New PAC aims to ‘recenter’ Indiana politics

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Don Knebel

Is it time to bring Indiana politics back to the center?

Leaders forming Recenter Indiana, a new political action committee, certainly think so.

“Most of the people I’m associated with are absolutely angry with the current political dialogue,” said PAC chair Don Knebel, a Democrat and retired law partner at Barnes and Thornburg. “Candidates are moving from the middle to the extremes and yet most of the citizens are in the middle.”

So he said he’s teamed up with PAC treasurer Corrie Meyer, a Republican who once ran for state senate in Carmel, to create a non-partisan approach to raising money that would support candidates in the fall election that are at the middle of the political spectrum, without regard to party affiliation.

At the same time, the duo also has joined forces to form Recenter Indiana Inc., which is seeking not-for-profit status. It will educate voters on strategies to reduce polarization in politics.

Meyer could not immediately be reached for comment. In Indiana political circles, she is best known for running a spirited but unsuccessful GOP primary campaign in 2018 to oust staunch social conservative Mike Delph from the Indiana Senate. Delph would go on to be defeated in the general election by Democrat J.D. Ford, the first openly gay member of the Indiana General Assembly.

The Recenter Indiana PAC’s statement of objectives says it will support “political candidates, regardless of political party, who value bipartisanship and maintain the following core values; (a) believe in problem-solving through reliable information and civil conversation with those of varying opinions, (b) believe in empathetic listening, (c) rejects violence, (d) champion equality, (e)  respect the rule of law, and (f) believe a collective commitment to America is far greater than loyalty to an individual political parties and/or positions.”

The PAC could also encourage voters to cross over and vote in the opposite party’s primary to help more moderate candidates emerge victorious over more extreme candidates.

Knebel said there are several other people involved or interested in both the PAC and the not-for-profit but that the ventures are still in the very early stages of organizing.

He said he doesn’t want to name other participants until he’s formed governing boards that clearly convey the non-partisan nature of the effort. He said his goal is to have boards comprised of less than 50 percent Democrats, less than 50 percent Republicans and some independents and Libertarians.

“I have a fundraising goal, but it’s going to sound really ridiculous,” Knebel said. “So I’m going to hold it until I have some confidence I can make this work.”

Nationally, some analysts have pointed to crossover voting and strategies like those envisioned by Recenter Indiana as the reason that candidates endorsed by former President Donald Trump didn’t fare well in the recent Georgia Republican primaries.

Nearly 67,000 Georgians who cast votes in the Republican primary last month had voted in the Democratic primary in 2020, according to The Washington Post.

That number alone could help account for incumbent secretary of state Brad Raffensperger winning more than 50 percent of the vote and avoiding a runoff against Trump’s pick for the job. Of course, that’s assuming that nearly all 67,000 Democratic crossover votes went to Raffensperger, who cleared the 50 percent threshold by just 55,000 votes.

However, an analysis by The Post shows that most of those “crossover” votes weren’t cast by pure Democrats. Most were cast by swing voters who routinely bounce from one party’s primary to the other year after year.

Chad Kinsella, associate professor of political science and director of the Bowen Center at Ball State University, said strategies to lift moderate candidates are lofty in their goals to try to ease gridlock, encourage compromise and prevent dealmakers from being demonized as sellouts.

If those goals could be accomplished, Congress’ 10-year stalemate over how to deal with gun violence might have ended long before now, he noted.

“But given what I know about politics, this [non-for-profit] is probably going to have a hard way to go,” Kinsella said, noting that the most polarized voters typically vote in primaries. “We’ve got a long way to go to get back from our polarized electorate.”

Knebel acknowledges that he’s not sure that his “recentering” efforts will work either.

“But Margaret Mead once said the only things in society that have happened to the good have come from a small, committed group of people,” Knebel said, “and that’s what we’re going to be.”

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9 thoughts on “New PAC aims to ‘recenter’ Indiana politics

  1. “candidates endorsed by former President Donald Trump didn’t fare well in the recent Georgia Republican primaries.”

    Yes, let’s focus on the extremely small number of unsuccessful endorsements so that we can try to pretend that he isn’t still the kingmaker for the GOP.

    Every one of “Recenter” Indiana’s creeds are leftie talking points that they routinely ignore when applied to them, and thus have helped super-charge the MAGA wing of the GOP.

    a) civil conversation with those of varying opinions – cancel culture overwhelmingly comes from the party with the capacity to shut out and moderate discourse on the Internet, the modern public forum. The companies running Big Tech are not conservative in nature. This is why Twitter’s likely takeover by a centrist is rankling so many–it’ll be the only major tech not run under leftist orthodoxy.

    b) believe in empathetic listening – this means “listen to people we believe are ‘marginalized’ ” – a status afforded to them entirely based on shallow demographic traits and nothing that distinguishes them as individuals. Empathy is a one way street, and we’re supposed to believe that an out-of-work East Kentucky coal minor is still privileged compared to Lebron James or George Takei.

    c) rejects violence – awfully ironic coming from a party that presides over urban America, where 95% of violence takes place. They have to focus on Jan 6 (which was fairly violent) to divert attention from the $2B damage and 20-odd people killed during the leftist 2020 “summer of hate”, let alone all the violence that has taken place since then

    d) champions equality – we already have equality of opportunity, which is all that is achievable and all that matters. Reject vehemently anything else because it is them again forcing people to their unicorn rainbow utopia nonsense.

    e) respect the rule of law. As hilarious as getting lectured by a leftist on “non-violence”

    f) believe a collective commitment to America is far greater than loyalty to an individual political parties. Just watch how rabid leftists treated Sinema and Manchin for daring to buck their party’s hivemind and, again, hilarious. And, in Indiana, J.D. Ford has proven himself to be as hyper-partisan as Mike Delph was.

    For those who consider me a hard-line rightie, I know nothing will assuage you. But let it be known that if there we a political battle between two geezers, Romney and Sanders, I’d still vote Bernie. He actually sometimes seems to understand average people even despite owning three homes. And he’s far less likely to drive us into World War III than Mitt.

    1. Did you have a point? You could have just said “both sides are a problem” and it would have gone over better than your attempt at the “sure my side if bad but the other side is worse, thereby justifying that bad behavior”.

      We have equality of opportunity? That’s comical. Respect the rule of law is hilarious? Adorable.

      The MAGA wing was supercharged by Obama becoming a President. That was the genesis of it all, the idea that a black man could become President. Lot of Americans couldn’t take that, and it remains the case…the Republican Party since that election is rooted in making sure that “those people”, be they nonwhite skin or a female or a non acceptable sexual persuasion, “know their place” in society.

    2. Yes, Joe, we have equality of opportunity. It is the compromise between two values–freedom and equality–that are fundamentally and intrinsically at odds with one another. Having both simultaneously is impossible. So we find a glorious compromise: everyone has the capacity to make something with their lives, while we acknowledge that what they do within the rule of low will result in widely variably outcomes. An inequality we tolerate because the human world is and always will be flawed. We do not–and never will–have equality of outcome. Not only is it unachievable and has failed every where it has been attempted, but I absolutely welcome the possibility of a Civil War for people who think we should strive for it. Happy to die for the cause rather than live in the “Harrison Bergeron” hellscape that certain bolshevized cultists want to impose on us.

      And….you still pull the race card. So utterly hilarious. You simply cannot reconcile Obama’s two-term victory with the growing plenitude of non-white GOP candidates that have emerged in the wake of the orange buffoon’s largely successful presidential term. If YT supremacy is the order of the game, it sure isn’t reaching home to a large and growing number of non-whites joining and voting the GOP. What about that resounding Dem defeat last week in south Texas–an 86% Hispanic district?

      It’s understandable, I guess. College Educated people do tend to think they’re morally, culturally, intellectually superior to everyone else. They will not and cannot correct themselves. It’s much like southern whites in the Jim Crow south–and we all know which political party helped them to rig elections and punch down on people who had less institutional power than them…while convincing them they were being virtuous.

      You can’t reconcile this, and neither can the news sites to which you slavishly depend for your narrative. Yes, “slavish”.

      Are you going to pretend that violent crime doesn’t take place disproportionately under the jurisdiction of your beloved Democratic party? I was actually excited when J.D. Ford beat Delph, but he’s proved just as embarrassingly partisan. A microcosm of the problem at large, which helped me make the decision that the neo-lib/neo-con marriage IS the problem.

      But, if I were turning to sites like RightWingWatch and MediaMatters for news, I’d be equally confused about the world.

    3. Cancel culture? Like Jim Banks trying to cancel a Ball State economist for daring to point out that the latest tax “give back” will just make inflation worse?

      Oh, and, spare me that Meta (Facebook) isn’t conservative in nature.

      If you think that violent crime is worth electing strongman leaders who try to rig elections, I can’t help you. We have fundamentally different understandings of what American democracy is or should be.

      “just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Congressmen.”

      That statement makes him the worst President of all time to me. But please, go on what about’ing your “largely successful” President.

      Populism has worked so well in so much of the world, I guess? I can’t speak to why Republican messaging is so successful in convincing people that Democrats are dangerous socialists while Republicans are lovers of freedom while they work on the back end to rig elections, but full acknowledgement, it does work. Me, I see a bunch of people voting for the same thing they fled from. I visited El Salvador twice two decades ago, and the lack of middle class was striking … along with the wanton display of machine guns literally everywhere.

      I can see that’s where America is heading with Republicans in charge, but I guess keep telling me that’s where Democrats are taking things. I’m just not sure how America is going to work when the best and brightest don’t come here due to our immigration laws, our schools don’t educate enough citizens to power our economy, we have several ways in which we are reliant on Chinese factories which is a national security issue, and we value corporations and tax cuts over people.

    4. “Cancel culture” is just Republicans crying about being held accountable for their bad-faith actions.

  2. If you want a free suggestion to make Indiana politics more moderate, switch to the way Louisiana does primaries. First round election is open to all candidates. If one of those candidates gets a majority, cancel the general election for that office. Otherwise, top two vote getters complete against each other in the general election.

    1. So basically like the way the French run their elections. I guess it’s no surprise, considering it’s Louisiana.

      I’m not opposed to trying this–a rare point of concurrence between us. But didn’t France’s centrist Macron (who just won the Presidency a second term) find his party to lose considerable ground to the “far-right” Le Pen in subsequent legislative (Parliamentary) elections? Which means partisan gridlock for France. And in the 2020s, a hamstrung government that can’t do anything is probably better than one that things it has a mandate.

      These polarized politics are present everywhere in the developed world. Further proof that it’s short-sighted to blame Orangeman, when orangeman has no political authority in any of these countries, yet the polarization is playing out much the same.

    2. It’s also done in other states. If the public is going to pay for a primary election, then all citizens should be able to vote on all candidates. If parties want to rent out a hotel and get together and hive mind a terrible candidate (ladies and gentlemen, Diego Morales!) let them do that on their own dime.

      How the 5th district in 2020 would have played out in a jungle primary would have been fascinating. It would also be fascinating to see races in which there are (say) two Republicans and a Democrat in which the Democrat doesn’t even qualify, or vice versa.

      I’d also argue that there’s no reason to have primaries in May. Run them in September.