Daniels enjoys lead in Ind. gov. race

Mitch Daniels is doing something John McCain hasn't been able to do as effectively in the hoosier state -- distance himself from President Bush.

Late in the campaign the Democrat Jill Long Thompson came to northwest Indiana for a little bit of love.

It turned out not to be the rally she was expecting in her honor in the state's most reliably democratic corner, but friendly faces including Mayor Daley and his Gary, Indiana counterpart Rudy Clay are a balm to Thompson.

Observers say hers has been a poorly executed campaign -- she lacked funds for TV commercials from September to now. And despite the popularity here of Barack Obama, her chances of defeating Indiana governor Mitch Daniels are slipping.

"He comes after 16 years of Democratic leadership in the governor's mansion which was paired with predominantly Democratic control in the state legislature and at the end of that we in the state of Indiana were in a state of financial debt, a financial crisis," said Prof. Marie Eisenstein.

In the average of recent polls at realclearpolitics.com Daniels enjoys a comfortable lead.

The governor, in the midst of his 'final mile' re-election tour, took office in 2004 with a similar margin over Democratic governor Joe Kernan in a state that relies heavily on manufacturing jobs.

The former Bush White House budget chief claims success for balancing Indiana's budget after years of deficits -- by leasing the Indiana Toll Road, privatizing administration of welfare benefits, and reducing property taxes.

"Property taxes on every home in the state by 39 percent. That's far more impactful and direct than anything that frankly she proposed," said Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Back in Highland, the democrat who was a congresswoman from 1989 to 1994 says that isn't the change Indiana needs.

"When Gov. Daniels refuses to acknowledge that we have the highest unemployment rate in 21 years and that we have the second highest business bankruptcy rate in the country, and Hoosiers make 87 cents on the dollar relative to what workers across the country make, he's simply not being forthright with Hoosier voters," said Jill Long Thompson.

Thompson hasn't enjoyed the patronage of Indiana's big Democratic families, the Bayh's and the Obannon's, but she has strong union support from the SEIU and the steelworkers.

She is expected to attend Obama's rally on Friday night.

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