Saturday, January 06, 2007

Daniels' Triangulation

Former Clinton advisor Dick Morris is often credited with pulling Clinton's first term out of the dumps and paving the way for his re-election. Morris' strategy was called triangulation, whereby Clinton sought to appeal to a diverse group of voters by distancing himself from the ideologues within both parties. He worked with a GOP-controlled Congress to pass a minimum wage increase coupled with comprehensive welfare reform. To appeal to values voters, he signed into law the Communications Decency Act to crack down on Internet pornography and the Defense of Marriage Act. He pleased and angered ideologues of both parties with each of these decisions, but he expanded his support among centrist voters (although I suspect DOMA is one he rues because of the grief it now creates for his wife's own presidential prospects).

Gov. Mitch Daniels now appears to be using the same strategy as he enters the second half of his first term with a Democratic-controlled House. He's proposing a tax increase on cigarettes to fund an insurance program for Indiana's most needy uninsured. He's proposing full-day kindergarten. And yesterday Daniels announced he supports an increase in the state's minimum wage law. Even House Speaker Pat Bauer concedes to the Star that Daniels is working hard "so far" to reach out to Democrats. That same story by Mary Beth Schneider also notes the Governor is considering alternatives to his plan to privatize the Hoosier Lottery and build two new toll roads.

What appears to be an attempt to reach out to Democrats is really an effort by Daniels to attract support from more voters in the center. And that's what he's going to have to do between now and the 2008 election if he hopes to be re-elected. One issue I would urge the Governor to take up which he has so far failed to discuss is hate crimes legislation which is being pushed by Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi (R). As I've said many times before, Indiana is in the sad company of just four other states--Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina and Wyoming--in not having a hate crimes law. I recently contacted the governor's office about the legislation. I got this non-response from Megan Tretter:

Thank you for your e-mail to Governor Daniels about hate crime legislation. It is always helpful to have input from Hoosiers and hear your ideas regarding the challenges we face.

Together, all Hoosiers can work to make our state the best possible place to live and work. This administration is seeking greatness in every aspect of life in Indiana. The Governor wants us to aspire to excellence and to share the understanding that we are all in this together.

Thank you for your citizenship.

This is not a new concept. Gov. Daniels should have no hesitancy about supporting this legislation and making it known to lawmakers. That's important because I suspect, as in the past, opposition to the legislation will most likely center within the Republican Party. In particular, those folks don't want to see the words "sexual orientation" written into any new laws for fear it creates "rights" for people the religious right morally disapproves of. People in the center understand the importance of this type of legislation and so should Gov. Daniels.


Anonymous said...

You, and no one else, hve ocntonually hinted that Brizzi would push this legislation.

None has been filed. Who will he get to carry it? Rep. Elrod is about the only Marion County Republican who would do it, but he'll need Democrats. And three of them I spoke with last week had no idea Brizzi was behind this kind of potential legislation.

I hope he is. It's needed.

Wilson46201 said...

As I recall, both Greg Porter and Bill Crawford have carried such bills in the past - it's good to see that Brizzi is allegedly finally getting on board...

Gary R. Welsh said...

Joe Loftus is the paid lobbyist for Brizzi's office. It is my understanding he is taking care of those details. He's very competent. I'm sure he'll do his job.

Wilson46201 said...

You mean the Marion County Prosecutor's Office has its own separate lobbyist paid for by taxpayer funds? Don't most local officials participate through their statewide associations?

Anonymous said...

I'm suspicious of the Loftus connection. He's a far-right Republican, and wouldn't likely push a bill like that. Even for money. And, the legislators know his'd be like Santa pushing Yom Kippur.

Loftus is very talented. But not credible on this issue. And if he is lobbying for Brizzi, I'm very sure he'll list it on his lobbyist reporting forms, and the lobbyist commission will do a fantastic job of monitoring all the expenses he and others incur.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Anon, 8:01, you're the first person I've heard describe Loftus as "far right". He was always a voice of moderation in the Goldsmith administration. One would hope that civil rights, GLBT and other organizations will step up and provide support for the legislation so he won't be going it alone.

Wilson, as long as I've lived in Indianapolis, the MCPO's office has retained a lobbyist to aid with its legislative efforts.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Incidentally, Sheriff Frank Anderson has a paid lobbyist--Lisa Hays Murray--the wife of his general counsel, Kevin Murray.

Anonymous said...

The reason major public agencies and office holders need a lobbyist is they are the ones who can be seriously affected by legislation, and often are the ones expected to enforce or implement it. They need to have input and advice ready not just on legislation they want, but hundreds of bills others propose.

The real problem is that you can rarely have effective government employees-as-lobbyists, because you need these people to work their asses off 12 to 18 hours a day during the legislative session, and not much in the summer and fall-- summer and fall are to cultivate personal relationships with lawmakers by going to their golf outings, like it or not. You can't really work that schedule with ghost employment laws as a govt employee. Plus, the salary (40-50K/year at least and benefits (another 25K) are a problem to get a highly educated and politically astute employee. Thus a "contract lobbyist" is a much smarter choice for major public office holders. And, no, I'm not a contract lobbyist and never have been.