Archive for May, 2008

Manigualt to head Puckett’s campaign

May 31, 2008


Juan Manigault, who unsuccessfully tried to unseat South Bend Mayor Stephen Luecke in 2007, will step to the helm of Luke Puckett’s campaign for Congress.

Puckett, a Republican, is challenging first-term U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Granger.

Manigault will take a paid position with Puckett’s campaign as its chairman, serving in a mostly fund-raising capacity and as an adviser, he said Wednesday.

In 2007, Luecke defeated Manigault by a nearly two-to-one margin, picking up 62 percent of the vote.

Manigault said he has no regrets from that campaign and that its lessons will serve him well with Puckett, who’s running in a district Republicans consider very competitive.

“Let’s be real — it’s a tough year,” Manigault said. “But as we look at individual districts, this is a winnable district for Luke Puckett.”

Donnelly’s campaign declined to comment on Manigault’s new position.

But Owen “Butch” Morgan, chairman of the St. Joseph County Democratic Party, said Manigault wasn’t well received in South Bend during his mayoral campaign, and that Donnelly has a lot of momentum having traveled the 2nd District extensively since taking office in 2007.

“If he does as well as he did in the mayoral (campaign), I’m feeling good,” Morgan said. “Luke Puckett or anybody else is not going to outwork Joe Donnelly. It’s not going to happen.”


DW: Call for contributions

May 22, 2008

Donnelly Watch is seeking contributions from citizens of the 2nd District concerned with the actions of our representative, Joe Donnelly, and the upcoming 2008 election campaign.

If you’d like to submit something or have some suggestions for topics to be discussed or articles that should be posted, please contact us at:

donnellywatch [at] gmail [dot] com

Thank you for reading; in less than 4 months of existence, Donnelly Watch has attracted approximately 3,300 unique visits. Traffic is sure to increase as the election nears and more and more people become aware of this site’s existence.

WNDU: Donnelly and Congress hope to lower gas prices

May 16, 2008


Gas prices may soon be dropping by as much as 25 cents a gallon within the month.

At least, that is the hope of Congressman Joe Donnelly after the house passed legislation he co-sponsored last night.

NewsCenter 16’s Maureen McFadden talked to Donnelly via satellite Wednesday afternoon.

He says he sent a letter to President Bush in April, asking him to suspend oil shipments to the strategic petroleum reserve.

The president did not, so Donnelly says a bipartisan Congress did.

“So in effect it will prevent the government from competing with families back home for that gallon of gas,” said Donnelly. “So this is a big win for the consumer.”

Donnelly says this is a first step and he would like the extra millions of gallons of gas put on the market to drive prices down and end speculation.

He also says there are enough votes to override a presidential veto.

Donnelly announces support for Obama

May 13, 2008

(from the South Bend Tribune)

Donnelly backs Obama
Congressman cites presidential candidate’s appeal for change, hope for future

Tribune Staff Writer

U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly today joined a recent wave of superdelegates who have announced their support for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Donnelly made the announcement in a news release and was not immediately available for comment because he was flying back to Washington, said his press secretary, Samantha Slater. She declined to answer questions about the endorsement, saying that Donnelly planned to speak with a Tribune reporter later today.

The Illinois senator has picked up 26 superdelegates in the past week, according to the Associated Press. At that pace, he will reach the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination — 2,025 — in the next three weeks, when delegates from the remaining primaries are included.

Obama on Monday passed Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in superdelegates, and he already had led her in overall delegates and the popular vote.

Donnelly had said he wanted to wait at least until Hoosiers voted in the May 6 primary before announcing his decision. Clinton narrowly won Indiana’s popular vote. In the 11 counties that make up Donnelly’s 2nd District, Clinton also won by a slim margin: 87,185 votes to 85,218. However, an exact tally of the district’s voters was not immediately available because the district boundaries do not follow county lines.

Obama did win the district’s most populous county, St. Joseph, taking 33,227 votes to Clinton’s 30,062.

“Senator Clinton is a tenacious fighter for the American people, and particularly for working families, but I believe Barack Obama is the president that we need at this moment in history,” Donnelly said in his statement. “He has helped engage over 3 million new voters, tapped into the American people’s powerful desire for change, and pointed the way toward a more hopeful future for our country.”

Donnelly still an undecided superdelegate…

May 8, 2008

(from WNDU)

Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are waiting to see whether those undecided superdelegates will end up in their corners.

One of those superdelegates is Congressman Joe Donnelly.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Donnelly says: “I have not yet endorsed either candidate who is seeking the Democratic nomination. I do not know on what date I will endorse, but when I do, I will back the candidate I think would make the best president.”

Meantime, NewsCenter 16 spoke with Donnelly Tuesday night about his superdelegate status.

“To be honest with you, I’m still at the Capitol. We just finished up our last vote. So I’m working on a couple things in the office and I’m a lot more focused on my congressional duties than on the presidential election,” explained Donnelly.

Puckett wins; Zirkle gets thousands of votes

May 7, 2008

It will be interesting to see how many thousands of Democratic voters chose not to cast vote for incumbent Rep. Joe Donnelly who ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination. Certainly, some of this “under vote” can be attributed to Limbaugh’s “Operation:Chaos” that had Republicans voting in the Democratic Primary for Hillary Clinton in order to prolong the Dems’ nomination process and, at least theoretically, damage the party’s chances of winning the White House in November.

However, it is reasonable to consider the possibility that many Democratic voters just couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Donnelly who has disappointed so many with his voting record that has undermined his party’s ability to move forward with vital legislative action on issues ranging from the War in Iraq to comprehensive immigration reform.



(The following comes from the South Bend Tribune)

Puckett to face Donnelly in November
GOP nominee criticizes incumbent during acceptance speech

Tribune Staff Writer

This story was originally posted at 10:11 p.m. on May 6, 2008.
SOUTH BEND — Luke Puckett will try to unseat U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly in the fall after sailing to an easy victory in Tuesday’s Republican Congressional primary.

With 83 percent of precincts reporting, Puckett had secured 48 percent of the vote. Culver resident Joseph Roush earned 36 percent of the Republican vote, and South Bend attorney Tony Zirkle brought in 16 percent.

Puckett focused on Donnelly, D-Granger, during both his campaign and his acceptance speech Tuesday night, criticizing the first-term congressman and the Washington establishment.

“What our current leadership in Washington lacks is the vision, the courage and the leadership to demand common-sense solutions to the challenges facing us today,” said Puckett, a Goshen businessman.

He focused a large portion of his remarks on Donnelly’s efforts to lower the price of gasoline.

Donnelly has called on the Bush administration to release 20 million barrels of oil from the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Puckett calls it “a one-day solution,” but Donnelly said Puckett isn’t focusing only on the release of 20 million barrels from the reserve.

Donnelly is co-sponsor of a bill that would stop the purchase of oil for the reserve, which would increase the supply on the market, he says. He’s also calling on the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on price gouging at gas stations.

“There’s short-term things we can work on and long-term things we can work on,” Donnelly said by phone from his Washington, D.C., office Tuesday night. “Apparently Mr. Puckett forgot to mention those things.”

South Bend attorney Tony Zirkle issued a concession statement on his Web site, saying he had trouble getting his message out but now he can enjoy his summer.

It included links to videos on the Web site YouTube, including one of Elvis Presley singing “The Impossible Dream” from the musical “Man of La Mancha.”

Joseph Roush could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday night.

It’s Primary Election Day!

May 6, 2008

Advance Indiana suggests Clinton will carry Indiana’s 2nd District.


The South Bend Tribune reports on 2nd District candidates’ fundraising status:

Donnelly has fundraising advantage
Puckett only Republican to receive contributions so far.

Tribune Staff Writer

U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly leads his Republican challengers in the fundraising game — something that will change soon, said a spokesman for Donnelly’s likely fall opponent.

Donnelly, D-Granger, had $849,812.30 on hand as of April 16, according to a report from the Federal Election Commission.

Luke Puckett, the party-backed Republican who is one of three people seeking that party’s nomination, had $155,266.65 on hand as of April 16.

But if you’re looking for a barometer of support (or a sign of momentum), check out the net contributions received by each since the beginning of the year.

Puckett, who didn’t start fundraising until mid-February, received $33,000 from about 20 donors.”It’s a little bit lower than what we hoped for,” said Kyle Bailey, Puckett’s campaign manager. “But not surprising, just because of, honestly, the lack of attention the congressional race is getting right now.”

Most of the campaign money comes from $150,000 Puckett loaned to his own campaign, said Kyle Bailey, Puckett’s campaign manager.

“This is nothing new,” Bailey said. “He felt he wanted to be more invested in his own campaign before he went out and asked anyone else to invest in it.”Donnelly, on the other hand, records $223,558.28 in donations from Jan. 1 to April 16, from hundreds of donors.

It’s a sign of the incumbent’s momentum, campaign manager Andrew Lattanner said.

“We’re going to have the resources we need, and more importantly, the record we need to run a strong campaign,” Lattanner said.Puckett’s numbers are lackluster despite the fact that he’s the party-backed candidate, Lattanner said.

“(Puckett’s) demonstrated that he’s not able to raise the kind of money it takes to compete in this district,” he said. “You combine that with the fact that he’s running against a moderate Democrat who has the resources and the record — it puts him in a tough position.”

But Bailey, of Puckett’s campaign, said the numbers will change soon. Puckett just started appearing on TV news broadcasts and has bought some television commercials.

“You would not believe the amount of calls our office is getting,” Bailey said. “Our fund-raising operation is really getting up and going now.”

On their ownBoth Tony Zirkle and Joe Roush, the two Republicans who will face Puckett for the GOP nomination for Congress, are self-funded and don’t have reports on file with the FEC.

Candidates are required to report contributions when their total receipts exceed $5,000.

“We haven’t broken the $200 limit,” Roush said.

Roush, who said he’s trying to put a poor man — himself — in Congress, hasn’t had a lot of expenses.

“Other than paying for a little bit of gasoline to run around, I’ve printed up 5,000 business cards that have information on both sides of them that cost about $157,” Roush said. “That’s it.”Zirkle just shelled out $14,701 of his own money for a television commercial airing on Fox News Channel, CNN and WNDU-TV.

“It wiped me out for a couple of days,” Zirkle said in a statement. “If I have a good work week, I’ll add channels 22 and 28; however, I’m a bit busy right now.”

Zirkle doesn’t accept contributions to his campaign. Without donors to please, he’s more free to speak his mind on controversial issues, he said.

“On the other hand, honestly, it’s probably better for me if I don’t accept them,” he said. “Because if I only raise $100 or $200, then the other guy gets $600,000, it looks like I don’t have any support. That’s really the honest answer.”

Superdelegates might tip over trade

May 2, 2008

(the following comes from Jonathan Tasini, writing for the Huffington Post)

I’ve said before that I believe that the Democratic nomination fight is over, though the hype may drag on for a bit. But, a nice chunk of super delegates–perhaps as many as a dozen or more–may make their choice based on where the candidates stand on trade. And that’s a good sign for people who actually care about choices made on the basis of issues.

In early March, I pointed out that Sen. Sherrod Brown and Rep. Marcy Kaptur (both from Ohio) were remaining undecided because they wanted to actually get a very clear understanding of where the candidates stood on trade, particularly on the fate of the so-called “free trade” agreement with Colombia. Congressional Quarterly reported earlier this week that:

According to one list, there are 21 House Democrats in the group of lawmakers that wants to force the candidates to take detailed stands on a series of trade issues such as how they would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, whether they would address trade disparities the lawmakers attribute to the use of value-added taxes in foreign countries, how they would use the tax code to encourage American businesses to keep facilities in the United States, and what steps they would take to create jobs by investing in domestic infrastructure needs.

The group still includes at least 12 undecided lawmakers: Kaptur, Reps Michael H. Michaud of Maine, Bart Stupak of Michigan (who will only be a superdelegate if the Democratic Party seats a delegation from his home state), Joe Donnelly and Peter J. Visclosky of Indiana, Peter A. DeFazio of Oregon, Jason Altmire and Christopher Carney of Pennsylvania, John Sarbanes of Maryland, Ciro D. Rodriguez of Texas, Gene Taylor of Mississippi and Heath Shuler of North Carolina.

Of particular interest is Heath Shuler, not simply because of the upcoming primary in North Carolina. In the 2006 midterm elections, Shuler won in the 11th congressional district by beating incumbent Charles Taylor, in no small part because of Taylor’s failure to vote against the so-called “free trade” Central American Free Trade Agreement. Shuler ran two television ads on trade policy during his campaign.

In Indiana, in 2006, Joe Donnelly defeated incumbent Chris Chocola, who supported so-called “free trade” deals like NAFTA, and Brad Ellsworth won his seat in the 8th Congressional district by campaigning against expansions of so-called “free trade”.

All this is good news. One of the things that we can take from this election cycle is that we are winning the campaign to move to a much more saner discussion and policy on trade and globalization. It’s clear that the Democratic Party candidates, from the outset, have understood that the voters are much more advanced in their grasp of the damage being done by so-called “free trade” (whether the candidates have truly changed their position or not is a different issue). If you want to judge by the results in 2006, expanding majorities in Congress, in the House and the Senate, will be easier if the Democratic Party’s candidates reject so-called “free trade” and pledge to embrace a sane approach to globalization and trade–not just because of the moral imperative but as a matter of electoral realities since even Republicans are opposed to so-called “free trade”.

So, while I find the machinations and hype over the the race-that-is-over pretty boring, there is a lot of hope to be found in the bubbling up of voter sentiment reflected in the dynamics of the political insider game.

Hoosier Access: On Gas Prices, Donnelly Stuck in the 70s

May 1, 2008

(the following comes from Hoosier Access blog; DW is not endorsing these views but reprinting this piece to help inform readers of what conservatives are saying about Rep. Donnelly)

In the heart of Indiana’s 2nd Congressional district, the price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline yesterday was $3.75 a gallon. For premium, motorists had to shell out $3.95 a gallon. The price of gasoline has risen over 55% since the Democrats took control of Congress in 2007 declaring that they had a solution for the high cost of fuel.

So far, Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN02) has responded to the high price of gas by holding a press conference at a gas station just outside of South Bend saying he has sent a letter to President Bush requesting that 20 million barrels of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve be sent onto the market and that the SPR stop taking any more deliveries until prices go back down.

According to Donnelly, if the SPR followed through on his plan by releasing 20 million barrels of oil onto the market, prices would drop by about $0.25. That’s a pretty optimistic number considering that our nation uses a little over 20 million barrels of oil a day. There are 365 days in a year, Joe Donnelly wants to give us one day of relief from high gas prices, that’s not a genuine and meaningful solution, Joe.

Donnelly has yet to embrace the idea of a federal gas tax holiday over the summer driving season and he has voted time and again to raise taxes on oil companies and block our use of domestic oil and gas reserves that are just waiting to be tapped into. Like his liberal San Francisco Speaker, Joe Donnelly prefers to talk about the problem of high energy costs and blame “big oil” instead of providing solutions.

Another bit of energy relief policy that Donnelly is a proponent of is the “Federal Price Gouging and Prevention Act.” This bill imposes significant civil and criminal penalties on those who charge “unconscionable excessive” prices for fuel. According to the Heritage Foundation, the effects of this bill would be the same as an all out price control on fuel sales. By vaguely defining what counts as price gouging, Congress creates an environment in which gas retailers must constantly assess whether or not their market driven prices could fall under the vague definition of price gouging that could land them on the wrong side of a federal court case.

Taken all together, Rep. Donnelly’s proposals to lower the cost of gasoline represent the very worst of the energy policies of the 1970s. After four years of absolutely terrible economic and energy policies, Americans selected Ronald Reagan over Jimmy Carter. Let’s hope that after two years of inept Congressional leadership, Americans will once again select common sense over political hot air and real solutions over political platitudes this November.