Political Notebook

  • Huckabee, Priebus coming to state GOP convention
    Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and national GOP Chairman Reince Priebus will speak at the state party’s convention in Fort Wayne.
  • Signs of the times
    It’s spring, when the roadways are lined with flowers, wildlife and political signs.
  • Fries gets Farm nod
    Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries has received the endorsement of the Indiana Farm Bureau ELECT in his primary election race for the District 15 Indiana State Senate seat.

Peters dismisses tax-abatement conflict


Opponents of tax breaks for a local company partly owned by Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters tried to get the incentives killed last week by insinuating the deal stunk of favoritism.

Peters, however, said such accusations are void of fact. On Tuesday, the Fort Wayne City Council delayed granting a tax abatement to Calico Precision Molding after questions were raised about the company’s performance.

Labor supporters also questioned how people couldn’t be upset that one government would give tax incentives to a company partly owned by an executive of another government. Peters was listed as owning 10 percent of the company, according to the tax abatement filing.

“There is very little faith that this is anything more than an insiders’ game,” said Tom Lewandowski, president of the Northeast Indiana Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

Peters on Wednesday, however, said he hadn’t heard any concerns about the abatement until being contacted by The Journal Gazette. He said he hasn’t spoken to a single member of the city’s administration or council about the proposal.

“I purposely stayed away from that entire debate,” he said. “I didn’t even want the slightest specter of conflict of interest.”

Whether Peters could have even influenced the city if he wanted is another question.

The two governments have not always had the best working relationship.

More than policy

Last week’s lieutenant governor debate at the Indiana State Fair wasn’t all serious talk about the future of agriculture.

Libertarian Brad Klopfenstein quickly made a lighthearted promise on behalf of him and his running mate, Rupert Boneham.

“You’ve heard a lot of promises in the past from politicians who’ve said outlandish things they can’t possibly own up to,” Klopfenstein said, “but I will tell you right now, under a Boneham/Klopfenstein administration, with the record heat and record drought we’ve had this year – I promise less heat, more rain.”

Later, Democrat Vi Simpson promised she is a friend to agriculture.

“I eat pork,” she said. “And rib-eye.”

Republican Sue Ellspermann consistently stayed on message.

She proved she understands the extent agriculture affects Indiana’s economy in her opening statement about growing up in a small town of 2,200 in Ferdinand, where her parents ran a jewelry store.

“Here’s what I learned about farming every year. If the farmers don’t have a good year we won’t have a good year,” she said.

Couldn’t be closer

The race for the open U.S. Senate seat continues to be a tossup, according to the latest poll results.

A poll released last week by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce showed a statistical dead heat between Republican Richard Mourdock and Democrat Joe Donnelly, with 17 percent of voters undecided.

Mourdock enjoys a slight lead over Donnelly, 41 percent to 39 percent (within the survey’s margin of error); 3 percent support Libertarian candidate Andrew Horning.

The scientific public opinion poll of 600 registered voters statewide was conducted by Market Research Insight in early August. It has a margin of error of 4 percent and used live interviewer telephone surveys for accuracy.

When poll respondents were asked to identify their political affiliations, results were 46 percent Republican and 38 percent Democrat, with 16 percent identifying as independents.

“As typical, both Democrats and Republicans are relatively polarized, favoring the candidate for their party,” said Verne Kennedy, senior analyst for Market Research Insight. “The 16 percent of Indiana voters who say they are completely independent will likely determine the outcome of the Senate race.”

While the Senate race is too close to call, the contest for the next Indiana governor isn’t exactly a nail-biter

Republican Mike Pence holds a large lead over Democrat John Gregg – 50 percent to 32 percent – according to a poll released Thursday by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

Libertarian Rupert Boneham has 3 percent support. And 15 percent of respondents are still undecided in that race.

The poll was commissioned by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and its political action program, Indiana Business for Responsive Government.

Pence on feds

If elected governor, Republican Mike Pence – a six-term congressman – would use state tax dollars to fight federal micromanagement.

In a speech last week before the Marion Rotary Club, Pence talked about the need for Indiana to push back on the fast-growing tide of federal regulations and programs that hinder Hoosier businesses and cost Hoosier taxpayers more money.

“We don’t need the federal government to tell us how to build our roads, run our schools or take over our health care systems,” he said. “We need a governor who will say ‘no’ to Washington, D.C., and ‘yes’ to Indiana.”

Pence wants to establish an office of federalism called the Office of State-based Initiatives. It will advocate for Indiana by tracking the costs of federal mandates and coordinating with agencies to develop innovative solutions to effectively using federal dollars.

The office will be created at no additional cost to taxpayers by re-tasking the current Office of Federal Grants and Procurement to oversee the state’s federalism priorities.

That office seeks to maximize the amount of federal money state government brings back to Indiana. Its annual budget is $82,578.

“Indiana must take the lead in stemming the flood of federal mandates that stifle Hoosier ingenuity in finding solutions to public policy problems,” Pence said.

Democratic opponent John Gregg’s campaign criticized the renaming of the state office, saying it was created to improve Indiana’s rank in bringing back federal funds – not to fight ideological battles.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Benjamin Lanka at blanka@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. An expanded Political Notebook can also be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.