Raising money

Since announcing his intention to run for a seat in the U.S. Senate in May, Democrat Joe Donnelly’s campaign has reportedly raised more than $440,000.

Ben Ray was announced as the press secretary for the campaign.

Representing the 2nd Congressional District since 2006, Donnelly announced earlier he would not seek re-election to the U.S. House.

Donnelly is expected to face either incumbent Republican Richard Lugar or his primary challenger State Treasurer Richard Mourdock in 2012.

Lugar’s campaign reported raising $900,000 for the period from April to July 1. Mourdock’s campaign raised $300,000 during the same period.

Lugar has a total of $3.5 million for the 2012 campaign as he seeks a seventh term in the Senate.

Mourdock is counting on support from the Indiana Tea Party organization in his bid to capture the GOP nomination in the May primary election.

Looking for attention

Four years ago, the eyes of the nation were focused on the Indiana presidential primary election between Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

In a bid to garner attention for the May presidential primary, one of the last in the nation, the Indiana Republican Party has sent invitations to the nine announced candidates for the GOP nomination.

Party Chairman Eric Holcomb wants the candidates to visit Indianapolis, meet with potential donors, grassroots supporters and elected officials, as well as discuss the nation’s debt problem.

Invitations have been sent to U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Gov. Jon Huntsman, former Gov. Gary Johnson, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Gov. Mitt Romney, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and Herman Cain.

None of the candidates have yet responded.

Stuck in the past

This week, with the news that the American auto industry is in the midst of a massive hiring spree, U.S. Rep. Dan Burton, R-Indianapolis, had other things on his mind.

Burton was primarily interested in whether former White House auto czar Ron Bloom made an alleged pro-union statement at a July 2009 party celebrating the then-recently completed auto bailouts.

That was right around the time U.S. auto industry employment hit an all-time low. Since then, auto industry employment has rebounded by 12 percent. Almost 700,000 people are employed in the industry.

But Burton wants to know if Bloom lied under oath when he denied saying “I did this all for the unions” at the aforementioned party. According to Burton, another former auto czar, Steven Rattner, corroborated the Detroit News’ reporting of those remarks.

Bridge to nowhere?

An interesting aside from Wednesday’s mayors conference at Indiana University Kokomo concerned federal earmarks, which local officials tend to love and taxpayers tend to hate.

Hodge Patel, district director for U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, R-Granger, responded to the earmarks discussion by saying that Donnelly wanted to reform the process. Then Patel tried to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable uses of earmark money.

His acceptable uses included funding for the Inventrek business incubator and road projects.

A use Donnelly might consider “not as important” might be building a pedestrian bridge across a road, Patel said.

Interestingly, local officials are actively seeking funding for a pedestrian bridge over U.S. 31, to carry Nickel Plate Trail users over the four-lane road. Patel, however, said he was referring to a project up in South Bend.

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