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INDIANA: With Recount Under Way, Hill Picks Up Few Votes

A Democratic-requested recount got under way last week in the southeastern 9th district, where Rep. Baron Hill (D) trails declared winner Mike Sodrel (R) by close to 1,500 votes.

Unofficial results from the two counties that have already been recounted showed Hill netting a gain of 15 votes.

In Monroe County, Hill picked up 20 votes while Sodrel gained eight votes. Results from Dubois County, where votes were hand counted Monday, showed Hill had a net gain of just three votes. The results are not yet certified by the State Board of Accounts.

State officials plan to begin counting in Ripley County this morning. The recount could ultimately include all 613 precincts in the district and could cost the state more than $250,000.

Still, the recount is not expected to change the outcome of the Nov. 2 election, which Sodrel initially won by 1,485 votes out of about 287,000 cast. Hill conceded on Nov. 3.

The state Democratic Party requested the recount after a review of ballots in Franklin County showed about 600 straight-Democratic ticket votes had initially been counted for Libertarians. Franklin County is not in the 9th district, but three counties that used optical-scan voting systems provided by the same Illinois-based manufacturer are in the 9th district.

The 9th district race is the only disputed House contest in the county.

— Lauren W. Whittington


Dayton: Politics Kept Me Out of Delegation to Iraq

Sen. Mark Dayton (D) believes his request to join fellow Armed Services Committee members on an upcoming trip to Iraq was denied partly because he is up for re-election in 2006.

He also thinks his criticism of President Bush’s stewardship of the Iraq war contributed to his being barred, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported last week.

“Either one of those reasons is absolutely wrong, and unjust and unwarranted, and I regret very much the committee’s decision,” he was quoted as saying.

As a committee member, Dayton visited the war-torn country in 2003.

Dayton said Chairman John Warner (R-Va.) did not explain the decision to bar the Gopher State’s senior Senator from the delegation.

— Nicole Duran


Schwarzenegger Says: Terminate Redistricting

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is preparing to introduce a reform package that could include calling a special election that would enable voters to change the way Congressional district boundaries are drawn in the state.

Under the proposal Schwarzenegger is mulling, voters would be asked whether Congressional and legislative lines should be drawn by a panel of retired judges, rather than by the Legislature. A group called the California People’s Advocate, which led the campaign to recall former Gov. Gray Davis (D), is already collecting petition signatures for a redistricting reform ballot measure, and Schwarzenegger has signaled his support for that effort.

“The people really want reform,” Schwarzenegger told the Los Angeles Times last week.

With the Legislature drawing the most recent Congressional lines, all 53 of California’s House seats have essentially become safe. Only the open-seat 20th district race, won by former state Sen. Jim Costa (D) with 53 percent of the vote, was competitive this year.

In an op-ed column in The Sacramento Bee last week, state Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D) said legislative Democrats aren’t opposed to the idea of government reform. But he questioned whether Schwarzenegger’s desire to change the way district boundaries are drawn wasn’t really a closet attempt to elect more Republicans.

“When the governor says, ‘we have to do redistricting,’ he’s not driven by reformist, nonpartisan, good government impulses,” Nuñez wrote.

— Josh Kurtz

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