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Saturday, February 22, 2020
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Friday, February 21, 2020 8:19 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS - In the wake of the Las Vegas debate slugfest witnessed by close to 20 million Americans, Pete Buttigieg's presidential campaign warned Thursday that "if the dynamics of the race (do) not dramatically change, Democrats could end up coming out of Super Tuesday with Bernie Sanders holding a seemingly insurmountable delegate lead.”

This dire assessment comes as the non-billionaire campaigns are struggling financially, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that Buttigieg exited Iowa and New Hampshire with less than $7 million. The South Bend-based campaign has targeted raising $13 million by Super Tuesday after fundraisers in Indianapolis and California. The Democratic socialist Sanders is the only non-billionaire with a major paid-media presence in Super Tuesday states, with $11 million in ads, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Buttigieg campaign spokesman Chris Meagher explained Thursday, "Coming out of last night, it’s clear that Pete Buttigieg is the strongest alternative to defeat Bernie Sanders. Pete has shown he’s the only candidate who can beat Sanders. In the first two contests so far, Pete is the only candidate who provides any real competition - beating him in Iowa and coming a close second in New Hampshire, closing the gap from a Sanders victory of over 22 points in 2016 in his own backyard to less than 1.5 points this year." 

During the Las Vegas debate, Buttigieg made this appeal: “We’ve got to wake up as a party. We could wake up two weeks from today — the day after Super Tuesday — and the only candidates left standing will be Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg, the two most polarizing figures on this stage. Let’s put forward somebody who actually lives and works in a middle class neighborhood in an industrial Midwestern city. Let’s put forward somebody who’s actually a Democrat."

Meagher added, "In last night’s debate, Pete was the only candidate who focused on and was able to draw a sharp contrast with Sanders. And he decisively made the case that Sanders’ polarizing vision was too great a risk to put up against Donald Trump. Pete proved this not only on the debate stage but in the elections where candidates contested and Americans actually cast their votes." 

The Real Clear Politics polling composite has Sanders leading Saturday's Nevada caucus 30 to 16% over Biden, with Buttigieg at 14%. In the South Carolina primary, Biden could be the firewall with a 24.5% to 20.8% lead over Sanders, though Sanders is now attracting half of the key African-American vote, with Tom Steyer at 15.5% and Buttigieg at 10.3 with little little black support. Sanders has Super Tuesday leads of 12% in California and a 2.5% lead over Biden in Texas.
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  • By LEE HAMILTON
    BLOOMINGTON — When he was just a young teenage schoolboy, George Washington sat down and copied out 110 “Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior.”  Many of these had to do with simple manners. “Cleanse not your teeth with the tablecloth, napkin, fork or knife,” reads Rule 100. Good advice at any time. But the first rule the future president wrote down and followed for the rest of his life was especially notable: “Every action done in company, ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.” There are times when I find myself wishing that all of us,  public officials and ordinary citizens alike, would adopt the civil behavior of that particular teenager.  Our politics today too often is strident and polarized. To put it mildly, we do not always show respect to those present, as Washington did, and try to make them comfortable. Often, it’s just the opposite. We live in a polity that seems to reward in-your-face rhetoric and confrontational behavior. Yet civility – respecting the rights and dignity of others – uplifts our common life.
  • By JACK COLWELL
    SOUTH BEND  — Sputnik calling. Never, a year ago, could I have imagined Russia’s International News Agency Sputnik seeking comment about a contrived conspiracy theory aimed at Mayor Pete. Or that South Bend’s Pete Buttigieg would be the frontrunner in delegates for the Democratic presidential nomination after the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. Or that the city’s river lights would be ridiculed in a political attack by former Vice President Joe Biden. Or that I would be interviewed by journalists from six foreign countries. Would have been eight if communications with Australia worked and if I agreed to an interview with Sputnik, a spreader of Kremlin propaganda. Well, a lot that couldn’t have been imagined a year ago has happened as former Mayor Buttigieg, then such a long, long long shot for the Democratic nomination, has become a top contender, within a whisker of knocking off Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire primary. If the Russians want to promote disinformation about Buttigieg, does that mean that Putin’s spreaders of fake news fear a former mayor of South Bend as a threat to win the presidency? Maybe not. But chances are that they aren’t interested now in promoting conspiracy theories about Andrew Yang.
  • By MORTON J. MARCUS
    INDIANAPOLIS  — This week there’s nothing but good news to report about Indiana. Many readers will say this is long overdue. Rightfully, they want to feel good about our state, to read about our achievements and opportunities. Enough with ugly clouds of statistics, let’s celebrate the sunlight. We open with a report from the cheery folks at the Tax Foundation who discovered, in the depths of data from the Bureau of the Census, federal aid was 38% of Indiana’s total state general revenue in FY 2017, the most recent year of data available.  The national figure was a mere 23%. Indiana ranks 10th highest among the 50 states in reliance on federal funding. After years of complaining about not getting our fair share of federal aid to states, we’ve broken into that elite quintile, just behind West Virginia and a fraction ahead of Kentucky. Still, some Hoosiers yearn for those days in the 20th Century when Indiana refused to seek or accept federal funds. But now we’re hep, we’re woke.
  • By MICHAEL HICKS
    MUNCIE  — A full eight weeks have passed since the unveiling of New Year’s resolutions. Like most of us, mine lies abandoned, which means I will not receive that free YMCA attendance shirt again this year. This brevity of resolve is an apt metaphor for the dilemma facing many Hoosier communities, and others across the Midwest. Over the course of a year, I am asked to deliver about 50 talks in various places around the state. Most of these presentations are about the common worries of slow-growing places. So, to groups of elected leaders, major employers, and civic-minded folks I explain the findings from decades of research on the topic. Readers of this column will find my prescriptions familiar. People hoping for a growing local economy must first make communities in which people would wish to live. I explain that this means focusing on the quality of local schools, remediating blight, ensuring there are parks and trails, and otherwise removing barriers to new residents. With the exception of school quality, I try not to be too specific about needs. Every community is different and has different priorities. Perhaps the best way to set these priorities is by asking residents in a formal, diligent and inclusive way. In finding remedies to problems, the most important voices are apt to be those who are least often consulted. This fundamental lesson is too often ignored from neighborhood association boards to city hall.
  • By CRAIG DUNN
    KOKOMO  — Indiana is now a gambling mecca. We can play scratch offs, play the numbers, indulge ourselves playing Willy Wonka for money, bet on the ponies and now we can wager on sports. The next expansion of gaming that I’d like to see is political bookmaking. After all, if we can bet on whether the Colts will score on their next drive (bet against it), get a kick blocked (bet on it) or whether we’ll win the Super Bowl next year (called a sucker bet in Vegas), then why can’t we bet on politics? Imagine going to the sports book right now and making a wager on who will emerge as the 5th Congressional District Republican candidate or on how badly Gov. Holcomb will trounce his Democrat opponent. Maybe drop a fiver on whether or not Attorney General Curtis Hill will survive his ethics complaint and be the Republican candidate for AG in 2020. Now that might spark my interest in gambling.

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  • Horse Race: 2011 maps bring GOP historic General Assembly dominance
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – Going through the primary filings list brought to the fore how iron clad the 2011 reapportionment maps have been for the Republicans in Indiana congressional and General Assembly races.  As previously observed, we are concluding a decade where not a single U.S. House seat has changed parties with these maps. The only change in the Hoosier Washington delegation has been U.S. Sen. Mike Braun’s defeat of incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly in 2018 that was not dependent on the maps. The other modern precedent with the 2011 maps is that the 2020 cycle will likely conclude a decade when the Indiana House has not shifted party control. Between 1900 and 2010, the Indiana House shifted party control 15 times.
  • What happens in Vegas ... goes nationwide with fear and loathing
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  — What happens in Vegas ... well, in the case of the Democratic presidential race ... the fear and loathing goes nationwide. With Michael Bloomberg on the stage for the first time, and the Democratic establishment in a panic that Socialist Bernie Sanders is on an irreversible course for the nomination, the debate turned into a maul. “We’ve got to wake up as a party. We could wake up two weeks from today — the day after Super Tuesday — and the only candidates left standing will be Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg, the two most polarizing figures on this stage,” said former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg. “And most Americans don’t see where they fit if they’ve got to choose between a socialist who thinks that capitalism is the root of all evil and a billionaire who thinks that money ought to be the root of all power. Let’s put forward somebody who actually lives and works in a middle class neighborhood in an industrial Midwestern city. Let’s put forward somebody who’s actually a Democrat. Look, we shouldn’t have to choose between one candidate who wants to burn this party down and another candidate who wants to buy this party out. We can do better,” Buttigieg said.

  • HPI Analysis: Buttigieg seeks to build a national movement
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – Now the truly hard part for Pete Buttigieg begins. After historically narrow first- and second-place finishes in mostly white Iowa and New Hampshire, the former South Bend mayor is faced with forming his own “movement” to counter U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and the bottomless wallet of billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Buttigieg’s nascent campaign is one of epic overachievement. Or as he told supporters in Nashua and a nationwide TV audience just before 11 Tuesday night, “Here in a state that goes by the motto ‘Live free or die,’ you made up your own minds. You asserted that famous independent streak and thanks to you, a campaign that some said shouldn’t be here at all has shown that we are here to stay.”

  • Horse Race: INGov will be Holcomb v. Myers
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS — The gubernatorial field is set. Democrat Woody Myers will challenge Gov. Eric Holcomb, who starts with more than a $7 million cash advantage. If there was any drama left in this race, it was whether Myers and Indianapolis businessman Josh Owens would have enough signatures to qualify for the ballot by last Friday’s noon filing deadline. Myers announced last Thursday that he did; Owens did, too, but then dropped out of the race. He seemed to equate who filed their signatures first was tantamount to winning the primary. “We knew the primary was going to come down to who qualified for the ballot first,” Owens told the IBJ. “It was going to be a sprint. We knew the primary might be decided before May.” With that mind-numbing logic in place, Myers told the IBJ that “it’s a very different race when you don’t have a primary challenger. It just means you have to double down on your efforts in order to make sure you get the resources you need, the votes that you need, on and on.
  • Buttigieg comes within an eyelash of stunning NH upset of Sen. Sanders

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Pete Buttigieg kept his presidential dreams alive in New Hampshire Tuesday, finishing an eyelash short of a stunning upset of Bernie Sanders in a state the Vermont socialist had carried over Hillary Clinton in a landslide four years ago. With 88% of precincts reporting, the former South Bend mayor trailed Sanders by less than 4,500 votes. It was the late surge of Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar that prevented the outright Buttigieg upset. Klobuchar was widely credited with winning the New Hampshire debate last Friday night, and her late surge prevented Buttigieg from gaining enough momentum to overtake Sanders.

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  • Buttigieg finishes distant 3rd in Nevada
    "I congratulate Sen. Sanders on a strong showing today, and we certainly celebrate many of the same ideals. But before we rush to nominate Senator Sanders as our one shot to take on this president, let’s take a sober look at the consequences—for our party, for our values, and for those with the most at stake. There is so much on the line, and one thing we know for sure is that we absolutely must defeat Donald Trump and what he stands for in November. I believe the best way to defeat Trump and deliver for the American people is to broaden and galvanize the majority that supports us on critical issues. Sen. Sanders believes in an inflexible, ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats, not to mention most Americans. I believe we can defeat Trump and deliver for the American people by empowering the American people to make their own health care choices." - Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, who finished a distant third in the Nevada caucuses with 15.6%, trailing Sen. Bernie Sanders with 44.6% and Joe Biden with 19.5%.
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  • Pence, Holcomb, Buttigieg head 2020 HPI Power 50
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY in Indianapolis
    and MARK SCHOEFF JR., 
    in Washington

    As we unveil the 2020 version of the Howey Politics Indiana Power 50 List, Hoosiers appear to be relatively satisfied with their state government, unsure about the federals and specifically President Trump, and are most concerned about health care and the economy.

    These are the latest survey numbers from the We Ask America Poll conducted in early December for the Indiana Manufacturers Association. They accentuate the formulation of our annual Power 50 list headed by Vice President Mike Pence, Gov. Eric Holcomb, former South Bend mayor and Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg, and the state’s two Republican senators who will likely sit in judgment (and acquittal) of President Trump in an impeachment trial later this month. 

    As Pence appears to be heading off thinly veiled attempts by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump to get him off the 2020 ticket, Hoosiers by 47.4% approve to 47.7% disapprove of President Trump’s job performance. This is consistent with 2019 polling by Ball State University and Morning Consult. On the national right/wrong track, just 37% of registered voters in Indiana feel that the country is headed in the right direction, while a majority, 52%, say that things have gotten off on the wrong track, including 51% of independents and 26% of Republicans. Among female voters, the right/wrong track split is 29%/58%.

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