The Kokomo Tribune from Kokomo, Indiana on October 31, 1980 · Page 26
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The Kokomo Tribune from Kokomo, Indiana · Page 26

Kokomo, Indiana
Issue Date:
Friday, October 31, 1980
Page 26
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U Kokomo (Ind.) Tribune Friday, Oct. 31, 1980 The Bowen factor Two-term Gov. Otis R. Bowen is not on Tuesday's ballot, but the soft-spoken Republican is undeniably a factor in the 1980 election. Lt. Gov. Robert Orr, who hopes to succeed the governor, has based his campaign on the theme, "Let's keep a good thing going." The governor or his name saturate Orr's campaign commercials. Democrat challenger John Hillenbrand doesn't buy the Bowen factor but turns it to his own advantage. "I don't feel I'm running against Bowen," Hillenbrand says. The Democrat frequently refers to Orr as the "Son of Bowen." (Tribune staff photos) Robert Orr wants to move up John Hillenbrand fights Bowen image Both Orr, Hillenbrand tug at Bowen's coattails Gov. Otis R. Bowen is retiring after eight years in office, but he must feel the tugging on his coattails from the two men who hope to succeed him as Indiana's chief executive. On the one hand is Republican Robert D. Orr, who has served as Bowen's lieutenant governor through two administrations. On the other hand is Democrat John A. Hillenbrand II, who was Bowen's chairman of the Natural Resources Commission until he resigned last year to run for office. Orr, a 62-year-old millionaire Evansville businessman, is counting on the electorate's affection for Bowen transferring to him. In his television commercials, Orr can be seen strolling the Statehouse grounds with Bowen. The governor has appeared on his own in other ads for Orr. Orr himself talks of the "working partnership" he has had with Bowen since 1973. "It's hard for me to divorce myself from something I've been a part of," Orr said in an interview in his Statehouse office. "I'm a part of this administration." Hillenbrand, a 48-year-old millionaire businessman from Batesville, is mindful of the Bowen legacy that Orr claims. "It's amazing to me that we're still in it," the Democrat said. "He should have blown us out of the water with his 'Son of Bowen' act." It won't be Bowen Hillenbrand keeps reminding voters that "the next governor of Indiana will not be Otis Bowen." And when Orr speaks of his participation in top-level staff councils with Bowen, Hillenbrand harkens back to the meetings he had with the governor during his tenure as natural resources chairman. "The lieutenant governor was never present during those meetings," Hil- lenrband said. Each man is spending in the $1 million range for his campaign. Hillenbrand started running for the Democratic nomination two years ago, getting a jump on all other contenders. When it was time for the May primary this year, only one foe remained: state Sen. Wayne Townsend, a Hartford City farmer. The contest cost Hillenbrand a lot, in time, money and support among Townsend's backers in the union and farm communities. "It was very financially debilitating," Hillenbrand said of the primary. "Everybody gives us the bad rap for being disorganized. We were organized. But we had to recover from the effects of the primary. We had to spend the first Campaign State three months trying to mend fences. First Dem hope since '«4 In Hillenbrand, Democrats saw their first chance to win the top Statehouse office — and the patronage that goes with it — since Roger Branigan was elected in 1964. They saw an attractive candidate who was well connected with business interests and who had a personal fortune that he could use to bankroll his campaign. Indeed, the Hillenbrand family has spent $500,000 on the campaign so far. By contrast, Orr was unopposed in the Republican primary. But even so, Orr spent $480,000 up to the primary, including $240,000 on advertising. Part of the advertising budget went for radio and television commercials during the week be- fore and after the election, when voter awareness was high. Campaign manager Gordon Durnil said Orr has raised $1.3 million since last year, including contributions from 13,200 individuals — a record. "When we got it all together," Orr said of his fund-raising goals, "I couldn't believe there was that much money in all the world." Hillenbrand's big campaign issue has been the economy, particularly Indiana's 10 percent unemployment rate and the migration of businesses and people from the state. "For the last six years, we've been slipping in our share of the gross national product. In the last eight years, we've had a net out-migration of 18,000 people a year. That has nothing to do with the current problem of 10 percent inflation," he said. "Bob likes to call Indiana an island of industrial growth. The fact is, discounting our current economic situation or downturn, manufacturing jobs In Indiana have decreased by 5.4 percent in the last eight years." Hillenbrand said Orr is to blame for the state's economic problems, since the area of economic development is under his control as head of the Department of Commerce. Orr takes credit for Jobs Orr, meanwhile, takes credit for bringing 170,000 new jobs and wooing 2,000 new or expanding industries to the state. He blames the economic upheaval on the inflationary policies of the Carter administration and the activities of the Democratic Congress. The Republicans were concerned about Hillenbrand's candidacy earlier this year. "We haven't faced a Democrat in years who was potentially as viable as Hillenbrand, with all his influence and money," one key GOP strategist said. "Things were pretty dismal when we first wrote our plan. But we just kept telling our story and doing our work.'! GOP finds voter support But later, when the Republican Party started sampling voter attitudes, GOP leaders found that three- fourths of Hoosier voters felt the country was headed in the wrong direction. But the same margin felt that things in Indiana were pretty much the way they wanted them to be, that things were good. From the sidelines, some Democrats have observed that Hillenbrand has been hurt by his lack of experience in the political arena. The governor's race is his first bid for elected office. But Hillenbrand doesn't see it as a liability. "I've been involved in an awful lot of campaigns, not as a candidate," he said. "I've held appointive office for almost 20 years. I've held many jobs within the party." And the Democrat said he doesn't see anything wrong with starting at the top for his first campaign. "The governor is the chief administrative officer of the state. That's the job I know best," he said. "I think that Indiana could use a businessman's approach. And I would stack my business accomplishments up against Bob Orr's any day." 26th District contest mirrors governor race In the last several years, District 26 has gone to the Democrats, thanks to the popularity of State Rep. Alan Zirkle who has held the House seat for all but two years during the 1970s. But Zirkle, who has moved to Fort Wayne, isn't on the ballot this year and the voters have been left with a choice between Kokomo city councilman Gregory E. Jones and IU-K educator Steven R. Johnson. Jones won the Democratic primary in May over two opponents, former county councilman Terry Boyd and Taylor High School teacher Charles Short. No Republicans ran in the primary but, a month later, the Howard County Republican Central Committee named Johnson to oppose Jones in the November general election. Jones, 27, 2504 N. Buckeye St., was appointed in 1978 to represent Kokomo's first district on the city council and, last year, after surviving an eight-way primary battle, he easily won election to his first full te~m. A former hairstylist, Jones is now a salesman at Tom O'Brien Chrysler-Plymouth. Johnson, 33, 2515 Greentree Lane, ran for the District 27 seat in 1972 and 1974 but was defeated in the GOP primary by Harry Foreman. He was nominated later in 1974 to run against incumbent .state Sen. Merton Stanley and was defeated in the general election. He is a chemical laboratory supervisor at IU-K where he has been employed for 11 years. With neither candidate enjoying the pains or pleasures of incumbency, the Jones-Johnson race has become a mirror of the gubernatorial election. Jones has spent much of the campaign pushing John Hillenbrand's economic recovery plan, blasting the Republican gas tax package aruj criticizing Robert Orr for what hfc says is his failure to develop a state energy program. Johnson, like most Republican state legislative candidates, has run on the record of retiring Gov. Otis Bowen and promising to continue his and, presumably Orr's, philosophy of government. The two have clashed over the new gasoline tax passed by by the 1980 General Assembly with no Democratic support. The package changed the tax from an 8-cents- per-gallon levy to an 8 percent tax on the price of fuel. Democrats said it was inflationary while Republicans argued it was the only way to generate additional money for highway repairs. It proved to be neither because gasoline prices stablized. Johnson favors modifying the package by setting an artificial gasoline price for tax purposes and assessing an 8 percent levy based on that price should the actual pump price fall below that. If the actual price was higher, the state would collect on the actual price. Jones advocates a return to the 8 cent-a-gallon tax and application of all sales tax derived from gas sales to highway repair instead of the general fund. They also disagree on energy. Jones favors a stronger governmental role in developing an energy policy while Johnson believes the utility companies have a more farsighted approach to the energy crisis because their economic life depends on it. Johnson has pushed a "back tc the basics" policy for public education and a better method of funding the state's retired teacher fund but he has offered few specifics. Jones has pushed hard for Hillenbrand's proposal that the state proclaim a 60-day holiday on sales tax for automobiles in order to stimulate sales. Johnson calls that a "bandaid" proposal that won't work. w GOP looking to unseat District 27's Harris Steven Johnson (R) Gregory Jones (D) District 26 takes in the eastern half of Kokomo, eastern Howard County, Liberty and Wildcat townships in Tipton County, extreme western Grant County and the northwestern corner of Madison County. There are probably few Democratic state representatives standing for re-election this yea.r that the Republicans would love to retire more than District 27's Joseph P. Harris. His strong labor record, attacks on the Bowen administration for what he called foot-dragging on the Chrysler aid package and his vehement opposition to the GOP gasoline tax are but three reasons the Republicans would like his political hide Nov. 4. Leading the charge against Harris' bid for a fourth term is Tipton attorney Richard O. Regnier — a recognizable name south of Ind. 26 but, in vote-rich Howard County, a relative unknown. Regnier, 51, is the 5th District Republican chairman and is a former Tipton County prosecutor. He has campaigned hard in Howard County and was instrumental in bringing Gov. Otis Bowen to Kokomo to boost the local GOP campaign. Harris, 41, a Delco Electronics blue collar worker, has taken swipes at Bowen's tax control package which he says has produced vast inequities in school financing. The package, he says, has provided more money for schools in wealthy areas while slighting poorer school districts. Still, Harris says he does not advocate repeal of the property tax freeze even though he does favor a thaw so local governments, strapped by inflation, can continue to offer the same services they have of• fered in the past. Regnier, on the other hand, thinks local government needs to realign its priorities before thawing the freeze. The fat in government should be cut first, he said, before tampering with the tax freeze. On the troubled auto industry, Harris and Regnier also disagree. Harris favors the 60-day sales tax moratorium while Regnier worries that might disrupt the state treasury. Harris favors *sx breaks for individuals who v.-arji to buy American- produced cars while Regnier says he would prefer tax breaks for companies who want to expand their facilities and add jobs. The challenger supports the new gasoline tax based on the price per gallon rather than on consumption. The incumbent favors eliminating the sales tax on gas and replacing it with a 10-cent per gallon tax. He also advocates an immediate diversion of $50 million in general fund money to local governments for road repairs. Harris supports a savings account tax break exempting the interest earned on the first $5,000 of savings from the income tax. Regnier, on the other hand, thinks the government's role in private enterprise should be held to a minimum. Both men support a plan to exploit Indiana's coal reserves for future energy needs but their approaches are different. Harris wants tax breaks for coal liquification plants and loans to companies who can "wash" the coal to make it less polluting. Regnier's approach is to pressure Washington to lessen its pollution standards or at least equalize them. He is especialiy critical that the Environmental Protection Agency office in Chicago has stricter standards than the EPA office in Pennsylvania. On the issue of nuclear energy development, Harris advocates a construction moratorium on the Marble Hill and Bailly plants until they can be proven safe. Hegnier disagrees, saying nuclear power is the energy source of the future and, as in the past, new technologies necessarily involve some element of risk. District 27 includes the western half and most of the northern half of Howard County, Prairie, Jeffer- Richard Regnier (R) Joseph Harris (D) son and Cicero townships In Tipton County and parts of Clinton and Carroll countte*. - :

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