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Tuesday, January 25, 2022
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Tuesday, January 25, 2022 10:26 AM

By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. 20,000 Hoosiers die

Indiana's death toll passed the 20,000 mark, reaching 20,033 according to the Indiana State Department of Health on Monday. The state crossed the 10,000 death threshold on Jan. 6, 2020, meaning that just under half of these pandemic deaths occurred after the vaccine became available.

There have been 1,132 Hoosier deaths in January. According to the University of Washington's Health Metric and Evaluation site, just 54% of the state is fully vaccinated. The state reached its peak death count on Jan. 10 and forecasts that omicron may turn the pandemic into an endemic ... until the next variant storms across the globe. It forecasts 21,772 deaths by May 1. The state's first death occurred on March 16, 2020 when Roberta "Birdie" Shelton died at Community East Hospital. Since her death, we have experienced five surges during which 1.8 million Hoosiers have tested positive since March 1, 2020, according to the Regenstrief Institute.

Indiana is now facing a medical worker shortage. Indiana Hospital Associated President Brian Tabor told Indiana Public Media it will take five years to rebuild the state's hospital personnel. “I think the healthcare workforce is going to have to be rebuilt in a significant way,” Tabor said. “A report came out that speculated we may need five years to get back to 75% of the healthcare workforce that we had before the pandemic. 

2. Indiana data download

We've been monitoring the Hoosier condition beyond the pandemic. On Monday, the Indiana National Guard announced that 7,200 Afghan refugees have been resettled via Camp Atterbury, with the final 200 expected to depart by the end of this week. Gov. Eric Holcomb calls this chapter "one of Indiana's finest hours." Indiana added about 21,000 union members last year, according to an annual report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Indiana Public Media  reports that about 9% of workers in the state now belong to unions. Indiana’s life-sciences sector landed a record $433 million in venture funding last year, according to the IBJ. Central Indiana homebuilders filed 832 single-family building permits in 2021, up 6% from 2020, according to the IBJ. Indiana Donor Network reports that in 2021, the organization ensured that 949 lifesaving organs were transplanted into patients on the national transplant waiting list, a 43% increase since 2019. The transplants saved more than 800 people.

3. Record harvests in 2021


NWI Times'  Joseph Pete: Farmers in Indiana reported record-high corn and soybean yields in 2021. Indiana ranked fifth nationwide in both corn and soybean production last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The state produced 1.03 billion bushels of corn, a 5% increase over 2020, according to USDA State Statician Nathanial Warenski. Famers planted 5.27 million acres of corn, a slight year-over-year increase. Hoosier farmers yielded 195 bushels per acre, an 8-bushel increase over 2020. 

4. Klain a marked man?

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain has been under fire lately but President Biden seemed to slam the door on a staff shakeup, saying at last week's marathon press, "I'm satisfied with the team." Klain has been criticized by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin in recent weeks. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal to the Washington Post: “I think that by and large he’s making the trains run on time — even though some of the boxcars may seem to be empty some of the time."

5. Biden's hot mic moment


President Biden had a hot mic moment on Monday, calling Fox reporter Peter Doocy a "stupid son of a bitch" after he asked "Do you think inflation is a political liability in the midterms?” Biden dead panned: “It’s a great asset — more inflation. What a stupid son of a bitch.” Biden later called Doocy and apologized. U.S. Rep. Jim Banks tweeted, "Have we ever seen a President attack and malign the free press like Joe Biden has??" Duoh? Duoh!

Thanks for reading, folks, and stay warm. It's The Atomic!

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  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – In the past six years, we’ve watched as four of Indiana’s 11 congressional seats were won by the highest bidder, including one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats. Will the governor’s office be next? The actions this past week of two self-funding Republicans – U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth and U.S. Sen. Mike Braun – beg the question of whether the 2024 cycle will become one of the biggest auctions in modern Hoosier political history for an open governor’s seat and a potential matchup with the most likely Democrat nominee, Joe Donnelly. Braun held a presser at the Statehouse on Tuesday and was greeted with speculation that he will forego reelection to the Senate and seek the governor’s office in 2024. “When I decided to run for state representative … I wasn’t calculating,” Braun said. “That was a decision because I saw what can be done with an effective state government. I’ll make the decision post mid-terms. I’m going to make the decision based on where I think I can help Hoosiers the most.” Last week, Hollingsworth announced he wouldn’t seek reelection in November in the 9th CD, saying, “I ran for Congress to return this government to the people from the career politicians who had broken it, and I will be damned if I become one in the process.” Hollingsworth said in his IndyStar op-ed that he said he would continue to serve the 9th CD “in different ways,” suggesting a 2024 gubernatorial run where he would be a potential self-funder candidate.

  • BY: MARK SOUDER
    FORT WAYNE – Dick Prickett caught me by the escalator at L.S. Ayres in Glenbrook Mall soon after Dan Quayle had been elected to Congress. He was very concerned. The Quayles, especially Marilyn, were not big fans of the traditional Republican Party. Now Quayle had gone out and hired a complete unknown, Dan Coats, a political neophyte who had only recently voted in a Republican primary, to run his Fort Wayne office. With tears in his eyes, Dick told me that these guys were going to be the death of the GOP in this region. Prickett was a traditionalist. With the Albion New Era as his base, he became a force in the Indiana Republican Editorial Association. The association was very influential in GOP politics. Both parties were heavily involved in all media. In our recent book, “Television in Fort Wayne 1953-2018,” I showed how the forces of Paul McNutt battled to add television (WANE-TV, later owned by a group headed by Democrat leader Frank McKinney) to their newspaper and radio presence in Fort Wayne. They wanted to counter the influence of Republican Helene Foellinger and her then-dominant newspaper and strong radio presence, as Republican activists initially owned WKJG-TV. This, of course, was before media became “political” as it is today.

  • By LEE HAMILTON
    BLOOMINGTON – Decades ago, it was easy to talk about “the promise of America,” as historians and boosters did regularly, and have most people understand what you meant. These days, I worry they’d look at you as if you’d taken leave of your senses. Even before the pandemic threw us back on our heels, many people here and abroad increasingly viewed our country and its system of representative government as outdated, flawed, and in decline. They question whether it deserves to be perpetuated or to serve as a beacon for others. And yet, while there’s room to be chastened and reflective about this shift, what it really means, I think, is that as Americans we have our work cut out for us. Because our system – which really did produce a nation that served as a beacon and a model for others – was put in our care by the people who created it. If this country is to flourish and fulfill its promise, it’s we the people who will have to do it. So what does “the promise of America” actually mean? In its details the answer differs from person to person, but looked at broadly it’s really two promises.
  • By MORTON J. MARCUS
    INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana public schools are in trouble. You can blame whomever you please, but the facts remain. Except in a few burgeoning suburbs, school enrollments are down as Hoosiers have fewer children. In larger districts, parents have turned their backs on the public schools and opted for charter or private schools. Students have become more difficult to teach for cultural, technological, and economic reasons. Teaching has become less attractive as a career, with compensation and social status in relative decline. This listing ignores the increase in curriculum standards necessitated by an explosion of knowledge and the magnified diversity of our population. Now, once-prosperous communities have declined in population and wealth.
  • By MICHAEL HICKS
    MUNCIE - This week we set aside time to remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and reflect upon his influence. Classrooms around the country will replay some of his speeches, and students together will read his Letter from a Birmingham Jail. It is necessary that they do so, and no Americans can count themselves as truly educated who have not read much of his most popular arguments. King’s words are part of the canon of American political writing, and belong to a long tradition of Enlightenment thought. His best belongs in the same intellectual anthology as that of Jefferson, Lincoln and Thomas Paine. The essence of the American aspirations towards freedom can be understood by cobbling together just a few paragraphs from Paine’s Rights of Man, Jefferson’s second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural Address, along with King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail and "I Have a Dream" speech. Few readers likely experience the same misty-eyed affection for these words as do I. But, they cannot help but move even the most cynical observer of the American experience. Even an hour spent reading these words might allow us to better appreciate one another as we go about building a more perfect union.

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  • HPI Analysis: Self-funders eye 2024 open Indiana gubernatorial race
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – In the past six years, we’ve watched as four of Indiana’s 11 congressional seats were won by the highest bidder, including one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats. Will the governor’s office be next? The actions this past week of two self-funding Republicans – U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth and U.S. Sen. Mike Braun – beg the question of whether the 2024 cycle will become one of the biggest auctions in modern Hoosier political history for an open governor’s seat and a potential matchup with the most likely Democrat nominee, Joe Donnelly. Braun held a presser at the Statehouse on Tuesday and was greeted with speculation that he will forego  reelection to the Senate and seek the governor’s office in 2024. “When I decided to run for state representative … I wasn’t calculating,” Braun said. “That was a decision because I saw what can be done with an effective state government.” “I’ll make the decision post mid-terms,” Braun, a former state representative, added. “I’m going to make the decision based on where I think I can help Hoosiers the most. Where can I be more effective with common sense and good ideas? I’ll make that decision over the next eight or nine months.”
  • Horse Race: At halfway filing point, 17 House Republicans face primary foes
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – At the halfway mark of the filing deadline that ends at noon Feb. 4, some 17 House Republican incumbents are facing contested primaries. This includes two races where two incumbents are squaring off in HD22 and HD69 and a possible third in HD45.
  • Atomic: Hoosier tributes to MLK; Son says 'Show us your votes'; Holcomb concerned about powers bill; Schaffer testimony unsealed

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Hoosier tributes to Dr. King: Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Hoosier politicians were speaking his praise. U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan, D-Highland: "Let us honor the life and legacy of Dr. King, and recommit to doing what is right and creating a more fair and equitable society for everyone." And U.S. Rep. André Carson, D-Indianapolis: “We still have a long way to go to build Dr. King’s Beloved Community, but we are making progress. In the past year, Congress and the Biden Administration have enacted policies that address and provide solutions to systemic racism, police brutality, income inequality, educational disparities, and much more. I’ll continue working hard in Congress to strengthen his legacy through these reforms and redouble our work to pass voting rights bills to allow every American’s vote to count." Republicans paid tribute too. Gov. Eric Holcomb, who described America at an "inflection point" durint the summer of 2020 in the wake of the George Floyd murder, said, "At a time of such challenge and controversy, like few others in history before he took action, bravely and boldly, carrying a message of love, liberty and justice for all. We know there is still a lot to do, and we're committed to Dr. King's dream of making this a better country for all. The 31st annual MLK, Jr. Indiana Holiday Celebration reminds us that the best way we'll honor his legacy is by continuing his work." Former Vice President Mike Pence: "We honor the memory of a remarkable man and a giant of the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. challenged our Nation to live up to the highest ideals of our founding and his memory will continue to inspire generations to come." Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Braun didn't issue a statement, but U.S. Sen. Todd Young said, "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words and actions still inspire us more than 50 years later. Today, we honor his message." Both Republicans oppose the voting rights bill that will be up for a vote today in the Senate. Martin Luther King III: "Don't tell us what you believe in, show us with your votes. History will be watching what happens tomorrow. If you can deliver an infrastructure bill for bridges, you can deliver voting rights for Americans. If you do not, there is no bridge in this nation that can hold the weight of that failure.

  • Atomic! Houchin picks up 9th CD endorsements; Milo seeks 1st CD; Sen. Baldwin's awful week

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY in Kokomo

    1. 1st & 9th CD races are percolating: Despite the new congressional maps that seem to be an Indiana Incumbent Protection Plan, there is much activity setting up the 2022 cycle. On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth announced he wouldn't seek reelection. He was self-term limited and apparently is pondering a 2024 run for governor. That prompted State Sen. Erin Houchin, who lost to Hollingsworth in the 2016 GOP primary, to announce on Thursday. She was endorsed by U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski and Larry Bucshon on Thursday, and today, Attorney General Todd Rokita, who said, "Erin Houchin is just the medicine Congress needs. She’s a no-nonsense conservative pragmatic leader who will help stop The Bumbling Biden-Schumer-Pelosi-AOC express train that is leading us to international embarrassment and financial ruin." Houchin served as Rokita's 2020 GOP convention campaign manager. A reliable source tells Howey Politics Indiana  that former Republican congressman Mike Sodrel is weighing a bid. He won the seat from U.S. Rep. Baron Hill in 2004 and held it for a term before Hill won it back. In the 1st CD, former Republican LaPorte mayor Blair Milo announced she would seek the GOP nomination for the right to challenge freshman Democratic Rep. Frank Mrvan. "I feel called to do this," Milo said in an exclusive interview with NWI Times. "We have an opportunity to elect a leader who will fight for Hoosier conservative values." Milo was the youngest mayor elected in LaPorte history before resigning in 2017 when Gov. Eric Holcomb appointed her Secretary for Career Connections and Talent.

  • HPI Analysis: Holcomb's 6th address comes in surreal times
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – When Gov. Eric Holcomb appeared at the House podium Tuesday night for his sixth State of the State address, it came amidst surreal circumstances that have consistently defined his political career. Indiana’s hospitals were swamped with mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients and in a crisis mode. The state had a historically low 3% unemployment rate and there were 150,000 job openings coming at a time of what is being called the “Great Resignation” (or the “Great Retirement”) that is potentially skewing labor statistics. Holcomb avoided the hot button social issues percolating among the two General Assembly Republican super majorities. He is being confronted by a Republican attorney general and spoke to a General Assembly that earlier this year had overridden two of his vetoes. So here was Gov. Holcomb, who ascended to office in 2016 while “building the airplane in mid-air,” now confronting a third year of a pandemic crisis that resulted in $13 billion of emergency federal aid flooding into his beloved Indiana, giving, perhaps, his best State of the State address yet. It was full of passion as he outlined reasons for optimism. Just hours after his speech, the Associated Press moved a story suggesting that the Omicron variant surge could wane quickly.
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  • Neil Young tells Spotify to remove either his music or Joe Rogan
    “I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines—potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them. With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE, which is hosted exclusively on Spotify, is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence. Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy. I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform. They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”- Rocker Neil Young, in a letter to Spotify saying the music streaming service cannot carry his music and the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, who has been an anti-COVID vaccine advocate.
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