reske, Mary Ann Sullivan, and Dennis Tyler in the biggest House exodus in modern Hoosier history. Two consecutive years of bitter fighting over the Right to Work, education reform and abortion restriction legislation and a distinct minority of 40 seats left a number of House Democrats questioning the civility of the process. Grubb quit as caucus chair in January after divisions surfaced within the caucus over the walkout. Cheatham announced he wouldn’t seek another term, citing the contentious atmosphere in the House.
Democrats controlled the redistricting in 1991 and 2001, and the exodus following those revamps did not approach this level. In February 2002 after House Democrats drew the new maps, only three Republicans, then in a 53-47 minority, retired, along with four Democrats.
The new districts and exodus of veterans is already prompting some Democrats to think about dumping Minority Leader B. Patrick Bauer. It comes after other veterans such as Bill Cochran, Bob Bischoff, Dennis Avery, Paul Robertson and Ron Herrell either retired or were defeated over the past two cycles.
The biggest surprise was with Dobis, who was elected to the House in 1970. He was drawn into a district with State Rep. Vernon Smith, then bought a home in Schererville. But when the filing dust settled, Republican Lake County Council member Rick Niemeyer of Lowell had filed and he emerges as a favorite for at least one GOP pickup.
Dobis had battled Bauer, calling him “paranoid” in recent years, and lost his leadership position when he and Bauer sparred over the Illiana Expressway bill. In 2011, House Speaker Brian Bosma appointed the Democrat to a committee chairmanship, an unprecedented move aimed at power sharing, but seen by Bauer as an invasion of his caucus power circle.
The Dobis bug out is indicative of the treacherous path Bauer has led House Democrats and the realities of the new GOP-drawn maps.
“We wanted a bigger name to fill that spot for us,” said Lake County Democratic Chair Thomas McDermott, Jr., “but with the makeup of the district, it was hard to convince them it was a winnable seat.”
That’s the reality of the new districts. With the maps the Democrats forged in 1991 and 2001, the districts were gerrymandered in such a way that if Republicans carried as much as 55 percent of the total House vote, they could still wind up with only 48 or 49 seats.
In addition to the ten new districts without an incumbent, Democrats could lose the seats being vacated by Fry, Sullivan and Cheatham in Southern Indiana, where the party is seeing its base dramatically erode after the 2010 debacle. With Bauer calling the shots on the House campaigns, the party veered away from a cogent central message (“Our party saved the auto industry in Indiana”) to seamy mailers personally attacking the character of opposing Republicans. It was political porn.
On Wednesday, Gov. Mitch Daniels, speaking to Hamilton County Republicans, said of Bauer, “We have been blessed by our opposition. My heart is full of gratitude, really.”
McDermott told me in a series of text messages he did not designate as “off the record” that a leadership challenge to Bauer is inevitable. “One way or another he gets challenged,” McDermott said.
That comment came after I had asked him about the party’s vulnerability in competing in the House. Republicans already have a super majority in the Senate. A House super majority of 67 along with a “Gov. Mike Pence” means the GOP would be able to conduct business without a single Democrat reporting for a quorum. They could spend the entire session in Illinois and it wouldn’t stop a single bill.
McDermott seemed to backtrack on his Bauer comments, posting on his Facebook page that his “stupid” words were causing “many who read those comments to squirm (myself included). I don't deny making the comments, I just should have realized it wasn't my place to comment on the things that I commented on."
McDermott obviously was getting heat from Bauer and other Democrats who want to keep the status quo, but his remarks were hardly "stupid" and Democrats who feel the same way should encourage the mayor and others to continue to speak out.
With this exodus of veterans, the Indiana Democratic Party is facing a catastrophe this fall. It has long prioritized keeping a House majority along with gubernatorial and Congressional campaigns. The party's track record is increasingly futile on all fronts.
Democrats should be doing some soul searching on whether current leadership is up to the extreme circumstances the party faces.
(The columnist publishes at www.howeypolitics.com. Contact Howey at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .)

by Brian Howey

GREENCASTLE, Ind. - The magnitude of seismic Republican Statehouse gains that have Indiana Democrats careening from disaster to catastrophe came into clearer focus on Feb. 10 when 12 House Democrats with a combined tenure of 236 years did not file for reelection.

The looming retirements make the Republican super majority of 67 seats - needing a pickup of seven - a distinct possibility. A Howey Politics Indiana analysis of House races shows that of the ten open seats due to redistricting, Republicans are in the driver’s seat in just about all of them. A 70-seat majority is not beyond the scope.

State Reps. Chet Dobis, Nancy Dembowski and Craig Fry did not file for reelection last Friday, joining Dale Grubb, Dan Stevenson, William Crawford, John Day, Jeb Bardon, Dave Cheatham, Scott Reske, Mary Ann Sullivan, and Dennis Tyler in the biggest House exodus in modern Hoosier history. Two consecutive years of bitter fighting over the Right to Work, education reform and abortion restriction legislation and a distinct minority of 40 seats left a number of House Democrats questioning the civility of the process. Grubb quit as caucus chair in January after divisions surfaced within the caucus over the walkout. Cheatham announced he wouldn’t seek another term, citing the contentious atmosphere in the House.

 
Why is Obama opening an office in Indiana? Autos PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 15 February 2012 14:12

by Brian Howey
INDIANAPOLIS - On Thursday, the Obama for America campaign opened up a campaign office in Indiana, a state with a century-old love affair with the internal combustion engine. It is a state that any Republican will tell you is certain to return to the "red" Electoral College column next autumn.
There is credence to that line of thought, with a Public Opinion Strategies Poll in December showing President Obama's approval in Indiana stood at 42 percent, and disapproval at 55 percent; wicked numbers for any incumbent.
So why is the Obama campaign investing assets in a state they have no chance of winning?
Because some believe Indiana isn't a lost cause. An internal poll for U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly's Democratic Senate campaign showed that Obama trailed probable (er, possible) Republican nominee Mitt Romney by just four percent. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll in January revealed that 37 percent of Americans were more optimistic about the economy - the highest level in more than a year and a seven percent jump from December. Democratic pollster Peter Hart explained, "The psychology about the economic conditions has switched. The old saying is ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’ - then clearly - this economic optimism has clearly lifted Obama’s ratings.”
In January during President Obama's State of the Union address, he hit on one subject that has everything to do with Indiana: the American auto industry. “On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse,” Obama said. “Some even said we should let it die. With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen. In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We got workers and automakers to settle their differences. We got the industry to retool and restructure.”
“Today, General Motors is back on top as the world’s number-one automaker,” Obama said. “Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company. Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and factories. And together, the entire industry added nearly 160,000 jobs.”
Obama continued, “We bet on American workers. We bet on American ingenuity. And tonight, the American auto industry is back.”
And it is. General Motors has regained its position as the world's top automaker and its plants are humming in Fort Wayne, Marion and Bedford. Chrysler is hiring off the street in Kokomo.
While there is great Tea Party angst about all the bailouts, a fact worth noting is that the domestic auto bailout from the TARP fund occurred under Republican President George W. Bush.
In December of 2008, I attended a hearing in Indianapolis where economists from the Brookings Institute predicted that a collapse of GM and Chrysler could cost the state 150,000 jobs. Not just at GM and Chrysler, but companies like Cummins and hundreds of auto supplier companies scattered in small towns and large across the state.
The multiplier impact from such a collapse could have been devastating. Not only would toolmakers, engineers, assemblers and molders be jobless, but thousands of restaurants and service businesses would have been devastated. Even foreign automakers in the state such as Honda, Toyota and Subaru would have been negatively impacted, because they draw on the same suppliers as GM, Ford and Chrysler. While Indiana has a troublesome and persistent nine percent jobless rate today, a collapse of GM and Chrysler would have brought a second Great Depression to Indiana. We easily could have seen the jobless rate double or more.
Indiana Republicans were conspicuous in their indifference. Gov. Mitch Daniels warned of the U.S. government throwing "good money after bad" and said the domestics should emulate the Japanese companies. He later castigated the U.S. Supreme Court for the way it acted on Obama's forced expedited bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler. Treasurer Richard Mourdock, with Daniels cheering him on, tried to thwart the Chrysler merger with Fiat. Republican candidates up and down the food chain derided the Bush bailout.
When Joe Donnelly showed up at the Chrysler Transmission Plant II gate to campaign just before the 2010 election, many workers whose jobs were saved by the expedited bankruptcy told him they were going to vote Republican because of issues such as guns and federal debt.
Indiana Democrats in the 2010 cycle never raised the auto industry issue and were mauled in the process. President Obama and Vice President Biden came to Kokomo - three weeks after the 2010 elections - to revel in the restructuring and opportunity to come. I asked Donnelly why Democrats didn't mount a defense, and he could only smile wistfully and say, "That's a good question. I don't know."
That probably won't happen this year. Donnelly will challenge either Sen. Dick Lugar or Mourdock in the Senate race. He is sure to bring it up. He is sure to remind Hoosiers of their distinct auto heritage, and who was there when the industry was on the verge of collapse.
This is why the Obama campaign is opening up an office in Indiana. It's still far below the dozens of offices the campaign had across Indiana in 2008 and winning Indiana will be a long shot, just like it was in 2008. But it will lay the groundwork in case the auto industry issue resonates with Hoosiers.
And it should, unless you like Depression.
(The columnist  publishes at www.howeypolitics.com. Contact Howey at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .)

by Brian Howey

INDIANAPOLIS - On Thursday, the Obama for America campaign opened up a campaign office in Indiana, a state with a century-old love affair with the internal combustion engine. It is a state that any Republican will tell you is certain to return to the "red" Electoral College column next autumn.

There is credence to that line of thought, with a Public Opinion Strategies Poll in December showing President Obama's approval in Indiana stood at 42 percent, and disapproval at 55 percent; wicked numbers for any incumbent.

So why is the Obama campaign investing assets in a state they have no chance of winning?

 
Keeping Peyton in the Hoosier pantheon PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 07 February 2012 20:39

by Brian Howey
INDIANAPOLIS - When it comes to the pantheon of Hoosier sports heroes – Johnny Wooden, Knute Rockne, Bob Knight, Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, Rick Mount, Bobby Plump, George Gipp – the newest name will certainly be Peyton Manning.
This week becomes one of the most bittersweet in Indiana sports history. The NFL Super Bowl comes to Indianapolis, the city has risen gloriously to the occasion, but the virulent subplot is that Peyton Manning may have taken his last snap as the Colts’ quarterback. We’ve been treated to an onslaught of speculation by the local and national sports media, talking without the normal honor and armor of “facts.”
And the “facts” are that Colts owner Jim Irsay intends to bring Manning back, as long as he’s healthy. He said on Dec. 23 in Houston, “I think the situation is if he’s back and he’s healthy, I see him coming back and playing here.”
On Monday, former Colts coach and current NBC analyst Tony Dungy told WTHR-TV that he had spoken with Irsay several times in the past month. “I think if there’s any way he can play, it will be for the Colts,” Dungy said.
Despite these assurances, the speculation has ramped up, to the point where Yahoo Sports was reporting late Monday that sources close to the Colts don’t believe that Manning will be healthy enough. They say his arm strength isn’t returning.
But Manning himself refuted that with ESPN on Tuesday. “The doctors are encouraged, and that’s encouraging to me.”
Should the Yahoo speculation bear out, it is as stunning a development as what occurred in 1939, when “The Iron Horse” – New York Yankee first baseman Lou Gehrig – took a precipitous statistical and physical decline just as his amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, began to eat away at his legendary skills as well as his life. Batting .145 in April, Gehrig took himself out of the lineup, ending a 2,130-consecutive game streak. He stayed on the team the rest of the season, but never played again.
Sportswriter James Kahn observed of Gehrig: “I think there is something wrong with him. Physically wrong, I mean. I have seen him time a ball perfectly, swing on it as hard as he can, meet it squarely, and drive a soft, looping fly over the infield. In other words, for some reason that I do not know, his old power isn’t there.”
Of course, we know the Manning Iron Horse legend: only Brett Favre at 297 regular season games and 321 including playoffs, has more consecutive starts in NFL history than Manning, 208 regular season games and 227 total. The next two on the list are Eli Manning (129) and Ron Jaworski (123), far behind in the rearview mirror. While major league baseball is a grinding, every day sport, it simply doesn’t compare to the violence a modern NFL quarterback is subjected to with 350-pound marauders paid millions to rip a QB’s head off.
Manning, we believed, was destined to become the greatest statistical QB ever with more games and touchdowns than Favre; His 54,828 yards third only behind Dan Marino (61,361) and Favre (71,838). Manning’s 361 touchdowns trailed only Marino (420) and Favre (497). His 95.2 career quarterback rating is second only to Steve Young. These were all records to be claimed by Manning wearing the horseshoe.
The silver lining here is that as the Colts tumbled from perennial playoff to a dismal 2-14 team, the consolation prize most likely will be Stanford QB Andrew Luck. The scenario I love is Manning tutoring the rookie. “Guys like that come along so rarely,” Irsay said on Oct. 10. “Even if that means that guy sits for three or four years, you’d certainly think about taking him … you see what Green Bay did with (Brett) Favre and (Aaron) Rodgers and you’d like to be able to do the same thing.”
Given what happened to the Colts, the Chicago Bears with an injured Jay Cutler, Miami, Kansas City and Oakland – none of whom made the playoffs after fast starts and injured QBs – having two quality quarterbacks seems wise.
The critics of keeping Manning suggest he would return to a team struggling to contend. I’m not buying that. The Colts were decimated for a second consecutive year with injuries, particularly on defense. With the top choice in each round, they can quickly reset, as San Francisco and Cincinnati did this year.
The prevailing prediction with most national sports pundits is that the Colts release Manning. Which would be sheer lunacy: What if Manning ended up in Tennessee or Jacksonville? Or the hated Jets?
It took the Boston Red Sox almost nine decades to overcome the curse of the Bambino. The curse of Peyton would be a terrifying thing.
I think Manning stays. There is too much bad karma involved for Irsay to just release him.
Yes, we know the NFL is big business. It’s not “fantasy league football” as Irsay reminded us. Yes, we understand the overt tug to rebuild. But Hoosiers are a loyal people. We don’t like our college programs to cheat. We like the three-pointer, tenacious man-to-man defense, and Manning going to the line, audibling.
We like the sharpest tool in the shed. For 14 years that was Peyton Manning. For most of us, if it ends next month, that is too short a time.
(The columnist publishes at www.howeypolitics.com. Contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .)

by Brian Howey

INDIANAPOLIS - When it comes to the pantheon of Hoosier sports heroes – Johnny Wooden, Knute Rockne, Bob Knight, Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, Rick Mount, Bobby Plump, George Gipp – the newest name will certainly be Peyton Manning.

This week becomes one of the most bittersweet in Indiana sports history. The NFL Super Bowl comes to Indianapolis, the city has risen gloriously to the occasion, but the virulent subplot is that Peyton Manning may have taken his last snap as the Colts’ quarterback. We’ve been treated to an onslaught of speculation by the local and national sports media, talking without the normal honor and armor of “facts.”

And the “facts” are that Colts owner Jim Irsay intends to bring Manning back, as long as he’s healthy. He said on Dec. 23 in Houston, “I think the situation is if he’s back and he’s healthy, I see him coming back and playing here.”

 
Bauer leading Democrats from disaster to catastrophe PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 31 January 2012 18:55

by Brian Howey
INDIANAPOLIS  - In the end, it was the crushing fines set up in the 2011 anti-bolt legislation that caused B. Patrick Bauer and House Democrats to cave on Right to Work Wednesday.
After intermittent walkouts throughout January, the issue came to a head and, ultimately, a 54-44 vote to pass HB1001, identical to the Senate version passed last week. While AFL-CIO President Nancy Guyott promised to continue the fight in the Senate, this battle is essentially over.
The chaotic session began Wednesday with Democrats insisting the doors into the hallway stay open. Fearing yet another walkout, House Speaker Brian Bosma relented, and so the emotional debate on what Democrats were calling the “most divisive issue in a generation” continued between chants and shouts.
“This is Right to Work … for less,” Bauer stormed. “Less pay, less health care, and yes, less safety.”
“After your vote against the referendum, your vote is shallow and hollow,” Bauer said of a ploy that would have placed the issue on the November ballot, though there were constitutional issues involved with that. Republicans were having none of it.
It was a capstone legislative defeat for a 42-year veteran who has presided over his party’s fall from a majority to a devastating 60-40 minority after he waged one of the most tawdry campaigns in modern Indiana history, attempting to defend caucus members in 2010. In the process, Bauer helped lose the Democratic Party’s Southern Indiana base.
The more Democrats walked, the more fuel and fodder the House Republican Campaign Committee collected for fall ads in an attempt to gain a super 67 seat majority. For Speaker Bosma, it was a win/win. He passed his top priority, and he will have his caucus campaign against Democrats who bolted.
The Democratic caucus -where Gov. Mitch Daniels marveled at Bauer’s iron-fisted control - heaved and groaned under the weight of fines that would have totaled $10,000 per member if the boycotts had lasted through the Jan. 31 session day, when the legislature pauses for the Super Bowl. The theory was that Democrats would try and parlay their stand for labor with a worldwide audience, perhaps eclipsing the attention their colleagues received last winter in Wisconsin in that fight over collective bargaining.
Caucus Chair Dale Grubb quit that job as caucus unity was challenged over fines. There are some members facing tough challenges this upcoming fall - Reps. Ed DeLaney and Peggy Welch - who broke ranks and returned to the chamber while 35 of their colleagues sat out.
It was a perplexing dance with only one man - Bauer - knowing what the end game was. Asked if anyone was privy to the South Bend Democrat’s thought process and ultimate game plan, Democratic Chair Dan Parker could only smile and shake his head. No one else knew.
Weakened Democrats lamented the body blow organized labor would take with the looming Right to Work law. “This bill has been for all of us the most divisive,” said State Rep. Gail Riecken, D-Evansville. “The thing that really got me was how it was handled. The procedures were thrown out.”
An emotional State Rep. Scott Pelath recalled how his father had to explain to the family why he was on a Pullman Standard picket line and there would be no paycheck that week.
But it was the newest member of the caucus, ponytailed Rep. Mike White of Muncie, who revealed the angst. “I’m the rookie here,” he said. “I’m also fresh off the streets. What the people on the streets tell me is they want us to get to work on a whole lot of other things.”
Indeed, as Democrats obsessed about derailing Right to Work and Republicans prepared to use the full weight of their daunting majorities, a litany of other important legislation ranging from mass transit to a statewide smoking ban to local government reform, were beginning to fall by the wayside.
And Republicans chided the minority that Right to Work would not be the end of the world. “The sky will not fall the day after Right to Work passes. It just will not,” said Rep. Sue Ellspermann. “Right to Work is clearly a job creation strategy as companies seek to locate to those states.”
During what would be a 54-44 vote with five Republicans joining the minority, the Democrats called for a voice roll call and the session ended in shouting.
“The only places where today’s events will be cheered is in the boardrooms of big businesses and corporations across this state,” Bauer – the face of the Indiana Democratic Party - fumed afterwards. “For those who threw their weight behind this plan, and were willing to trample on a lengthy list of constitutional rights in order to do so, there is only one thing to say: Shame on you.”
And in dozens of downtown restaurants and bars Wednesday evening, Republicans and business advocates were toasting a seismic victory in a northern state, clinking flutes and goblets of shame, red and white, sparkling and dry.
Had Bauer kept caucus losses to 55 seats, instead of 60, Right to Work probably wouldn’t have happened. Why he is still in power should be a question every Hoosier Democrat ponders.
John Gregg, phone home.
(The columnist publishes at www.howeypolitics.com. Contact Howey at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .)

by Brian Howey

INDIANAPOLIS  - In the end, it was the crushing fines set up in the 2011 anti-bolt legislation that caused B. Patrick Bauer and House Democrats to cave on Right to Work Wednesday.

After intermittent walkouts throughout January, the issue came to a head and, ultimately, a 54-44 vote to pass HB1001, identical to the Senate version passed last week. While AFL-CIO President Nancy Guyott promised to continue the fight in the Senate, this battle is essentially over.

The chaotic session began Wednesday with Democrats insisting the doors into the hallway stay open. Fearing yet another walkout, House Speaker Brian Bosma relented, and so the emotional debate on what Democrats were calling the “most divisive issue in a generation” continued between chants and shouts.

 
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