Looking back on Election Night

Eyewitness News political reporter Kevin Rader takes a look back at Decision 2012 and the vote in Indiana and across the nation.

And so it goes.

Governor Mitt Romney wins the fight in Indiana, but loses the war. President Barack Obama wins the day and four more years.

In Indiana, Congressman Joe Donnelly gets a promotion. He moves from representing a district that was actually redistricted from underneath him by Republican lawmakers to a seat in the United States Senate. For Donnelly, redistricting wasn’t an end, it was an opportunity.

He has Richard Mourdock to thank for that. When Mourdock upset 36-year incumbent Richard Lugar, Republicans knew they would have a fight on their hands to keep the seat. Mourdock may have thought fellow Republicans would rally to his cause, but that never really happened.

It was an uneasy alliance, at best.

When a third party PAC sent out a mailer saying Richard Lugar endorsed the Mourdock campaign, the Lugar camp only said that it would vote for him, nothing more. The message was clear. Lugar would not campaign for the man who defeated him. Lugar supporters took the cue. Some would hold their bitterness and vote for Mourdock, but most would cross over or vote Libertarian.

While Mourdock tried to rally his base, Donnelly worked to expand his. Recognizing an opportunity, he went after Lugar Republicans.

Then, Mourdock delivered a gift that cemented his demise – the off-handed comment about abortion in cases of rape. It echoed not only around the state, but the entire country. It fed extremist fears that Democrats everywhere tried to use to show Republicans were waging a war on women. From that day on, all Joe Donnelly had to do is go through the motions: the election was his.

In the race for governor, we have all been entertained by the John Gregg campaign commercials.  But even as I watched, I often thought if he were running for mayor of Sandborn he would win. I envisioned, instead, a commercial showing him walking down a long road, talking about where we’ve come from and where we needed to go. Something more serious, with more direction, more purpose. His campaign showed me once again why we like John Gregg, but we’ve always known he was a nice man, but I don’t think we knew enough about why he should be elected governor.

Congressman Mike Pence ran an above-the-fray campaign. He inherited a mantle from Governor Mitch Daniels, just by being a member of the same political party. Hoosiers assumed he would just continue in Daniels footsteps.

They were comfortable with that.

Pence tried hard not to disrupt that sentiment or alarm anyone. Status quo was the unspoken theme of the campaign, until Mourdock’s comments. It raised alarmist fears and his opponent tried to tie him to Mourdock. It gave voters pause, but in the end, it was not enough to make Hoosiers change their minds. They want continuity. Pence could offer that, Gregg could not.

Now Mike Pence will hold a press conference with Governor Daniels on Wednesday morning. The two will talk of transition and the future. That is good, because voters are tired of all the negative ads and negative words.  Now they want to be reassured.  They want a respite from politics. They want to talk about the Colts and the Pacers and – can you believe it? – I think they want to just see a regular TV commercial again.

Anticipation grows for RNC opening

The first full day here at the Republican National Convention in Tampa promises to be huge.

Kevin Rader/Eyewitness News

The first full day here at the Republican National Convention in Tampa promises to be huge.

We will have the roll call of the states, which is just one of the many traditions that I so treasure. I know these days it has evolved into a mere formality and I know some states take the opportunity to say the craziest things, but it is a rare piece of Americana.

“The great state of Indiana would like to cast.”

I love hearing those words. It is something that is ours and only ours. It is the voice of America.

Then, we will hear from the voice the Romney campaign believes can captivate America, that of Ann Romney. The campaign believes she knows the candidate better than anyone and it also believes she will be able to convince viewers he is the right choice for America, the comforting voice that will reach out to women.

They are putting so much stock into that, there is belief that Governor Romney himself will make an appearance in the hall to hear it. It will be the photo op of the two together that the campaign hopes will help build momentum to when he actually accepts the nomination later in the week. A chance to show that this family, despite the differences in religion, income and pedigree, is not that much different than the rest of us.

It will be a tall order.

And then don’t forget New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will deliver what promises to be a firebrand speech culminating the evening. Christie is never one to pull punches and that is why he has the primetime slot.

It will not most likely win the ratings war for the night, but it should. This is, some would argue, America at its worst, but not me. I still believe in those voices. Not of the candidates, but the delegates.

“The great state of Indiana would like to cast.”

I, for one, can’t wait. 

These conventions are a chance for Americans to state what they believe in. I believe I am not alone when I say I am anxious to hear it.

New book focuses on Gov. Daniels’ achievements

As the race for Indiana’s next governor heats up, a new book released this week takes a step back to reflect on the past.

Lauren Casey/WTHR intern

As the race for Indiana’s next governor heats up, a new book released this week takes a step back to reflect on the past.

Republican Chairman Eric Holcomb authored a book titled “Leading the Revolution” that takes a look at Gov. Mitch Daniels and his time as the leader of Indiana. On the cover is a picture of Daniels riding his motorcycle, which Holcomb says represents Daniels’ bold leadership style that changed the culture of the state in his first term.

Daniels “was change before change was cool,” said Holcomb.  “Mitch ushered in big change for four years and did not back down.  Because of that, we saw positive results.”

Democrats have so far declined to comment on the book, as did a spokesman for John Gregg, the party’s nominee for governor.

Holcomb said Daniels created an atmosphere that attracted outside businesses to our state.

“I think overall he has changed the reputation of the state,” said Holcomb. “Mitch has proven that if we are going to be a leader we cannot be a follower and wait for everyone else.”

The goal of the book in part, he said, is to provide a manual for Indiana’s next governor, to reflect on what worked and what did not.

Holcomb also intends for the book to reach Hoosiers across the state from both parties and has received interested from people outside Indiana’s borders.  He hopes Daniels’ story will inspire people to run for public office and get more involved in their local communities.

“We need a diverse group of people running for office,” he said. “Their voice needs to be a part of the conversation.”