Last weekend, I was in Indiana for the Young Republican National Convention. I had heard a little bit about Mitch Daniels, the Republican governor who was re-elected wtih over 60% of the vote in 2008, even though Barack Obama won the state. In Indianapolis, he even got over 20% of the African American vote.
So I started digging around on his governing record. I was pretty astonished by this one. Daniels has actually been shrinking government. They have a little over 30,000 public employees right now. That's the lowest number since 1983.
You might notice the sharp decline that started in 2004 when he took over.
Rich Lowry recently noted what a bad hand he was dealt, and how he has turned it around.
When Daniels took office, Indiana had an $800 million deficit. He turned it into a $1.3 billion surplus (although it will be eaten into in the current downturn). Since 2005, he's saved roughly $450 million in the state's budget and reduced the state's rate of spending growth from 5.9 percent to 2.8 percent. "I tell you with certainty," Daniels told his Washington audience, "concern about the debt and deficit has not gone out of style."
No wonder people are talking about this guy for President. He has actually run something successfully.