The Journal Gazette
Sunday, March 24, 2019 1:00 am

Donnelly, Young score high in bipartisanship

BRIAN FRANCISCO and NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., and former senator Joe Donnelly ranked high for bipartisanship in ratings the Lugar Center and Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy released last week.

Democrat Donnelly ranked fourth among 100 senators for the 2017-18 term of Congress, and Young ranked seventh. Donnelly lost his Indiana seat to Republican Mike Braun in the November election.

The Lugar/McCourt bipartisanship scores and rankings are based on how often a federal lawmaker's introduced legislation attracts co-sponsors from members of the opposite party and how often a lawmaker co-sponsors legislation by members of the opposite party.

The highest-rated U.S. House member from Indiana was Rep. Susan Brooks, R-5th, who ranked 41st among 436 legislators. Northeast Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, ranked 343rd. Rep. Jackie Walorksi, R-2nd, whose district includes parts of Kosciusko County, ranked 89th.

The highest-ranking members of each congressional chamber were Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and former Republican representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida. The lowest-ranking members of each chamber were independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill.

Richard Lugar, president of the nonprofit Lugar Center think tank, said in a news release that overall scores in the Bipartisan Index improved for the third straight term of Congress.

“The new Index scores show that even as the rhetoric and overall atmosphere in Washington remains partisan, there is an appetite among many lawmakers for bipartisan problem solving,” said Lugar, a Republican senator from Indiana from 1977 through 2012.

Periodic ratings by Lugar Center/McCourt School measure back to 1993. Donnelly left office this year with the second-highest career score for 240 current and former senators, behind former Republican senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. Lugar ranks 26th in career score.

Holcomb flies friendly skies

Just over two years into his first term, Gov. Eric Holcomb has already amassed more international trips than his two Republican predecessors, a release from the Indiana Democratic Party said last week.

Holcomb's nine-day swing through Europe, wrapping last week, was his eighth international journey, surpassing Mike Pence's 44 days on seven trips over four years as governor. Mitch Daniels traveled internationally seven times in eight years.

After declaring he would be “hyperactive” lobbying for a complete hate crimes law, Holcomb spent more than a week traveling during a critical portion of the legislative session.

“This year, Governor Holcomb has spent more time in Frankfurt, Germany, than Frankfort, Indiana,” Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody said.

“If Holcomb is serious about lobbying for hate crimes, he'd better start barnstorming the state tomorrow. Anything less is just an empty promise.”

Holcomb responded by laughing and saying he didn't have his umbrella open skipping around Europe.

“I was actually working on (hate crimes) while I was there. I was doing double duty, speaking to people back here and I'll continue to do that and continue to do anything that is helpful to make progress on this front,” he said, including meeting with business community and individual members of the legislature.

Banks nominated

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks is a finalist for the second straight year for one of four Democracy Awards presented by the Congressional Management Foundation.

Banks, R-3rd, is among four nominees for the organization's Transparency, Accountability and Innovation Award.

His office was singled out for including interns in an employee training program, developing a comprehensive manual for new hires and interns, and establishing a process to supervise how staff actions are handled and processed.

The nonpartisan, nonprofit Congressional Management Foundation says it works with members of Congress and their staffs to enhance their operations and interactions with constituents, and with citizen groups to educate them on how Congress works.

Libertarians hit the Fort

The Libertarian Party of Indiana's annual convention was held Friday and Saturday in Fort Wayne at the Ramada Plaza Hotel.

During the business meeting, the party accepted nominations for the 2019 election season from unaffiliated counties, elected party officers and discussed bylaw changes.

Libertarian candidates are selected at conventions funded internally instead of primaries funded by the taxpayers.

A dinner was highlighted by guest speaker Jess Mears, who gave an analysis of the political climate and where it is ripe for Libertarians. She has been a Libertarian activist since 2007 and went to college in Ohio. She now lives in Florida.

Right to Life endorsements

The Allen County Right to Life Political Action Committee has announced its endorsements ahead of the May 7 primary election.

“Voters can use their vote as a voice for the unborn,” Cathie Humbarger, communications director of the Allen County Right to Life PAC, said in a statement. “Pro-life advocates want to support those that may aspire to higher office by choosing men and women that value each and every life. The endorsed candidates have demonstrated a commitment to the protection of the most vulnerable.”

All endorsed candidates are Republicans. They are:

• Tim Smith, Fort Wayne mayor

• Paul Ensley, Fort Wayne City Council District 1

• Russ Jehl, Fort Wayne City Council District 2

• Tom Didier, Fort Wayne City Council District 3

• Jason Arp, Fort Wayne City Council District 4

• Michael Barranda, Fort Wayne City Council at large

• Tom Freistroffer, Fort Wayne City Council at large

• Nathan Hartman, Fort Wayne City Council at large

• Joe Townsend, Fort Wayne City Council at large

• Steve McMichael, New Haven mayor

• Joseph Kelsey, Woodburn mayor

• Lana Keesling, Fort Wayne city clerk

Candidates who were not endorsed, but recognized as pro-life, include Mike Thomas, Fort Wayne City Council District 3; Rachel Lott, Fort Wayne City Council District 4; Taylor Vanover, Fort Wayne City Council District 5; Robert Nelson, New Haven mayor; and Steve Poiry, New Haven mayor.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at or Niki Kelly at An expanded Political Notebook can be found as a daily blog at

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