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Tuesday, September 01, 2015
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Gov. Mike Pence (right) during the January State of the State address while Senate President David Long (left) and House Speaker Brian Bosma listen. All three are seeking ways of "clarifying" the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that has set off boycotts of Indiana. (HPI Photo)
Gov. Mike Pence (right) during the January State of the State address while Senate President David Long (left) and House Speaker Brian Bosma listen. All three are seeking ways of "clarifying" the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that has set off boycotts of Indiana. (HPI Photo)
Monday, March 30, 2015 3:34 PM
By MATTHEW BUTLER

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Temp David Long told reporters Monday that Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) law would not allow for discrimination of gays and lesbians and they would seek to pass legislation clarifying such. Both Republican leaders of super majorities in their respective chambers said it was never their intent to pass anything discriminatory and they felt the law was being misunderstood by many and misconstrued by some. The Monday morning press conference was the likes of which rarely seen at the Indiana Statehouse. Media nearly packed the Senate Chamber as national reporters and cameramen jockeyed for space with the everyday statehouse press corps. Outside, national television satellite trucks were parked on the streets lining the state capitol. Democrats were able to use the entire gaggle of media later in the morning to call for repeal of the entire RFRA law and to bolster the state’s human rights statutes by making sexual orientation a protected class.
  • HPI Analysis: Democrats unite as Pence, Gregg spar on jobs
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    FRENCH LICK –- For the first time in half a decade, the stars seem to be aligning for the super minority Indiana Democrats. In John Gregg, they have a pending standard bearer who has learned the lessons from what is now seen as a heart-breaking loss to Gov. Mike Pence in 2012. His early gubernatorial rivals in Supt. Glenda Ritz and State Sen. Karen Tallian fell by the wayside in a span of two weeks, and have coalesced around the former speaker. There is some talk of an alternative, but other than Tom Sugar, no other credible candidate is emerging. Judge Lorenzo Arredondo gives the party a conspicuous Latino presence in the attorney general race as Republican presidential contenders Donald Trump, Scott Walker and Ted Cruz have launched broadsides at the most potent emerging demographic. As for a possible Gregg-Tallian unity ticket, Gregg told Howey Politics Indiana on Saturday morning, “We’ve talked,” without going into any further detail.
     
  • Horse Race: Holcomb confident, Delph ponders, Stutzman faces shutdown
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY  
        
    INDIANAPOLIS –  The spinning rumor mill flips out mirages, like the one where U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita runs for attorney general, and a “soft landing” is created for Eric Holcomb to exit the Senate race for the 4th CD. Holcomb has heard the rumors, and quickly puts them to rest. “Susan Brooks is my congresswoman,” Holcomb told Howey Politics Indiana over club sandwiches at The Old Point Tavern Wednesday afternoon. “The latest rumor is even more convoluted. I don’t live in the 4th. I have 100% interest in what I’m doing now and zero interest in any other. I don’t have to slam the door shut because it was never open.” Driving the rumor was Holcomb reporting $200,000 on the second quarter FEC report, well behind U.S. Reps. Todd Young and Marlin Stutzman. Holcomb said he has 12 fundraisers scheduled for September, including one at the Schererville home of Dan Dumezich. “I’m confident my campaign will be adequately funded. I am confident we will have the funds to get our message out,” he said.
     
  • 9th CD Democrats coalesce around Shelli Yoder
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    FRENCH LICK - Ninth CD Democrat Shelli Yoder picked up the support of two potential primary opponents in French Lick over the weekend. J.S. Miller, speaking at the Orange County Jefferson-Jackson Dinner Friday night, introduced Yoder and said he would not seek the Democratic nomination. On Saturday, 2014 nominee and former Seymour mayor Bill Bailey confirmed to Howey Politics that he would be endorsing Yoder, the Monroe County councilwoman who lost to U.S. Rep. Todd Young in 2012. “I’ve already run once,” Bailey told HPI at the West Baden Springs Hotel where he was attending an art show, confirming that he won't run for a second time. Yoder told Orange County Democrats, “We can win this election,” after Young shifted his sights to the U.S. Senate race.
     
  • Gregg buoys Democrats on jobs, Ritz and infrastructure
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    FRENCH LICK - It’s all about jobs. The recently upgraded highways between Indianapolis and this Southern Indiana resort town where Indiana Democrats gathered in full force this weekend were festooned with signs that proclaimed “Fire Mike Pence” and “Hire John Gregg.” And while the Pence administrated heralded on Friday new July job numbers with the unemployment rate at 4.7% and 59,800 jobs added in 2015, Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg made it clear that his likely rematch with Pence would be about jobs, and the kind of jobs that can sustain a modern Hoosier family in a state where per capita income has fallen precipitously over the past few decades. In 2015, Indiana per capita income was $38,812 per person, compared with $44,543 for the nation. Indiana ranked 38th in 2015, down from 30th in 1980 and 21st in 1950.

     
  • McIntosh, Club For Growth to bundle $1M for Marlin
    By MARK SCHOEFF JR.
        
    WASHINGTON – An influential conservative organization that has endorsed Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-3rd CD) for Senate will soon launch an effort to increase substantially his campaign warchest. The Club For Growth political action committee will start sending letters to its approximately 100,000 members over the next week or two asking them to donate to Stutzman, according to the organization’s president, David McIntosh. The group hopes to bundle $1 million for Stutzman, a big boost to his coffers, which currently total $848,853 in cash on hand, according to the Federal Election Commission. In the fall, the Club For Growth super PAC, Club For Growth Action, will develop television ads for Stutzman that tout his voting record and offer contrasts with his two major opponents for the GOP Senate nomination, Rep. Todd Young (R-9th CD) and former state Republican Chairman Eric Holcomb. In an HPI interview, McIntosh said that Stutzman is the candidate who best represents the Club’s “free market, limited government principles.”
     
  • Frontrunner Gregg bucks history as he heads to French Lick

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    FRENCH LICK – John Gregg is poised to achieve something that legendary Indiana governors Oliver P. Morton and Thomas A. Hendricks did, which is to win a gubernatorial nomination after losing a prior race. With Supt. Glenda Ritz and State Sen. Karen Tallian exiting the Democratic gubernatorial race over the past two weeks, Gregg is now a clear frontrunner for the right to a rematch with Gov. Mike Pence. It is an opportunity that has been elusive in Hoosier politics over the past 75 years. In modern Indiana politics, defeated nominees have often faced a one-and-done dynamic, though in the 19th and early 20th centuries vanquished nominees often had a second or even third shot.
       

     
  • Microburst showdown as Trump, Sanders feed on populist inflows
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – A friend sent me a spectacular time lapse video clip of a wet microburst collapsing over Tucson recently. It brought back vivid memories of a microburst that hit my neighborhood while living in Elkhart. The skies glowered and blackened. There was a high-pitched squeal, followed by a thunderous roar, and then Mayhem appeared with a bandage over his eye. When we emerged from our basement, about a dozen very mature trees on our block had been uprooted. At a nearby intersection, all the stop signs where twisted, cranked into a bizarre clockwise position. Thus, my metaphor for the current Republican presidential race. Donald Trump is our microburst. He is impressive, dominating and vulgar. He is celebrity, or as Club For Growth’s David McIntosh described him, he is a “showman.” Washington Post columnist George Will termed him a “counterfeit Republican.” And in this late summer of 2015, Trump has impressive leads in national, Iowa and New Hampshire polling. He is nipping at the beleaguered Hillary Clinton’s heels, trailing her by just 6% in a CNN Poll. A Fox News Poll earlier this week had Trump leading Ben Carson 25-12%, while assumed frontrunners Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker were at 9 and 6% respectively. In swing state Quinnipiace Polling today, Trump leads Bush and Marco Rubio in Florida 21% to 17% to 11%.
     
  • Messer explains opposition to Iran deal
    By MATTHEW BUTLER
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – U.S. Rep. Luke Messer opposes the Iran nuclear energy agreement, calling it a “terrible” deal. “It doesn’t make America safer. It doesn’t make Israel safer. It doesn’t make the rest of the world safer either.”  If the deal is so bad, we asked why did other negotiating nations, particularly allies such as France, Germany, and UK, sign off? Messer said the talks began with the international community unwilling to forcibly stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. From that flawed premise, he says, the deal might appear sensible. Messer says nuclear proliferation to the Islamic Republic sets a precedent because its leadership are irrational and cannot be deterred. “They’re not a rational actor and they can’t be trusted,” he added. Messer laments the agreement did not address Iran’s refusal to recognize Israel and its human rights record. HPI noted that U.S.-Soviet nuclear weapon talks left their (very many) human rights abuses off the table. Messer again pointed back to deterrence: the Soviets had been and could be deterred, whereas Iran is a different case.
     
  • Gregg emerges as Dem frontrunner as Tallian drops out

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - John Gregg has effectively consolidated his grip on the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, securing the AFL-CIO endorsement Monday afternoon while his last opponent, State Sen. Karen Tallian, announced she was exiting the race.
    Tallian said in a statement, “After much consideration, I am announcing my withdrawal as a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination for Governor. My congratulations go out to John Gregg, and I support his efforts to lead this state.”

     
  • Dickerson to take on Baron Hill in Dem Senate primary
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    BLOOMINGTON - Democrat John Dickerson became the fifth declared U.S. Senate candidate, creating a primary showdown with former congressman Baron Hill. Dickerson, the longtime executive director of The Arc of Indiana, said he has the skills to work with people from both major political parties. “What I've learned in the 40-plus years of my professional life is that we have to work together.  It takes new answers and new ideas, but together we get things done,” Dickerson said at Shapiro’s Delicatessen in Indianapolis Saturday morning. “It may sound simple, but in my experience, this is key,” Dickerson added.
     
  • HPI Analysis: Delph ponders GOP Senate race twist
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    NASHVILLE, Ind. – Hoosier Republicans are already facing a riveting U.S. Senate primary with the field of Eric Holcomb and U.S. Reps. Marlin Stutzman and Todd Young. State Sen. Mike Delph could become the fourth and if he does, would bring some fascinating twists to the first wide open GOP nomination battle for an open seat in modern times. Whether the Carmel Republican makes this leap is … well … complicated. The short answer is he wants to, if not in 2016, possibly in 2018. In a dynamic similar to 2011 when Gov. Mitch Daniels’ family made the final call on a presidential run, the Delph family of wife and five daughters will have the final say. The time line is between now and the end of September. So will he, or won’t he? After a two-hour interview with Howey Politics Indiana last Thursday at the Rathskeller, the answer is akin to riding a seesaw.
     
  • Horse Race: Bluegrass, BBQ & a bunch of INSen candidates
    By MATTHEW BUTLER  
        
    MORRISTOWN – The only thing better than the fried chicken and pulled pork last Saturday afternoon was the beautiful weather and soft background accompaniment of a bluegrass band. Such was the setting for some 450 Republicans, guests at U.S. Rep. Luke Messer’s fourth annual barbecue just south of Morristown at the home of Dana and Audra Caldwell. The draw was heightened by billing that three declared Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls would attend and speak. It’s an impressive field: Eric Holcomb and U.S. Reps. Marlin Stutzman and Todd Young. Holcomb, the former state party chair and Mitch Daniels advisor, stressed his assiduous statewide ground game and organizational efforts with the eye always on November, 2016. Young emphasized his campaign theme of “responsible conservatism” which translates into being electable in a general election and a record of authoring successful legislation. Stutzman touted his high-profile efforts among the conservative wing of the House Republican Caucus to enact major reforms, particularly budgetary.
     
  • Horse Race: Zoeller says Congress needs a constitutional lawyer
    By MATTHEW BUTLER
        
    MORRISTOWN  – Though outside the district to which he aspires, Attorney General Greg Zoeller attended U.S. Rep. Luke Messer’s 4th annual barbecue in Morristown last Saturday. The event drew around 450 Republican party faithful, several state legislators, Indiana State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell, and all three Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls.“I’m here to visit with my good friend Luke Messer. I told him it was too late to for him to try to talk me out of running,” Zoeller quipped to HPI. He is in the running for the now open seat of recently declared Senate hopeful, U.S. Rep. Todd Young. “I’ve been traveling around the 9th District a lot. I still have a lot of work to do as attorney general. Between the two, I think I’m balancing it well,” he said.
     
  • HPI Analysis: Ritz fails to reach gubernatorial glass ceiling
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    CORYDON - The history of women in viable Indiana gubernatorial politics is scant over our 199 year history. It began with Democrat Virginia Dill McCarty as Hoosier politics pulled away from smoke-filled convention rooms into the primary system. There was Vi Simpson, whose nascent campaign was mauled by Joe Andrew and the UAW at French Lick in 2003, then stunned by the death of Gov. Frank O’Bannon and the reemergence of Joe Kernan who ran and lost defending the seat in 2004. In 2008, former congresswoman Jill Long Thompson won a gubernatorial primary victory almost identical to Hillary Clinton’s razor-thin victory over Barack Obama, then disappeared for much of the next two months, never found traction on the money front, and lost in landslide fashion to Gov. Mitch Daniels despite Obama’s claim on Indiana’s 11 Electoral College votes. Which gets us to Supt. Glenda Ritz, who in an embarrassing late Friday afternoon news dump, ended her own gubernatorial traipse. Ritz had something that McCarty, Simpson and Thompson didn’t have, which was plausible support in the polls.
     
  • Ritz drops out of governor's race
    By MATTHEW BUTLER

    INDIANAPOLIS—With practically no forewarning on social media or the political rumor mill, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz withdrew from the 2016 gubernatorial race late Friday afternoon. In her statement Ritz said she would pursue reelection, something she had already announced last year. The news came at approximately 5 p.m., exactly that period of time when press releases dealing with sticky situations and mea culpas are dumped on the media and public. Ritz’s exit (or Rit-xit) winnows the Democratic field down to 2012 nominee John Gregg, of Sandborn, and State Sen. Karen Tallian, of Ogden Dunes. Former Evan Bayh staffer Tom Sugar has said he is mulling whether to enter. “I must continue to be 110% engaged in supporting public education,” Ritz said in a press release issued via the Indiana Democratic Party’s website.
     
  • HPI Analysis: Sen. Donnelly gives Gov. Pence issue cover
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – Earlier this summer, the politically wounded Gov. Mike Pence seemed to be taking a page out of the “shut it down” Ted Cruz playbook, or his own “time to pick a fight” stance. As the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency prepared to roll out its new Clean Power Plan, Pence was defiant. On June 24 in a letter to President Obama, Pence wrote, “If your administration proceeds to finalize the Clean Power Plan, and the final rule has not demonstrably and significantly improved from the proposed rule, Indiana will not comply. Our state will also reserve the right to use any legal means available to block the rule from being implemented.” On Monday after the EPA released rules that one electric industry figure described as “hosing” Indiana, Pence’s defiance seemed to hit a chord. It wasn’t the cacophony of indignant voices from the Indiana Republican congressional delegation that underscored the governor’s defiance. Instead it was Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly. "Indiana has made significant investments in clean energy in recent years,” Donnelly said. “The final rule, however, completely missed the mark."
      
     
  • Horse Race: Club For Growth nod doesn't have same pop as 2012
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY  

    INDIANAPOLIS – U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman picked up the endorsement many expected him to get from the Club For Growth last week. The question is whether it will have anywhere near the impact that it did in 2012 when the club played a decisive role in Richard Mourdock’s upset primary victory over U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar. When Mourdock imploded in late October 2012, booting a 36-year Republican Senate seat to Democrat Joe Donnelly, the Club For Growth was about as popular in Hoosier GOP circles as shingles. The Senate race dynamic in the 2016 cycle is completely different. Stutzman will benefit from the club’s bundling prowess, and he needs it.
     
  • Carter, Sen. Head, Judge Arredondo preparing A.G. bids
    By RICH JAMES
    and BRIAN A. HOWEY


    MERRILLVILLE - Democrats are unexpectedly euphoric over what they see on the horizon. It’s not exactly something out of “Field of Dreams,” but local Democrats are about to embrace the most prominent Hispanic ever to serve on the bench in Indiana. He is Lorenzo Arredondo, who retired five years ago after three decades as Lake Circuit Court judge. And he is poised to come out of retirement. Lake County Democrats hope to see him nominated as the party’s attorney general candidate during next June’s convention. He joins former Republican Attorney General Steve Carter and State Sen. Randy Head as prospective candidates. 
  • HPI Analysis: Indiana's disproportionate carbon footprint burden

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – Climate change is a global problem. But as the Obama administration seeks to rein in carbon emissions, the fear is that states with a plentiful supply of coal and their rate payers will shoulder a disproportionate burden in reducing greenhouse gases. Exhibit A is Indiana with a 500-year supply of coal, which produces 95% of the state’s power, or eight of every 10 jobs. Indiana is eighth in the nation in coal production and sits atop 59 million tons. Little wonder that just about every politician in the state is decrying the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Clean Power Plan rules. Gov. Mike Pence is leading the charge, reacting Monday by saying, “When it comes to energy policy, this administration continues to place its environmental agenda ahead of the interests of Hoosier ratepayers, jobs and the economy."

     
  • HPI Analysis: Solutions for Indiana's historic low voter turnout
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    and MATTHEW BUTLER

        
    INDIANAPOLIS – The concept of stewardship means leaving things in better shape than you found them. For many in the current generation of political and policy leadership in Indiana, they’ve witnessed a steep decline in voter participation. Over the past generation, voter turnout has plummeted to the point where the state has one of the worst rates in the United States. Hoosier policy makers need to explore and implement reforms. When it comes to voter turnout, Indiana ranked 43rd according to the Election Assistance Commission in the 2014 elections with 27.7% of people in the state over age 18. The New York Times ranked Indiana 50th in voter turnout using a different criterion.
     
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  • Rep. Bucshon says U.S. needs to rethink mental health system
    “We’re starting to see, at least, a background of really significant instability. I think it’s a shame right now in our country that some of those areas aren’t being addressed as much as they should be.” - U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, to WTHI-TV reacting to the on-air murders of two Virginia TV journalists last week. The Republican Newburgh heart surgeon said the United States must reexamine its mental health system.

     



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