Ice Miller LLP partner Lacy Johnson, who helped organize the Democratic senator's campaign here, said it similarly represents an opportunity for businesses to move beyond labels. Obama—who Johnson noted is just as "white" by heritage as he is "black"—embodies the idea that the United States is today much closer to Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream that businesses and individuals be judged solely on merit.
"This has opened some new doors. Hopefully, we'll get past that whole thing that 'these are majority' and 'these are minority' businesses," Johnson said. "I think we need to take the labels off."
Johnson expects Obama's agenda to mesh well with Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels' business-friendly priorities, because the president-elect wants to reward companies that expand their work force here rather than abroad.
Johnson also noted Obama's close relationship with both of Indiana's U.S. senators. Democrat Evan Bayh was on his short list of potential vice presidential candidates and Republican Richard Lugar is Obama's foreign relations mentor. Working together with Indiana's U.S. House delegation, Johnson said, they should have good luck convincing the Obama administration to make Indiana a top priority in plans to redevelop U.S. infrastructure and expand educational institutions.
___SEPARATE GOVERNMENT NEWS BRIEF FOLLOWS___
Despite optimism about Indiana's prospects for the next four years under Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce is worried. Chamber President Kevin Brinegar is concerned that president-elect Barack Obama will usher in an era of onerous regulation.
Brinegar said the chamber is likely to reposition its lobbying efforts to focus on federal issues. He's particularly worried that new leadership in the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will tighten the leash on business.
The Indiana Chamber was alarmed when Obama, on the campaign trail, signaled he could make major adjustments to U.S. foreign trade agreements, hike capital gains taxes, and rescind President George W. Bush's tax cuts. Brinegar said changes in those areas could end up curtailing both business and consumer spending.