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On radio, Daniels touts ‘pro-life’ record

Gov. Mitch Daniels is still dealing with fallout from his suggestion that conservatives agree to a national truce on social issues and focus on finances.

But now he’s going on the offensive to prove his conservative credentials.

During a radio interview last week with conservative talk-show host Laura Ingraham, he said his administration “has been, without question, the most pro-life administration in our state’s history. We haven’t just talked about it, we have advanced the right to life.”

But Daniels hasn’t had a pro-life item on his legislative agenda in seven years.

He has never talked about right-to-life issues in his State of the State Address.

And Planned Parenthood had a fundraiser at the governor’s residence early in Daniels’ tenure.

To back up his claim, he points to the signing of several bills that the legislature approved. They include a measure that requires health care professionals to provide a pregnant woman with the options of obtaining an ultrasound and of listening to the fetus’ heartbeat before performing an abortion.

And he signed a bill requiring abortion clinics to abide by the same safety and health standards as other outpatient surgical clinics.

Within his administration, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles also authorized a “Choose Life” license plate.

Most pro-life in Indiana history? You decide.

Broad planning

Mayor Tom Henry last week ended the drama by announcing he plans to seek a second term as the city’s chief executive.

While he likely will not face a difficult primary, Henry said he will do some campaigning in the spring to remind people of his work. He said this will prevent him from having to spend a lot of his campaign war chest, which currently stands at more than $550,000. More importantly, he said he will begin devising political strategies for his fall opponent.

Except, Henry has no idea who that will be. With at least three high-profile Republican candidates, Henry said he isn’t sure who will win among City Councilwoman Liz Brown, former County Councilwoman Paula Hughes and businessman Eric Doden.

The only solution: Make a plan for all three, he said.

More immediately, Henry said he is working with party leaders to try to find Democrats to run for City Council positions. He said he expects the four incumbents to seek re-election, but the goal would be to have the other ballot spots full before the Feb. 18 deadline.

Staying out of it

Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, gave a nod to the political calendar when he spoke Thursday at IPFW.

“I’m not running for anything,” the former Fort Wayne mayor joked to open a news conference. “You get to early February in an election year and you get the urge sometimes. It was 24 years ago I did that for the first time.”

Helmke was elected in 1987 to the first of three straight terms as Fort Wayne mayor. But he had run for office earlier, finishing second in the 1980 Republican primary to Dan Coats in northeast Indiana’s congressional district. Helmke also ran for the U.S. Senate in 1998 and for the House again in 2002.

Political Notebook later asked Helmke whether he had any advice for the field – led by Liz Brown, Eric Doden and Paula Hughes – expected in the city’s GOP mayoral primary this year.

“If someone wants advice, I’m happy to give it to them,” he said. “But right now, I’m staying out of it.”

Mayoral threats

During his appearance at IPFW’s University Community Conversation, Helmke recalled receiving death threats when he was mayor after police raided drug houses. He also remembered meeting a bloodied man with a knife who had come to the City-County Building to see the mayor but didn’t realize he was talking to Helmke, who called police.

“I went to some (public) meetings where I know people were packing, were carrying guns,” Helmke said.

He said he isn’t worried about his own safety as the nation’s most public advocate of tougher gun laws.

“Maybe I’m naive,” he said. “You keep your eyes open, and you watch out for things. You don’t go living your life in fear.”

Businessman in race

Last week, Indiana got its first official candidate for governor – and it wasn’t U.S. Rep. Mike Pence.

Now that Pence has decided against a run for president in 2012, all signs indicate a gubernatorial run. But he’s waiting to make a final decision.

Indianapolis businessman Jim Wallace is moving forward now. He threw his hat in last week to seek the 2012 GOP nomination for governor by sending a letter to state, district and county Republican Party officers and leaders.

He claimed to be the person who understands the work and business challenges in Indiana and has a record of executive leadership.

“I am that leader. From attending West Point and flying combat helicopters in the Army to graduating from Harvard Business School and working with companies around the country to create jobs, my background has trained me for the challenges of leading Indiana in the next decade,” he said.

Wallace lives in Hamilton County but has worked in Indianapolis in various positions and now owns his own company.

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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