Joe Donnelly for Congress (IN-2)
by aguila del norte, Wed Mar 08, 2006 at 08:10:07 PM EST
Here is a look at Indiana's 2nd congressional district and our Democratic candidate, Joe Donnelly.
Joe Donnelly is a two time graduate of the University of Notre Dame. (1976 with a degree in government and in 1981 from the law school) He owns a small business in Mishawaka Indiana; Marking Solutions, a manufacturer of self inking stamps and a non practicing attorney. In 2004, Joe ran against Rep. Chris Chocola (R-Bristol) and lost a hard fought race %54.2-%44.5. This was despite being outspent by close to a 2-1 margin and without any significant help from the DCCC. I was a part of that campaign and I can tell you that it was an especially hard loss.
We all felt that we had a real chance of winning, even in the face of the steep uphill battle against a well funded incumbent. This was not like McGovern '72 or Mondale '84 where you are out of the running before Labor Day; we were within two points of Chocola about three weeks before election day when Chocola dropped $300,000 into media buys, mainly tv ads, and pulled away from us. We were tapped out financially and simply could not close the gap in a presidential election year.
After some soul searching, Joe decided to run again in 2006. In June of 2005 he began laying the groundwork for a new campaign by talking with the DCCC about serious fundraising help in '06. While no formal committment was made, the suits in D.C. were impressed enough with Joe and his race in '04 to encourage him to continue. In December of 2005, a poll conducted by Cooper, Secrest Associates (a noted Democratic polling firm) showed Joe trailing Chocola by six points, 46-40%. This was significant because Chocola is a two term incumbent, the opponent is the same one he defeated the year before and there had been no "traditional" campaign activities by Donnelly up to that point such as literature distribution or significant media exposure. Cooper, Secrest Associates has a track record of reliable polling data; in 2002, they polled for seven of the nineteen new Democrats who joined Congress that year. Also, every Republican who lost that year lost to a Cooper, Secrest client.
In the time since that poll, Joe has been working hard to continue to raise funds and travel the district to talk with the people. Rep. Chocola recently held a fundraiser in Mishawaka that featured President Bush. The event, which cost $500 per person with the opportunity to have your picture taken with the President for $4000, brought in $600,000. That is what we are up against. However, there are signs that Chocola is vulnerable. In addition to the aforementioned poll, Chocola's support for NAFTA and CAFTA has come back to haunt him. In Kokomo, a manufacturing hub in the southern part of the district, recently announced that wages for UAW members would be cut from $26/hr to $9/hr in order to keep their "executive talent" and compete with Mexican and Chinese workers. This has turned the upper middle class workers who tended to vote Republican against Chocola and the administration and caused them to reconsider Donnelly. Also, the recent push to change the time zones in northern Indiana and the lease of the Indiana toll road by Republican Governor Mitch Daniels has also stirred up a lot of disgust among not only Democrats, but many Republicans in our area. Add to this the ongoing port sale debacle, the Iraq war, the rising deficit, the misguided federal budget and the Republican lobbying scandal and you have very fertile ground for a well liked Democrat with very good name recognition throughout the district.
Although much is made of the disparity between Chocola and Donnelly in terms of money, with the current state of politics and the growing disillusionment of the public with the current administration, anything can happen. Like the man said, that is why they play the game. On any given Sunday, any team can lose because the games are not played on paper. Joe is a great campaigner, the people are ready for a change, and this is a district that is very much in play.
Joe's website is up and while it is what I call version 1.0, you can sign up for e-mail updates, volunteer and contribute. The last two options are the way we will take back the 2nd district; contributions to help us get Joe's message out to the people and volunteers to work in their neighborhoods and communities.