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Commentary: Please copy this column

August 4, 2008

(In deference to '60s radical Abbie Hoffman and his 1971 cult paperback "Steal This Book," I hereby relinquish our copyright to this column and give you permission to copy it. I'll tell you what to do with it later.)

Silly me, I thought Mitch Daniels had really shaken things up and done a great job in his first four years as governor.

To hear his Democratic opponents in the upcoming election tell it, you'd think he had provided uninspired leadership and ignored the big issues of economic development, jobs and education.

I couldn't disagree more.

A word to the wise for Jill Long Thompson and her running mate Dennis Oxley: Don't challenge Daniels on the economic-development front. You'll get drubbed.

A column I wrote last spring enumerated many of his administration's accomplishments in this area, as well as multiple outside accolades and high rankings that independent sources have given the state because of them.

I won't recap the long list here, but I'll add to it. Last month, Standard & Poor's raised Indiana's general debt rating to AAA-its highest rating and a first in the state's history. This rating reflects an improving economy and the fiscal strength of our government.

I could go on and on about the current administration's successes in every area, from leasing the toll road, to making government more efficient, to improving education and to making health insurance more accessible to the state's lower-income families. But I won't.

Daniels has accomplished this and much more by employing his own strengths and by surrounding himself with high-energy, creative and intelligent people. Those people have found ideas and ways to implement them that have set our state on nothing short of a revolutionary course.

I hope the Indiana public is wise enough to see this and not be swayed by Thompson's and Oxley's campaign rhetoric that would lead them to believe otherwise. But, I worry.

I worry that the public is not well-enough informed. Granted, all of us are feeling pressure on our pocketbooks, but that is certainly not the fault of the current administration in the Indiana statehouse.

Granted, some Hoosiers are losing their jobs and the unemployment rate is climbing, but that's not Daniels' fault, either. In fact, he's been busy adding jobs in record numbers to try to compensate for that.

I also worry about the Obama factor. I've seen so many young people jazzed up about this year's election because of Barack Obama. They see in him a New Age kind of dude, one who is different, young-ish and idealistic-The Anti-Bush.

My guess is that those newly energized voters will turn out in record numbers at voting booths across the nation and here in Indiana.

That's awesome. I just hope in their fervor they don't disregard the statewide races, pull the Democratic lever in one motion, and exit the voting booth without giving due consideration to Daniels and his accomplishments.

I feel certain that a close study of his administration's track record and a comparison of his credentials and those of his team with the backgrounds of the Democratic challengers will yield a lot more votes for Daniels.

How could it not?

And what if Obama ends up selecting Sen. Evan Bayh for his running mate, as some have suggested he will? This could energize a whole other group of Democratic straight-ticketers-one that may be big enough to have an impact.

So here's where you and Abbie Hoffman come in. Please-I urge you-copy this column and hand it out to anyone you think needs it, be they a supercharged, young Obama supporter or a Hoosier who loves Evan Bayh and is enthralled by the notion of the favorite son.

There is a lot at stake.



Katterjohn is publisher of IBJ. To comment on this column, send e-mail to ckatterjohn@ibj.com.
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