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Rokita spreads word on redistricting

Rokita

Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita’s crusade to reform Indiana’s redistricting process now includes pressing legislative candidates to commit to change.

He sent a letter to all 254 nominated candidates running for seats in the General Assembly.

“The men and women who have put their names on the line to represent their fellow Hoosiers should also be willing to put people before politics,” Rokita said. “That starts with committing to fair, more competitive districts that better represent communities and promote competition.”

Rokita’s redistricting proposal was met with a lukewarm response last year in the legislature. Senate Republicans passed some of the ideas even though its leadership chafed at Rokita’s involvement. House Democrats halted the ideas altogether.

The party that wins each chamber controls the redistricting process.

Rokita’s proposal calls on legislators to use new criteria in their duties to redraw Indiana’s General Assembly and congressional districts in 2011.

The new criteria include keeping communities of interest together; creating more compact and geographically uniform districts; following known political boundaries, such as county and township lines; not considering political data for partisan purposes, such as the addresses of incumbents; and nesting two House districts within the lines of each Senate district.

Paying to stay

Before the opening of the new downtown Courtyard by Marriott last week, it was mentioned several times that Mayor Tom Henry and his wife, Cindy, would be two of the hotel’s first overnight guests.

“I wish you all could join my wife and I tonight, but I only have one room,” Henry told the crowd.

But Henry made sure to keep from any hint of impropriety as he said he paid for the room out of his own pocket. While the mayor said he was offered a free stay, he insisted on paying for it, which he joked was partly because he knew someone would ask.

Below the belt

The New York Times recently ran an article speculating on whether Gov. Mitch Daniels’ height, or lack thereof, could prejudice voters against him in a presidential bid. Daniels is listed as 5-foot-7.

The shorter candidate has won the presidency in only four of the last 21 contests, the article said.

But the best part of the article was how a media strategist compared President Obama with Daniels.

Obama was described as a president “known for his confidence, lofty oratory, urbane repose, hip fashion, full head of hair and substantial elevation.”

Daniels, though, is painted as “self-deprecating, blunt, nerdy, wooden, dresses like a county commissioner, balding and pint-sized.”

Ouch.

Showing some spine

Gov. Mitch Daniels will receive a unique honor at the first-ever Spine Award Dinner in Leesburg on Sept. 16.

Rebecca Kubacki, Republican candidate for House District 22, will present the governor the Spine Award “for doing what is right, not what is popular.”

The invite also says Daniels stood up for “principal.” Presumably, they meant “principle,” as in the governor’s fundamental beliefs.

Kubacki’s fundraiser at Tippecanoe Lake Country Club costs $100 a person and is open to the public.

Daniels is pushing this year for a Republican-controlled House, and this is just one of the events he will do for various candidates. Kubacki knocked off veteran incumbent Bill Ruppel in the primary but faces a host of challengers in November.

They include Democrat Allen “Big Al” Dunnagan; Libertarian Thom Cox and independent Michael Ridenour.

Ridenour is not a typical independent, though. He is currently a GOP member of Wabash County Council, though he lost a 2008 run for the legislative seat as a Republican.

The district covers Wabash County and part of Kosciusko County.

Legislative forums

Voters will begin hearing from legislators this week as the Northeast Indiana Disability Advocacy Coalition conducts a forum for all candidates running for the state legislature.

The event will run 5:30 to 7 p.m. Friday at Abundant Life Church, 3301 Coliseum Blvd. E. The site is on a Citilink bus route.

Artsy fundraising

The Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics will conduct a fundraiser Sept. 17 at Artlink downtown.

The evening will include a dessert reception and screening of the documentary “Countdown to Zero,” which details how the world is closer to nuclear annihilation today than it was during the Cold War.

Tickets are $25 a person and can be bought at the door or in advance by calling 481-6691 or sending an e-mail to downsa@ipfw.edu. Checks should be made out to the IP Foundation, noting the Downs Center in the memo line.

The reception begins at 6 p.m. at Artlink, 437 E. Berry St. The screening begins at 7 p.m. in Cinema Center, which is in the same building.

Amanda Iacone of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook by e-mail, contact Benjamin Lanka at blanka@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. To discuss this entry of Political Notebook or others, go to the Political Notebook topic of “The Board” at www.journalgazette.net.

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