This diary is cross-posted at, An Enduring Democratic Majority.
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is probably the most endangered Republican of the 2008 cycle so far. With an approval rating that hasn't been over 50 percent since 2005, Daniels has already been targeted by national Democrats.
Today the Associated Press is reporting that Daniels will be making an "Important Announcement" on June 16 at Butler University. The prevailing opinion out of the Hoosier State seems to be that this announcement will be the kickoff to Daniels' 2008 reelection campaign.
The invitation says in bold letters, "Save This Date, June 16, 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.," and "You are invited to an important announcement."
The e-mail includes a circle that says "Go Gov" and a picture of Daniels holding a small child with a green sticker on his shirt that says "My Man Mitch" – Daniels’ campaign slogan during his successful 2004 campaign.
State Democratic Chairman Dan Parker said he assumed the announcement would be that Daniels was running for a second term, especially given the "Go Gov" phrase on the invitation.
"I don’t think this news should be shocking to anyone that he’s running for re-election," Parker said. "His problem is he will have to defend an agenda that is out of touch with average Hoosiers. I guess that is why he is starting early."
Daniels defeated incumbent Democrat Joe Kernan convincingly in 2004, 53.2 percent to 45.8 percent. However, his policies of privatizing the state's "Indiana Toll Road" and not listening to the public on daylight savings time have left Daniels increasingly unpopular.
According to his web site, Young seems to be ready to take on privatization a full force. Trying to hammer away at Daniels, Young says that "Privatization in Indiana has become a tool that prevents government accountability to the public in the delivery of goods and services." Additionally, Young lists affordable health care as one of his main goals citing a religious obligation to do so:
To me, commitment to providing adequate medical care to all Hoosiers is a moral value. To assist those who are less fortunate is the basis of every religion.
Not much information is available on Schellinger yet, as his web site is not yet up and running. Though through the story previously linked to from the Indianapolis Star, Schellinger is describing himself as a "Moderate to Conservative Democrat." What is most impressive thus far about Schellinger is the endorsements that he has received. These endorsements include Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, U.S. Rep. Julia Carson and, the big one, the state UAW (courtesy of Blueindiana.net).
Indiana was very kind to the Democrats in 2006. The party was able to pickup three congressional seats in IN-02, IN-08 and IN-09. Furthermore with things further deteriorating under Bush's watch, there is little reason to believe that these new incumbents cannot win reelection in 2008. This lower ballot sucess could potentially translate into success for whomever is chosen to take on Daniels come Nov. 2008.
While neither Young nor Schellinger seem like the ideal progressive Democrat that the netroots would embrace with open arms, this is definitely a race the Democrats should and need to win. Indiana is a very important state for this reason: it is essentially a bridge between two Democratic strongholds.
If the Democrats can win the Indiana seat they have literally built a coalition of statehouse seats that connect the New England/Mid Atlantic stronghold to the upper Midwest stronghold. I am a firm believer that statewide success begins with the statehouses. Win the Governor's mansion and the Senate and House seats will follow. Look at Virginia: after five years of Mark Warner and Tim Kaine dominance in Richmond, Senator Jim Webb was able to sneak out a victory in 2006. In 2004 New Hampshire Governor John Lynch defeats a Republican incumbent, two years later the Democrats capture both house seats. The proof is there.
Mitch Daniels must be defeated.