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Tuesday, May 05, 2015
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East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland is facing a tough challenge from City Clerk Mary Morris Leonard. (NWI Times Photo)
East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland is facing a tough challenge from City Clerk Mary Morris Leonard. (NWI Times Photo)
Thursday, April 30, 2015 8:49 AM

By BRIAN A. HOWEY  
    
INDIANAPOLIS – Incumbent mayors in Columbus, East Chicago, Lake Station, Logansport and Westfield appear to be facing high hurdles for renomination in next Tuesday’s municipal primaries, while Howey Politics Indiana monitors close races in Elkhart, Carmel and Bloomington. Some of these races could be determined by low voter turnout and a candidate’s ability to get out their base. Races in some of Indiana’s biggest cities, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Evansville and Terre Haute, are already set for the fall with incumbents and leading opposition candidates expected to breeze toward nominations.

Most vulnerable incumbents

Columbus: First term Republican Mayor Kristen Brown is one of the most vulnerable incumbents, seeking to fend off a challenge from Columbus Council President Jim Lienhoop. Brown has often clashed with “establishment” Republicans on the council. Brown’s leadership style has been described by local sources as off-putting, something Lienhoop has stressed on the campaign trail. Because no Democrats are opposed, there is potential for a significant crossover and vote for Lienhoop. Primary Horse Race Status: Leans Lienhoop.

East Chicago: First-term Mayor Anthony Copeland faces unique opposition, writes NWI Times’ Publisher William Nangle. Besides opposition by city clerk-treasurer Mary Morris Leonard, it’s being said two men who were a part of East Chicago’s colorful past political conflicts are seeking to influence the outcome. Former mayor George Pabey, who has spent time in jail for misdeeds while in office, and longtime political operative Bobby Cantrell are reportedly working for Copeland’s ouster. Copeland came into office as mayor and put the city on a sound financial basis. He reduced the patronage army left by Pabey, has worked tirelessly for restoration of the Cline Avenue bridge and has witnessed work to improve the city’s shoreline along Lake Michigan. Primary Horse Race Status: Tossup.

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  • By MAUREEN HAYDEN
    INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence declared that the needle exchange measure passed in the waning hours of the legislative session “will save lives.” That’s a 180-degree turn from where he was weeks ago. Even amid a sprawling outbreak of HIV in poor, rural Scott County that was fueled by intravenous drug use, Pence tried to shut down a needle exchange proposal by declaring his “long-standing” opposition to programs that provide clean needles to drug users. Back then Pence insisted that a needle exchange aimed at curbing the spread of disease was a lousy drug policy. By late Wednesday, when he pledged to sign the new bill, he’d reframed it as a wise health policy. It took a chorus of voices, growing ever louder, to change his mind. Back in early March, as HIV numbers spiked in Scott County, Pence stopped state health officials from distributing “harm reduction” kits stocked with needle-cleaning supplies such as bleach, cotton, and alcohol wipes. By the end of the month, conservative Republicans from communities near the HIV epicenter had convinced him that the situation was dire enough to set aside ideology. 
  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    NASHVILLE, Ind. - It was simple curiosity after three years of Republican Gov. Mike Pence and Democratic Supt. Glenda Ritz bashing each other in a low-grade policy war that played out on the dysfunctional State Board of Education and the parallel Department of Education agency the governor set up with his now-scuttled Center for Education and Career Innovation. In the April Howey Politics Indiana Poll, we posed the Pence v. Ritz horse race question. The response from 607 Hoosiers was Pence leading Ritz by a mere 42-39 percent. And this is without Ritz spending a dollar positioning for a potential challenge. In fact, Ritz spent under $300,000 in 2012 in her upset bid over Republican Supt. Tony Bennett, while Gov. Pence spent millions. When the dust settled, Ritz had actually won more votes than the governor. On Thursday morning, after months of Republican super majorities attempting a variety of “power grabs” as Democrats termed it, the veil came off. “You know, after this session there is absolutely nothing off the table,” Ritz told reporters. "After reviewing the outcome of this General Assembly session it's caused me to have a pause and to actively look at how might want to reframe to do what I want to do to move education forward. I'm going to have dialogue with my family and talk about whether I might seek a governorship."

     
  • BY: MARK SOUDER

    FORT WAYNE – Ever since Mike Pence ran for governor, pundits have claimed that his every move was secretly driven by his presidential ambitions. I am certain that the RFRA debate in Indiana was not manufactured by the governor to moderate his image so he could compromise while the state legislature looked extreme. To some conservatives, Pence is seen as just a craven caver not only to big business and the homosexual lobby, but also on health care and education. I must confess that in all my decades of knowing Mike I never once suspected him of being a secret pagan communist. Into this boiling cauldron of Indiana Republican politics, the comparatively rare opportunity of an open United States Senate seat is tempting to ambitious politicos. Eric Holcomb was the first out of the political gate, prepared the day Dan Coats announced that he would not seek reelection. Of the Hoosier Republican congressmen, it appears that all but Todd Young and Marlin Stutzman have ruled out a race.  Stutzman, unless he reverses himself, plans to announce his candidacy in about a week.  

       

     
  • By RICH JAMES
    MERRILLVILLE – Sometimes it is a fellow Republican, as opposed to a Democrat, who is the toughest on Republican Gov. Mike Pence. And for that Republican to be from Lake County is somewhat of a surprise. Such seems to be the case as the fallout continues over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. When Pence signed the bill into law, the vast majority of Democrats expressed outrage.The same could be said for a good number of Republicans. While Pence staunchly defended the bill, the criticism became too much, especially after his appearance on George Stephanopoulos’ Sunday morning political show, “This Week." When the heat got insufferable, Pence retreated and asked the Legislature to “fix” the bill, and he signed a “fix” into law. The Democratic outrage quickly ebbed, leaving the governor to think he had weathered the storm. But, he was mistaken. The governor found out this week when some 200 Republicans, many of them ministers, rallied in the Statehouse to condemn the governor for approving a “fix.” And the man leading the charge was the Rev. Ron Johnson Jr., the senior pastor at Living Stones Church in Crown Point. 
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Lincoln funeral train in Indiana 150 years ago
President Lincoln's funeral train returned to the state where he grew up, in this Indiana Public Media report.
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  • HPI Analysis: How Pence admin, CDC grappled with HIV crisis
    By MATTHEW BUTLER
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – Since January Gov. Mike Pence’s administration has endeavored to reduce and keep an HIV epidemic in southeastern Indiana localized, while also grappling with the question as to proper long-term solutions. There is now a better sense of direction since lawmakers passed on Wednesday a compromise program in SB461 to allow needle exchanges in counties experiencing health emergencies. It would take effect immediately upon the promised signature of the governor. As of Tuesday, 143 new cases of HIV have been confirmed since December in and around Scott County. Between 2009 and 2013, Scott County only saw three new HIV cases. Drug users sharing needles is the primary culprit.
     
  • Dems focus on mayor races, while Gregg & Ritz worked J-J room
    By MATTHEW BUTLER

    INDIANAPOLIS - Seven months since they lost every statewide office on the ballot and gave further ground to the Republican supermajorities, Democrats told each other this year’s mayoral elections would be crucial to reversing their electoral fortunes. That was the theme of Friday’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, which brought over 850 party faithful to the Indianapolis Convention Center. In addition to keynote speaker Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, other major luminaries were in attendance such as Evan Bayh, Bart Peterson, Baron Hill, Brad Ellsworth, and U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly. Mayors and city hall hopefuls such as Joe Hogsett, State Rep. Gail Riecken (Evansville), and Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry were also present.

     
  • HPI Analysis: Education session roars back at sine die
    By MATTHEW BUTLER
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – With Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Common Wage repeal settled, the “education session” came roaring back for the final days of the 2015 119th Indiana General Assembly. The House passed the budget 69-30 literally minutes to midnight Wednesday evening. Only a short period before the Senate passed the biennial spending measure 40-9. The two super majorities passed legislation that addressed priorities Republican leadership and Gov. Mike Pence highlighted back in January, such as increased funding for K-12 education, a revised school funding formula, increased school choice funding, and significant reforms to the State Board of Education (SBOE).
     
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  • Garrison won't comment on brawl report
    "There have been media reports. Obviously, I can't comment on it. I want to thank you all.” - WIBC talk show host Greg Garrison, speaking Tuesday morning of an IndyStar story that implicated him in an April 18 brawl with a resident over a “Pence Must Go” sign in the Lockerbie neighborhood in Indianapolis. The Star reported that a BMW with plates registered to Garrison was at the scene of a incident, according to an IMPD report on the matter. No charges were filed. 



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General Assembly

What grade would you give the Indiana General Assembly in its 2015 session?


 

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