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Wednesday, September 20, 2017
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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.”
  • Atomic! Gov heads to Amazon; mayors on climate, parental leave
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Holcomb from Japan to Amazon: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: Gov. Eric Holcomb returns from Japan today after a weeklong trade mission to Tokyo, Nagoya and Tochigi Prefecture, Indiana’s sister state. He topped off the tour by sinking a basketball at Aichi Prefecture after meeting with Gov. Ohmura. After doing so in all 92 counties, the gov vowed to make baskets in all 47 Japanese prefectures. “We've accomplished a great deal together these 9+ days #INJapan,” Holcomb tweeted. “Our visit to Aichi has been the perfect capstone to my first visit to Japan.” Holcomb, presiding over a state with a 3.5% jobless rate for August, now faces one of the greatest challenges of his fledgling administration: Land the Amazon H2Q that could bring 50,000 high-paying jobs.
  • HPI Analysis: Trump2.0 and the courting of Sen. Donnelly
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – One week ago we witnessed what could be President Trump 2.0. It occurred as a smiling Vice President Pence watched in the Oval Office as minority Democrat leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi sat nearby. President Trump abruptly shut down a discussion where Treasury Sec. Steve Mnunchin was talking about an 18-month debt ceiling window. Then – Presto! – came the art of the deal with new-found friends “Chuck and Nancy.” Trump would agree to a three-month delay on the debt ceiling, pushing it to December, and tied it to $15 billion in Hurricane Harvey relief. It left Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stunned, perplexed and furious and fearing 2018 mid-term fallout. McConnell was whispering that he didn’t believe Trump had a strategy, that it was just another impulse move in search of that elusive deal. Mike Allen of Axios observed: “It’s now possible that Trump’s biggest legislative wins this year will be more spending and raising the debt cap – the exact opposite of what Tea Party Republicans came to D.C. to do. Trump ‘brazenly rolled his own party’s leaders,’ as AP put it.” Fast-forward to Tuesday night when U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly joined fellow Democrat Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Manchin for dinner and a scoop of ice cream (President Trump had two) at the White House.
  • Horse Race: ND prof riles up Senate race
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – A Notre Dame law professor who has been nominated for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has been thrust into Indiana’s U.S. Senate race. Prof. Amy Coney Barrett was questioned by U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Dick Durbin during Senate hearings last week and drew a rebuke from Notre Dame President John Jenkins. “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for, for years in this country,” Sen. Feinstein said of the pro-life professor at the Catholic university. “Dogma and law are two different things. And I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different.” Durbin criticized Barrett’s prior use of the term “orthodox Catholic,” saying it unfairly maligns Catholics who do not hold certain positions about abortion or the death penalty. “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” Durbin asked.
  • Atomic! Cold beer battlelines; Donnelly & Trump; Gov in Tokyo
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Cold beer alliances and illogics: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: What we heard at Monday’s Alcohol Code Revision Commission was a basic restating of positions. The convenience stores want to sell cold beer and are willing to submit to stricter regulations with Ricker’s CEO Jay Ricker claiming the state was “choosing winners” with the current archaic system. "We want to take a product that we currently sell warm, and sell that same product cold," Matt Norris of the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association said. "We do not believe there is a public policy rationale to justify this distinction." The liquor stores claim cold beer is a dangerous product and only they are responsible enough to sell it. NWI Times reporter Dan Carden reports: Several suggested cold beer availability at gas stations would lead to increased drunken driving, even though they admitted most Hoosiers drive to liquor stores when they purchase cold beer. They also cautioned that cold beer sales could lead to demand for Sunday retail alcohol sales, which they claimed would further harm liquor stores by driving up operating costs relative to grocery, drug and convenience stores that already are open Sundays.

  • Atomic! Votes against relief; Bannon declares war; beer hearing
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Messer, Rokita votes against disaster aid: Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: The Indianapolis Colts, and not Florida, met their worst case scenario on Sunday. While Florida officials are just now assessing the damage of Hurricane Irma, which hit the Keys as a Category 4 and then Naples as Category 2, the biggest impact seems to be 6 million people without power. The storm followed Hurricane Harvey in Texas, and that prompted President Trump to seek $15 billion in disaster relief. But in the House, U.S. Reps. Todd Rokita, Luke Messer, Trey Hollingsworth, Jim Banks and Jackie Walorski voted against the bill, while Democrat U.S. Reps. Andre Carson, Pete Visclosky, Sen. Joe Donnelly and Republican Reps. Susan Brooks, Larry Bucshon and Sen. Todd Young voted for the bill. The nagging question here is what if the disaster had hit Indiana?  How would Hoosiers feel if Congress turned its back in our time of need?

  • Atomic! Irmageddon; Banks & Lugar; Equifax hack hits 3.8M
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. The destruction of an American city … this weekend: America braces for a second great American city to take a pounding from a hurricane, this time Category 5 Irma with Miami in its sights. It comes just days after Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston. “We have to prepare for the worst,” Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez said moments after instructing more than 650,000 people to get out. The expected 5- to 10-foot storm surge could completely swamp the keys and coastal barrier islands. The Senate passed $15 billion worth of Harvey relief on Thursday and the House did this morning. More will probably be needed after Irma, which is expected to engulf the entire state of Florida with Cat 2-5 winds. Watching the lines of traffic on A1A and I-95, the lack of gas and supplies makes us wonder how millions of less mobile citizens will be able to cope with a storm that has already denuded several Caribbean islands. Godspeed, Florida.

  • Atomic! Trump Party victory; HQ2 Amazon; Sen. Spartz;
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. A victory for the Trump Party: Here are your Thursday power lunch talking points: With President Trump’s approval rating consistently hovering in the mid- to low-30th percentile and his penchant for making decisions designed to appease his base, what happened Wednesday when he met with congressional leaders (with a beaming Vice President Pence looking on) is more evidence of the emergence of the Trump Party. NBC’s Hallie Jackson and Kasie Hunt report: “Steven Mnuchin, seated on a couch to the president’s right, had pushed this point before: A longer-term debt ceiling extension of 18 months would extend the deadline past the midterms, which would take partisan politics out of the debate. But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer disagreed: He wanted something much shorter. The president, in deal-making mode, had heard enough. As Mnuchin made his case, Trump cut in: He would side with Schumer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats to make a 90-day deal to lift the debt ceiling.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan were furious, having been tossed a mid-term cycle time bomb.

  • Atomic: Dreamer bomb; delegation reacts; Marsha Coats resigns
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Trump dumps DACA on Congress, loses leverage: Here are your hump day power lunch talking points: President Trump has essentially dumped a ticking immigration time bomb on a dysfunctional Congress when he announced Tuesday he would end DACA six months from now. Politico reports that congressional leadership is “clueless” on how to proceed, meaning it will likely be punted months down the road, leaving 800,000 Dreamers, including an estimated 9,000 Hoosiers, hanging precariously. Judging by how Trump handled the issue on Tuesday, pushing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to announce the deal, and then weaving all over the policy map, is another indicator that the president has virtually no interest in policy details.

  • Horse Race: Messer, Rokita spar via press
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    NASHVILLE, Ind. – Since Todd Rokita entered Congress in 2011, a noted trait of his operations was the staff revolving door. Chiefs of staff and communications directors, two of the more conspicuous posts in a congressional office, had a number of changes. In the context of the U.S. Senate race Rep. Rokita entered last month, the long-speculated story was on his staffing challenges. That became a reality late last week when the Associated Press’s Brian Slodysko penned this lead:  “Staffers in tears. Pay cuts for small mistakes. Aides who walked out of the office – and never came back. Working for four-term Republican Rep. Todd Rokita of Indiana is an exacting job with long hours, made more difficult by a boss known for micromanaging and yelling at his staff, according to 10 former aides who spoke to The Associated Press. All but one of the former staffers spoke on the condition of anonymity out of concern of retribution from the congressman.”
  • Muscatatuck and the continuing education of Rep. Banks
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    MUSCATATUCK – It was once haven or hell for the Hoosier feebleminded. It was once destined to revert from aging infrastructure to farmland. It would have been inhabited by deer, coyotes and red fox. But these days, you’re more likely to find the 82nd Airborne Division or U.S. Special Forces drilling along the “urban canyon” or Indiana’s “Afghan village,” complete with camels. “It’s like walking into a time warp,” said Maj. Gen. Courtney P. Carr to U.S. Rep. Jim Banks. Earlier this month, Carr, the adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard, gave the freshman Republican and former Afghan war veteran a tour of the Muscatatuck Urban Warfare Center. It was part of Banks’ weeklong tour of Indiana military installations and defense sector corporations. To someone like Gen. Carr, a rising star heading the nation’s fourth largest National Guard contingent, Rep. Banks is a value-added target. He followed U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski to the House Armed Services Committee after she ascended to Ways and Means. For Banks, the tour was an initial crash course on what he expects to be a decades-long mission.
        
  • Horse Race: Donnelly's reelect begins with key advantages
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    ANDERSON – On the day U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly kicked off his reelection bid, the highly respected Cook Political Report moved the Indiana Senate race from “Leans Democrat” to “Tossup.” It isn’t the only publication to enter the tossup zone with Inside Elections and Sabato’s Crystal Ball on the same page. But at this early point, with already more than $5 million spilling into what will likely be a $100 million Senate race, my Howey Politics Indiana publication lists it as “Leans Democrat.” Normally I don’t venture into a general election forecast until the field is set, but due of the gravity of this race which could determine which party controls the Senate, this is an exception.

  • Atomic! Pence empathy; Souder on FEMA; Boss Rokita
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Vice President Pence in ravaged Texas: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen were in hurricane-pounded Texas on Thursday, meeting with victims, something President Trump did not do earlier this week, though he has pledged $1 million in personal funds for relief. It’s something we’ve noticed since 2016 during the campaign. You never saw Trump wade out into a crowd or shake hands with regular folks. It fits his germaphobe profile. And Texas is brimming with chemicals, filth and, soon, mold. Pence told Texans, "We're going to stay with you every step until we bring southeast Texas back bigger and better than ever before.” The impacts are staggering. Some 100,000 homes have been damaged (37,000 heavily) with 325,000 seeking federal assistance. Some 1 million cars have been ruined. The death toll stands at 39 and will grow as Houston.
  • HPI Interview: Donnelly surveys campaign, Obamacare
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    ANDERSON – U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly kicked off his reelection bid on Monday, highlighting what he called “Hoosier common sense,” along with a call for bipartisanship to deal with the state and nation’s vexing problems. “Back during the toughest of times, I was a congressman right next door, over in Kokomo,” Donnelly said before a packed Walter Reuther UAW Hall.  “We had transmission plants and we went from over 5,000 people to less than 100 that were working there at the time. They said it couldn’t be done. It probably wasn’t politically popular in other parts of the state. It’s never been about what’s popular and what’s not popular. It’s about the people who make lives better.        
  • Atomic! Harvey records & impacts; Donnelly sells; Tritch endorsed
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Port Austin, Mich.

    1. The costs of Hurricane Harvey: Here are your hump day power lunch talking points. Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey continues to obliterate records and wreak havoc on everything from FEMA funds to gas prices. The Weather Channel reports that gauges have shown 52 inches and 49 inches of rain, noting, "If either of these are confirmed, it would be the heaviest storm-total rainfall from any tropical cyclone in the continental U.S. in records dating to 1950, topping the 48-inch storm total in Medina, Texas, from Tropical Storm Amelia in 1978." About a half million Texans are homeless and only a small percentage have flood insurance, while 17 people have died, which is astoundingly low, given the enormity of the catastrophe. President Trump visited Corpus Christi on Tuesday, saying, "We won't say congratulations. We don't want to do that. We don't want to congratulate. We'll congratulate each other when it's all finished."

  • Atromic: Fire & fury box; Trump, Pence vow Harvey resources
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Port Sanilac, Mich.

    1. Trump boxed in on North Korea: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points. This is where President Trump’s promised “fire and fury” becomes problematic. While the nation is transfixed with the epic disaster in Texas and Louisiana, Kim Jong Un launched a missile over Japan on Monday, a brazen violation of that ally’s sovereignty and an escalated provocation the New York Times called a "a direct challenge to Mr. Trump." Japan had to send warnings to its citizens to take cover. On Aug. 8, Trump said, “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen." This morning, he reacted, “The world has received North Korea’s latest message loud and clear: This regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior. Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world. All options are on the table.” And Japanese PM Shinzo Abe said, “North Korea’s reckless action of launching a missile that passed over Japan is an unprecedented, serious and grave threat.”

  • Atomic: Help for Harvey; Storm exploitation; soul battle
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Fremont, Ind.

    1. How to help Hurricane Harvey victims: Here are your Monday power lunch talking points. All Americans braced for Hurricane Harvey late last week, and unfortunately, it has hit Texas with biblically disastrous proportions. "Words really can't express the impacts this will have, when all is said and done," said Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist at The Weather Company. "There is no historical comparison. It is simply a tragedy of epic proportions." Accuweather describes it as a “devastating flood event, the likes of which we have not seen in at least the last 12 years since the Hurricane Katrina disaster.” As with any national disaster, Hoosiers are in deployment to assist. The IndyStar reports that the Salvation Army and Midwest Food Banks Indianapolis Division have been sending relief food boxes to Texas since Friday, with 40 volunteers heading south. On Sunday evening, a 14-member water rescue team from Indiana was deployed. More volunteers will be needed in the future. How can you help Hurricane Harvey victims? American Red Cross, which is providing shelters, supplies and volunteers in areas impacted the storm, has a donation button dedicated specifically to helping Harvey victims on its website. The minimum online donation is $10. The organization also wrote on Twitter that those who want to donate can do so by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting Harvey to the number 90999. You can donate to the Salvation Army by clicking here. Or Save The Children by clicking here.

  • Atomic: Banks on 'reckless' Trump; Pence assault; Bunich guilty
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Banks calls Trump ‘reckless’ on debt ceiling: Here are your final talking points for the week: President Trump is threatening a government shutdown, tying it to the upcoming debt ceiling confrontation, tweeting, “I requested that Mitch M & Paul R tie the Debt Ceiling legislation into the popular VA Bill (which just passed) for easy approval. They . . . didn’t do it so now we have a big deal with Dems holding them up (as usual) on Debt Ceiling approval. Could have been so easy – now a mess!” One Hoosier Republican, freshman U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, is not amused, calling Trump’s threat of a government shutdown “reckless and completely avoidable.” Banks’ remarks came during a Howey Politics Indiana interview at Camp Atterbury after touring that Indiana National Guard base and the Muscatatuck Urban Warfare Center on Thursday. “The discussion about the shutdown are reckless and completely avoidable,” Banks, R-Columbia City, said. “I was greatly disappointed in the president’s tweets this morning and I’ve expressed that on my own twitter account that tying the debt ceiling debate to the debt ceiling issue is not draining the swamp. It’s quite the opposite. This business as usual is the type of thing the American people want us to move away from. Instead we should be tying the debt limit to what it should be tied to, which is addressing spending reforms that would address a $20 trillion national debt.” Banks added, “In my short tenure in Congress and working with Speaker Ryan, I can’t imagine Speaker Ryan will allow a government shutdown to occur.”

  • Horse Race: Braun joins Morales in 4th; Pence decision in October
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - A strange thing happened at State Sen. Jim Buck’s annual garden party earlier this month. Once the 4th CD seat opened up with Rokita’s entry into the Senate race, a confab like the Buck garden party would have been a magnet for potential candidates. Yet, only Diego Morales showed up. Morales, the former aide to then-Gov. Mike Pence, is the only declared candidate. Fourth CD sources tell HPI that Workforce Development Commission Steve Braun is contacting county chairs and will be “definitely in,” according to one informed and reliable source. The IBJ is reporting that Braun is preparing to resign from DWD effective Aug. 30, sending a letter to Gov. Eric Holcomb. Others pondering a run include State Sens. Rick Niemeyer and Jon Crane, along with State Rep. Sharon Negele. Morales appears to be off to a fast start on the money front, not only here in Indiana, but from Latino donors from states like Florida and Texas. The open 6th CD seat probably won’t have a full field until October. That’s when Greg Pence tells Howey Politics Indiana that he will make a decision to enter.
  • Horse Race: Donnelly kicks off 'Leans D' Senate race
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – On the day U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly kicked off his reelection bid, the highly respected Cook Political Report moved the Indiana Senate race from “leans Democrat” to “Tossup.” It isn’t the only publication to enter the tossup zone. Inside Elections with Nathan Gonzales and Sabato's Crystal Ball also lists the race there. Cook’s Jennifer Duffy explains, “In 2016, President Donald Trump carried the state by 19 points while Republicans also won an open U.S. Senate seat, the governor’s office and six of eight congressional districts. This puts Donnelly high on Republicans’ target list this cycle. It is worth remembering that Republicans held a competitive race in 2016, but it had no impact on the general election. It is very hard to see how Donnelly does not get very competitive race this cycle. The contest is in the Toss Up column.” This is in contrast to the HPI Horse Race, which lists this likely $100 million Senate race as “Leans Democrat.”
  • Sanders rallies for better pay, holds Trump 'accountable'
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders returned to Indianapolis to rally for better paying jobs while holding President Trump and Vice President Pence accountable for the loss of hundreds of United Technology jobs in Indianapolis and Huntington. "Donald Trump told the workers here in Indiana that none of their jobs would move to Mexico, not a single job," Sanders said of Trump and Pence’s appearance at Carrier last December. "Unfortunately, as the American people are becoming accustomed to, Donald Trump was lying." The Socialist senator from Vermont who won the Indiana Democratic presidential primary in 2016 with 53% of the vote called for a $15 minimum wage, saying, “What Good Jobs Nation has reminded us is you can’t survive on a $7 minimum wage. You can’t make it on nine bucks an hour or 12 bucks an hour."
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  • Banks skepitcal of pressure on North Korea
    "We haven't moved the needle one bit, that doesn't mean we shouldn't continue to ratchet up the pressure on North Korea. I don't think we can afford to accept it and we need to do everything that we can to disrupt it and stop it from happening, because of the erratic, unpredictable nature of Kim Jong Un." - U.S. Rep. Jim Banks to WPTA-TV on the nuclear missile threat from North Korea. Banks believes President Trump should impose more sanctions on China, which is North Korea’s major trade partner.
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  • Mike and Hillary
    We’ve watched 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton make the rounds on her new book: “What Happened.” The reaction has been cringes from Democrats hoping to move on, a set-the-record mentality from some journalistic quarters, and taunts from Republicans. Vice President Pence has the best line of all, with this tweet Thursday morning: “The first book that has the question and the answer on the cover.” Good line, Mike, er … Mr. Vice President. It harkens back to those studio days near the Speedway and a retreat to Claude & Annies. - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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