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Friday, March 27, 2015
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Thursday, March 26, 2015 9:48 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    
INDIANAPOLIS – Since the dawn of the television era in Indiana politics, a mere nine white males have been U.S. senators out of the approximately 12 million people who called Indiana home during the period. Those holding one seat included Sens. William Jenner (R), Vance Hartke (D), Dick Lugar (R), and now Joe Donnelly (D). On the other, there have been Sens. Homer Capehart (R), Birch Bayh (D), Dan Quayle (R), Dan Coats (R), Evan Bayh (D), and then Coats once more.
    
In more than 60 years, there were three “open seats” at the beginning of the cycle when the incumbent did not run, with Jenner in 1958, Coats in 1998 and Evan Bayh in 2010. In Bayh’s case, Coats returned to the public spectrum to win back the seat he gave up a decade earlier. In only one instance, Lugar in 2012, was a sitting senator defeated in a primary. In three cases, Capehart in 1962 to Birch Bayh, Hartke in 1976 to Lugar, and Birch Bayh in 1980 to Quayle, were incumbents defeated in general elections.
    
In all three open seats, there were overwhelming favorites seeking Senate seats in mid-term elections with Evansville Mayor Hartke riding a Democratic wave in 1958 with 57.5% of the vote after Jenner retired to Bedford, popular Gov. Bayh’s ascension in 1998 with 63.7% over Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke, and Coats’ return in 2010 with 54.7% over U.S. Rep. Brad Ellsworth and Libertarian Rebecca Sink-Burris. And throughout this period, there was either a Bayh or a Lugar in the Senate for 50 years (1963-2013). There was only one female nominee, Democrat Jill Long in 1986 who polled 38.5% against Quayle, and only one minority, African-American Republican Marvin Scott, who polled 37% against Sen. Evan Bayh in 2004.
    
Facing Hoosier voters in a campaign that kicks off at noon today at the downtown Indianapolis Westin with Eric Holcomb’s entry is an extraordinary event poised for 2016: An open Senate seat in a presidential election year with no clear favorite.
 
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  • By JACK COLWELL
    SOUTH BEND – Sen. Dan Coats, a nice guy in an increasingly nasty business, will step away from that business on his own terms. He is positioned now to do some important business for the nation before he leaves. The Indiana Republican announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election in 2016. Coats would have faced Tea Party opposition in the Republican primary election and, if he fared better than former Sen. Dick Lugar did against a Tea Party favorite in the 2012 GOP primary, he would have faced a determined Democratic challenge in the fall. That would have meant all-out fundraising and campaigning, and cautious political evaluation of every vote cast and word spoken in the Senate, for the remaining two years of his term. Now, as Coats said, he won’t have to concentrate on campaigning but can “focus all of my time and energy on the major challenges that Hoosiers sent me to Washington to address.” 
  • By LEE HAMILTON
    BLOOMINGTON — Great democracies do not veer from one doomsday moment to the next, nor do they fund government on a week-to-week basis. Yet that is precisely the habit Congress has developed. It’s embarrassing. After Congress came a hair’s breadth from shutting down the Department of Homeland Security a few weeks ago, members of the leadership tried to reassure the American people. “We’re certainly not going to shut down the government or default on the national debt,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Congress, he said, would not lurch from crisis to crisis. I wish I could be so confident. Because if you look at the year ahead, the congressional calendar is littered with opportunities to do just that.
       
     
  • By MICHAEL HICKS
    MUNCIE – Using data from two other states, the results of a proposed prescription-only pseudoephedrine policy are clear. Earlier this month, my colleagues Srikant Devaraj and Karthik Balaji­and I published a study on the benefits and costs of eliminating over-the-counter cold medication (pseudoephedrine) in Indiana. This is a policy issue because these medicines are used to cook meth, a scourge of communities across the country. We are sympathetic to legislative efforts to keep these drugs off the street. Meth destroys many lives, and it has taken hold so quickly that there is a legitimate argument to experiment with any policy that will reduce its use. It is not unlike the early lesson I learned as an infantry lieutenant. If you are caught in a close ambush by the enemy you might as well charge them directly as there’s no time to mull over other options. 
  • By CRAIG DUNN
    KOKOMO – I’m an Ecclesiastes type a guy. You know, a time for every purpose under heaven. Even though I am very concerned with the long-term threat to our nation arising from the effects of our massive growing federal debt, this just may not be the time to put that concern on the front burner. In my opinion, the task of governing the United States has always been about prioritizing threats and challenges and then developing programs, legislation and taxation and spending policies to address them. When your house is on fire, you don’t spray the garden hose at the swimming pool! There seem to be three significant fires burning at this time that need the immediate attention of the President and Congress. Of primary concern is the size, strength and technological advantage of our military. Second, the deplorable demise of the middle class and the virtually stagnant growth in personal incomes. Third, the crumbling state of infrastructure in our nation.  
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Sen. Coats video statement on retiring
Sen. Dan Coats discusses his decision not to seek reelection in 2016.
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  • Holcomb first declared GOP Senate candidate
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Eric Holcomb kicked off the 2016 Indiana U.S. Senatorial campaign Thursday with an announcement rally that seemed like a virtual Daniels administration reunion. The former Indiana Republican chairman and deputy chief of staff under Gov. Mitch Daniels told several hundred cheering that his work for Sen. Dan Coats had exposed him to the Republican “with impeccable integrity.” He said that immediately after Coats made the decision not to seek reelection, “I began to receive encouragement from many quarters, which brings me to the purpose of today’s gathering. The solutions to America’s most daunting challenges cannot be found in the promises to simply printing more money or kicking the can down the road for others to inherit." Holcomb continued, “This campaign will be about what we are for, not simply about what we are against. This campaign will seek to attract people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives and experiences. We will welcome and engage them. This campaign will be about Indiana’s voice and anyone who knows me knows, this campaign is going to have some fun along the way.”
     
  • Rokita, Stutzman work to keep GOP together on budget
    By MARK SCHOEFF JR.
        
    WASHINGTON – In the opening weeks of the new Congress, House conservatives have split their party’s caucus on crucial votes. On March 25, Hoosier Reps. Todd Rokita, R-4th CD, and Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd CD, worked to keep the GOP together to pass a budget blueprint. The House approved a budget resolution, 228-199, that sets spending limits for appropriations bills and provides policy parameters to authorizing committees. The measure doesn’t have the force of law, but it does set a tone for GOP governance on Capitol Hill. Its passage also demonstrates that the party can at least govern itself – no mean feat following a vote last month on a homeland-security funding bill in which Rokita, Stutzman and most House GOP opposed party leadership. “This is a day I expect to be a unifying day and a good day for Republicans,” Rokita prior to the final budget vote. Stutzman, a member of the House budget panel, also was on board. “We have to pass a budget,” Stutzman said.
     
  • Horse Race: Tight mayoral races in Elkhart, Columbus, East Chicago
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – With the mayoral primaries a little over six weeks away, here is an update on various races across the state. We view several cities where upsets are possible, including Columbus Mayor Kristen Brown and East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland on our watch list. Anderson: The six-person Democratic primary looks like it will come down to former mayor Kris Ockomon and former Madison County prosecutor Tom Broderick Jr., who also served several terms on the Madison County Council. Broderick’s father was also a long-time county assessor. Ockomon comes into this race with considerable baggage from his one term as mayor, the messy transition back to Republican Mayor Kevin Smith, and his array of legal problems that ended up with an indictment, which he eventually beat.
     
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  • Holcomb says Senate campaign will be about 'what we are for'
    “This campaign will be about what we are for, not simply about what we are against. This campaign will seek to attract people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives and experiences. We will welcome and engage them. This campaign will be about Indiana’s voice and anyone who knows me knows, this campaign is going to have some fun along the way.” - Eric Holcomb, in announcing his U.S. Senate candidacy on Thursday. He is the first Republican to enter the race to succeed U.S. Sen. Dan Coats in 2016. See HPI coverage below under HPI News. 



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