Political Notebook

  • Pence taps city native for key post
    A Bishop Dwenger High School graduate was one of four deputy chiefs of staff tapped by Gov. Mike Pence last week. Sean Keefer will serve as deputy chief of staff of executive branch agencies.
  • Messer wants GOP leadership position
    Another Hoosier seeks a leadership post with the U.S. House Republican caucus.
  • Lugar Series taking applications
    The Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series, a political leadership development course for Republican women, is taking applications for its next class until Aug. 1.
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House fines to get day in court

The dispute over legislative fines finally got a court date.

The Indiana Supreme Court has set oral arguments in the matter for 9 a.m. Jan. 3. That is almost a year after initially getting involved and merging two related cases.

The case revolves around fines issued by Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma to Democratic lawmakers in the 2011 and 2012 sessions for purposely boycotting the session to avoid giving the chamber a quorum to do business.

The Democrats aren’t contesting the ability of Bosma to levy the fines but believe it was unlawful for State Auditor Tim Berry to unilaterally withhold the fines from expense and salary pay.

The attorney general’s office asked the high court to intervene after a Marion County judge blocked the House from collecting fines through payroll deduction.

Fort Wayne attorney Mark GiaQuinta has represented the Democrats in the matter. GiaQuinta is the brother of Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne.

Mourdock’s lead

Results of a survey released last week by pollster Rasmussen Reports indicate Richard Mourdock is apparently leading Joe Donnelly in their race for the Indiana U.S. Senate seat.

Republican Mourdock, the state treasurer, was favored by 47 percent of respondents compared with 42 percent who chose Rep. Donnelly, D-2nd.

Rasmussen Reports said the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The poll of 600 likely voters did not specifically ask respondents about Libertarian candidate Andrew Horning. Two percent of respondents said they favored “some other candidate,” and 8 percent were undecided.

The survey was conducted Oct. 11-12.

In a poll conducted July 31-Aug. 1, Mourdock led Donnelly by 2 percentage points, and 15 percent of respondents were undecided.

A poll conducted in September by Howey Politics Indiana and DePauw University gave Donnelly a lead of 2 percentage points, 40 percent to 38 percent. That poll had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points and found that 7 percent of likely voters favored Horning.

Meanwhile, Mourdock had a roundtable discussion Wednesday in Indianapolis with Republican Sens. Dan Coats of Indiana, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona.

The three discussed job creation and the “fiscal cliff economy.” The fiscal cliff is the term used for a predicted economic downturn if federal tax increases and spending cuts take effect as scheduled in January.

More fundraising

Republican gubernatorial frontrunner Mike Pence continues to lead Democratic opponent John Gregg in fundraising.

New reports filed last week show Pence raised $2.9 million in the third quarter running July through September. He spent $6.6 million and has $1.8 million cash on hand as the race heads into its final weeks.

His campaign also reports he has already paid $2.3 million for the last three weeks of television ads.

“Over the past few months, Mike’s positive, issues-based vision and roadmap to make Indiana the state that works have drawn thousands of Hoosiers to invest time, talent and resources,” said Kyle Robertson, campaign manager. “We are grateful to have the continued outpouring of support from Hoosiers in all corners of the state as we enter the final weeks of the campaign.”

Gregg raised $1 million and spent $3.3 million. But he has less than $500,000 on hand for a final push.

“I continue to be honored and humbled by the support that Hoosiers have given my campaign,” he said.

“I have taken my message of creating jobs, strengthening education and bipartisan cooperation to every corner of the state, and today’s report shows that the message is resonating with voters throughout Indiana.”

According to several polls, Pence has a large lead in the race, similar to the lead he has in fundraising.

Mathias tops survey

Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Paul Mathias received the highest rating in the Indiana State Bar Associations’ recently released Judicial Retention Evaluation.

The association polled its members on the appellate judges standing for voter retention in November.

Mathias, a former Allen Superior Court judge, topped the list with 88.9 percent of 1,302 votes in his favor.

The lowest rank of 81 percent went to Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David, who is the author of a controversial ruling about whether citizens have the right to resist an unlawful entry by police into their homes.

Other rankings included:

•Justice Robert D. Rucker – 87.8 percent of 1,388 votes cast.

•Judge John G. Baker – 83.6 percent of 1,356 votes cast.

•Judge Nancy H. Vaidik – 86.4 percent of 1,337 votes cast.

•Judge Michael P. Barnes – 87.3 percent of 1,302 votes cast.

Education debate

The two major party candidates running for superintendent of public instruction have agreed to debate live on Northeast Indiana Public Radio at 7 p.m. Friday.

The debate between Republican Tony Bennett, the incumbent, and Democrat Glenda Ritz will last one hour and be divided into three parts.

There will be two rounds of questions and closing statements. The second round of questions will involve the moderator seeking more specific clarification of statements and claims made during the campaign or debate.

Northeast Indiana Public Radio will broadcast the debate in its entirety and will make it available at www.nipr.fm.

There will be no live audience.

The sponsors of the debate are Northeast Indiana Public Radio, IPFW and the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics.

To reach Political Notebook by e-mail, contact Brian Francisco at bfrancisco@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.

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