Back on “Standard” Time

Today we’re off of Daylight ‘Saving’ Time and back on “Standard” time. The names are complete misnomers in that no daylight is saved, in fact the most recent study shows we use more energy on daylight time than on standard time. And, of course, “standard” is kind of silly since it’s the time we’re on for only about 4 months per year.

Anyway, just a friendly reminder to set your clocks back an hour; grumble if your kids get up based on the earth’s relationship to the sun rather than the numbers on the clock; and, I suppose, consider casting a vote against Gov. Daniels if you find the process annoying and/or unnecessary.

Daniels avoids Palin

Gov. Daniels apparently has an aversion to being seen with Gov. Palin. Or, at least his schedule is tragically (or comically) at odds with her campaign appearances in Indiana.

Daniels said he plans to talk to folks in the parking lot, but can’t fit into his schedule a joint appearance with Palin.

This is Palin’s third trip to Indiana, and Daniels has yet to campaign with her, though Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman was with Palin at the previous rallies in Noblesville and Fort Wayne.

“I’m going by (the Palin rally.) I’ve got another event scheduled at the same time, but it is close by, so I’m going to go by and spend as long as I can there and hang out in the parking lot and spend some time with the folks standing in line or patiently waiting to get in,” Daniels said. “I’m not speaking at the rally, no.”

And why not? Gov. Daniels has a good campaign going. He isn’t seen as particularly partisan. Plenty of folks seem ready to vote for him and Senator Obama. Gone are his accusations about Democrats “car-bombing” the process. It’s hard telling what a second Daniels term will look like. I suspect if Democrats retain control of the state House of Representatives, Daniels will govern more like he did in 2007-2008; if Republicans take control, it will look more like 2005-2006. An appearance with Palin throwing out red meat to the 25% or whatever who still think Bush is doing a good job wouldn’t be in Gov. Daniels’ self-interest. He probably doesn’t want to get stuck answering questions like, “Gov. Daniels, do you agree that Sen. Obama is a terrorist-loving, America-hating socialist who is ‘not like us’?” and “Will you also be relying on ‘Joe’-the-‘Plumber’ to shape your policy? If not, is it because you are an elitist who hates ordinary Americans?”

Governor’s Race

Niki Kelly, writing for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has some good coverage of the Governor’s race today.

#Will Hoosiers make change of their own? Gov. Daniels is relaxed, leading big in most polls, and does not have nearly as many policy proposals as he did during his first campaign. He wants a Constitutional property tax cap, wants a tax credit for years when the State has a surplus, and wants to shift education dollars from administration to the classroom.

#Long Thompson stays competitive – Jill Long Thompson’s campaign has had a number of problems, not least of which is a financial disadvantage when compared to the Daniels campaign. She is mainly the anti-Daniels, against his privatization instincts and against putting property tax caps into the Constitution before we see how they work as a matter of state law. She generally wants to grow the economy and restructure the tax system to be more fair; specifically what this means is a bit unresolved. Her campaign is hoping for significant coat tails from the Obama campaign, but, it’s not unusual to see yards with signs with both Obama and Daniels’ signs.

#Horning Defends the Constitution – Horning, a frequent candidate, recognizes that his chances of winning this race are slim. He is, however, working to increase awareness of the Indiana Constitution and the ways in which he believes current practices are in violation – the prohibitions against special legislation, corporate subsidies, and funding schools with property taxes.

Daniels’ Lottery Privatization Hits Road Block

The feds put the kibosh on Gov. Daniels’ desire to privatize the lottery on account of, well, it’s illegal. The U.S. Department of Justice said states would not comply with federal law if they enter into long-term private management agreements to operate their lotteries.

The ruling said federal law requires that a state exercise actual control over all significant business decisions made by a lottery enterprise and retain all but a minimal share of the equity interest in the profits and losses of the business.

It also said a state had to retain the rights to the trademarks and other unique intellectual property or essential assets of the state’s lottery.

I’m certain, however, that the Governor will remain diligent in his efforts to find other property of the state to sell.

Third Gubernatorial Debate Tonight

The third Governor’s debate will take place between Gov. Daniels, Jill Long Thompson, and Andrew Horning. This time they’ll sit at a table and Tom Cochrun will moderate.

Jill Long Thompson has her work cut out for her. She has to get people to pay attention, and she has to convince people that, under her leadership, Hoosiers would be better off. Under Daniels, Hoosiers haven’t been doing so well; but either people aren’t holding him particularly to blame or they don’t find Long Thompson to blame. (As an aside, I wonder if the double last name is hindering her cause? I find it distracting to type, just as one data point. Nothing she can do about it, I suppose. A name is a name.)

The polls in the governor’s race have been all over the map. Either Daniels is winning in a blow out, or the race is neck-and-neck. So, Long Thompson isn’t without hope. Maybe she can put together a convincing debate performance and Gov. Daniels will reveal his peevish side which seems to come out when his authority is challenged.

But, if I had to guess, I would say that both sides will put together workmanlike performances with few surprises, while Horning will be the most entertaining of the three speakers.

Governor’s Debate #2

The gubernatorial candidates debated and, apparently, didn’t agree on things. Go figure. Jill Long Thompson wants to suspend the gasoline tax. Horning and Daniels do not. Per Horning: “the state should not artificially make fuel cheaper if it wants to emphasize conservation and a shift to alternative energy.” Point Horning and, by extension, Daniels.

On education, Long Thompson doesn’t want to privatize the Lottery to pay for things. Daniels does. Point Long Thompson. Selling off money making assets seems like a long-term loser. Daniels wants to immunize teachers so they can deal with unruly students. Having transitioned from an anti-government hooligan in my youth to legal defender of the government as I get deeper into middle age, I’m in favor of a good immunity law, but I don’t think allowing teachers to beat sass-mouths with impunity, or whatever the plan is, will do a heck of a lot to improve things.

The main bone of contention is on the economy and jobs. Jill Long Thompson characterizes Daniels’ performance as disastrous with lots of Hoosiers losing their jobs. Daniels responds, in effect, “hey, we’re doing better than Ohio and Michigan.” And, in fact, we are. But, not so well as Illinois and Kentucky. At the end of the day, I suspect that Daniels isn’t the reason for the tough economy, but he hasn’t done much to help either. If Long Thompson has articulated what she would do differently to keep or increase jobs, I’m not sure I’ve heard it expressed with much clarity.

In any event, I don’t think voters are moved a whole lot by particular policy initiatives and providing them with a list of particulars is probably necessary but insufficient to win a big campaign. The particulars have to fit into a narrative; a story where the candidate is a protagonist for whom the voters want to root. Hearing on numerous occasions that Long Thompson has a Ph.D. and a Masters degree doesn’t exactly scream “I am Indiana, and if you vote for me, Indiana and your life get better.” And, to be honest, I’m not sure what that narrative ought to be — that’s why I rant on the Internet and don’t get paid for political consultations.

Gubernatorial Debate

Jill Long Thompson, Mitch Daniels, and Andrew Horning debated last night. From what I saw, they all put in solid performances. My favorite line was Horning talking about his goat, but it’ll take more than a goat for the Libertarian candidate to get more than 4 or 5%.

On the economy, Daniels went with the “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes” defense. Despite what misguided citizens might perceive in their own lives, Indiana’s economy is going gangbusters according to Daniels. When Jill Long Thompson called him on this, Daniels went with the “liar, liar pants on fire” gambit.

I’m paraphrasing of course. Daniels and Long Thompson both turned in solid debate performances, and I wouldn’t think this one will move the needle very much.

Since Daniels took office in January 2005, Indiana has seen a net gain of 27,800 jobs, though in the past year, the state has lost 24,800 jobs. Although Indiana’s unemployment rate is lower than those of surrounding states, it has jumped to 6.3 percent from 5.4 percent since he took office.

On other issues, Long Thompson criticized Daniels’ privatization deals, particularly his decision to lease the Indiana Toll Road for $3.8 billion to fund a 10-year plan to improve state roadways.

“I believe the privatization of the Toll Road was a major mistake,” she said. “I would certainly stop the rampant privatization that has been a major characteristic of his time as governor.”

Long Thompson also criticized Daniels’ decision to privatize a New Castle prison that experienced a riot in 2007, as well as contracts to privatize functions of the Family and Social Services Administration, which she called “disastrous.”

Daniels continues to defend his inclination toward privatization. Which is a bold move considering the amount of money private business is seeking from the federal government lately.

First Gubenatorial Debate Tonight

Tonight Jill Long Thompson and Mitch Daniels will have the first of three debates. Libertarian candidate, Andy Horning will also be in the debate. It will take place in the Star Plaza in Merrillville. The pressure is probably on Long Thompson who is trailing in the polls and is facing a well-funded incumbent who, for whatever reason, is not being penalized for the unpopular decisions he made in the early part of his first term. If Daniels is following the play book of his mentor George W. Bush, he made his unpopular moves early in his term, tempered his actions in the second half, and will revert to early-term form as soon as he’s re-elected.

Governor’s Race: Me or Your Lyin’ Eyes?

Lesley Stedman Weidenbener has a column entitled “Governor’s race is a tale of two economies.” She notes that the Governor’s ads paint a picture of Indiana as having a great economy (thanks, of course, to the Governor’s magnificent leadership.) Challenger Jill Long Thompson paints a picture of Indiana as having a sputtering economy (thanks, of course, to the Governor’s horrible leadership.)

This is one of those lies, damned lies, and statistics situations. One’s sense of the truth of the matter is going to come from one’s own experience with the economy. “Who are you going to believe? Me or your lyin’ eyes?” I don’t think things are going that well for Joe Sixpack just about now, so whatever benefits the Governor’s statistics reflect must be going elsewhere. Whether Long Thompson can capitalize on this remains to be seen.