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Saturday, June 23, 2018
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Friday, June 22, 2018 7:43 AM

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Democratic Chairman John Zody spoke to Howey Politics Indiana from Washington Tuesday afternoon and said his party is united and focused on issues and a watchdog role heading into the general election.

He believes that Sen. Joe Donnelly will be reelected and that Democrats can break the Indiana House super majority. He said that party will have a stronger presence on social media and that the Democrat outreach to voters is strong.

Here is our HPI Interview with Chairman Zody:

HPI: Where do you think Indiana Democrats are after the convention season?

Zody: We’re in good shape. We’re unified. We’re going to keep talking to people around the state. I felt real good about the energy Friday night and the convention on Saturday. I feel good. We had 1,100 people at the dinner Friday night, we had 1,600 convention delegates on Saturday. We passed our platform unanimously. We nominated three great statewide candidates. People felt they were heard, they had energy moving into the rest of the summer.

HPI: What does your statewide ticket bring to the equation?

Zody: First and foremost, they bring both experience and diversity. Jim Harper running for secretary of state is a younger candidate but brings experience as an attorney. He knows the law. He knows about the issue of voting rights which is critical right now. Joselyn Whitticker is a former member of the (Marion) city council, former school administrator, former member of the board of public works, knows government finance and knows how to campaign and work. John Aguilera, a former legisaltor and county council member, brings experience. They bring that energy and that drive to get out there and talk to people. People want to know that their party and, more importantly, there are candidates out there who reflect their values.
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    INDIANAPOLIS – Perhaps not since the Children’s Crusade of 1212 have adults in power so cruelly exploited children for political ends. Today’s situation on the U.S. border is akin to that disastrous medieval enterprise led by Franco-German zealots in that we once again (centuries later) have on offer a religious rationale for decisive action unmoored from reality and from the very human kindness that Christianity espouses but we too rarely see.  WWJD? Certainly not this. Not the systemic separation of babes from their mothers nor the destruction of families as a matter of state policy. We are admonished ad nauseum that the family is the cornerstone of society – and so it is. Does this not apply to these migrants? Are their human rights not as inalienable as our own?  Jesus counseled all to turn the other cheek, but I doubt he did so in order for us to avert our eyes from a humanitarian crisis of our own government’s making. The Trump Administration has decided to enforce our country’s immigration laws with zero-tolerance. But its enforcement and, indeed, its rhetoric is not unprecedented. These immigration laws are not new; they are established through acts of Congress. Anti-illegal immigration rhetoric was deployed by both the Clinton and Obama administrations merely in more discreet, mellifluous form. (This is not a claim; it is supported by the facts. Anyone wishing to dispute them is welcome to search CSPAN’s archives for the relevant State of the Union passages. Seek and ye shall find.) 
    INDIANAPOLIS – We all want financial services that propel us toward our goals – a home, an education, a small business, a dignified retirement. But in today’s increasingly complex financial marketplaces, some companies exploit consumers, often denying their victims the opportunity to reach those goals, or even sending them backwards. Abuse and deception in financial marketplaces affects whole communities, not just individuals, and it should not take an advanced degree in finance to avoid the pitfalls, so it makes sense for consumers to have a watchdog. And they did, until recently. From 2011-2017, Hoosiers could depend on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Established in the wake of our still-recent financial collapse, the CFPB went after the banks, student loan servicers, debt collectors and others who took advantage of consumers. It recovered about $12 billion for consumers in principal reductions, cancelled debts or monetary compensation against unfair or deceptive lenders.
    EVANSVILLE – Nearly 1,500 Republican delegates gathered here last weekend. Their Democratic brothers and sister convene in Indianapolis Friday and Saturday. So what is the status of Indiana’s dominant, super majority Grand Old Party? For Democrats, the blunt force reality is that their hold on the only office voted on by all Hoosiers, the U.S. Senate seat, is now a “tossup” race. The Morning Consult “2018 Midterm Wave Watcher” supplies some statistical grist: Donnelly’s approve/disapprove stood at 41/34 percent, down from 43/30 percent in January. But the real heartburn for Democrats is that 44 percent said it’s “time for a new person” while 31 percent said Donnelly “deserves reelection.” The Donnelly campaign’s fundraising appeals are also fraught with angst. “We know our emails have been a little panicky lately, but we’re not exaggerating when we say that Joe’s chances of winning in November are no better than a coin flip,” read one Team Donnelly fundraising appeal last week. Another notes: “Here’s the deal … The pollsters are calling this race a toss-up, and that means we’ve got an equally good chance of losing as we do of winning. I’ve heard that before, though. After all, no one thought we’d win in 2012.” The “blue wave” that had been a double-digit advantage for Democrats until May, has turned into, as Republican National Chairman Ronna McDaniel put it, a “blue ripple.”  
    EVANSVILLE – For political junkies, it’s the 1968 Indiana Republican Convention that best exemplifies a sort of golden age for state convention floor fights. The gubernatorial battle on the GOP side that year is well-remembered because it was a hotly contested race between the sitting secretary of state (Edgar Whitcomb) and the sitting speaker of the Indiana House (Otis Bowen), both of whom would eventually become beloved governors (less well-remembered is that future U.S. Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz was a third candidate in that race). It’s also remembered because it marked a sort of statewide coming out party for Keith Bulen, who helped engineer a coalition of large county delegations that backed a successful slate of candidates led by Whitcomb. The 1968 Republican race for governor stands out as much for its place in the significant Bulen mythology that would build over the subsequent three decades as it does for any candidates involved. In truth, it was actually the 1968 Indiana Democratic Party convention that produced a floor fight to be remembered, both because it featured a colossal upset and because it ended with what’s probably the narrowest margin of victory ever seen in a state convention.

    LaPORTE – Despite some wishful recurring thinking from my brethren on the other side of the aisle about some kind of Bernie vs. Hillary battle for the soul of the Democratic Party supposedly playing out, real insights by those who know organizing Indiana political campaigns realize that’s just not the case across much of Indiana. Unlike Hoosier Republicans, who it appears spent a good deal of energy fighting this past weekend at their convention about competing platform planks and do seem to have some real philosophical splits playing out between social conservatives and the more moderate wing of the GOP, most Hoosier Democrats understand we’re not in any position to have these arcane fights about who is sufficiently purist to pass any kind of label to be a Democrat. With control of the White House, both houses of Congress, the governorship and the legislature in Republican hands, most Democrats I speak with around the state are ready to come to Indianapolis this upcoming weekend with a needed show of support for our newly minted state ticket and to go out from there working to make some gains both in the partisan makeup of the legislature and in picking up another seat or two in Congress.
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  • HPI Interview: Hupfer predicts GOP supermajorities will hold

    INDIANAPOLIS – With the Indiana political convention season concluded, we sat down with Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer, a week after his successful confab in Evansville. He remains confident that the GOP will hold on to its U.S. House seats, upset Sen. Joe Donnelly and maintain its General Assembly supermajorities. He chided Democratic efforts at redistricting reform with Republican Communications Director Pete Seat injecting at one point, “What they’re asking for is actually gerrymandering.” Hupfer added that to achieve more competitive districts would mean weakening stalwart Democratic districts.

  • Horse Race: INDem 2020 gubernatorial race wide open

    INDIANAPOLIS – For the party out of gubernatorial power in the modern era of Hoosier politics, there has almost always been a prime challenger in waiting, even two years out. This is the time that prospects beginning lining up support and a team, and as often the case, attempt to create an aire of inevitability to keep other contenders out. In 1976, it was Secretary of State Larry Conrad who was poised for the challenge against Gov. Doc Bowen. In 1980, there was Batesville industrialist John Hillenbrand in waiting, and four years hence it was State Sen. Wayne Townsend. In 1988, it was a youthful Secretary of State Evan Bayh, who cut a deal with Sen. Frank O’Bannon (though he actually remained on the primary ballot) to join the ticket. In 1992, it was Republican Attorney General Linley Pearson. In 1996, it was Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, who easily fended off Rex Early and George Witwer Jr. in the GOP primary before O’Bannon pulled off a stirring upset. In 2000, it was U.S. Rep. David McIntosh. In 2002-03, White House Budget Director Mitch Daniels returned to the state and cleared both McIntosh and Sen. Murray Clark from the field (but not conservative gadfly Eric Miller) prior to his historic defeat of a sitting governor, Democrat Joe Kernan in 2004. And in 2012 and 2016, it was former Democratic House speaker John Gregg.

  • HPI Interview: Rep. Ryan wants Dems to focus on economy

    INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana Democrats heard from Ohio U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan at the Friday night Hoosier Hospitality Dinner and he focused on economic and social issues. In 2016, Ryan unsuccessfully challenged House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi even though he has not held a leadership position. “We got the message we wanted to get out,” Ryan said after his defeat to Pelosi. “We have to focus on economic issues. It’s the issue that unites us as Democrats. If we’re going to win, we have to have an economic strategy that resonates in every region of the country.” Since then, he has entered the conversation of the 2020 presidential race. Ryan represents the Youngstown/Akron area of Ohio, first elected in 2002, saying that he is interested in the policy side of government. The 45-year-old was raised by a single mother in a Catholic family.

  • Holcomb injects surplus funds into DCS, aims at 'culture of fear'

    INDIANAPOLIS - Gov. Eric Holcomb received seven recommendations today on how to correct problems at the Department of Child Services, several focusing on substance abuse problems. He ordered $25 million of the state’s surplus to be immediately injected into the agency that he described as one inflicted with a “culture of fear.”  Holcomb also named Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer to head a senior leadership team to implement the recommendations. “He’s been an outstanding county prosecutor for the past 16 years. He helped found the Sylvian’s Advocacy Center. His processional acknowledge of our DCS … will bring a dimension to this role that we’ll need. This is one, big important job.”

  • Atomic! Child outrage and reports; Dems bury pink wave
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis
    1. Hoosier Republicans silent on border kidsHere are your Monday power lunch talking points: The border child separation story that unfolded when Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended it in Biblical terms in Fort Wayne last week is metastasizing and the Indiana GOP congressional delegation is mum. Republicans will have facetime withPresident Trump on Capitol Hill Tuesday, so if you’re revolted by the zero-tolerance program, call your congress(wo)man. Over the weekend, Sen. Joe Donnelly told Indiana Democrats, “I stand here as a grandson of immigrants and I tell you no child should be taken from the arms of their parents at the border of the United States of America. That is not what this country is about. We can have strong borders, but that has not what this country has ever been.” We asked Mike Braun’s campaign for a statement … have heard nothing. But some Republicans are speaking out. Former First Lady Laura Bush: “I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral.
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  • Holcomb responds to SCOTUS ruling on Internet sales tax
    “A lot about our world and economy has changed in the 26 years since our nation’s highest court last ruled on this issue,” Holcomb said Thursday. “With the incredible evolution of technologies and the growth of internet sales, this Supreme Court ruling will help level the playing field between our Hoosier-based companies that operate retail stores and out-of-state companies that sell products and services online in our state. We’re taking a careful look at the ruling to better understand its implications for Indiana.” - Gov. Eric Holcomb, reacting to the U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing states to collect sales tax from on-line retailers. Indiana passed a law in 2017 anticipating the rule, with the state expecting $77 million to come in from e-commerce annually.
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  • The First Lady's message
    American First Ladies almost always assume a role and much of it is messaging. For Nancy Reagan, it was “Just say no” to drugs. Betty Ford gave us a compassionate path to those savaged by addiction. Laura Bush was all about literacy. Lady Bird Johnson urged littered and dumpy America to clean up its act.

    And Melania Trump? She remains a mystery to most of us with her Sphinx-like mannerisms. But she is also a messenger, though often we don’t know what to make of her signals. Who can forget Donald Trump’s debate with Hillary Clinton right after we learned from the Access Hollywood audio that women will let rich tycoons do what he wants (“you can grab ‘em by the pussy”)? Mrs. Trump showed up wearing a pink Gucci pussy bow, creating even more of a stir when she shook hands with President Bubba. Perhaps she was trying to tell us it’s really OK to grab ‘em … or maybe it was a rebuke to his cheatin’ heart. We simply don’t know.

    After torrents of President Trump’s snide and vicious tweets, First Lady Trump decided to make bullying her prime issue, saying, “Our culture has gotten too mean and too rough. We must treat each other with respect and kindness.” Ya think?

    Then came McAllen, Tex., just hours after President Trump ended immigrant child separation with the stroke of a pen (after weeks saying only Democrats could). The former fashion model showed up wearing a cheap jacket on a muggy day reading “I really don’t care, do U?” as 2,300 kids were incarcerated by the U.S. government nearby and who knows where else.

    The First Lady’s flak told us “there was no hidden message,” but President Trump contradicted, saying his wife was flipping off the news media, saying she “has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!” Show up at the scene of U.S. policy that has truly disturbed folks across the spectrum, and tell us all you really don’t care, even as we learn the U.S. government has lost track of many of this tormented kids. Got it. Classy. -
    Brian A. Howey, publisher
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