Political Notebook

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Lugar poll shows Lugar is favored

While Indiana Tea Party groups are busy trying to oust the state’s senior senator, it won’t be a simple task.

The re-election campaign for Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., recently released the results of a poll showing he was better liked by Hoosiers than 15 other state and national politicians.

In the October survey of 800 voters by the polling firm American Viewpoint, 66 percent said they had a favorable opinion of Lugar. Two people mentioned as possible challengers in the 2012 Republican primary – state Treasurer Richard Mourdock and Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel – received 14 percent and 7 percent favorable ratings, respectively.

How did some other state Republicans fare in the popularity contest? Gov. Mitch Daniels received a 59 percent favorable response; Sen. Dan Coats, 45 percent; Rep. Mike Pence, R-6th, 37 percent; and Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, was next to last with 13 percent.

“Unfavorable” voter views on the same bunch were Coats, 33 percent; Daniels, 32 percent; Lugar, 19 percent; Pence, 16 percent; Mourdock 9 percent; Stutzman, 8 percent; and Delph, 2 percent.

Those with both the lowest favorable and unfavorable ratings – Delph, Stutzman and Mourdock – were also among the four lowest in voter awareness of the 16 politicians, suggesting voters neither like nor dislike politicians until they get to know them.

Statehouse visits

Not one, but two Indiana congressmen interested in higher posts visited the Indiana Statehouse in recent weeks.

First up was U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-2nd, who made a point to visit both state lawmakers and Statehouse reporters. He also gave a brief “hello” on the Indiana House floor.

Donnelly is considering a run for governor depending on how legislators redraw his congressional district.

U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, R-6th, visited a few days later, giving a prepared speech to both the Indiana Senate and House.

He has said he will decide by the end of the month whether he wants to run for governor or president. Pundits identified parts of his speech that could be read either way.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, noted that U.S. Sen. Dan Coats visited as well. He became the first U.S. senator from Indiana to speak on the House floor since, well, Dan Coats in 1989.

Campaign cash

The candidates for Fort Wayne mayor weren’t the only ones to report their 2010 campaign earnings last week.

Several candidates for City Council and clerk also filed reports, which revealed most did not do much fundraising last year.

The one candidate sitting on the most cash isn’t an incumbent, but former City Councilman John Crawford.

The oncologist has historically been able to raise and spend more than almost any other council candidate, and he had more at the end of 2010 than all other council candidates combined: $45,812. Crawford, a Republican, is running to reclaim his at-large seat on the city council.

At-large incumbents reported little activity. Democrat John Shoaff had $7 to start the year, and Republican Marty Bender had $654 plus $2,000 in debt to himself. Also reporting a heavy debt was Councilman Mitch Harper, R-4th, who had $314 in his account and $26,070 owed to himself.

Expected contest

It’s no surprise to Fort Wayne City Councilwoman Karen Goldner, D-2nd, that she faces heavy GOP competition for her seat. She won the seat over a long-term Republican incumbent by only 12 votes.

Two Republicans have already announced for the position and a third is scheduled to announce Monday.

That is why it should be no surprise that the local Democratic Party put a little extra emphasis on Goldner’s re-election announcement. The primary evidence: an appearance by Mayor Tom Henry.

Henry said Goldner’s district, which stretches from the Northside Neighborhood to Pine Valley, leans Republican, but Goldner has shown her willingness to work for her constituents. He said his appearance wasn’t a mistake and believes she deserves another term on the council.

In terms of finances, Goldner reported $7,204 on hand at the end of the year. Republican challengers Jerome Gaines reported $472, Russ Jehl reported $229, and Kurt Gutman did not file a report, meaning he did no fundraising last year.

Early barbs

It appears Allen County Republican Chairman Steve Shine’s request for a civil primary will be tested, if not broken. In a release last week, former County Councilwoman Paula Hughes criticizes Democratic Mayor Tom Henry but also included a throwaway line taking a shot at both of her primary candidates.

“Hughes is being challenged in the Republican primary by new Fort Wayne city resident Eric Doden and frequent candidate City Councilwoman Liz Brown,” the release stated.

We have explained Doden’s residency issue before in Notebook, and Brown’s previous runs for school board and Congress are no secret either. It will be interesting to see whether that line remains in future releases as a way to characterize Hughes’ opponents.

Town halls return

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, is going on the road to host 10 to 12 town hall meetings around the state.

He went on a similar tour when he was speaker in 2005 and 2006.

“I want to meet with folks to hear what their concerns are,” Bosma said.

A Fort Wayne town hall will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at IPFW, Walb Union, Room 222.

Other stops will be announced in coming weeks.

Journal Gazette Washington Editor Brian Francisco 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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