Money buys Dean White a spot on clout list

2012-01-19T19:15:00Z Money buys Dean White a spot on clout listBy Doug Ross doug.ross@nwi.com, (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357 nwitimes.com

News this week of campaign donations and campaign spending brings us back to a familiar axiom in politics: Money is power.

The highlights of this week's news:

• Indiana's leading Republican gubernatorial candidate, Mike Pence, raked in a record $5 million last year, with nearly $3.7 million cash at the ready now. The leading Democratic opponent, John Gregg, raised just $1.7 million last year, with $1.2 million cash on hand. The key point: Pence raised three times as much as Gregg.

• U.S. Sen Dick Lugar, R-Ind., is campaigning hard with a major TV commercial purchase in some key Indiana markets, though not including Northwest Indiana and Evansville. That spending dwarfs that of his opponent in the primary election, Richard Mourdock. Mourdock is buying time on cable TV.

This brings us back to that axiom that money buys power. That's certainly true for Crown Point billionaire Dean White, who was ranked by Howey Politics Indiana last week as the ninth most politically powerful man in Indiana.

White made two $100,000 donations to Pence's gubernatorial campaign, "thus, he's the uber finance guy in Indiana politics," HPI said.

The annual HPI Power 50 list a fun one to watch.

The top five:

1. U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar

2. Gov. Mitch Daniels

3. U.S. Rep. Mike Pence.

4. House Speaker Brian Bosma

5. Senate President David Long

Sense a trend here? All five are Republicans, and three of them -- Daniels, Bosma and Long -- are the driving force between the right-to-work push that is causing so much strife in this session of the Indiana General Assembly.

White ranks highest of any Northwest Indiana native or resident on the HPI Power 50 list. Here's a short look at the others:

• No. 20: U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., a Munster native. Rokita is "the most pugilistic of the Hoosier House Republican freshman," HPI reports. And in a safe GOP district, he can appeal to the ultra-conservatives without worrying about losing votes.

• No. 25: Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. "In the corrupt climate of Democratic Lake County, McDermott has run a clean administration," HPI said.

• No. 37: Dan Dumezich. Ah, yes, another money man. The Schererville resident is a member of the Indiana Election Board and a high-powered fundraiser. "Dumezich makes the list because he's showing up on early lieutenant governor lists," HPI said.

• No. 39: Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. The new mayor "faces huge problems managing the only city to receive help from the Distressed Unit (Appeals) Board," HPI observed.

• No. 41: U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind. This is interesting. "He is the longest serving Democrat in Congress, but recent scandals have lessened his clout," HPI said.

• No. 49: State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary. "Unless right to work craters the 2012 legislative session, his time may come to get (a smoking ban) passed with Gov. Daniels' support."

• Honorable mention: Jim Wallace, the Kankakee Valley High School graduate, now a Fishers businessman, who is running against Pence in the Republican primary. "While the odds are strongly against him, he intends to drop about $2 million in the primary against Pence, and many of his ideas are innovative and credible."

Was it difficult to spot the connection between money and political clout? I didn't think so.

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Robert Blaszkiewicz

Robert Blaszkiewicz

Robert Blaszkiewicz is a Northwest Indiana native and joined The Times in 1994. He has filled a variety of roles, including night editor, Porter County editor, features editor and new media coordinator. His current position is assistant managing editor for operations.

Doug Ross

Doug Ross

Doug Ross has been covering Northwest Indiana for 30 years, including two decades at The Times of Northwest Indiana.

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