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Thursday, February 11, 2016
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Thursday, October 15, 2015 9:20 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    
INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence kicked off the infrastructure debate with a $1 billion proposal to repair state highways, interstates and bridges. Local government officials want the governor and General Assembly to take it several steps further, and provide what the Indiana Association of Cities & Towns calls a “sustainable” funding source. IACT President Matthew Greller told Howey Politics Indiana on Wednesday that the Pence plan is a good start. “The big thing is it’s good the administration is addressing infrastructure in a very serious way with a very serious proposal and a lot of money. But it includes no money for city and town streets and county roads. I’m disappointed because the vast majority of road miles in Indiana are maintained by local governments.”
  • HPI Horse Race: Governors race begins as a tossup
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – With the primary filings in, we now unveil the 2016 Howey Politics Indiana Horse Race rating. We begin with tossup races in the gubernatorial general election and the open 3rd and 9th CD Republican primaries. Governor: Republican: Gov. Mike Pence. Democrat: John Gregg. 2012 Results: Pence (R) 1,275,424, Gregg (D) 1,200,016, Boneham (L) 101,868, Harris (I) 21. Analysis: This is shaping up to be a real donnybrook. Gregg is in much better shape financially and can run attacking Pence’s record on civil rights, social issues and infrastructure. Pence will attack Gregg’s record, particularly his 2002 deal on legislative health care for life, which never came up in the 2012 campaign. Pence enters this race with reelect numbers in the lower 40th percentile, always a danger for an incumbent. He had led Gregg in head-to-head matchups, but not by much and well under the critical 50% threshold. The challenge for Gregg is that since governors could seek reelection, a Republican incumbent has never been defeated, or seriously challenged. It will be tough to topple an incumbent Republican. Gregg will have to run the kind of hit-on-all-cylinders campaign that Frank O’Bannon did against Stephen Goldsmith in 1996, then hope for a break. The other unknown is we don’t know what kind of strength and liabilities the national tickets will bring. Republicans had counted on a Democratic ticket with Hillary Clinton at the top. That is not a slam dunk now. We don’t know if Donald Trump will be an unprecedented populist juggernaut, or whether he will cross a line at some point and completely alienate independents, moderates and ethnic demographics. General Horse Race Status: Tossup.
  • Holcomb withdraws U.S. Senate candidacy
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - The Republican Indiana U.S. Senate race is down to two candidates as Eric Holcomb filed paperwork with the Indiana Secretary of State’s office withdrawing his candidacy. Holcomb filed his withdrawal less than a half hour before the noon Monday deadline. Holcomb and his campaign have not released a statement. It leaves a two-man race between U.S. Reps. Marlin Stutzman and Todd Young. Holcomb, the former Indiana Republican Party chairman, lagged behind the two congressmen in money. In the final 2015 FEC filings, Holcomb had only $280,203 cash on hand after reporting $60,096 for the fourth quarter and $508,218 for the cycle. In contrast, Young had $2.6 million in the bank and Stutzman had $1.1 million. Both Stutzman and Young are running TV ad campaigns, something that Holcomb could not do, even though he had the support of Bill Oesterle, who formed a political action committee to back moderate Republican candidates.

  • Stutzman, Rubio win 6th CD GOP straw polls
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    RUSHVILLE - Some 54 6th CD precinct officials participated in a straw poll Saturday morning with Sen. Marco Rubio winning the presidential poll, and U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman winning the U.S. Senate poll. Rubio received 22 votes (41.5%), Donald Trump 13 (24.5%), and Sen. Ted Cruz 11 (20.7%). Ben Carson, Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina each received 2 votes (3.8%), Jeb Bush 1 vote (1.9%), while Ohio Gov. John Kasich received no votes. In the U.S. Senate race, Stutzman had 22 votes (40.7%), U.S. Rep. Todd Young 17 (31.5%) and Eric 15 votes with 27.8%).

  • Horse Race: Education issues could drive 14 House, 4 Senate challenges
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Fourteen Indiana House and four Senate incumbents are facing primary challengers, including State Rep. Donna Schaibley who is opposed by Tea Party activist Greg Fettig. In other moves just prior to today’s noon primary filing deadline, in the 9th CD, Republican Jim Pfaff dropped out of that race and endorsed Attorney General Greg Zoeller, opting to run for the open HD65. Asked if there is a movement afoot in all of the House challenges, Mike Gentry of Mark It Red, and a former head of the House Republican Campaign Committee who is now a key consultant to that group, told HPI that he was just beginning to go over the challengers. “I think this may be more education issue related,” Gentry said.

  • Former Gov. Edgar Whitcomb, World War II hero, dies at age 98

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Former Indiana Gov. Edgar Whitcomb, a World War II hero, died on Thursday afternoon at age 98, surrounded by his family. Whitcomb was Indiana’s 43rd governor, serving from 1969 to 1973. He had also served as Indiana secretary of state.
    Gov. Mike Pence, in officially announcing Whitcomb’s death, said, “Gov. Ed Whitcomb was a great man whose life of courage, service and adventure inspired generations of Hoosiers and he will be deeply missed. Gov. Whitcomb was a treasure to our state and I mark his passing with a sense of personal loss as will thousands of Hoosiers whose lives were touched by this remarkable leader. Ed Whitcomb’s zest for life was evident in each of his 98 years.”

  • HPI Analysis: Civil rights demise consequences unclear

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence has delivered for Monica Boyer. Heading into a tough reelection bid, his social conservative base is more secure now that SB344, the LGBT civil rights expansion, is dead. But this episode underscored the narrative, even within his base, that he is a weak, indecisive “Chance the Gardner” governor. His fate with moderates and independent voters is undecided. There appears to be little fear of political retribution and this won’t happen unless there is the kind of political assault that took Sen. Steve Johnson out in 2002, Senate Finance Chairman Larry Borst in 2004 and Senate President Pro Tem Robert Garton in 2006. Those were all challenges waged against moderates from the right. There appears to be little fear of political retribution and this won’t happen unless there is the kind of political assault that took Sen. Steve Johnson out in 2002, Senate Finance Chairman Larry Borst in 2004 and Senate President Pro Tem Robert Garton in 2006. Those were all challenges waged against moderates from the right.

        

  • Smaltz meth bill one of four to advance at crossover
    INDIANAPOLIS — Members of the House of Representatives voted today in support of State Rep. Ben Smaltz’s (R-Auburn) bill to combat the growing number of meth labs in Indiana. Pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient used in the production of meth and often found in a small number of cold, flu and allergy medications. If enacted, HB1390 would allow Hoosiers who have a relationship on record with a pharmacy to continue to obtain pseudoephedrine of their choosing without a prescription. If a purchaser does not have a relationship on record, the bill would give pharmacists the option to sell them tamper-resistant products or a small package of 24-count 30mg regular pseudoephedrine. If the purchaser still refuses and demands regular pseudoephedrine, the bill would require them to obtain a prescription. “My proposal is designed to protect law-abiding Hoosiers. It would not enact a full prescription requirement on pseudoephedrine in Indiana or add pseudoephedrine to the list of controlled substances,” Smaltz said.
  • Civil rights expansion fails as Sen. Holdman pulls SB344
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - The civil rights expansion effort has died after State Sen. Travis Holdman pulled legislative, saying that “it has become apparent SB344 lacks support.” Holdman added, “I am greatly, greatly disappointed. He compared the lack of consensus to hiking a canyon at Zion National Park in Utah. “The canyon becomes so small, you can reach out with both hands and touch the walls. I feel like I’m in the narrows. No matter what I do, what I proposed, I cannot move these walls. Nobody wants to give, nobody wants to move. After several months, it has become apparent with SB344 lacks support.” “I believe we have let down a number of friends, both our LGBT friends and our far right friends, friends in the faith community,” Holdman said. Senate President Pro Tem David Long, said that Holdman “took a beating on all sides” and warned that the courts will eventually step in if the General Assembly fails to act in 2017.
  • Horse Race: Iowa insurgent victories portend to Indiana action
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Monday’s Iowa caucuses, where anti-establishment Sens. Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders either won or ended up in a virtual tie, portend for the presidential three-ring circus to potentially come back home again to Indiana. The results reveal that in both Republican and Democratic parties, the insurgents received around 50% of the vote total. Cruz ended up with 28%, topping Donald Trump with 24%. The establishment contender now appears to be Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who came in at 23%. Democrats Hillary Clinton and Sanders both ended up at 50%, with Clinton taking a one delegate lead. So both major parties are roiled in an seething, anti-Washington establishment revolt.

  • Horse Race: 4thQ FEC reports seeds tossups in 3rd, 9th CDs
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana’s two open Congressional seats appear to be headed for three-way showdowns, as evidenced by the year end Federal Election Commission reports that are lifting eyebrows in political circles at both ends of the state. In the 3rd CD open as U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman is seeking the U.S. Senate seat, Republican Kosciusko County farmer Kip Tom raised $264,000 in the fourth quarter. Even more impressive is while Tom is said to have the ability to self-fund, he has yet to tap personal resources.  In the 9th CD where Senate candidate Todd Young is leaving an open seat, Tennessee transplant Trey Hollingsworth posted $694,000 for the quarter that included $686,000 loaned from the candidate. Hollingsworth has $510,000 cash on hand and is running TV ads in the Indianapolis and Louisville markets. State Sen. Erin Houchin posted $111,000 for the quarter, $240,000 for the cycle and has $177,000 cash on hand.
  • HPI Analysis: Gregg's rematch campaign begins to emerge
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – For the past year, John Gregg has been in the shadows, dialing for dollars while Gov. Mike Pence has, for better or worse, dominated the headlines. Some have suggested that the former Democratic House speaker should simply stay in the corner, and let his rematch this November be a referendum on the incumbent and driven by the first-term Republican. Last Thursday before the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns “Bootcamp” for newly elected officials, John Gregg 2.0 began to emerge. He preceded Gov. Pence, both giving about 20 minute addresses. Pence walked through a familiar litany of economic development benchmarks and the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0. But with Gregg, the speech laid out the first cursory markers of the coming showdown.
       
  • Horse Race: 9 legislators primaried, but little challenger funding
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – With the filing deadline just a week away, and volatile issues such as the civil rights extension and the A to F ISTEP grades for schools, the threat of a widespread primary challenge scenario has yet to surface and none of the current races appear to be fueled by the contentious social issues. Only three incumbent senators and six House incumbents are currently facing primaries. There are other contested primaries in two open Senate seats and two in the House. None of the nine incumbents had opponents who were credibly financed at this point in the cycle. Both social conservative activist groups and the Free Enterprise business PAC headed by former Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle have suggested that if the civil rights issue isn’t resolved in their favor, they might seed primary challengers. But there is little evidence that a coordinated campaign is under way. None of the incumbents challenged have played a conspicuous role in any of the civil rights or education controversies.
  • Civil rights expansion clears 1st Senate hurdle, but few satisfied
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - The first chapter of Indiana’s civil rights expansion barely passed its first hurdle Wednesday night by a 7-5 vote in the Senate Rules Committee, with business interests and LGBT advocates critical of the effort for omitting transgender Hoosier citizens. Republicans said the transgender issue was too complicated to be included at this point. Family groups characterized the legislation as a “dramatic erosion of religious liberties.” Senate Republicans said that SB 344 would add sexual orientation, active duty military status and veteran status as protected classes in Indiana’s civil rights laws for employment, housing and public accommodations, while also including provisions aimed at protecting Hoosiers’ religious liberty and rights of conscience. The bill would charge a legislative study committee with examining issues related to discrimination based on gender identity.

  • House Public Health approves compromise meth bill 11-1
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - An amended HB1390, designed to keep manufacturing levels of pseudoephedrine out of the hands of notorious methamphetamine cooks passed the House Public Health Committee 11-1.The amended bill would give the Indiana Pharmacy Board and the Indiana State Police some oversight in determining provisions of “patients of record” which would give law abiding Hoosiers full access to purchase PSE products such as Sudafed. The bill would prevent meth cooks and smurfs - consumers who are not known to pharmacies - from purchasing the 120 mg packets that have fueled what prosecutors say are tens of thousands of meth labs across the state, making Indiana the domestic meth production leader in the United States for three consecutive years.

  • Sen. Steele pulls plug on 'Super-RFRA' in 1st civil rights volley

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - The first volley in the civil rights battles expected to play out in the General Assembly today ended in an abrupt fashion. After State Sen. Mike Young introduced SB66, telling a packed Statehouse hearing room that the bill was designed to “protect the rights of everyone in this room,”  Senate Judiciary Chairman Brent Steele pulled the plug, saying that the legislation had been “mischaracterized” and that the timing wasn’t right. Steele, R-Bedford, said the bill, sometimes referred to as “Super RFRA,” designed override the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the subsequent “fix” should return during the 2017 session.

  • Dealing legislatively with Indiana's meth binge (before lunch)
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - There were 1,533 methamphetamine labs discovered by authorities in 2015, though one prosecutor put the actual number in the “20,000 to 30,000” range. There were the 323 children involved in the toxic and explosive meth environments. There were the seven law enforcement officials injured. There was testimony that every member of a southwestern Indiana methamphetamine task force had ended up in an emergency room as the result of remediating toxic meth lab environments. And there were three bills up for a hearing in the Indiana House Public Health Committee Monday morning. But after about an hour of testimony, Chairwoman Cindy Kirchhofer had pressing matters to deal with as she limited testimony on the three bills to less than a minute as the committee hearing neared an end in the House Chambers.
  • Young begins 'sustained' Indiana Senate TV ad campaign
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana’s Republican U.S. Senate race takes an emphatic turn today when U.S. Rep. Todd Young commences what his campaign calls a “sustained” TV ad campaign. It comes before a potential onslaught of presidential TV ads if either the Republican or Democratic nomination fights comes to Indiana after Super Tuesday on March 8. In a wide open race with none of the candidates having high statewide name ID, the early TV ad battle will be crucial. Young was the first of the three candidates to go up on the air, running a TV ad during the first Republican presidential debate last summer. Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman began airing a TV on cable outlets in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne. But Young’s TV ad buy is different, in that he is sitting on a $2.6 million war chest, more than twice as big as his closest rival, Stutzman, a farmer from Howe.
  • HPI Analysis: Gregg's rematch campaign begins to emerge
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – For the past year, John Gregg has been in the shadows, dialing for dollars while Gov. Mike Pence has, for better or worse, dominated the headlines. Some have suggested that the former Democratic House speaker should simply stay in the corner, and let his rematch this November be a referendum on the incumbent and driven by the first-term Republican. Last Thursday before the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns “Bootcamp” for newly elected officials, John Gregg 2.0 began to emerge. He preceded Gov. Pence, both giving about 20 minute addresses. Pence walked through a familiar litany of economic development benchmarks and the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0. But with Gregg, the speech laid out the first cursory markers of the coming showdown.
        
  • HPI Interview: Kevin Brinegar & how Chamber evolved on LGBT
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – This was the blunt question HPI posed to Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar: Can a gay Hoosier citizen be fired for … being gay? Brinegar’s answer was this: “That is my understanding.” With the civil rights expansion taking the omnipresent role in this session of the Indiana General Assembly, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce has played one of the bookend positions within the Republican universe, a counter weight to the evangelical and social conservatives who are fighting the proposals now poised in the Indiana Senate. It comes as Gov. Mike Pence laid down “markers” on the issue that, in the view of the upper strata of his Statehouse team were perceived as “clear,” but were misinterpreted or reinterpreted on a wide scale in the wake of his televised speech last week.
        
  • 1st Pence, Gregg joint appearance centers on local government
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Gov. Mike Pence and his Democratic challenger John Gregg outlined their philosophies in working with local government before the Indiana Association of Cities & Towns “Boot Camp” for newly elected officials Thursday afternoon in their first joint appearance of the 2016 election cycle. Speaking one after the other, Gregg promised to end Statehouse intrusions over local control. “It’s wrong and its got to stop. Local government leaders, you folks in this room, you know what’s best and local government control means something and in a Gregg administration it will,” said Gregg. For Gov. Mike Pence, working with local government means economic development projects in an effort to create jobs.
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  • Tom Huston: Gov. Whitcomb was a true conservative
    “Indiana Gov. Edgar Whitcomb was in all respects conservative, and the Hoosier political class hated him for it. He was what we used to be permitted to call ‘a man’s man.’ All alpha, with no apologies.” - Tom Huston writing in RightBlade on a tribute to the late Gov. Edgar D. Whitcomb who died at age 98 last week. A public Statehouse memorial service will take place at noon Friday.
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HPI Video Feed
Rubio's debate collapse
Here is Sen. Marco Rubio's debate collapse on the Saturday before the New Hampshire primary, where he tanked.

Mike Harkness seeks HD73 GOP nomination
Paoli Council President Tom Harkness will challenge State Rep. Steve Davisson in the HD73 primary. Here is his campaign video.

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State of the State

What grade would you give Gov. Mike Pence's State of the State address on Jan. 12, 2016?


 

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