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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, January 28, 2018 1:00 am

Donnelly, Young see approval ratings fall

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Hoosiers apparently liked their two U.S. senators less at the end of 2017 than they did at the beginning of the year, according to a national pollster.

Morning Consult reported last week that the net approval ratings for Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly and Republican Sen. Todd Young fell by 6 points and 9 points, respectively, during the year.

Donnelly's dip was part of a trend: Morning Consult said net approval ratings fell during 2017 for nine of 10 Democratic senators up for re-election this year in states won by President Donald Trump in 2016.

The firm noted that those senators “have faced attacks on the airwaves and online from their Republican challengers, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and outside conservative groups.”

Morning Consult polled more than 253,000 registered voters nationwide.

Its latest survey showed 44 percent of registered voters in Indiana approved of Donnelly, and 30 percent disapproved, giving him a 14-point net approval. The rest of those polled, 27 percent, had no opinion. Donnelly had a 20-point net approval in the first quarter, when 46 percent of voters approved of him, 26 percent disapproved, and 28 percent had no opinion.

Young, who doesn't stand for re-election until 2022, also had a 14-point net approval in the fourth quarter. Morning Consult found that 42 percent of voters approved of him, 28 percent disapproved, and 30 percent had no opinion. His net approval fell by 9 points from the first quarter.

Indiana and New York were the only states whose senators had identical net approval ratings in the fourth quarter. In several states, senators' net approval ratings were only 1 point apart. But Indiana is the only one of those states where one senator is a Democrat and the other a Republican.

Officer's demotion riles Hines

A member of the Fort Wayne City Council on Tuesday criticized the decision by Police Chief Steve Reed to remove Deputy Chief Derrick Westfield from his post overseeing the department's southeast division.

“Derrick Westfield is probably a major asset in our community. He meets with us every month at the Southeast Area Partnership,” Councilman Glynn Hines, D-6th, said.

In November, Westfield was involved in a late-night fight with a 17-year-old over a road-rage incident. The case was referred to the Allen County prosecutor, but no charges were filed.

“For whatever reason, Chief Reed chose to demote him based on that action,” Hines said. “I'm extremely disappointed that you're taking one of the assets away from the southeast area and moving him to another area, as well as demoting what I believe to be an outstanding police professional with over 20 years of experience.”

Banks buys home

After spending much of 2017 sleeping on an air mattress in his office, freshman U.S. Rep. Jim Banks has been going home at night while in Washington, D.C.

Banks, R-3rd, said Thursday in an interview that his family bought a house last year in Springfield, Virginia, 12 miles from the Capitol Building. They kept their home in Columbia City, he said.

“After eight months of being separated, we decided that what was best for our family was to have the family with me because I spend considerably more time there as a member of Congress than I do here” in northeast Indiana, Banks said during a Fort Wayne visit.

He and his wife, Amanda, have three young daughters.

Residency increasingly has been made an issue in Indiana congressional elections. Candidates with D.C.-area addresses – notably Richard Lugar in 2012, Evan Bayh in 2016 and Luke Messer in this year's Senate race – have been portrayed by their rivals as out of touch with Hoosier voters.

“I'm back and forth frequently and maintain our residence” in Columbia City, Banks said. His predecessor, Republican Marlin Stutzman, also kept houses in Indiana and the Washington area when he was a member of the House.

Banks on Tuesday filed his candidacy for re-election in northeast Indiana's heavily Republican 3rd District. Fort Wayne residents John Roberson and Tommy Schrader have filed their candidacies for the Democratic nomination, and Fort Wayne residents David Roach and Courtney Tritch are announced they will be Democratic candidates.

Dave Gong of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column. 

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/politicalnotebook.