By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    
INDIANAPOLIS – After a year of what had been unfathomable events and improbable ascendancies, after a year where political alignments fell off the rails between the people and their political leaders, after a year where long-held beliefs were ditched for current expediency, this is where we are: 2017 promises to be, perhaps, a bipolar year. If 2016 was sensational and unprecedented, 2017 could bring a new dawn or a reckless interlude.
    
There are voices tweeting things beyond our immediate comprehension. There are photo ops no one ever expected. The political world is shaking at an 8.2 Richter scale level, and the populist uprising that installed two administrations leans in to see what can be delivered, what can’t and at what price. There are deals to be made, though no one can be sure of the facts here in post-truth America, or the parameters. Fake news, rumor, gossip and innuendo now compete with responsible journalism. The Trump and Holcomb administrations will commence just days from now, the former likely to impact the latter in ways unknown at this writing.
    
Hoosier Republicans have reached a high-water mark that may never be surpassed, now heading into a 16-year stretch of gubernatorial governance. Eric Holcomb, the former political operative, controls the levers of state government. In Washington, we find the populist demagogue Donald Trump ready to assume power with Mike Pence at his side. We don’t know Trump’s ultimate motives because he is a Zelig, changing like a political kaleidoscope. His era may become the first presidential hologram. We don’t know if there will be Oz, the man behind the curtain. It could be Pence, or someone else down the road. Pence is the Christian, the conservative and the Republican in that order. Donald Trump doesn’t appear to be any of those things.
    
The year 2017 finds the Indiana Democratic Party in shambles, holding just three of 11 congressional seats, 40 out of the 150 in the General Assembly. This is a party that has been rocked to its core, with few emerging leadership choices ready to assume the mantle either in Indianapolis or Washington.    
    
And there are the Hoosier people. Their income is stunted. In the wide swathes of rural Indiana abandoned by the Democrats, the uneducated and uninformed are turning to methamphetamine, heroin and opioids. Our county jails have turned into mental health wards.
    
If there is a common thread that weaves through our predicament, it is the Carrier plant on the south side of Indianapolis. United Technologies announced it would close it last February. It brought Gov. Pence and Chuck Jones of Steelworkers Local 1999 together for a brief, unproductive meeting. Carrier then became an emblem of the rigged economic and political systems, a campaign talking point of both Trump and Socialist-turned-Democrat Bernie Sanders. It resonated with the withering Hoosier middle class, who believe they are getting screwed. They see a population that is aging, browner, more polysexual, and an invasion of outsiders and foreigners edging into their American dream.
        
Trump won the election by attracting steelworker votes. He and Pence returned to Indianapolis in November, heralding the salvaging of 800 jobs out of the 1,400 slated to leave for Mexico. There would be a $16 million investment in the plant. There were high fives and even begrudging respect from Chuck Jones. But as the calendar turns to 2017, the details of the deal are obfuscated. The $16 million investment will go toward automation, which will cut even more jobs.
        
Trump hailed on Tuesday Ford Motor Company’s decision to not build a new plant in Mexico, creating 700 new jobs in Michigan. But the Washington Post reported: “The new employment opportunities – the tickets to the middle class – won’t look like the old ones. Economists say auto manufacturing at Ford and beyond will become increasingly automated, resulting in fewer jobs down the road for more highly skilled workers.”
    
It underscores the comment from Purdue President Mitch Daniels to HPI last February when he said what keeps him up at night are manufacturing proficiencies that won’t create the number of middle class jobs we’ve seen over the past 80 years. When the notion of income distribution came up with a Republican lawmaker recently, the unanticipated response was that he was “trying to wrap my mind around the concept.”
    
Beyond the sloganeering, the assertions absent of fact, our leaders in Washington and Indianapolis face many forces beyond their control here in a globalized economy that Trump will try to reverse. Their political success in 2017 can come with what they can do around the edges. Can they forge a climate that will bring more jobs, more income? Can they build a new port? Extend broadband to the last mile as a rural lifeline? Can they figure out the “replace” part of the Obamacare repeal? What will happen to the half million Hoosiers who found health coverage that may disappear? Can the state invest in pre-K to build a new cycle of technologically prepared workers? Can we bring comfort to waves of addicts who could become our brigands roaming the countrysides of the future?
    
Can we turn the corner on the addictions that hobble our population?
    
The 2017 HPI Power 50 List is geared toward these fledgling administrations, the conservative agenda that will unfold on Capitol Hill, a biennial budget on the home front, and new road and education plans that will prepare the masses for more competition from across the globe.

1. Gov. Eric Holcomb: The 51st governor enters office after one of the most improbable journeys in Hoosier political history, beginning in 2016 as a third-place U.S. Senate candidate and ending up as governor-elect on an unprecedented “100-day campaign” he likened to building a jet mid-flight. After that riotous journey, Holcomb enters office as one of the best-prepared governors in recent memory. He’s been in the office for years serving under Gov. Mitch Daniels. He doesn’t have to measure the drapes or ask directions to the lavatory. Holcomb has a grounded sense of the inner workings of state government and he watched Daniels systemically challenge status quo assumptions, some of which have eroded over the intervening eight years, and certainly during the last four under Pence. Holcomb enters office with a luxury Daniels never had, which is two super majority chambers. He and House and Senate leadership in both parties seem to be aligning on the major tasks at hand which include a biennial budget, a long-term road plan, and a full frontal assault on the heroin/opioid/meth epidemics and the need for addiction and mental health treatment. All will be tall orders. Having a governor who knows how things work will likely give Hickory Holcomb’s fledgling administration a good start.
    
2. Vice President Mike Pence: After an uneven three and a half years as governor, Pence took an epic roll of the dice with Donald Trump, got on his ticket and helped forge one of the biggest upsets in American history. In doing so, Pence and his team couldn’t get out of Indiana fast enough, depriving the Holcomb gubernatorial campaign of most of his warchest, and refusing to talk with Indiana media, with just a few brief exceptions, for the final seven months of his governorship. The Pence era was always designed to be a resume builder for national office. He is now positioned to play a powerful role in an administration few truly understand or know what to expect. When it comes to the emerging Trump cabinet, it is on paper one of the most conservative (as well as whitest and wealthiest) in history and appears to have Pence’s tell-tale fingerprints all over. That Pence has positioned key aide Marc Short as Trump’s legislative director will give him access to the critical intersection of the White House (or, perhaps, Trump Tower) and the machinations on Capitol Hill, where some elements are getting with the Trump program while others, such as the Russian election hack issue, are poised to create some real drama. Dan Coats as national intelligence director and Seema Verma at CMS will be other power wings within the pence sphere. Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks observes, “Trump is not a national leader; he is a national show. If this is all true, it could be that the governing Trump will be a White House holograph. When it comes to the substance of actual governance, it could be that President Trump is the man who isn’t there. The crucial question of the Trump administration could be: Who will fill the void left by a leader who is all facade?” Exhibit A on this question could be Pence, assuming he can stay on the good side of the mercurial Trump. Pence appears to be bending and sometimes reversing what we had believed were longtime anchor positions on such issues as free trade and immigration. How far is Pence willing to bend when it comes  deficits, for instance, will be fascinating. He could be poised to be the next Dick Cheney. He could end up being a John Nance Garner, carrying the water of a controversial administration or an afterthought.
    
3. U.S. Senator Todd Young: He enters the Senate as a favorite of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who poured millions of dollars into his Senate race in 2016. Having defeated Evan Bayh, the fourth member of Congress he’s defeated in political races (joining Marlin Stutzman in the 2016 Senate primary, Baron Hill in the 2010 9th CD general and Mike Sodrel in the 2010 primary) gives Young some real mojo in the Senate, a body Bayh trashed when he sulked off in 2010. Young brings in a Ways & Means pedigree, a tight relationship with Speaker Paul Ryan, and has championed the REINS Act before it was widely popular. He will be a leading advocate of tax reform. Young walked the tightwire with President Trump, refusing to out-right endorse him in 2016 and passing on the Republican National Convention. He clearly benefited from Trump’s tidal wave, but he would have likely defeated Bayh had Trump won in a less emphatic fashion here in Indiana. Young will join the Trump movement where it makes sense and falls within legal lanes, but he will also likely be a Republican of conscience, resisting Trump if and when he veers out of bounds on such things as an unconstitutional Muslim ban. Along with Holcomb, Young has clearly risen into the top tier of the Indiana Republican Party and the sky is his limit nationally.
    
4. House Speaker Brian Bosma: He is now one of the longest-tenured speakers in Indiana history. Once seen as a potential governor, the unprecedented events surrounding Mike Pence and Eric Holcomb have now placed him firmly on the speaker track for the next eight years. We always saw Bosma as a potential strong gubernatorial contender in 2020, having an expansive statewide network and an ability to raise big bucks. But his gubernatorial aspirations hit the one wall where all that didn’t matter, the Republican Central Committee, where he found little traction over a few short days in July after Pence ascended to the national ticket. Bosma is still the most powerful legislator in the Statehouse. After getting burned by RFRA in 2015, he’s already slammed the door on divisive social legislation such as Rep. Curt Nisly’s abortion-ban bill. And Bosma played a leading role in 2016 when he qued up the notion of long-term road funding, a philosophy that has been thoroughly embraced by Gov. Holcomb. Bosma, Senate President David Long and Gov.-elect Holcomb are keeping their road-funding options open, and that could be the most interesting part of the 2017 session. So Bosma will play a huge, supporting role in Holcomb’s first biennial session.
        
5. Senate President David Long: The Senate president dispatched a Monica Boyer-inspired primary challenger in 2016 and could be entering the twilight of his leadership. Like Bosma, he is signaling little stomach for the RFRA-style divisive social legislation and sent a letter to caucus members rebuking Advance America’s Eric Miller, who is essentially persona non grata in the upper chamber. Long has signed on to the process of a long-term road plan and other major issues, noting, “This session, we will build on our track record of responsible fiscal management by passing another balanced budget. We will also work to craft a long-term road-funding plan, support our local schools, replace the outdated ISTEP exam with a new test, and fight the illegal drug abuse that is hurting our communities.” On a national tangent, Long’s idea of an Article V Constitutional Convention, once seen as a gadfly exercise, is now picking up steam as Republicans have taken over more and more legislative chambers across the nation.
    
6. Dan Coats. Retirement? The former senator is now widely reported to be the leading candidate to be President-elect Trump’s national intelligence director. Coats met with Trump in November. After that meeting, Coats explained, “I was invited here to just sit down and discuss a number of issues that the president would be facing and I gave him some of my years of experience in terms of what I thought they would be dealing with and made some suggestions.” If Coats is offered and accepts the intelligence position, he walks into a hornet’s nest as the Obama administration and 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, including the FBI and CIA, believe that the Russian hacking impacted the 2016 presidential election. Trump has all but rejected that conclusion, and on Wednesday, Pence said on Capitol Hill, “I think the president-elect has expressed his very sincere and healthy American skepticism about intelligence conclusions, but we’re going to sit down later this week.” Coats is a former ambassador to Germany, taking that post just before the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. Coats served on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
    
7. U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly: He’s in a unique position as one of a handful of moderate Democrats who can help Senate Republicans get to 60 votes on various legislation that could make or break the first 100 days of the Trump administration. How Donnelly approaches things early on will be the most fascinating thing to watch this year, especially since he’s probably going to have a hard-fought election next year. While national organizations call Donnelly as one of the most vulnerable Democrats, he has tirelessly worked the state over the past four years, parted with his party due to his beliefs or constituent desires, and is liked by many Republicans we regularly talk with. His reelection would have been much more arduous under a “President Clinton.” If President Trump can’t deliver on many of his promises and Democrats have a mid-term tailwind, Donnelly would be far from a zombie incumbent.
    
8. and 9. U.S. Reps. Luke Messer and Susan Brooks: Messer is in leadership as the fifth-ranked Republican, but Brooks is now the Ethics Committee chair. Both are members of the House GOP Steering Committee that decides committee assignments. Either would be a top recruit early this year to run against Sen. Donnelly in 2018, and both will likely be targeted for persuasion by the NRSC. Brooks will be higher on the list for NRSC, but Messer seems more likely to actually be the one to run our Capitol Hilll sources are telling us at this point.
    
10. Sen. Luke Kenley: The Senate Appropriations chairman will play his characteristically important role on the biennial budget and the long-term road funding issue. He is doing it with the kind of caution we’ve come to expect.
    
11. Ways & Means Chairman Tim Brown: The chairman will take the first stab at the biennial budget and will be a significant voice in the long-term road plan. With Congress preparing to repeal Obamacare, Dr. Brown will provide valuable insights into what comes next if Republicans are serious about the “replace” part.
    
12. State Rep. Ed Soliday: The House Transportation chairman was one of the driving forces behind the initial long-term road plan prior to the 2016 session. After winning a tough reelection battle in November, he will be a critical player in getting the package through next April.
    
13. U.S. Rep Todd Rokita: Despite a short-lived bid for governor and (likely) being passed over for Budget Committee chairman after Tom Price was selected to be Trump’s HHS secretary, the fact that he is/was a contender for the spot shows that Rokita has become more focused in his job than he was early on in his career, and it’s paid off.  He’ll continue to be the Budget Committee vice chair (Diane Black will likely chair, but is rumored to be running for governor of Tennessee, so she may not be in that spot long, giving Rokita another crack at it) and the Trump budget is where we will see many of the early (non-confirmation) legislative fireworks. Rokita’s office tells HPI he didn’t want to create a “distraction” and contest Black for the chair, but he is poised to succeed her if she moves on. Rokita also chairs the K-12 Education Workforce Subcommittee, and could have an important voice if the Trump administration moves on vouchers and school choice issues. A draft Rokita for U.S. Senate Facebook page sprouted this week.
    
14. Marc Short: This top aide to Vice President Mike Pence will be President Trump’s legislative director. This makes Short and Pence huge players in the unfolding Trump agenda when it hits Capitol Hill where there are an array of mixed signals about the new president’s agenda, his bromance with Russian President Putin, and the inevitable collisions such as a coming yuuuge infrastructure stimulus plan with no apparent method to pay for it.
    
15. Josh Pitcock: The former Washington lobbyist for Indiana and Gov. Pence will become his chief of staff, controlling access to the fledgling vice president. Depending on how the Trump presidency evolves, this could be an emerging national power center with the COS handling the levers. Jen Pavlik will be Pence’s deputy chief of staff.
    
16. South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg: The two-term mayor is being mentioned as a possible Democratic national chair candidate and is responding via Twitter to some of the controversial things President-elect Trump has been saying. He is the first openly gay Indiana public official and his status as a Afghanistan veteran, a Rhodes Scholar and mayor of a city seeking to redefine itself puts him at the center of the Indiana Democratic Party’s gargantuan task of redefining itself, expanding beyond the urban areas and college towns back into the rural areas of the state, and preparing for the 2018 and 2020 elections. Reports are if he is elected DNC chair, he will step down as mayor.
    
17. Christina Hale: The former Democratic lieutenant governor nominee and state represenative will be a policy and political driving force for Hoosier Democrats who are anemic and lost on the political desert. In his concession remarks on Election Night, John Gregg made it very clear that Hale will be a future player. She and Mayor Buttigieg face a task of setting a rebuilding process in motion.
    
18. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett: It was a tough year for the Democrat Indianapolis mayor, long identified by John Gregg as a key cornerstone for a Democratic revival. Hogsett played an inconspicuous role in the 2016 election and critical voter turnout fell off, hurting not only Gregg, but his old friend Evan Bayh in his Senate race loss. The year ended with Hogsett’s police chief abruptly resigning just after he had revived former Mayor Gregg Ballard’s judicial center project. And, Indianapolis experienced its deadliest year by setting a new homicide record. So Hogsett must find steady leadership for IMPD, hope that his initial strategies can begin to tamp down the murders, find a way to finance the judicial center, and play a key role in the revival of the Indiana Democratic Party. If he doesn’t begin to find traction, his own reelection in 2019 will not be a slam dunk.
    
19. Sen. Brandt Hershman: The chairman of the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee said he anticipates the budget and road funding will dominate Statehouse debates and be more complicated than prior years, in part because no one is quite sure what to expect from the new federal administration. ”If the long-term is positive, which many of us feel it will be, there can still be short-term volatility from change,” Hershman told the NWI Times. There are rumors he may move into the FCC in the Trump administration. President Long relies on Hershman on the budgetary front where he  may have to do some heavy lifting if tax increases are included.
    
20. Earl Goode, Danny Lopez and Jane Jankowski:  Goode is the former long-term chief of staff to Gov. Mitch Daniels and Holcomb has tapped him to get the office set up correctly. It is unlikely that Goode will be a long-time chief of staff as he was during the Daniels administration. Thus it is likely that deputies Lopez and Jankowski will be the next generation of top staffers under Holcomb. One of them is likely to emerge as the key gatekeeper.
    
21. Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer:  He is co-chair of Gov. Holcomb’s transition team and now takes the helm of the Indiana Republican Party at what is its highwater mark. The GOP controls eight of 11 congressional seats, all Statehouse offices and has legislative super majorities. Hupfer will be charged with keeping the party functioning as it prepares to take on Sen. Donnelly in 2018 and then defend the Holcomb record in 2020.
    
22. State Rep. Ben Smaltz: The Auburn Republican forged what could be a cornerstone tactic in gaining control of the drug epidemic that is sweeping across Indiana. He studied and came up with an innovative concept to keep pseudoephidrines away from clandestine methamphetamine labs, which may have numbered in the 10,000 range as Indiana led the nation. The legislation he and State Sen. Randy Head passed already appears to be putting a dent in the meth labs, with Indiana State Police reporting a 37% decline in the first few months. Speaker Bosma rewarded Smaltz with the chair of the House Public Policy Committee, where his influence will grow.
    
23. Purdue President Mitch Daniels: He is still politically celibate but his influence across academia, policy and politics grows, particularly with disciple Holcomb preparing to assume the governor’s office. Daniels has remained a national figure as he has worked to keep college affordability in the spotlight. He has grappled with free speech issues on campus and will remain a clarion voice as higher education is confronted with the kind of technological revolution that has dramatically changed everything from the music we listen to, the news we read and the durability of U.S. institutions. Expect Daniels to be vocal about the need for the Trump administration to begin to rein in the “red menace” (and we’re talking about debt, not the Russians here).
    
24. CMS Commissioner Seema Verma: One of the architects for Gov. Mike Daniels’ “hybrid” FSSA retooling, Healthy Indiana Plan and HIP 2.0 under Gov. Pence now heads to Washington to head the Centers for Medicaid/Medicare. This could be a power and policy center once Congress repeals Obamacare. Verma stands to play a key role in what comes next. Pence has long held that the states must be the centers of health innovation and Verma could be a major shaper in how that transformation unfolds.
    
25. FSSA Commissioner Jennifer Walthall: Dr. Walthall moves from deputy Indiana Health Commissioner to head the sprawling FSSA, an agency that finds itself as the nexus of the drug epidemic hitting the state and what comes in the wake of the Obamacare repeal. Gov.-elect Holcomb noted, “Jennifer has extensive experience in the fields of public health and medicine. Her knowledge and expertise will bring a depth of understanding to the complexity of family and social services.”
    
26. U.S. Rep Jackie Walorski: As chair of the Nutrition Subcommittee of the Agriculture Committee, she spent the last two years quietly laying groundwork for changes to the food stamp program. With Republicans now controlling all levers of power in Washington, and Speaker Paul Ryan long being interested in welfare reforms, she could find herself in the midst of significant legislative action. Capitol Hill sources tell us she could pick up an influential Ways & Means Committee seat.
    
27. U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon: A few years ago, Bucshon mused to a reporter that he might run against Donnelly in 2018. But now that he has a plum spot on House Energy and Commerce Committee, and a safe district to boot, he seems to be nicely settled into his role. As a member of E&C and a doctor, he could have an opportunity to play a big role on any Obamacare “replace” action in the House.
    
28. Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch: In a span of a few short years, Crouch has gone from the Indiana House, to state auditor, and now lieutenant governor. It was her role in the House, where she was one of several Evansville area legislators to question and criticize Gov. Mitch Daniels’ FSSA deal with IBM that may have put her on Holcomb’s radar as a courageous advocate for her constituents. Crouch becomes the fourth female lieutenant governor and 2017 will probably be too early to determine whether she’s going to position herself to break the gubernatorial glass ceiling.
    
29. Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke: The second-termer is not only the sole “big city” Republican mayor, but is the incoming president of the Accelerating Indiana’s Municipalities (formerly Indiana Association Cities & Towns). His resounding reelection in a Democratic city shows his electability in any political environment and the progress in Evansville is eye-opening. New convention hotel, IU medical campus, $50M Tropicana expansion, new Hyatt hotel, recipient of the $42M Regional Cities program, lowest unemployment rate in a decade – all attracted the first R&D center in North America for Haier to Evansville, among countless other job announcements the past five  years. His long-time personal friendship with LG-elect Suzanne Crouch, coupled with his strong relationship with Vice President-elect Pence, will prove invaluable for Evansville going forward.
    
30. Mike O’Brien: The former Barnes & Thornburg partner managed Holcomb’s upstart gubernatorial race that faced rigid time and money constraints. With victory secured in stunning fashion, O’Brien will be a key Holcomb “kitchen cabinet” member that also includes First Lady Janet Holcomb, Betsy Burdick Wiley, Chairman Hupfer and political consultants Anne Hathaway and Pete Seat.
    
31. U.S. Rep. Jim Banks: In the Indiana Senate, Banks was something of a conservative renegade who nonetheless had a good relationship with leadership after some initial kinks with President David Long. It will be interesting to see how he approaches the U.S. House. Will he fall in completely with the House Freedom Caucus like his predecessor Marlin Stutzman? Or will he try to keep an open line of communication with leadership as Mike Pence did during his House tenure (something that ultimately benefitted Pence as he became conference chair). The hiring of former Coats/Pence aide Matt Lahr as his chief of staff suggests he’ll be more like Pence than Stutzman, but the jury is still out. Banks also brings a military pedigree, having served a recent stint in Afghanistan, and will be a consistent voice on military and veterans’ issues.
    
32. U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth: The Tennessee transplant is still an enigma at this point, and it’s still unclear how much support he has from the political class in Indiana after spending several million dollars to win this open seat. He enters the House as its richest member. We also don’t completely know the heights of his ambition and wouldn’t be surprised if he decided to seek the 2018 Senate nomination. He clearly has the resources to do so.
    
33. Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard: The long-time mayor remains standing and rigid after a number of local frontal assaults. He has remade his city over the past few decades, and any Hoosier living north of Indianapolis should be grateful for the evolution of U.S. 31 and Keystone Parkway. We can’t wait for the 96th Street makeover, the last huge impediment between U.S. 20 in South Bend and I-465.
    
34. Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight: To visit downtown Kokomo is to see a beehive of development ranging from a new YMCA, veterans’ housing, shops, brew pubs and parking garage, all fostered by the three-term Democrat. When Kokomo was hit by a severe tornado in August, the city didn’t seem to miss a beat, coordinating with the state in a seamless manner. It underscores what we’ve been saying for years, which is Goodnight is one of Indiana’s most innovative and savvy mayors.
    
35. State Rep. Robert Behning and State Sen. Dennis Kruse: Indiana has scrapped Common Core and now the ISTEP program, with the State Board of Education unsure of what to replace it with. The two House and Senate Education Committee chairs find themselves back in the news facing a potential legislative remedy this session.
    
36. State Sen. Jim Merritt: The long-time Indianapolis senator has been active on drug and child issues and will be a serious voice as the state grapples with the current drug crisis that has been flagged as a priority by Holcomb, Bosma and Long.
    
37. Brian Burton, President and CEO, Indiana Manufacturers Association: Burton takes the helm of the IMA from Pat Kiely and it comes during what will be a fascinating era of Indiana manufacturing. The microcosm could be Carrier, which was preparing to off-shore jobs to Mexico until President-elect Trump and Gov. Pence intervened. Some 800 of those jobs will stay, but the $16 million in investment in the plant will go toward automation, and thus, ultimately fewer jobs. Burton stands to play a key role in this manufacturing evolution that could collide with a sustainable middle class.
    
38. Kevin Brinegar, President and CEO, Indiana Chamber of Commerce: He will be an advocate for the long-term road plan as well as pre-K funding. “Based on studies, reports and simply travelling across the state, it’s pretty apparent that what we desperately need is a long-term, sustainable, transportation infrastructure funding plan,” Brinegar has said. He is also backing a cigarette tax increase, noting, “For every pack sold and taxed at 99.5 cents, the state spends at least $15.90 in related health care costs,” Brinegar states. “Obviously that’s not a sustainable tradeoff and needs the state’s attention.”
    
39. Dennis Faulkenberg and Gary Langston of the Indiana Motor Truck Association: We combine these two as the long-term road and infrastructure funding comes into the fore this session. The truckers came to the table early on in the process in 2016 seeking to influence the package. The IMTA isn’t going to like the initial tolling proposals making Langston a key player to bring along. Faulkenberg as the long-time president of APPIAN has spent much of his career advancing state transportation needs. This will be his Major Moves 2.0 session as the governor and legislative leaders align on a long-term plan.
    
40. Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness: He is poised to be the next powerhouse mayor in rapidly evolving Fishers, which has become one of Indiana’s top 10 cities in population. The mayor has time, a base and an attractive community in the most important Republican county in the state.
    
41. U.S. Rep. André Carson: After nearly a decade in the House, Carson has settled into a role similar to Visclosky: Fighting for the 7th District in a low-profile way that consistently gets him reelected in a safe district. As one of only a couple of Muslim members of Congress, he could see his profile rise in response to the rhetoric of President Trump. But that didn’t happen during the campaign, and Keith Ellison has become the more visible Muslim member nationally.
    
42. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky: The Merrillville Democrat hasn’t used his lengthy seniority to raise his profile nationally or in the state for some time. He’s a respected member, especially on House Appropriations Committee issues, but he’s made a long career out of fighting for the 1st CD in a low-profile way, often with big results such as the sprawling Marquette lakeshore plan.
    
43. Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr.: The four-term mayor has ambition that sometimes wants to leap out of his skin. He’s pondered gubernatorial and statewide ticket runs, but what he would really love to do is succeed Visclosky in the 1st CD. There are urges to challenge Visclosky in a primary. The angel on his other shoulder urges him to bide his time and wait until the congressman retires. As a former Lake County Democratic chairman, McDermott still displays considerable political heft, having successfully assisted his wife Marissa into winning a judge race. With Sheriff John Buncich facing indictment, McDermott is the most influential Region Democrat beyond Visclosky.
    
44. Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry: The three-term mayor survived a heart scare last year. He cites “momentum” in Indiana’s second largest city with an expansion of business and housing. “We saw constant movement, for the most cases better,” Henry said in interviews. He talks of the city becoming a “point of destination” and he is now focusing on river front development that will include a promenade and bandshell along with restaurants, bars and boutiques.
    
45. and 46. Rep. Scott Pelath and Sen. Tim Lanane: They are the minority leaders in the House and Senate, controlling just 40 of the 150 General Assembly seats. Both, however, seem to be aligning with the majorities on the road and infrastructure plans, potentially lending bipartisan support to Gov. Holcomb’s top priority, though Lanane is challenging the gas tax hike, saying it shifts the tax burden to the middle class. That may resonate with voters.
    
47. Attorney General Curtis Hill: While there is talk of exploring a 2018 U.S. Senate bid, sources close to Hill say he “is 100% focused on the transition from prosecutor to attorney general and has not spent one minute exploring a US Senate bid.”    
    
48. Democratic Chairman John Zody: The chairman has announced he will seek another term after a disastrous 2016 that saw Evan Bayh and John Gregg go down to defeat and former patron Baron Hill shoved aside. At this point there doesn’t appear to be another viable contender, but the decision won’t be made until March. Zody has the backing of Sen. Donnelly and Rep. Carson and will have to figure out how to make the party viable beyond the urban areas and college towns.
    
49. Matt Greller, Accelerating Indiana Municipalities: IACT has become AIM, a new vision by Greller which is now being implemented. With the two Republican super majorites, Greller believed that his organization needed to be nimbler on the issues, acting as a bridge between legislators and local officials. AIM will now work in a more grassroots fashion and will be willing to share policy successes with their partners in the General Assembly. Thus a venerable organization is retooling.
 
50. Chuck Jones, Steelworkers president, Local 1999: He has become the voice of labor this past year, commanding national attention before and after the Carrier plant closing and deal in November, including a twitter battle with President-elect Trump. Of this list, he looks and talks like the common man wooed by Trump and Bernie Sanders. He will likely have a lot to say in the coming months.By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    
INDIANAPOLIS – After a year of what had been unfathomable events and improbable ascendancies, after a year where political alignments fell off the rails between the people and their political leaders, after a year where long-held beliefs were ditched for current expediency, this is where we are: 2017 promises to be, perhaps, a bipolar year. If 2016 was sensational and unprecedented, 2017 could bring a new dawn or a reckless interlude.
    
There are voices tweeting things beyond our immediate comprehension. There are photo ops no one ever expected. The political world is shaking at an 8.2 Richter scale level, and the populist uprising that installed two administrations leans in to see what can be delivered, what can’t and at what price. There are deals to be made, though no one can be sure of the facts here in post-truth America, or the parameters. Fake news, rumor, gossip and innuendo now compete with responsible journalism. The Trump and Holcomb administrations will commence just days from now, the former likely to impact the latter in ways unknown at this writing.
    
Hoosier Republicans have reached a high-water mark that may never be surpassed, now heading into a 16-year stretch of gubernatorial governance. Eric Holcomb, the former political operative, controls the levers of state government. In Washington, we find the populist demagogue Donald Trump ready to assume power with Mike Pence at his side. We don’t know Trump’s ultimate motives because he is a Zelig, changing like a political kaleidoscope. His era may become the first presidential hologram. We don’t know if there will be Oz, the man behind the curtain. It could be Pence, or someone else down the road. Pence is the Christian, the conservative and the Republican in that order. Donald Trump doesn’t appear to be any of those things.
    
The year 2017 finds the Indiana Democratic Party in shambles, holding just three of 11 congressional seats, 40 out of the 150 in the General Assembly. This is a party that has been rocked to its core, with few emerging leadership choices ready to assume the mantle either in Indianapolis or Washington.    
    
And there are the Hoosier people. Their income is stunted. In the wide swathes of rural Indiana abandoned by the Democrats, the uneducated and uninformed are turning to methamphetamine, heroin and opioids. Our county jails have turned into mental health wards.
    
If there is a common thread that weaves through our predicament, it is the Carrier plant on the south side of Indianapolis. United Technologies announced it would close it last February. It brought Gov. Pence and Chuck Jones of Steelworkers Local 1999 together for a brief, unproductive meeting. Carrier then became an emblem of the rigged economic and political systems, a campaign talking point of both Trump and Socialist-turned-Democrat Bernie Sanders. It resonated with the withering Hoosier middle class, who believe they are getting screwed. They see a population that is aging, browner, more polysexual, and an invasion of outsiders and foreigners edging into their American dream.
        
Trump won the election by attracting steelworker votes. He and Pence returned to Indianapolis in November, heralding the salvaging of 800 jobs out of the 1,400 slated to leave for Mexico. There would be a $16 million investment in the plant. There were high fives and even begrudging respect from Chuck Jones. But as the calendar turns to 2017, the details of the deal are obfuscated. The $16 million investment will go toward automation, which will cut even more jobs.
        
Trump hailed on Tuesday Ford Motor Company’s decision to not build a new plant in Mexico, creating 700 new jobs in Michigan. But the Washington Post reported: “The new employment opportunities – the tickets to the middle class – won’t look like the old ones. Economists say auto manufacturing at Ford and beyond will become increasingly automated, resulting in fewer jobs down the road for more highly skilled workers.”
    
It underscores the comment from Purdue President Mitch Daniels to HPI last February when he said what keeps him up at night are manufacturing proficiencies that won’t create the number of middle class jobs we’ve seen over the past 80 years. When the notion of income distribution came up with a Republican lawmaker recently, the unanticipated response was that he was “trying to wrap my mind around the concept.”
    
Beyond the sloganeering, the assertions absent of fact, our leaders in Washington and Indianapolis face many forces beyond their control here in a globalized economy that Trump will try to reverse. Their political success in 2017 can come with what they can do around the edges. Can they forge a climate that will bring more jobs, more income? Can they build a new port? Extend broadband to the last mile as a rural lifeline? Can they figure out the “replace” part of the Obamacare repeal? What will happen to the half million Hoosiers who found health coverage that may disappear? Can the state invest in pre-K to build a new cycle of technologically prepared workers? Can we bring comfort to waves of addicts who could become our brigands roaming the countrysides of the future?
    
Can we turn the corner on the addictions that hobble our population?
    
The 2017 HPI Power 50 List is geared toward these fledgling administrations, the conservative agenda that will unfold on Capitol Hill, a biennial budget on the home front, and new road and education plans that will prepare the masses for more competition from across the globe.

1. Gov. Eric Holcomb: The 51st governor enters office after one of the most improbable journeys in Hoosier political history, beginning in 2016 as a third-place U.S. Senate candidate and ending up as governor-elect on an unprecedented “100-day campaign” he likened to building a jet mid-flight. After that riotous journey, Holcomb enters office as one of the best-prepared governors in recent memory. He’s been in the office for years serving under Gov. Mitch Daniels. He doesn’t have to measure the drapes or ask directions to the lavatory. Holcomb has a grounded sense of the inner workings of state government and he watched Daniels systemically challenge status quo assumptions, some of which have eroded over the intervening eight years, and certainly during the last four under Pence. Holcomb enters office with a luxury Daniels never had, which is two super majority chambers. He and House and Senate leadership in both parties seem to be aligning on the major tasks at hand which include a biennial budget, a long-term road plan, and a full frontal assault on the heroin/opioid/meth epidemics and the need for addiction and mental health treatment. All will be tall orders. Having a governor who knows how things work will likely give Hickory Holcomb’s fledgling administration a good start.
    
2. Vice President Mike Pence: After an uneven three and a half years as governor, Pence took an epic roll of the dice with Donald Trump, got on his ticket and helped forge one of the biggest upsets in American history. In doing so, Pence and his team couldn’t get out of Indiana fast enough, depriving the Holcomb gubernatorial campaign of most of his warchest, and refusing to talk with Indiana media, with just a few brief exceptions, for the final seven months of his governorship. The Pence era was always designed to be a resume builder for national office. He is now positioned to play a powerful role in an administration few truly understand or know what to expect. When it comes to the emerging Trump cabinet, it is on paper one of the most conservative (as well as whitest and wealthiest) in history and appears to have Pence’s tell-tale fingerprints all over. That Pence has positioned key aide Marc Short as Trump’s legislative director will give him access to the critical intersection of the White House (or, perhaps, Trump Tower) and the machinations on Capitol Hill, where some elements are getting with the Trump program while others, such as the Russian election hack issue, are poised to create some real drama. Dan Coats as national intelligence director and Seema Verma at CMS will be other power wings within the pence sphere. Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks observes, “Trump is not a national leader; he is a national show. If this is all true, it could be that the governing Trump will be a White House holograph. When it comes to the substance of actual governance, it could be that President Trump is the man who isn’t there. The crucial question of the Trump administration could be: Who will fill the void left by a leader who is all facade?” Exhibit A on this question could be Pence, assuming he can stay on the good side of the mercurial Trump. Pence appears to be bending and sometimes reversing what we had believed were longtime anchor positions on such issues as free trade and immigration. How far is Pence willing to bend when it comes  deficits, for instance, will be fascinating. He could be poised to be the next Dick Cheney. He could end up being a John Nance Garner, carrying the water of a controversial administration or an afterthought.
    
3. U.S. Senator Todd Young: He enters the Senate as a favorite of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who poured millions of dollars into his Senate race in 2016. Having defeated Evan Bayh, the fourth member of Congress he’s defeated in political races (joining Marlin Stutzman in the 2016 Senate primary, Baron Hill in the 2010 9th CD general and Mike Sodrel in the 2010 primary) gives Young some real mojo in the Senate, a body Bayh trashed when he sulked off in 2010. Young brings in a Ways & Means pedigree, a tight relationship with Speaker Paul Ryan, and has championed the REINS Act before it was widely popular. He will be a leading advocate of tax reform. Young walked the tightwire with President Trump, refusing to out-right endorse him in 2016 and passing on the Republican National Convention. He clearly benefited from Trump’s tidal wave, but he would have likely defeated Bayh had Trump won in a less emphatic fashion here in Indiana. Young will join the Trump movement where it makes sense and falls within legal lanes, but he will also likely be a Republican of conscience, resisting Trump if and when he veers out of bounds on such things as an unconstitutional Muslim ban. Along with Holcomb, Young has clearly risen into the top tier of the Indiana Republican Party and the sky is his limit nationally.
    
4. House Speaker Brian Bosma: He is now one of the longest-tenured speakers in Indiana history. Once seen as a potential governor, the unprecedented events surrounding Mike Pence and Eric Holcomb have now placed him firmly on the speaker track for the next eight years. We always saw Bosma as a potential strong gubernatorial contender in 2020, having an expansive statewide network and an ability to raise big bucks. But his gubernatorial aspirations hit the one wall where all that didn’t matter, the Republican Central Committee, where he found little traction over a few short days in July after Pence ascended to the national ticket. Bosma is still the most powerful legislator in the Statehouse. After getting burned by RFRA in 2015, he’s already slammed the door on divisive social legislation such as Rep. Curt Nisly’s abortion-ban bill. And Bosma played a leading role in 2016 when he qued up the notion of long-term road funding, a philosophy that has been thoroughly embraced by Gov. Holcomb. Bosma, Senate President David Long and Gov.-elect Holcomb are keeping their road-funding options open, and that could be the most interesting part of the 2017 session. So Bosma will play a huge, supporting role in Holcomb’s first biennial session.
        
5. Senate President David Long: The Senate president dispatched a Monica Boyer-inspired primary challenger in 2016 and could be entering the twilight of his leadership. Like Bosma, he is signaling little stomach for the RFRA-style divisive social legislation and sent a letter to caucus members rebuking Advance America’s Eric Miller, who is essentially persona non grata in the upper chamber. Long has signed on to the process of a long-term road plan and other major issues, noting, “This session, we will build on our track record of responsible fiscal management by passing another balanced budget. We will also work to craft a long-term road-funding plan, support our local schools, replace the outdated ISTEP exam with a new test, and fight the illegal drug abuse that is hurting our communities.” On a national tangent, Long’s idea of an Article V Constitutional Convention, once seen as a gadfly exercise, is now picking up steam as Republicans have taken over more and more legislative chambers across the nation.
    
6. Dan Coats. Retirement? The former senator is now widely reported to be the leading candidate to be President-elect Trump’s national intelligence director. Coats met with Trump in November. After that meeting, Coats explained, “I was invited here to just sit down and discuss a number of issues that the president would be facing and I gave him some of my years of experience in terms of what I thought they would be dealing with and made some suggestions.” If Coats is offered and accepts the intelligence position, he walks into a hornet’s nest as the Obama administration and 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, including the FBI and CIA, believe that the Russian hacking impacted the 2016 presidential election. Trump has all but rejected that conclusion, and on Wednesday, Pence said on Capitol Hill, “I think the president-elect has expressed his very sincere and healthy American skepticism about intelligence conclusions, but we’re going to sit down later this week.” Coats is a former ambassador to Germany, taking that post just before the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. Coats served on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
    
7. U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly: He’s in a unique position as one of a handful of moderate Democrats who can help Senate Republicans get to 60 votes on various legislation that could make or break the first 100 days of the Trump administration. How Donnelly approaches things early on will be the most fascinating thing to watch this year, especially since he’s probably going to have a hard-fought election next year. While national organizations call Donnelly as one of the most vulnerable Democrats, he has tirelessly worked the state over the past four years, parted with his party due to his beliefs or constituent desires, and is liked by many Republicans we regularly talk with. His reelection would have been much more arduous under a “President Clinton.” If President Trump can’t deliver on many of his promises and Democrats have a mid-term tailwind, Donnelly would be far from a zombie incumbent.
    
8. and 9. U.S. Reps. Luke Messer and Susan Brooks: Messer is in leadership as the fifth-ranked Republican, but Brooks is now the Ethics Committee chair. Both are members of the House GOP Steering Committee that decides committee assignments. Either would be a top recruit early this year to run against Sen. Donnelly in 2018, and both will likely be targeted for persuasion by the NRSC. Brooks will be higher on the list for NRSC, but Messer seems more likely to actually be the one to run our Capitol Hilll sources are telling us at this point.
    
10. Sen. Luke Kenley: The Senate Appropriations chairman will play his characteristically important role on the biennial budget and the long-term road funding issue. He is doing it with the kind of caution we’ve come to expect.
    
11. Ways & Means Chairman Tim Brown: The chairman will take the first stab at the biennial budget and will be a significant voice in the long-term road plan. With Congress preparing to repeal Obamacare, Dr. Brown will provide valuable insights into what comes next if Republicans are serious about the “replace” part.
    
12. State Rep. Ed Soliday: The House Transportation chairman was one of the driving forces behind the initial long-term road plan prior to the 2016 session. After winning a tough reelection battle in November, he will be a critical player in getting the package through next April.
    
13. U.S. Rep Todd Rokita: Despite a short-lived bid for governor and (likely) being passed over for Budget Committee chairman after Tom Price was selected to be Trump’s HHS secretary, the fact that he is/was a contender for the spot shows that Rokita has become more focused in his job than he was early on in his career, and it’s paid off.  He’ll continue to be the Budget Committee vice chair (Diane Black will likely chair, but is rumored to be running for governor of Tennessee, so she may not be in that spot long, giving Rokita another crack at it) and the Trump budget is where we will see many of the early (non-confirmation) legislative fireworks. Rokita’s office tells HPI he didn’t want to create a “distraction” and contest Black for the chair, but he is poised to succeed her if she moves on. Rokita also chairs the K-12 Education Workforce Subcommittee, and could have an important voice if the Trump administration moves on vouchers and school choice issues. A draft Rokita for U.S. Senate Facebook page sprouted this week.
    
14. Marc Short: This top aide to Vice President Mike Pence will be President Trump’s legislative director. This makes Short and Pence huge players in the unfolding Trump agenda when it hits Capitol Hill where there are an array of mixed signals about the new president’s agenda, his bromance with Russian President Putin, and the inevitable collisions such as a coming yuuuge infrastructure stimulus plan with no apparent method to pay for it.
    
15. Josh Pitcock: The former Washington lobbyist for Indiana and Gov. Pence will become his chief of staff, controlling access to the fledgling vice president. Depending on how the Trump presidency evolves, this could be an emerging national power center with the COS handling the levers. Jen Pavlik will be Pence’s deputy chief of staff.
    
16. South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg: The two-term mayor is being mentioned as a possible Democratic national chair candidate and is responding via Twitter to some of the controversial things President-elect Trump has been saying. He is the first openly gay Indiana public official and his status as a Afghanistan veteran, a Rhodes Scholar and mayor of a city seeking to redefine itself puts him at the center of the Indiana Democratic Party’s gargantuan task of redefining itself, expanding beyond the urban areas and college towns back into the rural areas of the state, and preparing for the 2018 and 2020 elections. Reports are if he is elected DNC chair, he will step down as mayor.
    
17. Christina Hale: The former Democratic lieutenant governor nominee and state represenative will be a policy and political driving force for Hoosier Democrats who are anemic and lost on the political desert. In his concession remarks on Election Night, John Gregg made it very clear that Hale will be a future player. She and Mayor Buttigieg face a task of setting a rebuilding process in motion.
    
18. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett: It was a tough year for the Democrat Indianapolis mayor, long identified by John Gregg as a key cornerstone for a Democratic revival. Hogsett played an inconspicuous role in the 2016 election and critical voter turnout fell off, hurting not only Gregg, but his old friend Evan Bayh in his Senate race loss. The year ended with Hogsett’s police chief abruptly resigning just after he had revived former Mayor Gregg Ballard’s judicial center project. And, Indianapolis experienced its deadliest year by setting a new homicide record. So Hogsett must find steady leadership for IMPD, hope that his initial strategies can begin to tamp down the murders, find a way to finance the judicial center, and play a key role in the revival of the Indiana Democratic Party. If he doesn’t begin to find traction, his own reelection in 2019 will not be a slam dunk.
    
19. Sen. Brandt Hershman: The chairman of the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee said he anticipates the budget and road funding will dominate Statehouse debates and be more complicated than prior years, in part because no one is quite sure what to expect from the new federal administration. ”If the long-term is positive, which many of us feel it will be, there can still be short-term volatility from change,” Hershman told the NWI Times. There are rumors he may move into the FCC in the Trump administration. President Long relies on Hershman on the budgetary front where he  may have to do some heavy lifting if tax increases are included.
    
20. Earl Goode, Danny Lopez and Jane Jankowski:  Goode is the former long-term chief of staff to Gov. Mitch Daniels and Holcomb has tapped him to get the office set up correctly. It is unlikely that Goode will be a long-time chief of staff as he was during the Daniels administration. Thus it is likely that deputies Lopez and Jankowski will be the next generation of top staffers under Holcomb. One of them is likely to emerge as the key gatekeeper.
    
21. Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer:  He is co-chair of Gov. Holcomb’s transition team and now takes the helm of the Indiana Republican Party at what is its highwater mark. The GOP controls eight of 11 congressional seats, all Statehouse offices and has legislative super majorities. Hupfer will be charged with keeping the party functioning as it prepares to take on Sen. Donnelly in 2018 and then defend the Holcomb record in 2020.
    
22. State Rep. Ben Smaltz: The Auburn Republican forged what could be a cornerstone tactic in gaining control of the drug epidemic that is sweeping across Indiana. He studied and came up with an innovative concept to keep pseudoephidrines away from clandestine methamphetamine labs, which may have numbered in the 10,000 range as Indiana led the nation. The legislation he and State Sen. Randy Head passed already appears to be putting a dent in the meth labs, with Indiana State Police reporting a 37% decline in the first few months. Speaker Bosma rewarded Smaltz with the chair of the House Public Policy Committee, where his influence will grow.
    
23. Purdue President Mitch Daniels: He is still politically celibate but his influence across academia, policy and politics grows, particularly with disciple Holcomb preparing to assume the governor’s office. Daniels has remained a national figure as he has worked to keep college affordability in the spotlight. He has grappled with free speech issues on campus and will remain a clarion voice as higher education is confronted with the kind of technological revolution that has dramatically changed everything from the music we listen to, the news we read and the durability of U.S. institutions. Expect Daniels to be vocal about the need for the Trump administration to begin to rein in the “red menace” (and we’re talking about debt, not the Russians here).
    
24. CMS Commissioner Seema Verma: One of the architects for Gov. Mike Daniels’ “hybrid” FSSA retooling, Healthy Indiana Plan and HIP 2.0 under Gov. Pence now heads to Washington to head the Centers for Medicaid/Medicare. This could be a power and policy center once Congress repeals Obamacare. Verma stands to play a key role in what comes next. Pence has long held that the states must be the centers of health innovation and Verma could be a major shaper in how that transformation unfolds.
    
25. FSSA Commissioner Jennifer Walthall: Dr. Walthall moves from deputy Indiana Health Commissioner to head the sprawling FSSA, an agency that finds itself as the nexus of the drug epidemic hitting the state and what comes in the wake of the Obamacare repeal. Gov.-elect Holcomb noted, “Jennifer has extensive experience in the fields of public health and medicine. Her knowledge and expertise will bring a depth of understanding to the complexity of family and social services.”
    
26. U.S. Rep Jackie Walorski: As chair of the Nutrition Subcommittee of the Agriculture Committee, she spent the last two years quietly laying groundwork for changes to the food stamp program. With Republicans now controlling all levers of power in Washington, and Speaker Paul Ryan long being interested in welfare reforms, she could find herself in the midst of significant legislative action. Capitol Hill sources tell us she could pick up an influential Ways & Means Committee seat.
    
27. U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon: A few years ago, Bucshon mused to a reporter that he might run against Donnelly in 2018. But now that he has a plum spot on House Energy and Commerce Committee, and a safe district to boot, he seems to be nicely settled into his role. As a member of E&C and a doctor, he could have an opportunity to play a big role on any Obamacare “replace” action in the House.
    
28. Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch: In a span of a few short years, Crouch has gone from the Indiana House, to state auditor, and now lieutenant governor. It was her role in the House, where she was one of several Evansville area legislators to question and criticize Gov. Mitch Daniels’ FSSA deal with IBM that may have put her on Holcomb’s radar as a courageous advocate for her constituents. Crouch becomes the fourth female lieutenant governor and 2017 will probably be too early to determine whether she’s going to position herself to break the gubernatorial glass ceiling.
    
29. Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke: The second-termer is not only the sole “big city” Republican mayor, but is the incoming president of the Accelerating Indiana’s Municipalities (formerly Indiana Association Cities & Towns). His resounding reelection in a Democratic city shows his electability in any political environment and the progress in Evansville is eye-opening. New convention hotel, IU medical campus, $50M Tropicana expansion, new Hyatt hotel, recipient of the $42M Regional Cities program, lowest unemployment rate in a decade – all attracted the first R&D center in North America for Haier to Evansville, among countless other job announcements the past five  years. His long-time personal friendship with LG-elect Suzanne Crouch, coupled with his strong relationship with Vice President-elect Pence, will prove invaluable for Evansville going forward.
    
30. Mike O’Brien: The former Barnes & Thornburg partner managed Holcomb’s upstart gubernatorial race that faced rigid time and money constraints. With victory secured in stunning fashion, O’Brien will be a key Holcomb “kitchen cabinet” member that also includes First Lady Janet Holcomb, Betsy Burdick Wiley, Chairman Hupfer and political consultants Anne Hathaway and Pete Seat.
    
31. U.S. Rep. Jim Banks: In the Indiana Senate, Banks was something of a conservative renegade who nonetheless had a good relationship with leadership after some initial kinks with President David Long. It will be interesting to see how he approaches the U.S. House. Will he fall in completely with the House Freedom Caucus like his predecessor Marlin Stutzman? Or will he try to keep an open line of communication with leadership as Mike Pence did during his House tenure (something that ultimately benefitted Pence as he became conference chair). The hiring of former Coats/Pence aide Matt Lahr as his chief of staff suggests he’ll be more like Pence than Stutzman, but the jury is still out. Banks also brings a military pedigree, having served a recent stint in Afghanistan, and will be a consistent voice on military and veterans’ issues.
    
32. U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth: The Tennessee transplant is still an enigma at this point, and it’s still unclear how much support he has from the political class in Indiana after spending several million dollars to win this open seat. He enters the House as its richest member. We also don’t completely know the heights of his ambition and wouldn’t be surprised if he decided to seek the 2018 Senate nomination. He clearly has the resources to do so.
    
33. Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard: The long-time mayor remains standing and rigid after a number of local frontal assaults. He has remade his city over the past few decades, and any Hoosier living north of Indianapolis should be grateful for the evolution of U.S. 31 and Keystone Parkway. We can’t wait for the 96th Street makeover, the last huge impediment between U.S. 20 in South Bend and I-465.
    
34. Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight: To visit downtown Kokomo is to see a beehive of development ranging from a new YMCA, veterans’ housing, shops, brew pubs and parking garage, all fostered by the three-term Democrat. When Kokomo was hit by a severe tornado in August, the city didn’t seem to miss a beat, coordinating with the state in a seamless manner. It underscores what we’ve been saying for years, which is Goodnight is one of Indiana’s most innovative and savvy mayors.
    
35. State Rep. Robert Behning and State Sen. Dennis Kruse: Indiana has scrapped Common Core and now the ISTEP program, with the State Board of Education unsure of what to replace it with. The two House and Senate Education Committee chairs find themselves back in the news facing a potential legislative remedy this session.
    
36. State Sen. Jim Merritt: The long-time Indianapolis senator has been active on drug and child issues and will be a serious voice as the state grapples with the current drug crisis that has been flagged as a priority by Holcomb, Bosma and Long.
    
37. Brian Burton, President and CEO, Indiana Manufacturers Association: Burton takes the helm of the IMA from Pat Kiely and it comes during what will be a fascinating era of Indiana manufacturing. The microcosm could be Carrier, which was preparing to off-shore jobs to Mexico until President-elect Trump and Gov. Pence intervened. Some 800 of those jobs will stay, but the $16 million in investment in the plant will go toward automation, and thus, ultimately fewer jobs. Burton stands to play a key role in this manufacturing evolution that could collide with a sustainable middle class.
    
38. Kevin Brinegar, President and CEO, Indiana Chamber of Commerce: He will be an advocate for the long-term road plan as well as pre-K funding. “Based on studies, reports and simply travelling across the state, it’s pretty apparent that what we desperately need is a long-term, sustainable, transportation infrastructure funding plan,” Brinegar has said. He is also backing a cigarette tax increase, noting, “For every pack sold and taxed at 99.5 cents, the state spends at least $15.90 in related health care costs,” Brinegar states. “Obviously that’s not a sustainable tradeoff and needs the state’s attention.”
    
39. Dennis Faulkenberg and Gary Langston of the Indiana Motor Truck Association: We combine these two as the long-term road and infrastructure funding comes into the fore this session. The truckers came to the table early on in the process in 2016 seeking to influence the package. The IMTA isn’t going to like the initial tolling proposals making Langston a key player to bring along. Faulkenberg as the long-time president of APPIAN has spent much of his career advancing state transportation needs. This will be his Major Moves 2.0 session as the governor and legislative leaders align on a long-term plan.
    
40. Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness: He is poised to be the next powerhouse mayor in rapidly evolving Fishers, which has become one of Indiana’s top 10 cities in population. The mayor has time, a base and an attractive community in the most important Republican county in the state.
    
41. U.S. Rep. André Carson: After nearly a decade in the House, Carson has settled into a role similar to Visclosky: Fighting for the 7th District in a low-profile way that consistently gets him reelected in a safe district. As one of only a couple of Muslim members of Congress, he could see his profile rise in response to the rhetoric of President Trump. But that didn’t happen during the campaign, and Keith Ellison has become the more visible Muslim member nationally.
    
42. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky: The Merrillville Democrat hasn’t used his lengthy seniority to raise his profile nationally or in the state for some time. He’s a respected member, especially on House Appropriations Committee issues, but he’s made a long career out of fighting for the 1st CD in a low-profile way, often with big results such as the sprawling Marquette lakeshore plan.
    
43. Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr.: The four-term mayor has ambition that sometimes wants to leap out of his skin. He’s pondered gubernatorial and statewide ticket runs, but what he would really love to do is succeed Visclosky in the 1st CD. There are urges to challenge Visclosky in a primary. The angel on his other shoulder urges him to bide his time and wait until the congressman retires. As a former Lake County Democratic chairman, McDermott still displays considerable political heft, having successfully assisted his wife Marissa into winning a judge race. With Sheriff John Buncich facing indictment, McDermott is the most influential Region Democrat beyond Visclosky.
    
44. Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry: The three-term mayor survived a heart scare last year. He cites “momentum” in Indiana’s second largest city with an expansion of business and housing. “We saw constant movement, for the most cases better,” Henry said in interviews. He talks of the city becoming a “point of destination” and he is now focusing on river front development that will include a promenade and bandshell along with restaurants, bars and boutiques.
    
45. and 46. Rep. Scott Pelath and Sen. Tim Lanane: They are the minority leaders in the House and Senate, controlling just 40 of the 150 General Assembly seats. Both, however, seem to be aligning with the majorities on the road and infrastructure plans, potentially lending bipartisan support to Gov. Holcomb’s top priority, though Lanane is challenging the gas tax hike, saying it shifts the tax burden to the middle class. That may resonate with voters.
    
47. Attorney General Curtis Hill: While there is talk of exploring a 2018 U.S. Senate bid, sources close to Hill say he “is 100% focused on the transition from prosecutor to attorney general and has not spent one minute exploring a US Senate bid.”    
    
48. Democratic Chairman John Zody: The chairman has announced he will seek another term after a disastrous 2016 that saw Evan Bayh and John Gregg go down to defeat and former patron Baron Hill shoved aside. At this point there doesn’t appear to be another viable contender, but the decision won’t be made until March. Zody has the backing of Sen. Donnelly and Rep. Carson and will have to figure out how to make the party viable beyond the urban areas and college towns.
    
49. Matt Greller, Accelerating Indiana Municipalities: IACT has become AIM, a new vision by Greller which is now being implemented. With the two Republican super majorites, Greller believed that his organization needed to be nimbler on the issues, acting as a bridge between legislators and local officials. AIM will now work in a more grassroots fashion and will be willing to share policy successes with their partners in the General Assembly. Thus a venerable organization is retooling.
 
50. Chuck Jones, Steelworkers president, Local 1999: He has become the voice of labor this past year, commanding national attention before and after the Carrier plant closing and deal in November, including a twitter battle with President-elect Trump. Of this list, he looks and talks like the common man wooed by Trump and Bernie Sanders. He will likely have a lot to say in the coming months.