By Jim Shella
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Dan Coats has built a commanding lead in the Senate race in part because voters remember him from his service in Congress in the 80's and 90's.
Coats leads in the WISH TV Indiana 2010 Election poll by 18, 51-to-33. Libertarian Rebecca Sink-Burris is at 6 percent.
Eighty-eight percent of the voters recognize Dan Coats. Meantime, only 67-percent recognize Brad Ellsworth. "He's had a long career in Washington, DC and a recognizable name due to that 18 years in Congress," says Ellsworth.
Meanwhile, only 23 percent of voters view Ellsworth favorably as a result of negative ads from the Coats campaign. The favorability rating for Coats is 48 percent.
It's why new Ellsworth ads aim to hike the Coats negatives by calling him "A lobbyist who sold out Indiana to line his pockets." And a new Coats ad calls for civility with Coats on camera saying, "This campaign should be conducted on the highest level."
The Coats campaign is confident. "Hoosiers are looking for check and balance against the Obama/Pelosi agenda," says campaign spokesman Pete Seat, "and they're ready to send somebody that's (going to) represent Hoosier values to Washington."
But Democrats still believe Ellsworth can catch up. "Dan Coats has been on TV for five weeks," says State Democratic Chairman Dan Parker, "and he hasn't been able to move the numbers very much."
Then again, 51 percent is enough to get elected.
10 A.M. UPDATE: Snow is falling in several counties, particularly south of Indianapolis. Most areas of Central Indiana have seen 2 to 6 inches of snow, with higher totals south of I-70. Counties to the northwest and northeast have seen 1 to 3 inches of snow, with some areas seeing less than an inch.
The Greene County Sheriff's Department says the state Department of Transportation plow truck went off Indiana 45 and flipped onto its passenger side in a crash early Friday.
State police say a southern Indiana man has been arrested after a six-hour standoff that began when he fired several shots at family members.