Scott Tibbs
blog post
January 4th, 2005

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Fernandez for U.S. Senate?

On yesterday's AM 1370 Afternoon Edition, Don Moore said that he was disappointed that former Bloomington Mayor John Fernandez did not consider running for the U.S. Senate against Richard Lugar because Fernandez has run statewide before. Does Moore recall 2002? John Fernandez significantly outspent his Republican rival, Todd Rokita, yet still lost. Even some local Leftists were opposed to Fernandez. In the week before the 2002 election, a post to the Sierra Club's Hoosier Topics electronic mail list urged environmentalists to vote against Fernandez due to his support of Interstate 69. While Democrats chances of unseating Lugar are slim to none, they can find a much stronger candidate than John Fernandez. Joe Kernan would be such a candidate, but he would have to be motivated and would have to want the seat.

Moore also said Lugar's "domestic voting record is unbearable for anyone north of the Mason-Dixon Line." He cited Lugar's scores from the NAACP and other "social groups", which just happen to be firmly implanted on the Left. Lugar's socially conservative voting record may make him unpopular in parts of Bloomington, but the rest of Indiana does not share this area's social liberalism.

I do agree with Moore that the Democrats should field someone to challenge Lugar. I have been disappointed with the local Republican Party's inability to field a candidate for the District 61 State Representative seat for the last three elections. In a race for an open seat in 2002, a Libertarian candidate won 25% of the vote, so the Republicans could have virtually been assured 40% of the vote just by having a candidate. In my opinion, the two major parties have an obligation to make sure the voters have a choice in the general election. You never know what is going to happen, and you might run into some good fortune that allows your candidate to win.

Also on the Afternoon Edition, Moore said that a minimum wage increase could be a "wedge issue" for Democrats in 2006. While Republicans have been able to slice away many blue-collar workers on issues like homosexual marriage and abortion, can Democrats do the same with the minimum wage? One key will be whether or not there is a difference between the two parties on the issue. As Republicans at the national level display less and less fiscal conservatism, it would not be surprising to see the Republican Congress pass a minimum wage hike in an election year.

There is also the question of whether the "values voters" of 2004 can be persuaded to support Democrats based on a hike in the minimum wage. Feelings on moral issues like abortion and homosexual marriage run a lot deeper than feelings on an increase in the minimum wage. People tend to get much more motivated on moral issues than on economic issues. Even if a minimum wage increase does resonate with these voters, the Democratic Party has yet to bridge the gap to "values voters" on moral issues.

Moore repeated his claim that the 2001 Democratic map was not "gerrymandered". This is a silly claim: of course the map was gerrymandered. For more, visit Multi-Level Political Debate.