(In the final days of an election, there is so much information from so many races, it's difficult to stay on top of every story and understand the subtle dynamics often at play on the ground. Thankfully, we have an expansive 50-state blogosphere to match our 50-state strategy. Over the last two weeks of the campaign, we've asked leaders of the state blogospheres to provide insight into late developments and share the stories of their states in a series we're calling "Listening to the Locals." SusanG)
When Howard Dean let loose his now famous string of soon-to-be visited states in early 2004 -- an intelligent rhetorical exercise lost to the pundits amidst the discussion of the good doctor's lung capacity -- few in the Hoosier State expected to ever join that list. But over the last four years, no place has had more visible success with the 50-state strategy that followed, and this cycle presents an opportunity to solidify these gains with permanence and, most importantly, turn Indiana blue for the first time since 1964.
Shortly after taking the reins at the DNC, Dean dedicated real, palpable resources to Indiana. Providing both field staff and a communications post at the state party, these investments paid off in 2006 with the gaining of three congressional seats in the 2nd, 8th and 9th Districts, and most critically in terms of state policy, the Indiana House by the narrowest of margins. This year, all three of our first-termers are happily cruising toward safe reelection in their contests, a testament to their tireless work over the last two years.
Thus begging the question: Why care about Indiana?
The answer is simple. We could lose all of this before Barack Obama is finished with his first term.
Our gubernatorial contest was supposed to enjoy top billing this year, but Jill Long Thompson's challenge against former Bush budget director Mitch Daniels has been a comedy of errors, leaving her broke and behind by double-digits less than a week out. We should have won this match-up, but if the polling is to be believed, we almost certainly won't.
This means that any and all hope to hold our current congressional delegation in place during the 2011 redistricting process – something that seems more distant than it actually is – will rest upon control of the Indiana House, a body Democrats now hold by only a two seat margin. Republicans have a death-grip on the Indiana Senate, meaning that without a Democratic advantage across the Statehouse, we could easily see a unified, one-party government slice and dice our current district lines in horrific ways.
These oft-overlooked races hold the key to the long-term sustainability of a progressive message in Indiana, and I think there can be no denying that this year will present our best opportunity to gain ground in a decidedly Democratic year.
Specifically, we stand a great chance of picking off two Republican-held districts this year surrounding Indianapolis, and I've placed our amazing candidates on our ActBlue page. Mary Ann Sullivan and John Barnes both represent the best the Democratic Party has to offer, and will help to reclaim two seats that should have been won in 2006.
Your financial support of our congressional incumbents isn't critical right now, but these down-ticket races will determine whether we see Indiana's nine-member delegation switch in the coming years from a 6-3 Democratic advantage to 3-6.
And speaking of our congressional delegation, we here in the Hoosier State have all been pleasantly surprised at the energetic challenge being mounted to Rep. Mark Souder in the 3rd CD. In the last two days, Democrat Mike Montagano has been shown either ahead or trailingby only single digits, and this is within a +16 PVI district that George W. Bush won with 68% of the vote in 2004.
This race is winnable, and the media market is cheap, so please throw Mike some much-needed coin in these final days to stay on the air. His message will not only help defeat an entrenched, far right-wing ideologue – who recently defended Bachman's anti-American comments at a House press conference – but will also send a message that this year is about a true, lasting sea change in partisan politics. Even in the most traditional of red states.
I know most of you are tapped out, but please dig deep and support these few contests we have selected to highlight. This election year is as much about the future of our party as the present, and these candidates represent that bright tomorrow.
Read: Blue Indiana
Give: ActBlue Indiana