Here is a quick round-up of stories surrounding Dan Coats’ Crap Sandwich tour.
Monroeville Libertarian activist Melissa Lineberry posted the contents of a letter to her from John Hostettler’s Senate campaign on the Campaign for Liberty Teabagger site.
Similar to Marlin Stutzman’s efforts, paints Coats with a variety of left-leaning failures, but from paragraph 5 on does not miss a chance to morph his face into John McCain:
Voters have a choice this Tuesday as to whom they will support for US Senate.
While five great Christian men are running, polls indicate the race has largely come down to Dan Coats and John Hostettler, and while the other three men in the race are all great, a vote for any of the other three is basically a vote for Coats.
Coats is a fine man but while in office he had a tendency to vote against the 2nd Amendment and for radical far left Supreme Court justices.
Coats voted for the Brady Bill and the assault weapons ban, and voted to put ultra-far-left extremists like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor on federal benches including the Supreme Court.
Last year Coats made close to a million dollars representing some of the most nefarious players in the Wall Street bailout scandal, but far more troubling is his relentless work to get John McCain the GOP nomination for President in 2008.
McCain, who nearly left the GOP in 2000 and 2004 because it wasn’t liberal enough, supports universal health care, cap and trade, amnesty for all illegals, open borders, and a host of other hard-core leftist positions similar to his chummy rival in 2008, Barrack Obama.
As Coats was a tireless crusader for McCain it is fair to say that these are the positions that Coats would like to see in a GOP President.
John Hostettler, by contrast, never once in his 12 years in the US House of Representatives let his conservative values be bought by high priced lobbyists. If returned to Washington Hostettler would be one of, if not the most, conservative member of the Senate. Hostettler would never betray the constitution or the voters that sent him as their representative.
This Tuesday, I believe we not only have a choice to make but a duty to fulfill. We can send John McCain’s left-leaning bipartisan buddy back to the Senate, because he has name recognition, or we can do what is right for our children, grandchildren, and this nation, by sending a proven conservative to give Washington a fiscally and socially conservative kick in the pants.
If that isn’t a sign of the Tea Party eating the Republican’s lunch, then perhaps this piece from today’s US News and World Report, better known as FOX Lite, makes the impending Republican civil war more clear.
[The Teabaggers] have vigor, they have the media’s attention, and they have numbers. In March, the Wall Street Journal reported a 134 percent increase over 2006, in Republicans running in congressional primaries. Most will fail, but there are enough serious backlash candidates to spur talk of a GOP civil war with the outrage gang as insurgents. You can be sure that Republican incumbents like Sens. John McCain in Arizona and Bob Bennett in Utah, along with establishment-backed Senate candidates in California, Colorado, Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Nevada, noticed Crist’s GOP flameout.
The next battle, and the right-wing insurgents’ next opportunity, will take place Tuesday in Indiana, where the GOP will select a candidate for the Senate seat that Democrat Evan Bayh is vacating. Former Sen. Dan Coats was expected to cruise through both the GOP primary and the general election in November. But the wingers don’t like him, grousing about his voting record, his establishment support (he is seen as a Washington recruit), and that he had quit in the face of a tough Bayh race 12 years earlier.
And in an angry, anti-Washington, year, Coats looks a bit like a Martha Coakley of the Midwest. He is a registered lobbyist (making more than $600,000 last year from his Washington law firm, according to his financial disclosure records). And a devastating video surfaced in February, of Coats telling North Carolina delegates to the 2008 GOP convention not to “tell the good people of Indiana,” but that in the Tar Heel state he had found a “better place where some of these older bones” could reside, and that he looked forward to voting there.
His fundraising has been soft (though Democrats note contributions from at least three dozen current or former lobbyists). He recently loaned his campaign $200,000 and—serious Coakley echoes here—jetted off to Washington for a pair of $1,000-per-person fundraisers in his honor Wednesday, six days before the primary. None of this plays well in Indiana, a state so leery of outsiders that “anybody who may have gone to Washington on an eighth-grade junior high school field trip is automatically tainted,” says veteran Indiana political analyst Ed Feigenbaum.
Coats is vulnerable, but the insurgents have, typically, split. GOP gadfly DeMint and others support Marlin Stutzman, a 34-year-old state senator, while Tea Party godfather Ron Paul has endorsed former Rep. John Hostettler, a religious conservative grass-roots favorite. Feigenbaum, who has watched Indiana politics for 25 years, says he’s never seen such an inscrutable primary—Coats, Hostettler, or Stutzman could win. The only public poll, released Thursday, had Coats leading with 36 percent to Hostettler’s 24 percent, and Stutzman at 18 percent.
They finish the piece by paraphrasing the Irish chestnut of “Let’s raise a glass to the enemy of my enemy.” I’m not sure who they were toasting, but I like when they compare Coats to Martha Coakley. Does that make Ellsworth Scott Brown. I am told that Ellsworth better qualifies as “dreamy” than Senator Brown does.
Why Kansas is so interested in this race befuddles us, though we think they, like the Star, bear a William Randolph Hearst-like lust for the Teabaggers, but The Witchita Eagle likes to quote anti-Coats people:
Republican Dan Coats is back – back in Indiana and back pursuing a Senate seat he last held 12 years ago.
The path back, however, hasn’t been as smooth as the Republican Party envisioned when it recruited Coats to challenge Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh, who later decided he wouldn’t seek re-election. Coats’ long Washington record, years away from the state and challenges from the right have raised some doubts about him securing the nomination in the May 4 primary.
Consider this: Days after he announced he would run, Coats stopped by a local deli to talk to voters. The first question from a married couple: “Where do you live?”
Coats explained that he had just leased a home in Indianapolis and would be selling his house in North Carolina, but the encounter proved emblematic of a fitful campaign.
Coats remains the favorite in a crowded, five-person field, and time is on his side. But there’s a growing sense that his two chief opponents, state Sen. Marlin Stutzman and former Rep. John Hostettler, are gaining on him and that Indiana has the potential to illustrate just how dissatisfied Republican voters are with their party.
Most political observers believed Coats would cruise. Instead, a combination of factors – a bumpy opening with continued questions about his work as a Washington lobbyist and feisty primary competition – are conspiring against him.
Whatever the voters decide, the stakes could hardly be higher: Any path to a Republican Senate rolls through the corn fields of Indiana and a poor selection by the GOP will give Democrats, who secured their top recruit for the race in 51-year-old Rep. Brad Ellsworth, an opportunity to hold onto the seat.
Any primary upset will be because of voters like Jack Edwards. He hasn’t decided whom he’ll vote for, but he is certain it won’t be Coats.
“We need a fresh face,” said Edwards, 71, of Carmel, Ind.
Michael Lewinsky, 65, of the northern Indiana hamlet of Pleasant Lake, drove to Indianapolis earlier this month to attend a tea party rally with about 3,000 others at the Indiana Statehouse.
“Dan Coats was a party pick and that doesn’t stand well for him,” Lewinsky said.
From the moment the popular Bayh announced he wouldn’t be seeking re-election, Republicans began to talk up their chances. Their hopes were bolstered by the enthusiasm for a political comeback by Coats, 66, who announced his interest in the race days before Bayh dropped out. Coats had retired from the Senate in 1998.
After a decade representing Indiana in the Senate, Coats enjoyed wide name recognition. National Republicans envisioned him as a strong fundraiser. Though he has outraised his opponents, with $446,000 as of April 14, he hasn’t delivered the sort of knockout blow that many predicted. His campaign cash has been enough to put him on the air with television ads, likely through the primary.
On the campaign trail, Coats has emphasized his Washington experience. He served on the Senate Intelligence Committee and was ambassador to Germany under President George W. Bush.
“I have had to deal with foreign policy and national security issues on an hour-by-hour, day-to-day basis,” Coats said during a recent debate.
He has called for repeal of the health care law and argued that sending him back to Washington will restore conservative values…
…Both Stutzman and Hostettler have tried to cast Coats as the less conservative candidate, noting his vote to confirm Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a nominee of President Bill Clinton.
Stutzman, a 33-year-old state legislator, family farmer and trucker with a base in the northern reach of Indiana, won a prized endorsement when Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., called him the conservative choice in the race. Stutzman has locked in other high-profile conservative supporters, including David Keene, the chairman of the American Conservative Union.
While Stutzman raised $263,000 through mid-April and had $44,926 on hand, DeMint’s backing has led to a $100,000 boost in fundraising, Stutzman’s campaign said.
Stutzman’s pitch to voters has been that he is a fresh face, untarnished by ties to Washington.
“I’ve had the opportunity to see how the federal government affects our state,” he said. “I understand the long arm … and how it affects our freedoms and our state government.”
Hostettler, 48, has a tight-knit operation run out of his congressional district’s churches. His fundraising has been anemic – he had raised $52,195 as of April 14, with about $10,000 on hand – but he has a history of being outspent drastically in House races and still coming out on top.
With the backing of former presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, Hostettler has sought to sell himself as the true conservative in the race.
“I’m hearing all over Indiana that what Hoosiers are longing for is a voice not only for conservative values … but a voice that will be consistent,” Hostettler said.
Democrats have targeted Coats’ work as a lobbyist for banking firms. State Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker criticized Coats on Tuesday for failing to file a personal financial disclosure report with the Senate Ethics Committee that was due April 4. Parker said that Coats was “engaged in a cynical and deceitful attempt” to hide his income as a lobbyist.
Coats spokesman Pete Seat said the disclosure report is being reviewed for completeness and accuracy before being filed before the primary.
Coats is dominating the primary money race (though he has struggled badly against the likely Democratic nominee, Rep. Brad Ellsworth, in that regard.) He raised $379,000 between his February campaign kick-off and March 31. Stutzman raised less than $80,000 in the whole quarter and Hostettler raised less than $40,000. And a recent poll shows Coats with a significant lead in the primary heading into tomorrow. The poll, conducted by SurveyUSA for The Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics, shows Coats leading the five-way field with 36% of the vote. Hostettler is second with 24% and Stutzman is third with 18%.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) — the tea party movement’s main man in Washington — backed Stutzman on April 20 after the former state legislator won a string of tea party-sponsored straw polls in Indiana. DeMint’s reasoning? Coats is a nice guy but all that past record stuff is just a bit too much baggage.
“I like Dan [Coats]. I like John [Hostettler],” he told Fox News, “But we need new faces here.”
Stutzman is the one conservatives are counting on to cost the GOP establishment a victory. He has a mini-following on the right that cite him as the pure conservative option.
Hostettler is among those who say Coats isn’t conservative enough. He cited Coats’ vote for the 1993 assault weapons ban as evidence that he doesn’t pass the 2010 conservative purity test.
“I voted to repeal it,” Hostettler huffed to the Gary, IN Post-Tribune. But Hostettler hasn’t always marched lock-step with his party’s most conservative wing either — he was among just a handful of Republicans to vote against the Iraq War in 2003. Decisions like that endeared him to Ron Paul — long a vocal opponent of the war — and earned him Paul’s endorsement last month.
The gun issue has been a tough one for Coats. The NRA has taken him on, but that hasn’t seemed to scare Republicans in Washington, who still think Coats is going to win easily. They point to prominent conservative Coats endorsements from Rep. Mike Pence (R) and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson as evidence that he’s got plenty of support on the right.
But RedState and other national conservative voices are clearly not on board the Coats train and, try as they might to suggest otherwise, the party establishment seems to be in the midst of another civil war in Indiana. At the buzzer, signs suggest this is a battle the establishment could win.
We will wait and see if you don’t mind.
Remember to vote Tuesday!