Confessions of a Hoosier Democrat

Blogging Indiana Politics and the 2008 Presidential Race.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Five Questions with David Sanders

David Sanders is the Democratic Candidate for the Indiana 4th Congressional district. David is an associate professor at Purdue University in the Biological Sciences Department specializing in biological weapons. David was a member of the Biological Weapons Proliferation Prevention Program component of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program and a noted expert on the Ebola Virus.

Sanders is running against Rep Steve Buyer. Despite David's attempts to engage him, Buyer remains out of touch with his constituents. Buyer repeatedly refused to acknowledge David's attempts to debate him and hasn't even bothered to update his campaign website.

Despite being Chairman of the House Committee on Veteran Affairs and a Colonel in the Army Reserve, Buyer has repeatedly criticized by leading veterans organizations such as the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans and AMVets, who joined together to criticize Buyer for eliminating the House committee's involvement in hearing for the Department of Veteran's Affairs.

Dr. Sanders was kind enough to take time from his schedule to answer my Five Questions...


1> What is the most difficult thing about going up against a Seven-term Congressman?
There are two major hurdles that need to be overcome in this campaign.

The first is the advantage of incumbency. Congressman Buyer can receive free press whenever he desires. He has two common ploys. One is to appear at a press conference where the business of a campaign contributor, for example, a telecommunications company, makes some sort of announcement. The second is to sponsor a job fair.

The second strategy is related to another issue with incumbency. Congressman Buyer has accumulated campaign funds from corporate PACs. The most recent FEC filing indicates that he receives 80% of his contributions from PACs—the largest proportion for any Indiana Congressman. A large proportion of this money comes from corporate PACs such as those for the telecommunications and healthcare industries that have business in front of the committees upon which Steve Buyer serves. The core of the activity of Congress occurs in the Committees. Corporate PACs buy the influence of Committee members. Steve Buyer has been a master of this game. His activities at these press conferences resemble those of a lobbyist rather than those appropriate for a U.S. Congressman.

On this topic, I have pledged that I will not knowingly accept campaign contributions from individuals or corporate PACs who have business in front of the Committees upon which I serve. This is the way that I will preserve my independence.

The second hurdle is the nature of the district. It is the most gerrymandered in Indiana and stretches from Monticello to Mitchell south of Bedford. There is no unified media market, and the Indianapolis media are not inclined to cover the campaign extensively. The fact that American veterans from coast-to-coast and throughout the district overwhelmingly have an intense dislike for Congressman Buyer because of his assault on their benefits and arrogant treatment of them and the leaders of their veterans service organizations has received little coverage in the major media. The local newspapers with a few exceptions are generally quite fair in their discussion of the campaign and are performing an important service to their readers.

Congressman Buyer has refused to agree to any debates despite my invitation to him in June; he has not participated in a single forum and has refused an invitation from the media to participate in a debate.

The tactic upon which Congressman Buyer relies is to meet with constituents or attend events where he would be in contact with the public as little as possible. He is relying on his bet that if the voters of the 4th District don’t know anything about the candidates then they will likely vote for the Republican.

The mention of the seven terms that Steve Buyer has served in Congress serves as a reminder about another topic. Steve Buyer campaigned on a pledge to seek a twelve-year term limit for U.S. Representatives. Once the Republicans were entrenched in Congress, he seems to have forgotten about this pledge and has refused to act in a manner consistent with the principles he claimed to possess.
2> Despite being a Colonel in the US Army Reserve, Congressman Buyer has come under severe criticism from veteran's groups. What do you think is our country's obligation to our veterans?
Veterans benefits are earned, were promised, and should be guaranteed. It is a disgrace that a time when Americans are serving overseas that there has been an assault on veterans benefits. I have endorsed the New GI Bill for the 21st Century, which endeavors to correct some of these injustices. General and President George Washington stated, “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by
their country.”

I have focused attention on the mental health needs of members of the U.S. Armed forces including the Army Reserve and National Guard returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan. I have also participated in a convoy of World War II MerchantMarines who are seeking their rights. Indiana Congressional Medal of Honor Winner Sammy Davis has endorsed my candidacy. Senator Max Cleland has come to Indiana to campaign with me. The Veterans Alliance for Security and Democracy has also endorsed my candidacy.

Congressman Buyer replaced Congressman Smith, who was regarded as an advocate for veterans, as Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Tom Delay installed Buyer as Chairman to tell the veterans, in the words of a Republican staffer, “Enough is enough.” Congressman Buyer’s assaults on veterans’ benefits and the rights of veterans service organizations to testify before Congress has been extensively documented in publications serving veterans and on the Internet including at such sites as and Veterans for America.
3> What is the biggest challenge facing Congress in 2007?
I would not have voted for the War in Iraq. Congressman Buyer has been a supporter of the war policies that have strengthened the political power of Iran in the Middle East, diverted our forces from their important mission in Afghanistan and cost the future American taxpayer hundreds of billions of dollars. His optimism that the people of Iraq will unite behind a Baghdad government is completely unjustified and demonstrates a profound ignorance of the history and sectarian divisions of the Middle East. The Iraqi security forces have been thoroughly infiltrated by Iraqi sectarian militia members. There are strong parallels to Yugoslavia. A brutal dictator kept an artificially united country together by suppressing ethnic minorities. Once the dictator disappeared from the scene the country disintegrated.

I share the incumbent’s desire to see democracy succeed in Iraq. The most straightforward democratic expression of the people of Iraq on their future would be a referendum on the continuation of occupation of Iraq by American and coalition forces. If you say you believe in democracy in Iraq, then you must support this. We have removed a brutal dictator. Now let us respect Iraqi sovereignty.

Simple proposition—should the occupation by US (and allied) military forces continue indefinitely or end in six months? Additional referendum question—should international forces not including American and coalition forces be invited to help stabilize Iraq?


I have explained in depth previously why either way the vote turns out is a benefit to the United States.
4> This is your second attempt at the US House of Representatives. How is it different the second time around?
Last campaign I had a small group of committed volunteers. This campaign I have two full-time campaign workers and great volunteers working with the campaign in every one of the 12 counties in the District. I have worked extensively with groups that are focused on local issues that have federal input (I-69, Divine Strake, the Indiana Veterans Home, the pipeline through Morgan and Johnson Counties, a landfill in Fountain County, etc.). I have met with veterans throughout the district and have their support. We have much greater private contributions (I have accepted no corporate PAC money) and have consequently a better financed advertising and mail campaign. We have extensive GOTV efforts and a much higher level of name recognition. Travel arrangements have improved so that I can be everywhere. I have been to fairs in each County and have visited each County at least three times during the campaign. People have been writing letters to the editor in support of the campaign for months.

Finally, the issues about which I have been providing my approaches (the war in Iraq, government corruption, health care, etc.) have emerged at the forefront of the voters’ concerns.
5> Many college professors have made the move from academia to politics, most notably President Woodrow Wilson. How does being a biology professor translate to being a US Congressman?
Many of the issues that we face as a society have a scientific or technological basis. Defense against weapons of mass destruction, protection of endangered species and the environment, preparation for a pandemic, stem-cell research, gene therapy, global warming, energy security, and health care are all subjects that have a major scientific component. It is important to have Representatives who understand these issues first-hand. I also see education as a goal itself nor merely a means to an end.

Five Questions with Susan Fuldauer

Susan Fuldauer has dedicated most of her life to improving the lives of others. She began her career in education in Iowa and later after she moved to Indiana she's taken up the causes of violence against women, pay equity, accessible, patient-driven health care, equity and diversity.

This past February, Susan embarked on her toughest challenge yet, taking on the Indiana House Speaker, Brian Bosma. First elected to the Indiana House in 1986, Bosma was elected Speaker of the House in 2004 when the Republicans took over the General Assembly. Bosma gained notoriety in Indiana when he lost a lawsuit over Christian prayers on the House floor. Bosma pledged to appeal that decision and since then has spent over $100,000 of tax payer money trying to get that decision overturned.

Susan has been working very against Speaker Bosma. If you can help out in anyway, I know she'd appreciate it.

Susan was scheduled to attend the Blogger candidate forum last month but was called away at the last minute. In return she gladly answered my Five Questions...


1> What prompted you to take on Brian Bosma? What was it that made you think that he needed to be voted out?
I am challenging Rep. Bosma because I am tired of the arrogance and lack of focus the leadership has provided on the issues facing Hoosiers both in House District 88 and across Indiana. As Speaker of the House and leader of the right wing of the Indiana Republican Party, Rep. Bosma has let us all down by focusing on the issues important to maintaining his personal and political agendas. I have maintained an aggressive, yet positive, campaign and plan on campaigning up to Election Day.
2> What do you think are the biggest issues facing Hoosiers in the 88th House District and how do you think you can best serve them?
Education and property taxes are definitely on the minds of families in House District 88. Funding our public schools must be at the top of the list, but it is important to stay focused on the property tax issues because both issues are connected. Both issues must be dealt with in a bipartisan manner, and the future of public education must be addressed. These issues have not been adequately adressed and will not be so addressed as long as Rep. Bosma remains in office. The political infighting and focus on issues pertaining to our Hoosiers' personal and private lives have taken center stage and the cost of this poor leadership wil be the decline of public education and the livlihood of everyone.
3> What do you think is most important in attracting high-paying, skilled jobs to Indiana?
Obviously, we want to have a high road, high wage economy flow into Indiana and, also, to be created by Hoosiers. Driving wages up instead of down and out is essential to continuing the vitality of a community and the ability to partake in the "American Dream". Good wages add to the viability of the schools, the infrastructure of the community, better health, lowering of crime rates, etc.
4> How can we refocus our attention on the important matters that should be in front of the General Assembly rather than these wedge issues that have been forced upon us?
We refocus our attention to the real issues facing communities by electing fair-minded, concensus-building citizens that are not afraid to work toward real solutions regardless of party politics.
5> What can we do to bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots in education?
Education is the backbone of our democracy and should be the one level playing field for all children. We bridge the gap by bringing solid early education to Indiana's children. We mandate kindergarten and then fund full day kindergarten. This begins the early process of bringing children into the culture of learning and will, udoubtedly, lead to students staying in school longer, thereby becoming more successful citizens.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Indiana Election Countdown

I have the great honor of being one of the Indiana correspondents for All America PAC's Indiana Election Countdown.

From now until election day we will be posting news and events from around Indiana and the wave turns Indiana from Red to Blue.

Catch me there!

Meet David Orentlicher

David Orentichler is the current Representative of the 86th House District in the Indiana House of Representatives. David won the seat in 2002 by unseating Rep Jim Atterholt by 37 votes. Those 37 votes gave not only David the 86th District seat, but also Democrats control of the Indiana House, 51-49. Since that time David been targeted by Indiana Republicans. In 2004, David won re-election by almost 4000 votes, but Democrats lost control of the Indiana House.

The 86th District runs down the center of northern Indianapolis, from the south side of Carmel down to 25th St in Indianapolis. It contains some of the most affluent neighborhoods in Indianapolis and some of the poorest. David makes it a point to get out and knock on doors of everyone in the district.

David is a nationally respected expert on bio-ethics, having earn both a medical degree and law degree from Harvard. He is the Samuel R. Rosen Professor and Co-Director of the Center for Law and Health at Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis and an adjunct professor at Indiana University School of Medicine where he serves as faculty in the Center for Bio-ethics.

David worked for the American Medical Association directing their division on medical ethics. While there he wrote the first ever Patient Bill of Rights. He's also co-authored text books, Health Care Law and Ethics and Matters of Life and Death. David's also authored dozens of journal articles in leading medical and law journals.

Since coming to the Indiana House, David's worked hard for the 86th District and all of Indiana. David co-authored legistlation that moved to protect children in abusive situations. He also co-authored legistlation mandating child ride in safety booster seats in cars. Knowledgable in both health and law, David is a strong advocate for for medical issues.

Once again in 2006, David has become the target of some of the most vicious ads in Indiana. In one ad his opponent sent out a mailer with pictures of abused children claiming that David would be dangerous to Indiana children despite the fact that David co-authored legistlation to protect children in abusive situations. His opponent, Kathryn Densborn, opposed stem cell research and abortion, even if the mother's life is endangered.

In 2004 and 2006 David's been endorsed by the Indianapolis Star:
Orentlicher deserves the nod for his four years of thoughtful initiative on such vital issues as child protection, education and health care. A professor of law and medicine with specialties in constitutional law and medical ethics, he brings a rare level of expertise to the office.

Orentlicher supports greater investment in education, including full-day kindergarten. After more than a year of study, he plans to offer legislation to try a pilot program of health insurance funding for low-income people and small business, modeled after the federal system for veterans.
If you'd like to help David is his campaign, please make a donation. I look forward to David being my representative for the next two years... and perhaps even moving up to a higher office.