Political Notebook


Franken’s map good; date misses mark

Three eagle-eyed readers of Political Notebook noticed an error in the U.S. map that Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., drew for Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., in the Senate’s recent Secret Santa gift exchange.

Political Notebook ran an image of the map Dec. 29 and online. Franken’s geography appeared to be in order; it was his timing that was off.

Franken signed the map in the bottom right-hand corner, writing under his name: “By hand, from memory 12-17-14.”

Nancy Walters posted to The Journal Gazette’s Facebook page: “12-17-14?”

Carol Adams and Bruce Cynar sent emails pointing out that Franken got the year wrong.

“While Senator Franken apparently can draw a US map from memory, he does need help with the calendar,” Cynar wrote.

Adams wondered why Political Notebook did not mention the error in our reporting. Well, we didn’t notice it.

“I believe that was a mistake,” Franken’s communications director, Ed Shelleby, said in an email about the mix-up in years.

Perhaps Franken is a senator ahead of his time. Many people will continue to write “2013” on checks and other documents after the year changed Wednesday, so maybe he was getting a head start on familiarizing himself with the new year.

Or maybe 2013, which has been called the least-productive year in congressional history, is one that Franken and others on Capitol Hill would just like to write off.

Keep an eye on him

The National Journal’s Tim Alberta has named Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, as being among “five House Republicans to keep an eye on in 2014.”

Alberta wrote Thursday that Stutzman has been mentioned most frequently by lawmakers and aides as the next chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a conservative GOP caucus.

“Stutzman is known to have a firm grasp on a wide range of policy issues, and colleagues have taken notice of his vocal presence – not to mention, perfect attendance – at RSC meetings,” Alberta wrote.

The others Alberta says are worth watching are Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia., a likely candidate for speaker should Ohio’s John Boehner step down; budget writer Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who could be in line for speaker or chairman of the Ways and Means Committee; Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who might have greater leadership aspirations after his stint as RSC chairman expires in 2015; and Raul Labrador, another possible candidate for Scalise’s post at the RSC.

They’re all good

Paul Moss, former at-large Allen County councilman, said there is no truth to the rumor that he is backing Darren Vogt in the race for the Republican nomination for the state Senate District 15 seat in the primary election.

Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, is not seeking re-election.

Vogt represents the 3rd District on the Allen County Council and is council president. Also contending for the Republican seat are Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries and former Fort Wayne Councilwoman Liz Brown.

“I am certainly not doing anything overtly,” Moss said. “I will not pick and choose in this race; they are all good, Republican friends. Any one of them would be good at the job.”

Moss was pulled over by an Allen County sheriff’s officer in 2012 and refused a breath test.

After a phone call to Sheriff Fries, Moss was allowed to find a ride home without having to take any more field sobriety tests. Moss later issued an apology and an ethics complaint was dismissed. He didn’t seek re-election.

Lugar adviser dies

Ken Myers Jr., a longtime foreign policy adviser to former Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., died Dec. 28 at the age of 72.

Ex-Lugar aide Mark Helmke reported the death to Political Notebook. Although Myers had no Indiana ties apart from working for the Hoosier senator in Washington, Helmke’s recollections of him are worth sharing.

Myers “was one of the most important American policy power brokers the past 30 years you never heard of. Myers wanted it that way,” Helmke wrote Tuesday in a tribute to him.

The Manassas, Va., resident had been “schooled” by Henry Kissinger when Myers worked for the National Security Council in the Nixon administration, Helmke wrote.

He joined Lugar’s office in 1983 and was a senior staff member for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Lugar was either chairman or top-ranking Republican of the panel.

“Myers was secretive, smart and sarcastic,” Helmke wrote. “He hated purveyors of BS and junior members of Congress and staffers who were overly pompous. ... He had a mean streak determined to put an overconfident junior staffer or State Department employee with a Georgetown or Harvard PhD in their place.

“Myers didn’t fit with the Lugar political organization. He made one trip to Indiana, and that was enough for all of us,” wrote Helmke, a Fort Wayne native who teaches public policy at Trine University in Angola.

Helmke and Myers “often butted heads, but I always respected him,” Helmke wrote.

“He did not serve for the sake of self-promotion and to cash in on K Street or with the Beltway Bandits,” Helmke wrote, a reference to Capitol Hill lawmakers and staffers who become lobbyists and government contractors.

“He served because public service is the right thing to do in America.”

Myers, who retired in 2012, Lugar’s last year of a 36-year Senate career, is survived by his wife, Susan, their son and other family. Kenneth Myers III runs the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at bfrancisco@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. An expanded Political Notebook can be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/political notebook.