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Local politics

  • Debate low on conflict
    Their neckties were about all that clashed Tuesday dur­ing a debate of the three congressional candidates in Indiana's 3rd District. Second-term Republican Rep.
  • Debate low on conflict
    Their neckties were about all that clashed Tuesday dur­ing a debate of the three congressional candidates in Indiana’s 3rd District.Second-term Republican Rep.
  • Stutzman challengers count on TV debate
    Two long-shot candidates for a seat in Congress say Tuesday’s televised debate offers the best chance for them to lure votes away from Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd.
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Quarterly report
Campaign finance report for Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd:
Individual donors…$123,636
PACs…$69,697
Total…$193,333
Cash on hand…$422,236
Source: Federal Election Commission

Stutzman lines coffers for 2014 race

Conservatives appreciate congressman’s work

Stutzman

Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, has much deeper pockets for his second re-election attempt than he did for his first.

Through September, Stutzman’s campaign had raised more than $521,000 in contributions, more than $422,000 of that amount in cash for the 2014 primary and general elections, according to his campaign committee’s most recent campaign finance report.

At the same point in 2011, Stutzman had raised less than $260,000 and had about $103,000 in cash on hand. A year later, the LaGrange County farmer would collect 67 percent of the vote in the general election to win his second two-year term in the House.

His latest filing with the Federal Election Commission indicates Stutzman’s campaign has been more aggressive and that he is building a track record that is luring conservative and special-interest donors, including the medical and financial services industries.

“They’re liking what they’re seeing and the work that he is doing,” said a campaign aide who declined to be identified for this story.

Medical money

Stutzman is a member of the Financial Services Committee, which ranks third among House panels for attracting PAC money to its members, according to the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation.

He also is a longtime foe of the 2.3 percent tax on medical device sales and represents Warsaw, which bills itself as the world capital of orthopedic device manufacturing.

Stutzman’s donors for the third quarter include political action committees representing orthopedic surgeons, the Advanced Medical Technology Association and medical device maker Boston Scientific Corp. as well as PACs for radiologists, anesthesiologists and pharmaceuticals producers Eli Lilly & Co. of Indianapolis and GlaxoSmithKline of London.

A dozen physicians and dentists were listed among the itemized individual donors for Stutzman’s campaign.

The Stutzman aide said the escalating fight on Capitol Hill over the Affordable Care Act rollout likely fueled the surge in contributions from the medical industry. Stutzman has been a staunch opponent of the health care law.

Other contributors to Stutzman in the quarter included PACs for American Electric Power, JPMorgan Chase, Raytheon, Indiana tomato products seller Red Gold, General Electric, Verizon Wireless and Koch Industries Inc., run by brothers Charles and David Koch, leading financiers to ultraconservative candidates and causes.

But the Stutzman aide pointed out that in this year’s third quarter, Stutzman received far more money from individual donors (nearly $124,000) than from PACs (less than $70,000).

“He raised more from individuals this quarter than he ever has,” the official said, and the $422,236 in available cash “is higher than it’s ever been.”

Middle of pack

While Stutzman has fattened his campaign coffers, his contributions and cash are only in the middle of the pack among Indiana’s seven Republicans in the House, each of whom has been elected since 2010.

Stutzman’s lag owes much to the fact that he so far has little in the way of an election challenge in his northeast Indiana district, deemed the state’s most Republican by the Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voting Index.

He does have more in contributions and cash than a long-time incumbent in another seemingly safe district: Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, reports about $418,000 in donations and less than $308,000 in cash for the 2014 election in his northwest Indiana district.

By contrast, Rep. Todd Young, R-9th, has raised more than $800,000 and Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-2nd, more than $720,000, and each has at least $530,000 in cash. Young’s Bloomington-based district and Walorski’s South Bend-based district have bounced back and forth between Democrats and Republicans in the past dozen years.

At least one Democrat is running for Young’s seat next year: Bill Bailey, a former state legislator and Seymour mayor. Joseph Bock, an administrator at the University of Notre Dame, has said he might seek the Democratic nomination to oppose Walorski.

Justin Kuhnle of Kendallville and John Forest Roberson of Fort Wayne have indicated they again will run for the Democratic nomination in the Fort Wayne-based 3rd District. Kuhnle finished fourth and Roberson last in a six-candidate primary-election field in 2012. Neither has filed a campaign finance report this year with the FEC, and only Kuhnle has filed a statement of candidacy.

There has been speculation that Stutzman could face a challenger in the May primary as moderate, business-friendly Republicans across the nation try to stem the influence of the GOP’s tea party wing. Stutzman provided ammunition to potential rivals from either party when he boiled down the GOP’s stance in federal spending negotiations: “We’re not going to be disrespected,” he told the Washington Examiner on Oct. 2. “We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”

But Nathan Gonzales, deputy editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, said Stutzman could use the commotion that his statement stirred in the media and among Democrats, including President Barack Obama, to his advantage.

“Stutzman got plenty of negative media attention at the national level,” Gonzales said in an email. “But it’s not hard to see how he could try and turn that around to his conservative donors and tell them that he is being attacked by the president and the ‘liberal media.’ ”

bfrancisco@jg.net

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