Donnelly re-elected; possible prospects for 2nd district progressives

November 24, 2008

By now most will know that Rep. Joe Donnelly was re-elected with 67% of the vote. Puckett received 30% with Libertarian Mark Vogel coming in at about 3%.

This is, of course, a landlside victory. But it’s worth considering that Donnelly did not face a serious opponent and Donnelly also surely benefited from it being a strong Democratic year. Donnelly has successfully portrayed himself as a conservative Democrat, a persona apparently palatable enough for the districts otherwise GOP-leaning citizens to cross lines in significant numbers to vote for him. There was never any real question that Donnelly would be re-elected.

It will be very interesting, however, to see what kind of relationship develops between Donnelly and the incoming Obama administration. Donnelly, as part of the Blue Dog Caucus, will be potentially determinative to the success or failure of some of the more progressive moves the new Democrat presidency and Congressional majorities might hope to enact.

If Donnelly emerges as a conservative dissenter within Democratic Party, he can expect the likelihood of an progressive challenge in the 2010 Democratic primary. Til then, it’s up to the citizens of the 2nd district to continue organizing and advocating for progressive values and action. The ground has to move beneath Donnelly’s feet; the ‘center’ must be nudged to the left by grassroots movement work. There’s certainly such activity in the 2nd district– here’s hoping it continues to grow during the next two years.


Donnelly ducks, Puckett panders

October 14, 2008

(from WSBT)

SOUTH BEND — Thousands came together Sunday to ignite change in the community. They also put local leaders and those running for office in the hot seat.

The group is called “Transforming Action Through Power” or TAP. It’s a faith-based outreach group made up of 12 local churches from Catholic and Baptist, to Jewish and Pentacostal.

The group focused on four major issues facing South Bend: education, economic development, racial profiling and immigration.

The contagious engery and cheers of promise from more than 1,200 people in the Washington High School Gym were also laced with concern about very real issues.

“There are so many barriers,” said one speaker. “Sometimes it’s language, sometimes it’s color, sometimes it’s gender.

That’s why the non-partison group TAP tried to break down those barriers, putting elected officials and those running for office in the hot seat.

“They are working for us,” said TAP civil rights leader Eva Patterson.

On Immigration, South Bend Mayor Steve Luecke committed to work toward reforming national immigration laws.

“Federal law really needs to identify a path for citizenship for residents who are here,” Luecke said.

Indiana Second Congressional District Republican candidate Luke Puckett promised to temporarily stop immigration raids if he’s elected.

“I asked to put a moratorium on this, on the ICE raids until we can literally sit down and put a process together for those who are here illegally to get their residency,” Puckett explained.

Incumbent Congressman Joe Donnelly does not support that. In a statement, a spokesperson for Donnelly’s campaign wrote “Cracking down on employers who knowingly employ undocumented workers is one way we enforce our laws. Joe does not believe we should be making it harder for the federal government and our law enforcement officials to do their job.”

Another issue addressed at Sunday’s meeting — racial profiling — right here in South Bend.

“In [a] study, it showed that Blacks and Hispanics were stopped more than others of a different race in South Bend,” said Eva Patterson.

When WSBT asked whether racial profiling is a problem in South Bend, police Sgt. Christopher Voros replied, “not that we’ve seen.”

In the meeting, Sgt. Voros spoke about the police department’s commitment to being fair — fitting the TAP theme of giving a voice to everyone, regardless of race, color, gender or age.

Several of the current South Bend School Board members and those running for the board were also at Sunday’s meeting. They collectively answered “yes” and “no” questions from TAP representatives.

Donnelly and Puckett to debate twice

October 8, 2008

from the Kokomo Tribune:

Donnelly, a Democrat who represents Kokomo, will debate Puckett, a Republican, in a studio at WNDU-TV in South Bend Oct. 25. A station anchor will moderate. Representatives of WNDU, the St. Joseph County League of Women Voters and Indiana University South Bend will ask questions of the candidates.

The next debate will be held at Rochester High School Oct. 29. Sponsored by the Rochester Sentinel, it will be moderated by a high school student.

Donnelly’s first TV ad: invoking “independence”

September 9, 2008

Makes one think of Democrat turned “Independent” Joe Lieberman?

Puckett’s campaign manager resigns

September 4, 2008

from WSBT:

The Donnelly campaign declined to comment on Bailey’s resignation.

Bailey said he resigned because of concerns about his health and the amount of time he is focusing on his family.

“I went to the doctor last week, and after hearing a description of my lifestyle, the hours, the eating habits, and the stress of it all, the doctor told me that I was working my way right up the political ladder to an early grave,” Bailey wrote in an e-mail to The Tribune.

But the main reason had to do with family, he said. Bailey’s sister is a volleyball player at Lynn University in Florida, and she called him Saturday after playing in her first collegiate game, which the team won.

“This was one of the biggest days of her entire life, I forgot about it, she called to tell me about it, and I wasn’t able to take her call because I was on a conference call,” he wrote in his e-mail. “I felt less than an inch tall, it and it hit me like a ton of bricks. After I listened to her message, I knew I was going to resign.”

Bailey’s resignation makes him the second Puckett campaign staff member to step down suddenly. Treasurer Art Willis resigned Aug. 18 after errors in bookkeeping resulted in multiple overdraft charges to the campaign from Lake City Bank.

Bailey left of his own will and on great terms, Puckett said.

“I feel like I’m losing my right arm right now and losing my brother that I traveled all over the district with,” Puckett said. “This is a tough one.”

Until further notice, campaign Chairman Juan Manigault will also step into the manager’s role, Puckett said.

Donnelly takes $5K from Wal-Mart

August 3, 2008

You may have heard or read about the accusations that Wal-Mart has been lobbying its employees to vote Republican, in part because of their opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that would make it easier for workers to organize and is co-sponsored by Sen. Barack Obama.
the article here.

What you may not have heard is that our 2nd District Representative to Congress, Joe Donnelly, has taken $5K from Wal-Mart towards his re-election campaign. A column by Jack Colwell in today’s South Bend Tribune entitled “Donors put their bets on perceived winners” reports that Donnelly is ahead of his Republican opponent, Luke Puckett in total campaign receipts — $1,580,631 to $203,850 a gap of more than *7 times.* Colwell also reports that “Neither party at the national level is likely to regard the district as a battleground this fall.”
the article here.

Now, why does Donnelly feel the need to take money from Wal-Mart, a blatantly anti-union retailer that refuses to offer its employees decent health care, has had numerous charges of discrimination, and continues to act against the strengthening of labor laws and standards in other countries?

Donnelly doesn’t need this money. He should give it back and stand up for “working families” here and abroad.

We can’t drill our way out of problem

July 31, 2008

The following is a letter to the editor published July 30 in the South Bend Tribune)

We can’t drill our way out of problem

Responding to consumer outrage at the high cost of gasoline, the president and Congress (including Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Granger) are rushing to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and our coastal plains. Please listen, everyone: We cannot drill our way out of high prices and gas shortages. The oil derived from such drilling would be a decade away and a pittance of what we need — if it weren’t sold to China first.

Far more sensible solutions are to use what we have more wisely (energy efficiency) and to develop alternatives to the old, outmoded methods of digging and drilling. High gas prices and threats of global warming are spurring a race to solve the energy crisis technologically. Not only are strides being made in the familiar alternatives of wind and solar, but other innovations appear almost daily, such as transforming the energy of social dancers into electricity that powers the hall they’re dancing in!

The possibilities seem endless.

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Let’s rescind the tax breaks we’ve given the major oil companies, who have amassed almost $600 billion in profits since 2001, and devote the revenue instead to developing sensible and sustainable ways of meeting our energy needs.

Laura Fuderer
South Bend

Politico: Puckett owes nearly $2K in back taxes

July 25, 2008

from Politico:

• Indiana Republican Luke Puckett, who is running to unseat freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly, still owes $1,919.84 in 2006 property taxes, according to documents filed with the Elkhart County, Ind., treasurer. His campaign failed to respond to multiple requests for comment. Donnelly himself took a hit in 2006, during his own first race for the House. According to local tax records and newspaper accounts, Republicans unearthed a collection of tax records that showed he had paid a combined $2,349.50 in late-payment penalties on two properties he owns in Indiana’s LaPorte and St. Joseph counties. As of January 2006, Donnelly owed LaPorte County $9,068.86 in late property taxes and an additional $906.88 in penalties, according to documents there. Those revelations were not enough to keep him from beating the incumbent, Republican Chris Chocola.

RealClearPolitics on Indiana’s 2nd District race

July 23, 2008

from RealClearPolitics:

Indiana 02: Freshman Joe Donnelly has one of the more conservative voting records in the Democratic caucus, and his chances of keeping this northern Indiana district are mounting. Donnelly raised $248,000 in the Second Quarter and had $993,000 on hand, while his Republican challenger, businessman Luke Puckett, has yet to even file his report (A pre-primary report for Puckett showed he’d raised just $33,000 and given himself $150,000). Puckett is one of the GOP challengers headed to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and if he can make oil exploration an issue, he may stay competitive.

Donnelly speaks to Oversight and Govt. Reform committee

July 11, 2008

from “The Debate Link” blog:

Congressional Hearings Quick Grades
So the reason I blogged so late and spartanly today was because I was at a Hill hearing, namely, the House Oversight and Governmental Reform committees hearing on formaldehyde levels in FEMA trailers in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The witnesses were a CDC scientist and four leaders of various corporations involved in trailer manufacturing.

It was long — far longer than the transgender discrimination hearing I attended earlier. Part of that was because it was the full committee, rather than a subcommittee, and part of that was because for some reason everyone decided they wanted a piece of the action. The issues themselves were a mix of confusing and arcane (what are the proper protocols for formaldehyde measurements?), tertiary and side-tracking (was FEMA given sufficient notice to attend?), re-hashed and agreed upon (yes, the government should have had consistent standards!) and a few (very few) spots of actual substance — primarily, when the conversation focused on whether the corporations had/should have provided notice of the formaldehyde levels in their trailers, and one instance of Gulf Stream flagrantly lying in a statement to the press.

So I passed the time giving mini-ratings of some of the committee members (not all, a great many of them were boring and left no impression). It’s really for my amusement more than yours, but maybe you’ll like it as well:

Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) — C: He wasn’t on the committee — he just asked special permission to come and ask questions. 75% of his single question was waxing poetic about how trucks with trailers rolled through his Indiana district, making him so proud to be from Indiana (did he mention that he visits his district often? It’s true!).