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State delegation to Congress may bring less clout, more energy

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The state's delegation to Capitol Hill will be its least experienced in many years, although those new members can bring new energy to Washington, D.C., a former longtime Indiana congressman said.

Besides the loss of Republican Richard Lugar after 36 years in the Senate, last week's election results mean seven of Indiana's nine House members will be in their first or second terms when the new Congress takes office in January.

In all, Indiana will lose 78 years of congressional experience among its senators and representatives.

The seniority loss "certainly is less clout, less power in a sense," said Lee Hamilton, the director of Indiana University's Center on Congress and a Democrat who represented Indiana in the House from 1965 through 1998.

"So Indiana loses in the short run, probably, in terms of seniority, but it has new energy, new people, new perspectives. And the Congress needs that as well," Hamilton told The Journal Gazette for a story Monday.

Indiana will have three new Republican House members.

Susan Brooks will replace GOP Rep. Dan Burton, who didn't seek re-election after 30 years in Congress, and Luke Messer follows Republican Gov.-elect Mike Pence, who has been in Congress for 12 years. Jackie Walorski won the seat that three-term Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly gave up for his successful U.S. Senate campaign.

The Indiana delegation's inexperience will likely show up in committee assignments, where seniority still plays a factor in the pecking order, said Michael Wolf, a political scientist at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

"Congress is more than just votes," Wolf said. "What you should be looking at is the process, particularly with the committees."

The only members of the Indiana delegation with significant congressional experience are Democratic Rep. Pete Visclosky, who was first elected to his northwestern Indiana district in 1984, and Republican Sen. Dan Coats, who served in the House and Senate for 18 years through 1998 and was re-elected in 2010.

Wolf said Donnelly's six years in the House should help in his shift to the Senate.

Hamilton said capable people can rise to prominence quickly in Congress.

"You want to get there when you're young enough to build up seniority, but you've still got to have the ability, because you're playing in a fast league," Hamilton said.

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  1. By Mr. Lee's own admission, he basically ran pro-bono ads on the billboard. Paying advertisers didn't want ads on a controversial, ugly billboard that turned off customers. At least one of Mr. Lee's free advertisers dropped out early because they found that Mr. Lee's advertising was having negative impact. So Mr. Lee is disingenous to say the city now owes him for lost revenue. Mr. Lee quickly realized his monstrosity had a dim future and is trying to get the city to bail him out. And that's why the billboard came down so quickly.

  2. Merchants Square is back. The small strip center to the south of 116th is 100% leased, McAlister’s is doing well in the outlot building. The former O’Charleys is leased but is going through permitting with the State and the town of Carmel. Mac Grill is closing all of their Indy locations (not just Merchants) and this will allow for a new restaurant concept to backfill both of their locations. As for the north side of 116th a new dinner movie theater and brewery is under construction to fill most of the vacancy left by Hobby Lobby and Old Navy.

  3. Yes it does have an ethics commission which enforce the law which prohibits 12 specific items. google it

  4. Thanks for reading and replying. If you want to see the differentiation for research, speaking and consulting, check out the spreadsheet I linked to at the bottom of the post; it is broken out exactly that way. I can only include so much detail in a blog post before it becomes something other than a blog post.

  5. 1. There is no allegation of corruption, Marty, to imply otherwise if false. 2. Is the "State Rule" a law? I suspect not. 3. Is Mr. Woodruff obligated via an employment agreement (contractual obligation) to not work with the engineering firm? 4. In many states a right to earn a living will trump non-competes and other contractual obligations, does Mr. Woodruff's personal right to earn a living trump any contractual obligations that might or might not be out there. 5. Lawyers in state government routinely go work for law firms they were formally working with in their regulatory actions. You can see a steady stream to firms like B&D from state government. It would be interesting for IBJ to do a review of current lawyers and find out how their past decisions affected the law firms clients. Since there is a buffer between regulated company and the regulator working for a law firm technically is not in violation of ethics but you have to wonder if decisions were made in favor of certain firms and quid pro quo jobs resulted. Start with the DOI in this review. Very interesting.

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