2013 HPI Power 50: The Pence era begins
Friday, January 11, 2013 9:18 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY in Indianapolis
Power 50 Honorable Mentions
State Rep. Scott Pelath: He is the minority leader of the 31-member House Democrats.
State Sen. Tim Lanane: He is the minority leader of the 13-member Senate Democrats.
State Sen. Ryan Mishler: Many believe the Bremen Republican is being groomed for a post-Kenley Senate budgetary era. HPI subscribers describe him as thoughtful, loyal and a business guy.
State Sen. Carlin Yoder: A leading Senate social conservative who is effective, not prone to grandstanding.
Bob Grand: Indiana’s “Mr. Republican.”
Democratic Chairman Dan Parker: The out-going Indiana Democratic chair ended a lengthy stint by helping engineer the Donnelly victory (he had no primary opponent).
Jim Bopp Jr.: The key figure in rewriting campaign finance law, which resulted in a $50 million U.S. Senate race here in 2012, Bopp will likely play a conspicuous role in defending what he wrought even though he lost his GOP national committee post and bungled late mailers which implied a Lugar endorsement for Mourdock.
Bill Moreau: A key confidante to the Bayhs, a former gubernatorial chief of staff and now a power attorney at Barnes & Thornberg who has the ear of Sen. Donnelly.
Brendan Mullen: Coming within 4,000 votes of Rep. Walorski, Mullen will likely follow a 2nd CD tradition established by John Brademas, Chris Chocola, Tom Ward and Joe Donnelly and try it again in 2014.
Jeff Papa: The Zionsville Councilman is the influential chief of staff for the Indiana Senate.
Fort Wayne Councilman Mitch Harper: The council president and former legislator is preparing for a 2015 mayoral run.
State Rep. Wendy McNamara: She won her seat by a mere four votes in 2010, then defeated former State Rep. Trent Van Haaften last November, this coming after she took a decisive stand on the controversial Right to Work legislation. “Mac” did not duck the controversial issue and won reelection by 3,500 votes.
Anne Hathaway: The Lugar Series director is an influential Republican political operative.
IACT Director Matt Greller: Municipalities are making a push for more local options and he plays a key role.
State Sen. Scott Schneider: This key social conservative survived a harrowing reelection bid.
State Rep. Heath Van Natter: An emerging member of the class of ‘10.
State Rep. Mike Karickhoff: Another emerging member of the class of ‘10
Councilman Jeff Cardwell: The Indianapolis councilman will serve as Gov. Pence’s faith-based director.
Larry Landis & David Powell: The sentencing reform bill will be full speed ahead this year and it will have a huge impact on the Department of Corrections for generations with Landis, executive director of the Indiana Public Defenders Council, and Powell of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council will be key voices.
Councilman Vop Osili: The former Democratic secretary of state candidate is a likely 2015 Indianapolis mayoral candidate.
Jim Schellinger: The unsuccessful 2008 gubernatorial candidate has become a significant fundraiser for Democratic candidates and causes.
Mike Gentry: He’s the campaign architect of the Republican House classes of 2010 and 2012 and the 69-seat majority.
Mel Raines: Rep. Brooks’ chief of staff is a former Cheney operative and worked on the Super Bowl Committee.
and MARK SCHOEFF JR. in Washington
You would have to go back to years like 1995, 1981, 1975 and 1965 to experience the kind of “change of the guard” feeling that exists in the Indiana political and public policy sectors today.
We have a new governor and same-party super majorities in the Indiana House and Senate for the first time in the television age. For the first time in half a century, there is no Bayh or Lugar in the U.S. Senate from Indiana. U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, at age 34 and with two years and two months of tenure is the “dean” of Indiana’s Republican congressional delegation. For the first time in history, there are two Indiana Republican congresswomen. They part of an unmistakable trend of more Hoosier women moving up the state’s political ladders. Indiana Democrats have been reduced to an urban and college town party when it comes to the Indiana General Assembly.
Scattered across the political landscape are the 20- and 30-something neophytes as well as promising entrepreneurs who could forge the next generation of political leadership, though most of them won’t make the Power 50 list (few freshmen do).
The 2013 HPI Power 50 – something we’ve published since 1999 – is an exercise in prognostication about who will be most likely to influence the compelling political and policy events of the day. This year, it is a legislative biennial budget session along with various Congress/White House battles that we believe will generate the main thrust of headlines, thus the Power 50 list reflects that dynamic.
Many political and campaign candidates, operatives and financiers have fallen out of the Power 50 and into our honorable mention section, but not without our love and affection. It’s just that there aren’t any elections this year. Many of those names will rise again next year.
In the almost decade and a half we’ve been publishing the Power 50 – the most anticipated and widely read list of status in Indiana – we’ve had an unprecedented level of HPI subscriber participation. Thus, this list goes well beyond the authors of this article. It reflects the thoughts of HPI subscribers, which is a literal “who’s who” of the Hoosier political and public policy establishment. Many thanks for all the contributions we received.
Here’s our 2013 Power List.
1. Gov. Mike Pence: Colts quarterback Andrew Luck taking the helm after the legendary Peyton Manning was supposed to be a tough act to follow. It was an analogy we pondered upon writing this. And it was one of the first things Gov.-Elect Pence brought up when he stopped by Howey Politics Indiana on Wednesday morning. Gov. Mitch Daniels leaves office next Monday with a 58% approval rating in the final Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll late last October. This will be the third time in modern Indiana history when a new governor followed a relatively popular one (i.e. Robert Orr after Doc Bowen; Frank O’Bannon succeeding Evan Bayh) and both were able to navigate tough economic times or complex issues to forge a path to a successful reelection. Pence inherits a state with a chronic 8% jobless rate, but the perception is that Daniels has future good times cued up once the national economy shakes off the doldrums, and there are signs of that.
Pence is fulfilling a lengthy anticipation that he would eventually slip on gubernatorial shoes dating back to the days when he presided over the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, his hosting of popular conservative talk TV and radio shows, and then a 12-year congressional career where he became an avowed critic of drunken federal spending while championing an array of social and press issues. He rose to leadership as the No. 3 conference chair position in late 2008. His ascension to the governor’s office comes after a tight 49-46% victory over John Gregg when he kept a principled stand not to launch a negative campaign, then fought off the Richard Mourdock ticket drag. But in doing so, Pence becomes the first modern governor to win with under 50% of the vote. Pence’s biggest campaign mistake might have been to believe that the Indiana GOP wouldn’t suffer without U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar at the top of the state ticket (Pence was neutral in the Senate primary and campaigned heartily with and for Mourdock through late October).
While he survived anxious mid-evening Election Night moments, Pence comes to office with unprecedented accoutrements: Republican super majorities in both the Indiana House and Senate. The last time there were super majorities came with the Democrats thanks to the Watergate fallout of 1974. But those majorities lasted a mere two years and came with Republican Doc Bowen at the helm. This time, Pence not only will preside atop a GOP bulwark, he also comes with stellar conservative and pro- life credentials that match those of Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tempore David Long. The advent of Roe vs. Wade occurred on Bowen’s watch, and Gov. Orr was a member of Planned Parenthood and never made pro-life issues a top priority. Daniels and this legislative team were able to pass emphatic pro-life measures in 2011 and 2012, such as the defunding of Planned Parenthood, something Pence had championed in Congress. That dynamic could allow Pence to focus mostly on the economic issues at hand. It was a position he repeatedly vowed to take during the campaign, while Gregg suggested a Pence governorship would amount to a radical “Tea Party” takeover of the state.
Pence insists he will be a governor for “all Hoosiers” and has reached out to new Democratic Education Supt. Glenda Ritz and the small Democratic minorities in the legislature. His biggest challenges at the onset of his term appear to come with Republican leaders, who have been cool and cautious about his call for a 10% income tax cut, fearing it could burn up the surplus and blow up the tax base at a time when Indiana faces critical Obamacare decisions such as whether to fund Medicaid up to 133% of poverty levels, as well as how to complete the I-69 interstate between Indianapolis and Bloomington. Pence continues to declare the tax cut as his top legislative priority, whereas a number of Pence’s friends and allies hope he opts for a universally popular “skills gap” vocational education and jobs legislation that could earn passage with big bipartisan majorities.
As there was with Gov. Bayh, there will be considerable speculation that Pence is using the governorship to build his “executive” resume en route to a White House bid in either 2016 or 2020. Pence is just 53 years old and his presidential candidate shelf life could extend into two decades. His top lieutenants insist that any such decision is a long way off. Any notion of a 2016 run when the White House will be open would probably have to come within 18 months, and with that scenario Pence would need a strong out-of-the-gates session this year, which he has the potential political apparatus and majorities to pull off. Critical to his successes this year will be a favorable April revenue forecast and his socially conservative allies not overplaying their hands.
2. Speaker Brian Bosma: He is in his second stint as speaker and has created an Indiana House that is transparent, has reached out to the minority party by appointing a Democrat committee chair for the second consecutive session, and his longtime nemesis – B. Patrick Bauer – has been neutered by his own caucus. Bosma can rightfully claim credit for engineering the 69-seat super majority he achieved with long-time campaign lieutenant Mike Gentry. It could have reached into the 70s but the Mourdock Senate candidacy imploded and created a ticket drag. The matured, seasoned Bosma will certainly make headlines as he grapples with the Pence income tax cut, the Obamacare budget fallout, and controversial social legislation. The speaker appeared to be outside the Pence campaign loop when the income tax was proposed last July, despite a long-time friendship between the two dating back to their IU Law School days. Bosma remains avowedly pro-life, but he has cooled on his past advocation of a constitutional gay marriage ban. In the wake of Supt. Tony Bennett’s upset last November, Bosma still ardently embraces the Daniels/Bennett education reforms, but talks of wise implementation as a key priority. Both Bosma and Pence have teachers in their families and appear to understand the fine line between reform and populism as well as teachers mounting GOP primary challenges in 2014. While it’s a long way off, it’s easy to envision Bosma potentially following Doc Bowen’s footsteps from the speakership to the governor’s office.
3. Senate President David Long: The Fort Wayne Republican has shown a deft skill at keeping his pulse on his divergent caucus, and knowing when to kill a bad idea in the crib, or when to let one get enough sunshine to let public opinion do it for him. Long is the proverbial “adult in the room” who has become a pragmatic leader even as he adheres to the true conservatism in his heart and mind. The sense is that Long will probably enjoy being beyond Gov. Daniels’ alpha shadow, and it will be fascinating to see how his rapport with Gov. Pence – a man with a legislator’s heart himself – develops in the coming four months.
4. State Sen. Luke Kenley: A critical dynamic in the Statehouse is the “Kenley Test” – whether an idea or a bill will pass muster with the powerful Appropriations Committee chairman. Kenley and Budget Committee Chairman Brandt Hershman have developed a cohesive working relationship, not unlike the old Borst/Mills dynamic in the days of yore. Kenley is more apt to take a controversial public stance – as he recently did opposing the gay marriage amendment – whereas Hershman is more wonkish, more of a policy mechanic who isn’t afraid to use, say, tax credits to achieve a policy outcome. Kenley is more media friendly and savvy and has developed an institutional gravitas that has served the Senate majority caucus well even as the right grumbles.
5. District Attorney Joe Hogsett: The Southern District attorney could be on the precipice of a sensational story and uncharted territory if he indicts former Marion County prosecutor Carl Brizzi, coming on the heels of his successful prosecution of financier Tim Durham, who will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars. It has been generations since an Indianapolis public official as high as Brizzi has been prosecuted. Hogsett sits at the nexus of all sorts of legal and political options. There has been talk about a potential 2015 challenge to Mayor Ballard in Indianapolis, or a 2016 rematch against U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, who defeated Hogsett in 1992. Hogsett also has the credentials to wage a gubernatorial race. The American political landscape has a number of former DAs – Rudy Giulani, Chris Christie, Big Jim Thompson, and Richard Daley (the younger) immediately come to mind – who have waged sensational prosecutions and reaped political dividends as a result. Hogsett has been on the Indiana political scene since 1986 as a key Evan Bayh ally. He now finds himself in a position to create the political capstone to a storied career.
6. U.S. Sen. Dan Coats: Finally . . . Indiana’s senior senator! As the highest ranking Republican on the congressional Joint Economic Committee, Coats (pictured right) will have an opportunity to carve out some prime political turf in the debate over cutting the massive federal deficit and debt. It’s an area that will come in handy, as he tries to fend off a potential Tea Party challenge in 2016. Coats as a voice of reason could be on the cusp of the most impactful period of his long career.
7. U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly: The Granger Democrat is probably the lawmaker with the best common touch in the Hoosier delegation. When he mixes it up with constituents at a Congress on Your Corner meeting or throws back a beer at a bar with Notre Dame fans, there’s no question about his authenticity. He’s a blue collar Democrat in a mostly red state. He also asserts that he’s a moderate. You can bet that Republicans and conservative organizations will be closely watching his votes on tough issues, like the debt ceiling, to keep him “honest” in their view. It will be interesting to compare and contrast his everyman approach with the more aloof posture of the previous Hoosier Democratic senator, Evan Bayh.
8. U.S. Rep. Todd Young: The Bloomington Republican is perhaps the most cerebral of the Hoosier House freshmen in the 112th Congress. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a former Marine, Young earned an MBA from the University of Chicago while going to school at night. His economics background and his work on the House Budget Committee, where he also contributed to Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan, set him up for his recent appointment to the House Ways & Means Committee. It’s the first time since 2006 that a Hoosier will serve on the tax-writing panel. It’s a plum position for the low-key Young that sets him up for a strong sophomore term in Congress.
9. Ways & Means Chairman Tim Brown: The doctor finds himself in an unprecedented modern situation. He is the first House Ways & Means chairman to ascend to that station with no experience on the committee. Speaker Bosma ostensibly tabbed him because of the potential Obamacare impact on state budgets. Brown will face critical questions from the beginning after inheriting a “mid-point” budget forecast. The potential Medicaid hit of 17% could potentially eat up 80% of the $1.2 billion surplus in the first year and 40% in the second. Thus, the “surplus” is a mirage. We’ve seen other young turks come in and take major budget roles: Pat Kiely took over Ways & Means after one session and former Senate Budget Chair Larry Borst took over that post during his first term. Dr. Brown certainly has the intellectual wherewithal to perform in that stellar league.
10. Purdue President Mitch Daniels: In West Lafayette, Daniels has an enormous canvass on which to innovate and continue to think big thoughts and pursue big policies. He’ll likely enjoy the greater freedom that campus life provides. Sure, he’ll have fundraising pressure, just as he did in politics. But dealing with the Purdue Board of Trustees and faculty will be a lot easier than contending with the legislature and answering to voters. If the Purdue constituencies couldn’t bring down former President Steven Beering, who had a tense relationship with some Boilermaker professors, they shouldn’t give Daniels too much trouble. Daniels critics would be correct, if he was set to become provost. He’s not qualified for that role. Instead, he was hired to be president, a position in which he’ll excel. It puts Daniels in a position to implement at that level many of the achievements in education, transportation, research and operations that were the hallmark of his two terms as governor. Daniels will likely become a national voice on education issues. We also expect him to bring a fresh – and potentially controversial – perspective to higher education and how a great university operates. We see Daniels, IU’s Michael McRobbie and Ivy Tech’s Tom Snyder as an influential group of college presidents who touch many legislators.
11. Indianapolis Mayor Gregg Ballard: The second term Republican has demonstrated his strength over the past few years; has not shied away from using his veto pen on some Democrat council proposals (budget and other fiscal items that would be bad for the city’s financial picture), and he remains popular among Independent, Republican, and Democrat voters. His recent mission to transition city vehicles to electric/hybrid/natural gas has gained him national recognition. He has built a relationship with Governor-elect Pence. He’s begun fundraising again and looking toward re-election in 2015. (Looking at the past couple of cycles for Republicans in Marion County just reinforces what broad appeal he has to have won in 2011).
12. Bill Smith: The new governor’s chief of staff has been a loyal lieutenant of Mike Pence throughout his congressional career after heading the Indiana Family Institute. He has overseen the compilation of the new administration and will be the key gatekeeper on the second floor.
13. U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman: The farmer from Howe, Ind., is another Hoosier freshman who landed an “A” committee assignment, when he was recently appointed to the House Financial Services Committee. This role follows Stutzman’s work with Sen. Richard Lugar in introducing and promoting the Rural Economic Farm and Ranch Sustainability and Hunger Act. Although Congress failed to pass a farm bill – a truncated version was included in the fiscal-cliff legislation – Stutzman’s legislation gave him a platform to talk about ag policy and highlight his own background as a northeast Indiana farmer. He’s also become one of the most vocal proponents of conservative philosophy in the House GOP caucus. He was a strident opponent of Speaker John Boehner’s Plan B fiscal-cliff proposal, helping torpedo that measure, and was one of the first to come out against the Senate fiscal-cliff bill that the House passed despite 151 Republican “no” votes. Stutzman, who is likely to become a player in the Republican Study Committee, says that he’s promoting conservative principles and generating a discussion that House GOP leadership appreciates. Or maybe he’s annoying them and they’re just being tolerant.
14. State Rep. Eric Turner: The Democrat turned Republican is the key social conservative in the House and he will head up efforts to pass the gay marriage constitutional amendment. Speaker Bosma decided against a rare nexus of a leading social conservative taking the reins of the powerful Ways & Means Committee, opting for Dr. Brown instead. The persistent talk in the hallways which ultimately may have swayed the speaker’s decision involves Turner’s son and daughter who operate as lobbyists and in the nursing home sector.
15. State Rep. Bill Davis and State Sen. Ron Alting: As chairs of the public policy committees in the two chambers, Davis and Alting will be the gatekeeper to an array of controversial legislation related to abortion, various social issues, alcohol, gaming and tobacco.
16. Secretary of State Connie Lawson: The former state senator was chosen by Gov. Daniels to fill the remaining term of convicted secretary of state Charlie White and will run statewide for the first time in 2014, making her the head of the GOP ticket in less than two years. She has the office running smoothly and visited all 92 counties in the last nine months, getting a lot of positive press in local news outlets along the way. She has had a couple of very successful fundraisers in recent months and is expected to post $200,000 cash-on-hand for her year-end report. That’s a big number in a short time and nearly two years out from her first statewide election. Her strong allies at the Statehouse have helped in her campaign launch and will continue to aid her success. There are some grumblings about her selection from some rural Republican chairs who are still upset with Daniels over the Jon Costas/Greg Zoeller convention fight in 2008. But we expect Lawson to be a heavy favorite to win a full term of her own.
17. Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr.: The Lake County Democrat chairman is also mayor of the Region’s largest city. He has been innovative, has reached out to work with neighboring cities and has the ability to bring a new era of regionalism to “Da Region.” Well into his third term, the mayor should stop fretting about the “reputation” of the Region, showcase his own stewardship and not fear running a statewide campaign should it fit into his life’s station.
18. Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke: The Republican had a great first year in office, even with an 8-1 Democratic city council. He’s cleaned up a few of his predecessor’s messes without trying to pin blame on anyone (the Roberts Stadium decision was particularly tricky.) He’s getting very good reviews as someone who can work with the other side and get things done and he’s already looked to and respected by his fellow mayors around the state.
19. U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita: He got off to a strong start in his congressional career in 2011 by being appointed to the House Steering Committee, one of three freshmen to land on what is essentially the board of directors for the House GOP. He had a voice on policy that was more influential than almost any other freshman could attain. Rokita claimed credit for helping to marshal the efforts of Reps. Todd Young (R-9th CD), Larry Bucshon (R-8th CD) and Marlin Stutzman (R-3rd CD) in punching above their freshman weight during the 112th Congress. He also directly contributed and helped raise more than $800,000 for House GOP candidates in 2012. But Rokita’s efforts to parlay his fundraising and Steering Committee position into a perch on one of the House’s most powerful committees, the tax-writing Ways & Means panel, fell short. His ambition and aggressiveness sometimes rubs colleagues the wrong way. For instance, he refers to House Budget Committee chairman, and former GOP vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan’s budget plan as the “Ryan-Rokita budget.” But for someone who was shut out of an “A” committee like Ways & Means, Rokita loyally backed House Speaker John Boehner’s Plan B fiscal-cliff legislation. He will serve as a subcommittee chair on the House Education and Workforce Committee.
20. Evan Bayh: The Ten Million Dollar Man finds himself in a position for a possible second resurrection of the Indiana Democratic Party. He is a former two-term governor and U.S. senator, has never lost an election, and raised eyebrows when he sent out a Christmas card last month. His twin sons are now 16 and will be making a college choice soon. If they end up at IU, Purdue or Notre Dame, that would be one scenario that might draw the Bayh family back from DC and Delaware. Sen. Coats’ last-minute move back to Indiana to claim the old Bayh Senate seat will be a politically untenable move after the Lugar primary residency debacle of 2012, so if Bayh is interested, 2014 might be the time he could be back home again. Having said all of this, his closest allies have told HPI they don’t believe he’s interested, though that type of thought is always couched with phrases like “Evan loves public service.” He just didn’t dig the Senate, he won’t be in a position to move past Hillary in a presidential race (that opportunity passed in 2006) and so either the Obama or Clinton cabinet or the Indiana governorship are the most likely places he could do that. Our take? If we had to place a money bet, it would be “nada.” But then, Evan Bayh has surprised us all before.
21. Supt. Glenda Ritz: This Indianapolis Democrat stunned the political establishment with her upset win over Supt. Tony Bennett, riding a social media wave of teacher discontent over the sprawling reforms of 2011. She comes into a position both party platforms had advocated to become a gubernatorial appointment, and Ritz is well aware of this and the limitations of dealing with the dominant Republican General Assembly. She plans to resist acting unilaterally and will seek to build consensus. Her priorities will be literacy, working with Gov. Pence on his vocational education program and improving assessment models. Ritz will strive to bring more people to the table and she has had initially friendly meetings with key Republican legislators and Gov. Pence, who talked warmly about her on Wednesday.
22. Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry: The second-term mayor of Fort Wayne was under key consideration for the Democratic ticket in 2012 after hosting his state convention. He is viewed by many Democrats we talk to as a potential statewide candidate, held in almost universal high esteem.
23. Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight: The second-term mayor has been an innovative and popular mayor of the City of Firsts. He is a prolific fundraiser while leading his city beyond the near 2008-09 automaker catastrophe, reaching out to work with Marion Mayor Seybold to create the “auto belt” economic zone. Both Kokomo and Marion have seen their fortunes rise, jobless rates fall and home construction revving up just four years after they could have become cratered cities. Goodnight, who ran once unsuccessfully for Congress, is a Democrat with ticket potential. There has been some talk of a gubernatorial run, though Goodnight has yet to signal his interest.
24. Republican Chairman Eric Holcomb: Although you think of Holcomb (pictured right) as a Daniels guy, he has made it clear he intends to make sure Gov. Pence is successful out of the gate and there’s a good chance he stays on as chair. Holcomb has been intimately involved in state politics for over a decade. He served as Daniels’ deputy chief of staff, ran the re-election campaign and Aiming Higher PAC, plus wrote a book on Mitch’s leadership qualities thus putting him in a key position to be a huge resource for the Pence team. The continuity he will provide Team Pence during their first state legislative session will be invaluable. Both Pence and Holcomb graduated from Hanover College and were members of the same fraternity there. He’s close to senior Senator Dan Coats and close friends with most members of Indiana’s congressional delegation. Holcomb is what you want a modern day state chairman to be, a professional, inclusive leader for the team. He understands local party politics, messaging, and is an effective fundraiser. Our sources say Holcomb is being “heavily” encouraged to run for re-election as chairman in March.
25. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky: The dean of the entire Indiana delegation has had a lower profile since the House went Republican. His Marquette Plan for revitalizing the Lake Michigan shoreline into an array of recreational uses and his support for the NW Revedelopment Authority in an alliance with Gov. Daniels will be Visclosky’s indelible imprint of Indiana..
26. Chamber President Kevin Brinegar and IMA President Pat Kiely: The “skills gap” that impacts business and industry, as well as the state’s unemployment rate and personal income should be the front-stage-center issue of the Indiana General Assembly. Both these powerful leaders deal with the limitations of workforce development on a daily basis, and both are in a position to greatly influence legislation that deals with the problem this session.
27. Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann: The incoming lieutenant governor (pictured left) has had a meteoric, virtually unprecedented rise in Indiana politics, going from career educator and businesswoman to the state’s second highest elected executive in the span of three years. In reaching the Statehouse, she upset House Minority Leader Russ Stilwell in 2010, and did so by agreeing with the Democratic leader to run a clean campaign. Pence tabbed her as a socially conservative ally who offered gender and regional balance. So she moves from the House back bench to running the Senate sessions in just 48 months. Over the next two years, the Statehouse community will be watching her the way they did Lt. Govs. Kathy Davis and Becky Skillman to see if she develops and accrues the political status and operations to position herself as Indiana’s first female governor, which could happen as early as 2016 if Pence were to opt for a presidential campaign, or 2020 when there could be an open gubernatorial seat. Neither Davis or Skillman ever developed the political operations that Lt. Govs. Robert Orr and Frank O’Bannon did when they ascended to the top job.
28. State Rep. Judd McMillin: One of the key questions leading into this year’s Power 50 list is which of the Class of 2010 Republicans is emerging as a leader? A number of HPI’s influential subscribers point to McMillin, who will chair the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee. This committee will play a critical role in the efforts to reform Indiana’s aging criminal code and bring about sentencing reform. McMillin took some hits from Democrats in his first campaign because of professional and personal indiscretions, but he’s been focused since arriving to the Statehouse and is earning respect.
29. U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon: The Republican heart surgeon from Newburgh was targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in his first re-election bid but prevailed in November by 10 points over former Democratic state representative Dave Crooks. Going from a “race-to-watch” status to a blowout is a political achievement for Bucshon, who was helped out tremendously by an infusion of almost $1 million in outside spending. He attributes his success to working hard in Congress and keeping his finger on the pulse of one of the few districts in Indiana that became more Democratic in the 2012 cycle. Bucshon garnered a seat on the always district friendly House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the 112th Congress. This gave him a platform for championing provisions in the highway authorization bill that benefitted the I-69 extension and manufactured housing companies. He also brought House Transportation Chairman John Mica to Indianapolis for an event. The key question for Bucshon is whether he can continue to improve his fundraising ability to fend off the DCCC.
30. John Gregg, Jonathan Weinzapfel, Baron Hill and Woody Myers: OK, we cheat a bit on the Power 50 list, in that there are always more than 50 names. At No. 30 is the “2016 Democratic gubernatorial” category beyond Evan Bayh. Within this grouping is a probable gubernatorial nominee should Bayh take a pass (see No. 20). Many believe that had Gregg started, hired a finance director and moved beyond his Sandborn schtick earlier, he might have pulled off the most epic upset since Frank O’Bannon in 1996. Normally in Indiana politics, you get one shot at the nomination (i.e. John Mutz, Larry Conrad), but Gregg has gravitas, his statewide name ID will not be a problem, and an earlier, better heeled campaign is not out of the question . . . if he wants it. Weinzapfel, the former Evansville mayor, is young, handsome and has run at the municipal, legislative and congressional level. He currently practices law with Faegre Baker & Daniels and would have to be taken seriously if he antes in. Former congressman Baron Hill has run statewide (credibly losing to Sen. Coats in 1990) and is a five-term congressman, is popular with Indiana Democrats and has exquisite taste when it comes to building a new Brown County cabin. He’s a Blue Dog Democrat who could contrast well with Gov. Pence. And, finally, Dr. Myers has a voluminous portfolio when it comes to state and municipal health care, Fortune 500 business, and as an investing entrepreneur. His handling of the Ryan White case is still a beacon of Hoosier compassion. Myers also ran a credible 7th CD race, losing to U.S. Rep. Carson in a special election. It’s way, waaaay early when it comes to 2016, but this is the potential field we envision at such a premature posting.
31. South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg: There are five mayors age 30 or under (LaPorte’s Blair Milo, Columbia City’s Ryan Daniel, Frankfort’s Chris McBarnes, and Rising Sun’s Brandon Roeder). But Mayor Buttigieg is the big city version of the fountain of youth. He did his master’s thesis on war zone economic development after on-the-ground study in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has told associates, “If I can do it there, I can do it in South Bend.” As a high school student, he won a Harvard John F. Kennedy School essay contest on municipal government. Now he leads a city that has been denigrated as a rust belt poster child in the Wall Street Journal, though he has developed a relationship with Gov. Daniels and brings a fresh set of eyes and ears to Michiana. Buttigieg lost to Treasurer Richard Mourdock in 2010, but many believe he has a bright future, particularly if he can change the fortunes in river city and steer through a police department mess he inherited.
32. U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks: Brooks and Rep. Walorski represent two-thirds of the new House freshman women. Brooks could be showcased by a Republican Party that is trying to show that it is diverse and sensitive to a wider range of political values and priorities than just those espoused by rural white men. Her experience as a senior vice president at Ivy Tech and stints as a U.S. attorney and deputy Indianapolis mayor provide her with the background to make an immediate impact on two of her committees – Education and the Workforce and Homeland Security. In fact, she’s chairing a homeland subcommittee. Many Republicans we tak to see her as a true rising star where the sky is the limit.
33. U.S. Rep. Andre Carson: The emerging perception is that Carson is growing into his job as congressman after arriving as a legacy figure following the death of his grandmother, U.S. Rep. Julia Carson. The Indianapolis Democrat was recently named a senior Whip and has joined the House Armed Services Committee.
34. Chris Atkins: Pence’s top campaign policy guy will serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget in the new administration. Atkins will bring a wealth of fiscal policy experience. He served as general counsel and policy director forMitch Daniels in OMB.
35. State Sen. Brandt Hershman: This Republican senator is the bookend to Sen. Kenley, chairing the Senate Budget Committee. It’s a similar dynamic to the Larry Borst/Morrie Mills twin towers of budgetary powers, though neither Kenley nor Hershman intimidate lobbyists by making them putt for funding, as Borst used to do.
36. Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson: The second-year mayor of Indiana’s most financially and culturally distressed city is earning good marks from the Region to Indianapolis. She is beginning to eradicate the perception that the Steel City’s woes are insurmountable. The former attorney general has opened a very business oriented administration, reached out to academics, former Chicago Mayor Daley and is exploring models of cities in Michigan to face the same needs: reduce the city’s foot print and corral services to fit a dwindling tax base. She is building a rapport with key Indiana General Assembly leaders such as Sen. Kenley and, as Matt Greller of the Indiana Association of Cities & Towns notes, “She’s smart enough to know what she doesn’t know.” A Lake County income tax would certainly help her in the attempt to resurrect her city.
37. Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold: The three-term mayor is preparing his first statewide bid as treasurer just two years after an unsuccessful run for the 5th CD. He was instrumental in Marion surviving the possible liquidation of General Motors, and reaped the benefits when the automaker consolidation operations in his city.
38. Attorney General Greg Zoeller: The second-term attorney general has taken a lead role in battling the federal government, Obamacare and a variety of controversial issues.
39. John Hammond III: An array of political, corporate and ruling lineage comes together with Hammond. He is the new Republican National Committeeman, defeating Jim Bopp Jr. after the latter’s attempt to create a Republican “litmus test” followed by the party breech during the Lugar/Mourdock primary battle. Hammond heads the 7th CD Republicans, and is a power attorney with IceMiller where General Motors is part of his portfolio. And Hammond has been a close friend and confidante of Gov. Daniels and will almost certainly be a valuable asset to Gov. Pence.
40. Karen Pence: Multiple Republican sources tell us that the incoming First Lady will take more of an activist Judy O’Bannon type role during her husband’s first term. She is a teacher in both public and private schools, an accomplished water color artist, a pilot and mother. She founded the Artist Therapy Program at Riley Hospital. She will likely become a key asset for her husband, as she was on the campaign trail and will certainly have his ear after his long days at the office. The new First Lady will focus on cultural issues.
41. Joel Elliott: He is the chief of staff for Sen. Donnelly and will be a key gatekeeper for the new senator.
42. Heather Neal: She will be Gov. Pence’s legislative director after serving as Supt. Tony Bennett’s chief of staff. Before that, she was the state’s public access counselor and chief of staff to Secretary of State Rokita. She’ll be Pence’s Betsy Burdick.
43. Mike Schmuhl: Sen. Donnelly will play the critical role in selecting the next Indiana Democratic Chairman and has installed Kelly Norton on the state committee. Donnelly will take the pulse of his district chairs before making a final decision. This is a stab with no reliable sourcing, but 2nd CD Chairman Mike Schmuhl ran Donnelly’s tough 2010 reelection bid against Jackie Walorski, did the same for Mayor Buttigieg a year later, and then replaced the indicted Butch Morgan in the 2nd CD. So this is our educated guess on the next state chair. Even if it isn’t Schmuhl this time, he’s got a very bright future in Indiana politics.
44. Chris Crabtree: The former political director for Mike Pence for Indiana, Crabtree will continue his work for Pence, serving as the deputy chief of staff for external operations and overseeing administration outreach and community relations in the governor’s office. In his role for the campaign, Crabtree traveled to all 92 counties with the governor-elect and worked to build relationships with organizations and community leaders across Indiana. He has served in a similar capacity for nearly 20 years for two members of Congress and Lt. Gov. Skillman.
45. U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski: For a freshman member of Congress who faces an almost certain rematch against the Iraq war veteran who came within a whisker of beating her in November, Walorski has been put on some advantageous committees. She will serve on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Likely Democrat challenger Brendan Mullen must be thrilled. He brandished his military experience at every opportune moment – and even some that weren’t – during the last campaign. Now he’ll have to contend with a lawmaker who can cut commercials about her work on the panels that set military policy. One of the flash points between Walorski and Mullen was whether Walorski is a typical partisan politician or a lawmaker who is willing to work across the aisle, as she asserted. The first clue will be her approach to raising the debt ceiling. It could be a bruising political battle.
46. U.S. Rep. Luke Messer: The Shelbyville Republican will be in a position to pick up the mantle that fellow GOP Reps. Todd Young and Marlin Stutzman leave behind on the House Budget Committee. In addition to an appointment on that panel, Messer also will serve on Education and the Workforce and Foreign Affairs. On the latter, he could start to build on the legacy that Sen. Richard Lugar – and former House Foreign Affairs Chairman Lee Hamilton – have left behind. Messer also has been elected as the GOP freshman class president. The role is largely symbolic but also speaks to Messer’s appeal.
47. State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki: A number of HPI’s Statehouse subscribers view the Syracuse Republican as a real up-and-comer. In just her second session, she will chair the key Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee in a year after an array of negative headlines hit the Department of Child Services. She is a Latino and will be an important voice on immigration issues that come before the legislature. Kubacki is a rising star in the Class of ‘10.
48. St. Joseph County Republican Chair Deb Fleming: She is making the GOP county effort serious rather than a joke. With election of a Republican commissioner this time, the GOP now for the first time since the 1970s has 2-1 control of the board of commissioners. And State Rep. Dale DeVon won HD5 vacated by Craig Fry.
49. Club For Growth Chris Chocola: He was a critical player in the GOP fiasco that saw the Indiana party cede a safe U.S. Senate seat to Democrat Joe Donnelly. He was an early backer of Richard Mourdock and failed to recognize the troubling tell-tales that doomed the Indiana treasurer to an ignominious defeat when he shot his mouth off on the topic of rape during the final Senate debate. But Chocola is not chastened. Within weeks, the Club for Growth president was condemning potential U.S. Senate candidates in places like West Virginia and railed against the fiscal cliff deal. The grumpy rich old men who hate pork and moderation still like Chocola, and he will likely continue to be a mega money bundler in the 2014 cycle, though his days as a candidate in Indiana are most likely over. From a news media standpoint, Chocola was not only good copy, but he showered Hoosier media with lots and lots of cash.
50. Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura: He is president of the Indiana Conference of Mayors and is a key force behind the coordinated “Trust Locals” group that is seeking more local flexibility, taxation and control from the Indiana General Assembly. Stahura has been a long-time, innovative mayor in this small city nestled along Lake Michigan near Chicago.