Tag Archives: Sen. Dan Coats

Dueling Congressmen

By Jim Ellis

July 24, 2017 — Next year’s Indiana Senate race is expected to be one of the nation’s top wire-to-wire campaigns. Even the Republican primary, which will only produce a challenger nominee, is beginning in toss-up fashion.

A new OnMessage consulting firm poll (July 10-12; 400 likely Indiana GOP primary voters) finds a pair of Republican congressmen, unannounced for the Senate but both headed for the statewide race, already in a dead heat contest. According to the data, Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie) are tied at 23 percent in the new GOP primary preference poll. The eventual winner will challenge Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, who will be seeking his first re-election.

Attorney General Curtis Hill (R) and state Rep. Mike Braun (R-Jasper) are also thought to be considering their own Senate candidacies. They polled just four and two percent, respectively, in the OnMessage poll, however.

The two GOP House members are also virtually tied in the resource game. Both have been raising money at a strong clip: Rokita bringing in just over $1.3 million for the first half of 2017 and showing $2.35 million cash-on-hand, while Messer has attracted just under $1.3 million and possesses $2.027 million. For his part, Sen. Donnelly has brought in $5.47 million for the year and has $3.7 million in his campaign account.

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Late Breakers

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 8, 2016 — A late surge in two races adds even more drama to the already tight array of US Senate contests.

Weekend polling suggests that a pair of campaigns, which for months looked to be headed toward the Democratic column, have now potentially moved into toss-up situations.

Three polls were just released for the Indiana Senate race, where former senator and governor Evan Bayh (D) is attempting a comeback after retiring in 2010. Bayh has enjoyed a consistent lead over Rep. Todd Young (R-Bloomington) in the open seat race to succeed retiring Sen. Dan Coats (R) since joining the campaign in mid-July. Originally, Bayh began the contest with a 21-point lead. As late as Oct. 13, the Monmouth University poll still posted him to a six-point lead.

Now, we see a trio of surveys all coming to different conclusions. The latest Monmouth survey (Oct. 27-30; 402 likely Indiana voters) finds the two candidates tied at 45 percent apiece. On the heels of this poll, Gravis Marketing (Oct. 30-Nov. 1; 399 registered Indiana voters) sees Sen. Bayh re-claiming the lead, 40-37 percent. But, the most current survey, the Howey Politics poll (for WTHR television; released Nov. 4; 600 likely Indiana voters), actually finds Rep. Young catapulting to a five-point advantage, 46-41 percent. If this trend is accurate, and continues, the concluding result could be a mild shocker.

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Indiana Poll: Republicans Gaining, Bayh Up

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 19, 2016 — Monmouth University (Aug. 13-16; 403 likely Indiana voters; 351 drawn from registered voters list; 52 random digit dial cell phone responses) released their new Indiana voter survey and the results report varying degrees of Republican improvement, though the polling sample may skew slightly toward the GOP.

Indiana is a very important 2016 political state. Among the 23 states that appear to be bedrock Republican for the presidential race — and must all vote for Donald Trump if he is to have any chance of winning the national election — Indiana is the only one to stray away from the party nominee in this century. In 2008, Hoosier State voters chose Barack Obama over John McCain by a 50-49 percent margin.

Therefore, with Indiana being a must-win Republican state for Trump, it likely factored into Trump’s decision to choose its governor, Mike Pence, as his vice presidential running mate.

We continue to see strong evidence that the Democratic move to replace former Rep. Baron Hill (D-Bloomington) for ex-senator and governor Evan Bayh, just hours before the ballot finalization deadline, has made the state pivotal in determining which party controls the new Senate majority. Prior to the Bayh move, it appeared that Rep. Todd Young (R-Bloomington) was cruising to a general election victory, thus keeping retiring Sen. Dan Coats’ (R) seat in the GOP column.

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Indiana’s Holcomb Defeats
Two US Reps; GA-3 Results

By Jim Ellis

July 28, 2016 — Suddenly, the Democrats seemed well positioned to potentially claim a new senator and governor from normally Republican Indiana.

Tuesday, appointed Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb, the former chairman of the Indiana Republican Party, won the special vote to replace vice presidential nominee Mike Pence as the party’s gubernatorial standard bearer. He now faces former state House Speaker John Gregg (D) in the general election. Gregg held Pence to a 49-46 percent victory in 2012.

The party’s State Committee, comprised of the state party officers and congressional district chairs and vice chairs from all nine districts, has the responsibility of filling statewide ballot vacancies. With Gov. Pence departing on the final day that the party could begin replacement proceedings, the State Committee leadership scheduled the secret ballot vote for Tuesday, though they had 30 days to take action.

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Hoosier Musical Chairs

By Jim Ellis

July 19, 2016 — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s selection as Donald Trump’s Republican vice presidential nominee begins an unusual succession process. Immediately, the members of the Indiana Republican Party’s State Committee must take action to choose replacement nominees for what is becoming a series of vacancies.

Friday was the state deadline to finalize the November ballot. Up until noon on July 15, candidates throughout Indiana could withdraw after winning the May 3 primary, leaving the affected political party structure in charge of selecting replacements. Never has the ballot deadline created such an active period.

Somewhat lost in the deadline flurry of activity surrounding Pence’s ascension to the national ticket, was the Democratic move earlier in the week when party leaders were able to convince ex-Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN-9) to withdraw from the Senate race and allow former senator and governor, Evan Bayh (D), to step in as the replacement.

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Walker Announces for President; Young for Senate

July 15, 2015 — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker took to Twitter and the Internet Monday to announce his presidential candidacy, becoming the 16th Republican to officially enter the national campaign. Two more expected entrants, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and ex-Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, will likely round out the field in early August.

The current list includes 15 Republicans who will likely qualify for the ballot in all states, and one, former IRS Commissioner Mark Everson, who likely won’t. This means 17 Republicans will be vying for the presidential nomination in a fight that could go all the way to the convention in Cleveland a year from now.

Perhaps signaling the type of campaign he intends to run, Gov. Walker sought to create a clear contrast between himself and the rest of the GOP field. Walker’s theme of being “conservative, bold, and decisive” was highlighted in his announcement video that stressed his gubernatorial record, the fights with Big Labor, and winning three statewide Wisconsin elections in four years. The context reminds viewers that the new presidential candidate successfully defended himself from a strong recall movement, saying that, “ … in the Republican field, there are some good fighters but they haven’t won those battles. There are others who have won elections but haven’t consistently taken on the big fights. We showed you can do both.”
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A Lot of Noes

June 16, 2015 — We witnessed a great many political “noes” this weekend, as Iowa Republicans voted to do away with their famous August straw poll event, and two potential major Senate candidates announced they would not run next year.

President

The Iowa Republican Party began the straw poll event in August of 1979, as a way to showcase their first-in-the nation caucus contest. Over the years, the event attracted major media attention and was generally viewed as the first official contest of the respective presidential campaign cycle. In the most recent years, it became the Iowa GOP’s top fundraising event for their entire election season. But, over this past weekend, the Iowa Republican Party Executive Committee voted 17-0 to end the famous informal poll.

Several reasons exist for the event’s elimination, which previously drew thousands to Iowa State University in Ames, the traditional event venue. First, the straw poll was never a good predictor as to who would win the Caucus event. For example, then-Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6) placed first in the 2011 straw poll, which proved to be the high point of her campaign. Basically she was not heard from in a serious way after that. In fact, of the six straw poll events, only once did the outright August vote correctly foretell the actual Caucus winner (George W. Bush in 2000).
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Why Cillizza’s Senate Dems’ “Stellar”
Recruitment Analysis is Wrong

June 9, 2015 — The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza wrote a story at the end of last week that rated 2016 Senate Democratic candidate recruitment as “stellar”, but he omits some rather major analytical points in drawing that conclusion. Mainly, he fails to mention the large number of cumulative losses these individuals have recently absorbed.

He first starts with the Nevada race and says the Democrats recruited the top potential candidate, former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto who outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D) prompted to run and supports. He gives the party further points by citing that Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV-1) will not challenge Masto. This is all true, and avoiding a primary does make things better for them during the general election, but Masto should not be considered to be a prohibitive favorite against what should be a strong Republican. She won her first AG race in 2006, a Democratic landslide year, with a solid 59.0 percent vote count. Four years later she significantly regressed, scoring 52.8 percent, though 2010 was clearly a better Republican year.

In Florida, he cites Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) as a strong recruitment, and we agree. As Cillizza correctly mentions, Rep. Alan Grayson’s (D-FL-9) potential candidacy certainly clouds the Democratic picture. The Florida seat is open because Sen. Marco Rubio (R) is running for president.
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Stutzman Declares in Indiana;
MS-1 Special Notes

May 13, 2015 — Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN-3), who began talking about running for Senate even before Sen. Dan Coats (R) announced that he wouldn’t seek another term, officially declared his candidacy Monday. He joins former Indiana Republican Party chairman and Coats’ aide Eric Holcomb in the field of candidates.

Though Sen. Coats made public his intention to retire at the end of March, the field of potential successors has been slow to form. Immediately, all but three of the nine-member House delegation indicated interest in the race but, until yesterday, none had moved into the statewide contest.

At this point, most of the delegation members have declined to run. The two who have not yet closed the door on a potential Senate bid are representatives Todd Rokita (R-IN-4), who is unlikely to enter, and Todd Young (R-IN-9), who well could oppose Stutzman and Holcomb.

No Democrat has yet come forward. Party leaders hope to recruit former senator and governor, Evan Bayh, back into elective politics, but this is likely wishful thinking on their part. Upon leaving office five years ago, Sen. Bayh made public statements about being less than enamored with the way Congress was operating, and it is fair to say the situation has deteriorated since.
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Open Seat #3: Indiana Sen. Dan Coats

Several weeks ago, Indiana Sen. Dan Coats (R) promised to announce his 2016 political plans before April 5, and on Tuesday kept his word. When Coats announced such an early time frame upon making a re-election decision, it encouraged political speculation that he would retire, thus opening the seat for next year’s election. Such prognostication proved accurate because Sen. Coats announced that he will retire for the second time.

Coats first came to office when he succeeded his former congressional boss, then-Rep. Dan Quayle (R-IN-4). When Quayle defeated Sen. Birch Bayh (D) in 1980, it was Dan Coats who won the Ft. Wayne-anchored congressional seat that Quayle vacated. Coats would serve four terms, and then once again succeed Quayle when he was appointed in 1989 to fill the unexpired Senate term when the latter was elected Vice President. Coats would then win a special Senate election in 1990, filling the final two years of the term to which he was originally appointed. He then claimed a full six-year term in the next regular election. Coats decided to retire from the Senate in 1998, rather than face then-Gov. Evan Bayh (D) in what was expected to be a very tough re-election fight.

Upon his retirement, Coats served as US Ambassador to Germany, and then returned to Washington DC to join a lobbying firm. He rather surprisingly was recruited to return to elective politics in 2010, and this time ironically succeeded Sen. Bayh who himself had decided to retire expressing his disdain for continuing service in the federal legislative body on his way out. Now, it is former Sen. Bayh who is not yet completely ruling out a return to elective politics.

The Coats’ move opens a third Senate seat for the 2016 election cycle. A fourth may soon be coming if Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) decides to forgo re-election in order to concentrate on a presidential campaign, as expected. Earlier in the year, Democratic senators Barbara Boxer (CA) and Barbara Mikulski (MD) announced their respective retirements.
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