The Next Wisconsin? Nat’l Dems Step Into Indiana Fight (VIDEO)

The legislative standoff between Democratic state House members and their Republican colleagues in Indiana is now entering its fifth week. And now national Democrats are taking the battle to the next level, with at TV ad designed to bring the fight to Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), whose presidential ambitions may be on the line along with this legislative agenda.

Starting today, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (the national party arm charged with boosting Democratic numbers in the nation’s legislatures) is going up with a TV spot aimed squarely at Daniels, who has promised to wait the Democrats out for as long as it takes.

With the battle in Wisconsin shifting to courts and recalls, Indiana is poised to become the next Wisconsin. And, Democrats say, Daniels is about to become the next Gov. Scott Walker (R).TPM obtained an early copy of the spot, which is running in the Indianapolis media market for the next week:

Just as they did in the Wisconsin Senate, Democrats in Indiana took advantage of the state House’s quorum requirement to shut down a worker’s rights law they didn’t have the numbers to shut down legislatively. After the Republicans introduced a right-to-work law that endangered labor organizing in the private sector, 39 of the House’s 40 Democrats fled to Urbana, IL Feb. 22. That shut down the state legislative session, as Indiana rules say no bill can move forward without a quorum (in Wisconsin, only fiscal bills require a quorum).

That rule gives Democrats incredible leverage as they cool their heels in Illinois. And they’ve shown they’re willing to use it, choosing to remain out of state after the Republicans — at Daniels’ urging — dropped the right-to-work law. The Democrats’ new target is one of Daniels’ top personal priorities: a sweeping education reform plan that, among other things, would offer state-funded vouchers to parents they could use to pay for private schools. State teachers and their Democratic allies in the legislature have balked at the plan.

The new ad from the DLCC suggests Democrats think they can use Daniels’ legislative plan against him. It’s also clear that the national Democrats intend to tie their two high-profile legislative fights in Indiana and Wisconsin together.

“Governor Daniels is trying to ram his radical right-wing agenda through the state legislature, making Indiana a vital front in the overall war the GOP is waging against working families in states across the country,” Michael Sargeant, executive director of the DLCC, said in a statement. “In the face of this
and other assaults on middle-class values, Democratic state legislators in Indiana, Wisconsin, and other statehouses nationwide have taken the lead in standing up for and defending working families.”

Republicans are also stepping up their rhetoric in the Indiana fight. Politico reports this morning that the state GOP has launched a website “that allows users to track the activities of Democratic lawmakers while they remain outside Indiana’s borders.”