Political Notebook

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Tea party claims Mourdock as one of its own

State Treasurer Richard Mourdock insists he is a Republican, not a tea partyer.

Try telling that to the tea party.

The Contract from America Foundation on Thursday announced that Mourdock, who seeks to unseat Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., in the 2012 GOP primary election, had signed its Contract from America, which it describes as “a Main Street, tea party-driven legislative blueprint.”

The contract’s 10 planks include adoption of a balanced federal budget, an income tax overhaul and an “all-of-the-above” energy policy. It also calls for rejection of cap-and-trade environmental legislation and repeal of the federal health care program.

The foundation said Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., and Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, are among 70 members of Congress who have signed.

Ryan Hecker, an organizer of the group, said in a news release that Mourdock “has shown himself to be a true champion of Main Street and tea party values.”

Earlier in the week, a conservative blogger saw it differently, claiming he was “assaulted” by a Mourdock employee/campaign worker at a tea party event last weekend in Kokomo where Mourdock spoke.

A man identified as Jeremy Segal of rebelpundit posted an Internet video that depicts Mourdock campaign manager and deputy treasurer Jim Holden placing his hand over the lens of Segal’s camera during an interview with Mourdock. Segal had been asking Mourdock why he was “separating himself” from the tea party.

“Why are you touching my camera, dude?” Segal asks Holden on the video.

“ ‘Cause you’re just a tracker, man; get out of here,” Holden responds.

“What are you talking about, ‘I’m a tracker,’ dude?” Segal asks.

In political parlance, a tracker is someone who follows an officeholder or candidate at public events in search of recording a “gotcha” moment – a remark or action by the candidate that might embarrass or hurt his campaign.

Rebelpundit later reported on its website that Mourdock and Holden had apologized.

During the video interview, the sound of what seemed to be an off-camera fender-bender prompted Mourdock to say, “Ouch.” Or perhaps it was a premonition.

Council-rules dustup

Although the Fort Wayne City Council held a long and often contested debate over stalled development of The Harrison last week, the real politics waited for a discussion on a seemingly normal construction project.

How the council can approve routine projects without going through its regular process again led to contentious debate.

Council President Mitch Harper, R-4th, attempted to quickly approve contracts to install sidewalks along Dupont Road and fix the Eagle Creek concrete streets without discussion. He argued the projects were routine and had already gone through the Board of Public Works so they should be moved along.

While the move wasn’t completely out of line with what Harper has done in the past, it drew criticism from the council’s Democrats. Councilwoman Karen Goldner, D-2nd, questioned why Harper was trying to approve a contract without a member of the administration present to discuss the project – having an administration representative is typical but not required.

She continued to hedge her attacks by saying Harper’s request wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but she said it was “curious” to move forward without someone from the administration to answer questions. Harper likely could have saved himself some headaches by explaining the move would save city employees needlessly wasting time at council meetings for projects – an argument he has made previously.

In the end, Goldner voted for the projects, but they were defeated because Councilman Glynn Hines, D-6th, opposed them. Breaking normal council procedure requires a unanimous vote. Hines said the council should keep to its normal cycle and insinuated that Harper was only ready to suspend protocol because one of the projects was in his district.

Harper did lead the charge against the council’s prior approval process but has consistently supported suspending council rules in a way that is permitted by state law.

Trimming duties

With another daughter on the way and increased demands on his time as a state senator, Columbia City Republican Jim Banks gave up the reins this month as Whitley County Republican chairman.

“It’s bittersweet. I loved being chairman,” said Banks, who took the post the day he moved back with his wife from Colorado about 4 1/2 years ago. “It was great, but I made the decision to get that off my shoulders.”

Columbia City resident Matt Boyd, a tax lawyer who ran unopposed, was elected last week in a GOP caucus to replace Banks.

So what will Banks do with all his free time? Get ready for baby girl No. 2, although the doctor left a little wiggle room when determining the gender.

“We are painting the room pink,” he said. “If we have a boy, I’ll be painting it blue on the day of the birth.”

Same leadership

The reshaping of Indiana’s congressional districts forced the political parties to anoint new leadership for each of those areas early – but familiar faces will rule locally.

Democrats selected Carmen Darland of Noble County as the chairwoman for the 3rd District. Darland was chairwoman for the old 3rd District and played a major role in bringing the 2012 state Democratic convention to Fort Wayne. Herb Anderson of Allen County was selected as vice chairman.

Republicans selected Barb Krisher, the Aboite Township trustee, as the district chairwoman, a position she held in the old 3rd District. Phil Stoller of Wells County was selected vice chairman.

The new 3rd District in northeast Indiana is one of the most Republican in the state. It runs more south than west, reaching from the Michigan line to Jay County.

The old congressional district contained six full counties and parts of Allen and Elkhart. With the new map, it would contain 10 full counties and parts of Kosciusko and Blackford counties. It specifically picks up Huntington, Wells, Adams and Jay counties while losing Elkhart County.

Honor, roast

Allen County Democrats were busy last week paying tribute to some of their own.

The party on Wednesday honored Leonard Goldstein with the J. Edgar Roush award at the group’s first Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. According to the party, Goldstein served on more than 15 boards for philanthropic organizations and endeavors. Along with his wife, Rikki, he established the Leonard M. and Ruth K. Goldstein Matching the Promise Scholarship in Jewish Studies, a four-year scholarship at Indiana University.

The party was also to honor outgoing Councilman Tim Pape on Saturday with a tribute dinner and roast. The event dubbed “This is your life, Councilman Pape” was to honor his 12 years of service on the City Council representing the 5th District. He is not seeking a fourth term.

Political Notebook was not invited to participate in the joke-writing for his roast but likely could have offered some good-natured mockery of Pape’s propensity to talk – he is an attorney – and his occasional inability to arrive at council meetings on time.

Brian Francisco, The Journal Gazette’s Washington editor, contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook via 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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