Indiana has been called the middle finger of the South thrust up into the Midwest. The 2012 Presidential electoral map bears this out. And, after the state elections, that finger just got even redder. But, there were unexpected spots of blue. It’s as if election 2012 was an electoral hammer that smashed down on Indiana.
The election that I think will have the most impact on Hoosiers is that of Mike Pence to governor. He is a Congressman who seems to have done nothing but unsuccessfully pursue conservative social legislation while in the House of Representatives. He hid his socially conservative light under a bushel for most of the campaign against John Gregg, but – though I am no Nate Silver – I predict that within the next 60 days, you will see this side of him emerge with a vengeance as the General Assembly — now even redder with some legislators of an almost Dominionist bent — will regard themselves as unleashed.
I don’t think David Long or even, particularly, Brian Bosma have real fire in their bellies for religiously motivated legislation. But, the Democrats lack any real power for them to use in maintaining discipline in their caucuses. So, they’ll have to let such things go and likely embrace a lot of the nonsense. Certainly the Constitutional marriage inequality amendment will come through and go to the ballot. (Unfortunately for my gay friends, I think this means it will show up in 2014 which isn’t as electorally advantageous to them as would be having the question on the ballot in a Presidential election year.)
The spots of blue would appear to be a cautionary tale against going off the rails to the right. Richard Mourdock, about whom I’ve been no fan because of his Chrysler antics, lost in no small part because of his rape and abortion comments. Joe Donnelly would have stood no chance had the more centrist Sen. Lugar remained in the race. Consequently, the Democrats retained control of the U.S. Senate. The other spot of blue was something I didn’t see coming at all until maybe the final week or so. Glenda Ritz beat Tony Bennett for the race to be Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Bennett has been aggressive in his efforts to restructure Indiana’s school system in a way that I believe allows more profit opportunities for some private entities. Certainly a lot of out of state money flowed into Bennett’s campaign war chest – which leads you to believe they were looking for a return on their investment. However, Bennett had gone too far. He outraged teachers in a way that made them talk convincingly to those around them. I know a number of reliably, usually unwavering, Republican votes that were cast against Bennett because teachers they knew convinced them that Bennett was bad for schools. If Bennett had not overreached, he too likely would have been safely re-elected. The Republicans haven’t lost a statewide executive branch office since the mid 90s when <strike>Hogsett</strike> <b><a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Modisett#State_Attorney.27s_offices”>Modisett</a></b> became Attorney General.
But, these cautionary tales will not be heeded. (Notwithstanding the Journal & Courier’s wistful, almost cute, hope of Gov. Pence avoiding social legislation in its endorsement.) So, for the next several years, I predict the State should increase its budget line item for paying ACLU-Indiana’s court mandated attorney fees. And, as this blog enters its 9th year in a couple of days, I expect I will once again have plenty to write about.