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Thursday, December 3, 2020
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Wednesday, December 2, 2020 11:21 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. The noises of seized up dynasties

Here are your hump day power lunch talking points: Former Indy mayor Bart Peterson used to tell me that when dynasties or power centers seize up, they make terrible, screeching noises. Such is the case with the wannabe dynasty of President Trump & Family. The amateur hour we've witnessed with the 2016 Trump transition and enduring through four years of a winging presidency now extends through the end of the 2020 campaign and administration. The Trump "legal team" is a national laughing stock. His attempts to subvert the 6 million vote plurality (as well as Joe Biden's 74-vote Electoral College lead) is being staunched by state and local Republicans who are honoring their oaths to the rule of law and the U.S. and state constitutions.

Attorney General Bill Barr doused Trump's allegation of a "rigged" election, saying Tuesday, "To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election." Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ignored Trump's "Hail to the Chief" ringtone as he certified his state for a Biden victory. The New York Times  is reporting that Trump is now seeking blanket pardons for potential crimes his adult children and attorney Rudy Giuliani may have committed. The DoJ is probing a White House pardon-for-pay scheme right out of Rod Blagojevich's Sucker State playbook.

At a maskless White House Christmas Party last night, Trump hinted at a 2024 run: “It’s been an amazing four years. We are trying to do another four years. Otherwise, I’ll see you in four years.” Of course, that depends on whether his address is at Mar-A-Lago or the Queens Detention Complex; whether he can continue to monetize his presidency (he has raised $171 million for his "legal defense" since the election); and whether the type of Republicide he is aiming at Govs. Brian Kemp in Georgia and Ducey renders him a GOP power center or a poor loser afterthought.

2. Trump on Inauguration Day

NBC News: President Trump is discussing the possibility of announcing a campaign to retake the White House in 2024 on Inauguration Day and skipping the swearing-in of his successor, according to three people familiar with the discussions. Presidents John Adams, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Johnson all skipped the peaceful transition of power.

3. Holcomb extends pandemic emergency

Gov. Eric Holcomb is no longer quarantining and he will end the year with Indiana continuing the public health emergency he invoked last March, extending it for a ninth time. It came on a day when the Indiana State Department of Health reported 142 Hoosiers had died, with deaths doubling in November. The IndyStar  reports that Indiana is now second in the nation in COVID hospitalizations in the nation, with roughly 50 out of every 100,000 Hoosiers hospitalized for COVID. "The current hospitalization trends are alarming and are straining Indiana’s hospitals’ ability to care for all patients, including those with COVID 19," said Brian Tabor, president of the Indiana Hospital Association in an emailed statement to the IndyStar.

4. Bray doubts redistricting reform

Redistricting reform has always found the Indiana Senate as a graveyard. Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray to Indiana Public Media: “You can say it's a nonpartisan board that you would appoint. But everybody comes to the poll or any position with some political interest. And the people that are going to appoint that nonpartisan person are probably going to have an interest in what that person's philosophy is either, whether it's publicly known or not.” 

5. 'Anonymous' in hiding

Miles Taylor,
 the Indiana University grad and LaPorte native who penned the "Anonymous"  screed against President Trump in 2018, is portrayed in the Washington Post as a paranoid figure in hiding, dodging drones and constantly peering into his rear view mirror. The former U.S. Homeland Security official acknowledged "I am so spooked," and later added, "There’s no better time to be anonymous.”

Have a great day, folks. It's The Atomic!
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    LOGANSPORT - As Indiana Democrats begin their search for a new state chair, Exhibit A for a new direction comes in the form of Vigo County. For the first time in more than 60 years, the county that had picked every president – and all but three since 1888 – went the wrong way. The county may have a Democratic coroner, but voters chose the Republican nominee for president instead. That county’s political prescience has endured generations of voters long before Tommy John or Larry Bird made names for themselves within the Vigo borders, or before Steve Martin made reference to the city in the black-and-white retro comedy “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid.” Had Democrats focused on Indiana voters the way other states have, the Vigo streak might still be alive. 
    SOUTH BEND – Looking ahead after what just happened – with President Donald Trump and the Democratic brand the big losers – election prospects are bright for Republicans in 2022. A diminished Democratic House majority, solidified Republican control of redistricting and the history of midterm elections point to Republicans gaining control of the House of Representatives in 2022. President-elect Joe Biden was of course the big winner this time. His personal appeal contrasted effectively with the unappealing but politically formidable Trump. Biden might have been the only Democratic presidential aspirant who could have defeated Trump, just as Hillary Clinton might have been the only Democratic aspirant who could have lost to Trump in 2016. Now, Biden inherits a troubled nation, with a worsening pandemic, an economy suffering COVID-caused disruptions and a divisive split. His calls for unity are rejected by Trump and a multitude of Trump voters decrying and disputing the election results. The Democratic brand was a big loser. And that is another serious problem for Biden, even though his personal brand prevailed.
    MUNCIE – In the century after the Civil War, the USA went through a long period of regional convergence. This simply means that as our standard of living grew, poorer places generally grew faster than richer places. This caused states and cities to “converge” towards one another at a time when our overall standard of living grew more than five-fold. By the 1970s the trend of convergence slowed appreciably, and by the 1990s reversed. Over the past three or so decades, rich places have grown more quickly, while poor places grew more slowly. Population flows exacerbate these trends. Rich places tend to attract more people, while poorer places shed them. This results in some stark geographic anomalies. For example, Columbus, Ohio, has captured 130% of Ohio’s population growth in the 21st Century, while Indianapolis captured 120% of all Indiana’s job growth. In recent decades, nearly all large urban places thrived, while smaller cities and rural places mostly stagnated. Unsurprisingly, decades of these patterns cause unease and even resentment among many residents. There are several good studies tying this divergence to growing political discontent.
    INDIANAPOLIS – Readers have petitioned for columns that ignore our dysfunctional politics, disrupted economy, and medical calamity. I am compelled to comply. What could be more neutral, more emotionally void, and more sleep-inducing than a focus on Indiana’s townships? In truth, I must alert you to the fact we have lost three townships since the 2010 Census. Their departure was not widely broadcast beyond the borders of their two counties, Boone and Delaware. No sympathy cards are expected. In Boone County, as you might have heard, has seen considerable growth. Whitestown and Zionsville engaged in very suburban competition for present and future tax base. This is what passes for foresight in suburbs. In the process Eagle and Union Townships were absorbed.
    INDIANAPOLIS – Whether it was North Side Gym in Elkhart or the Southport Fieldhouse, or packing Evansville’s Ford Center with 11,000 supporters in September 2018, President Trump was at the spearhead of a populist movement. His MAGA rallies filled Indiana’s basketball palaces, with thousands who couldn’t get in standing outside. In contrast, at a solo Oct. 22 campaign rally at Fort Wayne International Airport, Vice President Mike Pence drew a very, very modest 400 supporters. Both Trump and Pence lost the Nov. 3 election, with Democrat Joe Biden polling more than 80 million votes in a 51%-47% victory. Yet 74 million voted for Trump despite the pandemic and the ensuing economic meltdown. Within hours of his loss, Trump was telling friends he is considering a comeback in 2024, just as he kicked off his reelection bid just days after his 2016 upset victory over Hillary Clinton. Conventional wisdom had it that if Trump lost, somehow, some way it would be Pence who would become the frontrunner. Yet other recent veep losers (Walter Mondale in 1980 and Dan Quayle in 1992) weren’t able to make this comeback. Pence is now chained to however the Trump legacy bears out. A Politico/Morning Consult Poll released this past week had Trump leading Pence 53%-12% in a hypothetical 2024 primary matchup, with Donald Trump Jr. at 8%. Other GOP rising stars such as Nikki Haley and Tom Cotton barely registered.
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  • HPI Interview: Lt. Gov. Crouch on policy and the open 2024 governor's seat

    INDIANAPOLIS – In December 1976 and again that same month in 1992, there was little doubt that Lt. Gov. Robert Orr and Lt. Gov. Frank O’Bannon were destined to be their party’s gubernatorial nominees four years hence. Today, Lt. Gov. Gov. Suzanne Crouch is preparing for her second term that will include a vivid response to the once-in-a-century pandemic, as well as what occurs when we reach the so-called “light at the end of the tunnel” (i.e. the COVID-19 vaccine). But any inevitability of Crouch’s ascension as the 2024 Republican gubernatorial nominee is going to have to be not only earned, but demonstrated in terms of raw power and clout if she wants to make history and become Indiana’s first female governor in what would be the state’s almost 208 years of existence. While Crouch would head up the earliest Howey Politics Indiana  Horse Race status as a leading contender, just about every Republican we’ve talked with expects an extensive field.
  • Atomic! 65% turnout, results certified; 164 COVID deaths; Rural areas hammered; Rep. Stutzman quits
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. 65% turnout in Indiana: Secretary of State Connie Lawson released statistics Tuesday that revealed at 3,068,542 of Indiana’s 4.7 million registered voters cast a vote in the General Election. “We continue to see that candidates and issues drive turnout,” said Lawson. “Presidential elections tend to have higher turnout rates. That held true this year with 65% of Hoosiers turning out to vote, the highest percentage we’ve seen since 1992.” In 2016 and 2012, voter turnout was at 58%. In 2008 when Democrat Barack Obama won the state’s 11 Electoral College votes, 62% of registered Hoosiers voted in the General Election. Hamilton and Wells counties led the way with 75% turnout, followed by Greene, Hancock and Whitley counties at 74%. Lawson and the bipartisan directors of the Indiana Election Division quietly certified the presidential vote on Tuesday, revealing that President Trump and Vice President Pence received 1,729,531 votes (57%) , compared to 1,242,427 votes (41%) for Democratic President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
  • Atomic! Transition to Biden; Historic Yellin; Trump Pence poll sandwich; Minkler to B&T
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Trump/Biden transition: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: When General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy announced Monday she has "ascertained" that Joe Biden won the presidential election, in tandem with the Michigan Board of Canvassers signing off on Biden's win there, it basically clears the way for that peaceful transfer of power.  President Trump: “I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same." In a tweet late Monday, Trump said that GSA was “being allowed to preliminarily work with the Dems,” though he said he would continue the legal fight and will "never concede."

  • Atomic! Pete & Joe's cabinet; Trump's Michigan caper; Christie, Hogan on GOP 'embarrassment'; Young, Braun silence
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Mayor Pete & Biden's cabinet: Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: Axios reported earlier this month that former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg is a virtual lock for President-elect Joe Biden's cabinet. But as names leaked out over the weekend ahead of Tuesday's first rollout, Buttigieg is off the speculation lists for United Nations ambassador and Homeland Security. That leaves Veterans Affairs or HUD as likely destination points. Native Hoosier Ron Klain has been named chief of staff and Jake Sullivan is expected to be named national security adviser. NBC News on Sunday confirmed reports that Biden is expected to name veteran diplomat Antony “Tony” Blinken secretary of state and Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.N. ambassador. On Monday, Biden nominated Alejandro Mayorkas to head Homeland Security, and Avril Haines as his director of national intelligence.
  • Atomic! Vaccine to FDA; No Biden lockdown; Trump plots; Rudy's madcap presser; Holcomb
makes key hires

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. COVID crisis: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: Pfizer and BioNTech will seek emergency authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine today. Vice President Pence presided over the first White House coronavirus task force in months on Thursday. President-elect Joe Biden and his transition team are still locked out of federal data, including vaccine distribution plans. Biden also ruled out a national lockdown as COVID engulfs the nation, straining hospitals, calling it “counterproductive.” And what of President Trump, who hasn’t attended a task force meeting in months or acknowledged the growing crisis to his country? His lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, held a madcap presser devoid of any evidence of election fraud. Wall Street Journal: "President Trump has broadened his push to overturn the election outcome and threatened Republicans who challenge his refusal to concede, as looming deadlines for key states to certify their results are set to narrow the path for his legal challenges. Some Trump advisers say they are concerned the continued push risks giving false hope to millions of Mr. Trump’s supporters."

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  • Biden, economic team vow 'help is on the way'
    "A first-rate team that's going to get us through this ongoing economic crisis and help us build the economy back, not just build it back, but build it back better than before. We're going to create a recovery for everybody, for all. We're going to get this economy moving again. Our message to everybody struggling right now is help is on the way." - President-elect Joe Biden, announcing his economic team that includes Janet Yellen for Treasury secretary, Wally Adeyemo for deputy secretary of the Treasury, and Neera Tanden for chief of the Office of Management and Budget. 
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  • Trump and Biden priorities

    With American pandemic deaths crossing the 250,000 threshold, President Trump made calls to Michigan local election officials and is inviting legislators to the White House, while President-elect Joe Biden was talking to stressed out front line medical workers. That explains their priorities. Trump is attempting to undermine the American election system, with a Reuters/Ipsos Poll showing that 68% of Republicans now believing the election was "rigged."

    There are Republicans beginning to speak up (though none from Indiana). “Having failed to make even a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy before any court of law, the President has now resorted to overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election," said Sen. Mitt Romney. "It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American President.” And Sen. Ben Sasse said, "President Trump lost Michigan by more than 100,000 votes, and the campaign and its allies have lost in or withdrawn from all five lawsuits in Michigan for being unable to produce any evidence. Wild press conferences erode public trust. We are a nation of laws, not tweets.” The damage to our most precious American cornerstone is stunning, disgusting and sad, and the whole world is watching. - Brian A. Howey, publisher

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