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Race for top slot in state may be tightening

October 08, 2008
The Indiana gubernatorial race has heated up significantly in the last few weeks and some polls show the candidates are running neck-and-neck in the homestretch. With the election just a month away, neither candidate can afford a stumble.

A recent poll by The South Bend Tribune released on Oct. 1 showed that 47 percent of likely voters supported Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, while 46 percent said they supported Democrat Jill Long Thompson.

Secretary of State Todd Rokita said a large voter turnout is expected this year because it's a presidential election year. He is predicting 65 percent of registered voters will go to the polls in Indiana this year, the highest turnout since 1992.

Daniels, serving his first term as governor, was born in Monongahela, Pa., in 1949 but moved to Indiana in 1959. He graduated from North Central High School and was named Indiana's Presidential Scholar by President Lyndon Johnson. Daniels earned a bachelor's degree from Princeton University in 1971 and a Juris Doctor Degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1979. Daniels, while still at Princeton, was arrested for possession of marijuana and spent two days in jail.

In 1968, when he was still a teenager, Daniels worked on the U.S. Senate campaign of William Ruckelshaus. Then, when he was in college, Daniels worked as an intern for then-Indianapolis Mayor Richard Lugar. In 1971, he became Lugar's principal assistant during Lugar's bid for re-election. When Lugar was elected to the U.S. Senate, Daniels became his administrative assistant in Washington. Daniels was also Lugar's campaign manager during three successful bids for the Senate by Lugar. He also became chief political advisor and liaison to President Reagan.

Daniels returned to Indiana in 1987, becoming the chief executive of the Hudson Institute. In 1990, he left Hudson for Eli Lilly and Company, where he served as president of North American operations and senior vice president for Corporate Strategy and Policy. In 2001, Daniels resigned as a member of the board of Indianapolis Power and Light Co. and sold the $1.45 million he held in company stock. That same year, Indianapolis Power and Light Co. was bought by AES Corp. When the stock dropped, the Indiana Securities Division investigated the sale and found no wrongdoing.

Daniels served as the White House's director of the Office of Management and Budget from 2001 to 2003. During that time, Daniels helped discredit a report that estimated the cost of the Iraq War at between $100 to $200 billion. Daniels called the estimate "very high" and said the cost of the war would be between $50 to $60 billion. Some estimates now claim the cost will be close to $1 trillion. In 2004, he was elected governor of Indiana.

Jill Long Thompson was born in Warsaw, Ind., in 1952. She was raised on a family farm near Larwill, in Whitley County. She graduated from Columbia City High School and earned a Bachelor's Degree in business from Valparaiso University in 1974. She then earned an MBA in 1978 and a Ph.D. in business from Indiana University in 1984.

Long was an assistant instructor and lecturer at Indiana University from 1977 and 1980 and was then hired as a assistant professor at Valparaiso where she worked until 1988. She also served as an adjunct professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne between 1987 and 1989, and as an adjunct faculty member at Manchester College in North Manchester.

Long Thompson's first taste of politics began when she served from 1984 to 1986 on the Valparaiso City Council. She was an unsuccessful candidate for election to the United States Senate in 1986. Two years later, she was unsuccessful in a bid for Congress. But when Congressman Dan Coats was appointed to the Senate in 1988, Long was elected in a special election to fill the vacancy.

The following year, Long Thompson won her first election to Congress and made national headlines because the district was a long-held Republican seat, once held by former-Vice President Dan Quayle. She easily won re-election in 1990 and 1992. In 1994, she lost to Mark Souder as one of the many Democrats to lose as part of the Republican sweep that brought the GOP into the majority for the first time since 1952.

In 1995, she was appointed as Under Secretary for Rural Economic and Community Development by President Clinton. There, she managed more than 7,000 employees and a $10-billion budget which funded rural housing, cooperatives, waste water and business programs.

In 2002, she attempted a run for the open congressional seat in the Second District but lost to Chris Chocola 50 percent to 46 percent.

The candidates have debated twice, with another planned at the Indiana University Auditorium in Bloomington on Oct. 14.

Libertarian Andy Horning, who ran for governor in 2000, is also on the ballot this fall.

Daniels is joined on the GOP ticket by Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, while Long Thompson is joined by State Rep. Dennie Oxley II, of English.

Information about Daniels can be found at www. mymanmitch.com. Jill Long Thompson's Web site is www.hoosiersforjill.com.

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    October 08, 2008 | 07:50 PM

    What a great job of "unbiased" reporting!!!Ha!!!

    Connie Burnham
Schuler Bauer
Barbara Shaw
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