Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is one Republican who will win reelection tomorrow.
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Even the lease of the Indiana Toll Road — still reviled in some quarters — is being applauded by residents in many communities. The proceeds are paying for long-promised (and oft-delayed) highway and road projects that would improve traffic in those areas; the hand-off also got $226 million in delayed maintenance — for which taxpayers would have had to pay — off the state’s books.
This isn’t to say that Daniels has completely adhered to Republican principles. Among his less-stellar efforts: Taxpayers in Indianapolis and six nearby counties will foot $2 billion in construction and debt costs for the expansion of a convention center and the building of Lucas Oil Stadium on behalf of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. As part of the property tax reform, he approved a 1-percent sales tax increase, which will be used to pick up local school costs.
But for the most part, Daniels has stuck to small government principles of fiscal frugality and stellar management of the most necessary activities that even all but the most left-leaning Democrat can embrace. This should serve as a lesson for all politicians —especially congressional Republicans and President Bush, whose abandonment of those precepts has resulted in a string of Election Day defeats.
Meanwhile, Daniels’ efforts aren’t just paying off for taxpayers. Earlier this year, Daniels’ name was bandied about as a possible Republican vice presidential nominee before the selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for that spot. Four years from now, he could join the seven other Hoosiers — including Dan Quayle — to have been nominated or elected to the job. And, though unlikely, depending on how the GOP housecleaning goes, the former presidential adviser may end up heading up the presidential ticket himself.
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