Has campaign season started?
Democrats eager for another shot at Indiana’s 2nd District seat in the U.S. House apparently seem to think so. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has paid for a billboard in Elkhart County critical of U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, the Jimtown area Republican who holds the 2nd District spot. At the same time, a Democratic leader here says party officials are gearing up for 2014.
“This is one of the most competitive districts in the country and we are in the recruitment phase,” said Brandon Lorenz, regional press secretary for the Washington D.C.-based DCCC, which promotes Democratic House candidates.
No Democrat has yet stepped forward to take on Walorski, but Carol McDaniel, chairwoman of the 2nd Congressional District for the Democratic Party, said Democrats are searching. The efforts will probably start in earnest next month.
“We’re out there, we’re getting ready to set up some meetings,” said McDaniel, who’s from near LaPorte.
The DCCC’s anti-Walorski billboard on Old U.S. 33 in the Jimtown area west of Elkhart — same general area as the GOP lawmaker’s home — has been up for “a few days,” Lorenz said this week. It’ll remain up for about a month.
In it, the Democratic group takes aim at Walorski — elected to the House seat last November — for her vote last month in favor of the House budget plan, authored by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin. “Congresswoman Jackie Walorski got it wrong,” says the billboard, “putting radicalism and partisanship ahead of solutions for the middle class.”
The DCCC put similar messages on billboards challenging Republicans in nine other U.S. House districts around the country, according to a DCCC press release this week. The aim, the group said, is to bring the 10 targeted House members’ “radical records” to light.
“The Republican budget puts millionaires ahead of the middle class and partisanship before solutions, and now Republicans will not be able to hide from their radical records, because they are in plain view,” DCCC spokeswoman Emily Bittner said in the release.
Walorski has touted the GOP-backed House budget plan, saying it balances the federal budget in 10 years with spending cuts, but no new taxes.
President Obama announced his own budget plan Thursday, April 17, while the Democrat-led U.S. Senate came up with a plan in late March. Both call for a mix of spending cuts and new taxes in addressing the federal deficit.
In a short statement, a Walorski campaign aide, Emily Daniels, defended the lawmaker.
“While (House Minority Leader) Nancy Pelosi and the DCCC waste money on baseless attacks, Congresswoman Walorski remains focused on the real issue of passing a balanced budget that creates jobs for Hoosier families,” said Daniels.
Daniels didn’t respond to broader emailed queries about whether the DCCC billboard signals that campaigning for 2014 in the 2nd District, which includes Elkhart County, has started.
BRENDAN MULLEN IN ’14?
Though no Democratic opponents to Walorski have publicly stepped forward, Brendan Mullen, who challenged her for the seat last year, has been mentioned as a possibility. The U.S. Army vet and military consultant, originally from South Bend, narrowly lost to her in last November’s election by a 49 percent to 47.6 percent margin.
Many Democrats and others had said they’d like Mullen to try again for the 2nd District spot after losing. “He is meant for public office. He can do great things in Washington,” Zanzer Anderson, a Democratic leader from Elkhart, said soon after last November’s election.
Indeed, by this time in 2011, four-plus months after Walorski narrowly lost to Democrat Joe Donnelly in her first bid for the 2nd District post, the Republican had announced she’d try again in 2012. Donnelly previously held the 2nd District spot, but bowed out of the 2012 race and now serves as U.S. Senator for Indiana.
Contacted this week, though, Mullen gave no concrete hint he’d run again. For the time being, he said in an email, he’s enjoying time with his wife and two young daughters and working to expand his consulting firm.
“The Hoosier values of service and integrity that inspired me to run in 2012 don’t fade in defeat, and public service will always push me to be active in our community,” Mullen wrote.
He hears from people “discouraged by the status quo” in Washington, D.C., making it difficult “not to think about heeding those calls to serve our country again,” he said. “We’ll see what the future holds, in the meantime I’ve got diapers to change, dinner to prepare and payroll to process.”