Many thanks to Mr. Walker for his support of Joe Donnelly in IN-2. Here is another reason why a major league fundraiser, such as one with Sen. Edwards, would make a great impact in this race. While Joe is currently ahead according to two polls, Chris Chocola not only has a personal wealth of anywhere between $35 and 50 million, he is such a valued crony of the Bush White House he is sure to receive major backing from the White House and the national Republican machine. This is precisely the type of race that needs a fundraiser such as the one Edwards proposes as well as the accompanying media coverage. We need to stay on Chocola and keep hammering away with our message. The media hit and the funds raised would help Joe do that. Please consider Joe Donnelly when you vote. Keep in mind also that if only 1% of the money sent to a big netroots race such as Busby (CA), Hackett (OH) or Lamont (CT) were sent to a campaign like Joe Donnelly's, the impact would be tremendous.
Let me echo the previous comment concerning IN-2. This is a great story about a Democratic Congressman (and fellow Notre Dame alum) helping a prospective Democratic Congressman in the neighboring district. Many thanks to Congressman Pete Visclosky for opening his HQ and phone banking for Donnelly. The Donnelly campaign is busily ID'ing their potential voters and need all the help they can get. Let's not forget GOTV later this fall, so if anyone in northwest Indiana (or elsewhere for that matter) is interested in pitching in and/or making a road trip to a hotly contested district, please contact Donnelly for Congress.
Here in IN-2 we are now on the radar of many of these outside groups. I have received calls about the minimum wage and the Iraq war urging me to contact Congressman Chocola and pressure him on these issues. True, these robo-calls do piss people off, and many times the local Democrats receive the flak, but as we are barred by federal law from contacting these groups (at least MoveOn) we can only hope that more people hear the message than are turned off by it.
Donnelly MUST have Chocola sweating like a whore in church! There have been no formal polls that I know of, but Chocola started his attack ads on May 31st (early!) and has been seen at quite a few parades in the district, something he reportedly dislikes quite a bit. The FEC report will show that Chocola is ahead financially, but the real question is this: can he spend enough to reconcile his record with the voters? Also, will he be able to mobilize his base versus a Democratic base that is angry and a populace in general that is ready for a change?
I suppose that IN-2 is where it is because of the mass quantities of cash at Rep. Chocola's disposal. Not only does he have his own fortune (double digit millions)and the six figures he pulled in from President Bush's February visit, there are two rumors currently circulating that he is going to get $600,000 from the RNCC and yet another visit from Bush in October. With this much behind him, I wonder why he is still in the middle of the second tier?
Possibly because all of the money in the world has not blinded the people of the second district to his voting record, his ties to big business and special interests, and the similiarities between him and Gov. Daniels; specifically their indifference to the wants and needs of their consitituents. Joe Donnelly is poised to pull off a real surprise in November; with or without help from the DCCC. Chocola is not treating Donnelly like a second tier opponent and I would wager that if a poll were taken today the race would be a dead heat with Donnelly possibly a few points ahead.
This dovetails with a report I read on MSNBC.COM. Rove will sidestep the whole question of whether or not Bush, Cheney, Delay, et al broke rules or laws. Instead, he will paint a picture of what Congress would look like if controlled by Democrats: impeachement investigations, immediate pullout from Iraq and a rollback of the President's tax cuts. This is designed to get the Republican base to look past their disappointments and focus on keeping the dreaded "liberals" from taking over.
I have already seen part of this strategy at work in my district (IN-2). Rep. Chocola is busy with the shell game of trying to convince voters that his opponent, Joe Donnelly (D), would raise taxes if elected. Chocola reportedly said on May 2nd that Donnelly would "raise taxes and raise the white flag". Hopefully people can see through this crap. We are doing our best to help them see.
I guess this is one of, if not THE, question among Democrats today: which candidates do we support (progressive or not) and, if so, how much? I agree-personally I would love to see more candidates like Paul Hackett and Ned Lamont but I also know two things: we have to win back control to start to take our country back and we have to understand each area of the country. In our area of Indiana, I am not sure how well a "progressive" could do against a two term incumbent unless that incumbent was caught with a dead woman or a live boy. I am concerned that the netroots community may be pouring too much money and resources into a small number of races (such as Busby in California) when a fraction of the money spent in that race could greatly benefit a moderate candidate such as Donnelly.
I am not going to come on MyDD or Kos and portray Donnelly as a progressive; he is not and would tell you so himself, but he represents the 2nd district of Indiana and it's political makeup. I will be straight with everyone and say that he will not betray his constituents by crawling in bed with big oil, big pharma and K street as our current rep has done. He would vote his conscience and vote as a representative of northern Indiana which may not be as "red" as is commonly perceived. He would ask tough questions on tough issues and be a common sense politician. What more can we ask? I do not begrudge anyone the right to support a more progressive candidate if they have some extra money laying around, but it would not kill us to have one more Democrat in the House.
A good example of how a challenger can sneak up on an incumbent is Joe Donnelly (D-Granger) in Indiana 2. In the 2004 election, the incumbent, Rep. Chris Chocola (R-Bristol), won re-election over Joe Donnelly but with only 54% WITH President Bush's coattails. In December of 2005, a poll was taken that showed Chocola ahead of Donnelly 46-40%; that is a two term incumbent polled against the man he defeated the year before. Hardly overwhelming support for Chocola.
There are a lot of intangibles in IN-2. Many in the Republican base are disgusted with Gov. Mitch Daniels and his two big problem policies: the switch from Central to Eastern time and his leasing of the Indiana toll road to a foreign investor. The same base that gave Chocola just 54% is openly grumbling and openly considering either a protest vote or just not voting at all this year. Joe Donnelly is a well liked moderate with good name recognition and a good reputation among independents and Republicans. Karl Rove will have a hard time painting Joe as a limp wristed liberal.
Indiana's 2nd district is definitely up for grabs. It will not be easy, and it will take money, but it is in play and within reach.
As someone who knows the Indiana's 2nd district fairly well, I agree with the previous assessment of Indiana politics; in many districts, a "progressive" or liberal simply cannot win. There are pockets of support in various communities for liberal viewpoints, but the reality is that many areas in Indiana are still rural, conservative areas that do not take to politicians who come across as too "radical". It took the Republican party twenty to thirty years to make the inroads that they have made in Indiana and many parts of the U.S. It will take the Democratic party a few years (at least) to bring voters around and adapt them to our way of thinking.
One more thing. I support Joe Donnelly in IN-2 and we have been hit with the "I'm more progressive than you" argument. I belong to Indiana Progressives, one of our state's leading coalitions to bring about change in not only politics in general but the Democratic party. Indiana Progressives definition of a progressive is this, "We define a progressive just as John F. Kennedy defined a liberal. Someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people." That definition includes, rather than excludes, many candidates. We all know Democrats who do not fit that description. They are mainly part of the "old boys" network and they are being replaced slowly but surely. Many of our new candidates are forward thinkers and good people who fit the district they are running to represent. The entire district, not certain parts of it.
I also agree that Chocola is going down in November.