The Indiana General Assembly's Select Commission on Education meets Tuesday, but Superintendent Tony Bennett's out-of-state supporters already have gotten the word to weigh in on his work by way of Patricia Levesque, Jeb Bush's education frontwoman.
It shouldn't be too tough of a sales job for the Republican-controlled commission. The GOP legislative candidates I've talked to in recent weeks are convinced Indiana is a leader in education. Ask for some evidence that Bennett's agenda is improving education, however, and you pretty much get a blank stare. They all have memorized the talking points, but they haven't been rehearsed on results.
Steve Hinnefeld blogs at School Matters about Bennett's heavy fund-raising advantage, with 95 percent of his contributions coming from outside Indiana.
That percentage is likely to change with a May 14 event. Gov. Mitch Daniels and his Aiming Higher PAC will hold a fundraiser for Bennett and gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence. The event is at the Carmel home of former Eli Lilly CEO Randall Tobias, for a $5,000 per-couple donation. (After leaving Lilly, Tobias was with the State Department under George W. Bush's administration until he resigned in the wake of an investigation of a Washington escort service.)
The contributions for the May 14 event go not to the candidates but to the Aiming Higher PAC, which has no limits on the amount it can give an Indiana candidate. Co-hosts for the event are Jim Baumgardt, Murray Clark, Jim Cornelius, Harry Gonso, John Hammond, Al Hubbard, Jim Kittle, Pat Miller and John Mutz. Pence and Bennett are likely to do quite well from a single night's work.