Politics: Will state be caught up in stormy election? By DOUG RICHARDSON Associated Press Writer INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Some political professionals, seeing warning signs in other states, are beginning to wonder if this will be a. stormy election season of voter discontent. The upheaval in the Massachusetts primary, passage of an Oklahoma initiative to limit the length of service of incumbents and the victory of an underdog in the District of Columbia mayoral mayoral primary suggest to some politicians that the mood of the electorate could turn dark. In Indiana, politicians believe it's too early to tell if a storm of national protest against incumbents incumbents is gathering force or just isolated squalls swirling around a few unpopular officeholders. "I think we're on the front end of it, not the back end. I think it is a wave developing," said Tim Phillips, campaign manager for Democratic Senate nominee Baron Hill. "Going into the '90 election, I thought it would be in '92 and because of the way presidential presidential elections skew things, maybe '94," he said. '"But it seems to have accelerated a little bit. I don't know yet if the wave's big enough to be a tidal wave." State Democratic Chairman Michael Pannos said "it's certainly conceivable" this year could be developing as one of the throw-the-rascals- out elections that occur almost every decade. "I think that's possible. I think people get fed up with a lot of things," said Pannos. "I just don't know what the tenor will be in the next six weeks. The electorate, at least in my mind, is really volatile and I don't think it's focused yet on where it wants to be." - Those who believe a voter protest could be imminent point to several causes: uncertainty about the economy, frustration with Congress' inability to reach a deficit-reduction agreement, the costly savings and loan bailout and general Analysis disenchantment with the political process. "At times of changes in the economy, there is always a greater awareness among the voters," said state Republican Chairman Keith Luse. However, some politicians believe worries about the economy may not be so grave by election election day to move many Hoosiers to vote for or against certain candidates. "We haven't reached the bottom as we did in 1982. I'm not sure we've reached the same level of pain and suffering," said state House Democratic strategist William Schreiber. "I think people are confused. I don't think they're optimistic, but I'm not sure they've pinpointed pinpointed the blame or fully defined the extent of the problem yet," said Schreiber. "But we've got six weeks until the election, and I suspect the focus will sharpen." Schreiber believes that the current level of discontent appears to be focused more on individuals individuals than on Congress, legislatures or other institutions. For example, the Massachusetts vote to turn out insiders can be read as a protest against Gov. Michael Dukakis' tax increases and the District of Columbia vote as a break with the scandal-ridden administration of Mayor Marion Parry, many politicians argue. Luse said that if the public mood turns against a particular institution, Congress would be a likely target. "I sense greatest dissatisfaction with congressional congressional incumbents as opposed to statewide or local leaders," he said. "I have not noticed a considerable amount of opposition to incumbents incumbents in other areas," Phillips maintained that anti-Congress senti- ment "is not a Republican or Democratic thing. It's a politics-as-usual kind of thing." He argues that many voters are distressed by the whole process — special interest money, politicians accepting honoraria on top of their salaries, all of "the little compromises you have to make to get by in daily political life." If. a backlash against Congress takes shape by election day, Hoosier politicians will closely watch races in the 2nd and 3rd districts where the incumbents, Democrat Phil Sharp and Republican John Hiler, are facing well-financed challenges. "In marginal districts, it (general discontent) can play a role," said Pannos. At the same time, state legislative races likely wouldn't be affected much because voters tend to know their incumbent representatives and senators and vote for them for personal reasons rather than out of a general feeling of satisfaction satisfaction or discontent, politicians said. "In those races, we think we can be the centers centers of our own universe," Schreiber said. But in other races, especially those for Congress, some candidates might be at the mercy of the public mood and external events, such as a worsening in the economy. The candidates, candidates, unable to control those factors, can only brace for the buffeting they could bring. For incumbents, that means "you just try and make sure that you've laid down enough of a bedrock that says that your guys are not the kind of guys who should be thrown out," Pannos said. For challengers, "maybe you're blowing a little wind at the wave," hoping it swells and knocks down incumbents, said Phillips. Will that happen this year? "You never know for sure until it's over," Phillips said. "Then people look back and say, yeah, there was a trend going on there."