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Wednesday, December 12, 2018
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Tuesday, December 11, 2018 10:37 AM

By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis


1. Holcomb, Crouch, GOP money tear


Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: Gov. Eric Holcomb, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and the Indiana GOP are on a money tear. Together, the three entities will post at least $5.25 million cash-on-hand, eclipsing the previous second year record by $1.25 million. Eric Holcomb for Indiana will post a bigger end-of-year number than either Govs. Mike Pence or Mitch Daniels had at the end of their second year in office, with $3.6 million. In 2014 Mike Pence for Indiana reported $3.549 million, and in 2006, Mitch for Governor posted $2.594 million. Lt. Gov. Crouch will have $750,000 in the bank – four times the amount of her nearest predecessor, former Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman. The Indiana Republican Party will close out with at least $900,000, breaking last year’s $818,000, which was a record amount.


Indiana Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer told HPI, “Obviously Gov. Holcomb has worked extremely hard at fundraising. We’ve all put a lot of time and effort into it. Three’s been a real connection between Hoosiers and Gov. Holcomb and the same can be said with Lt. Gov. Crouch who is setting her own records. It comes down to the governor has done a good job of ascending to be the clear head of the Republican Party.”


2. IN Democratic foundation craters


As if the loss of U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly isn’t bad enough, the state of the Indiana Democratic Party foundation worsened on Nov. 6 with the loss of four more county commissioner seats. So it's now 246 to 30. Indiana Democrats now hold just 30 county commissioner seats in 92 counties, or just 11%. This is an absolute, utter collapse of a major political party at the foundational county level, where Republicans hold more than 80% of courthouse offices. Repeat, a collapse, with virtually no recognition by Indiana Democratic Central Committee members, some of whom have been there for ... decades. Accountability is missing from Indiana Democrats. In modern Hoosier politics, we have never seen a major political party this powerless. The party has no titular head, no conspicuous 2020 gubernatorial challenger in the wings, so this hasbecome a crisis scenario.


3. Braun, Donnelly spent $35 million


We said the U.S. Senate race would be a $100 million endeavor. The campaigns of Sen.-elect Mike Braun and Sen. Joe Donnelly raised $33 million and spent $35 million this year, according to FEC reports. What we haven’t yet added up is all the independent expenditures from super PAC and special interest groups, so our bet is that when it’s all totaled, this race will eclipse the $100 million mark. In 2016, U.S. Sen. Todd Young and Evan Bayh raised and spent about $25 million. Add in the super PAC money and it hit the $75 million level. In 2012, the campaigns of U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, Donnelly and Republican nominee Richard Mourdock and their super PAC allies raised and spent more than $51 million.

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  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    ZIONSVILLE - History fascinates me because it is often a juxtaposition of irony. Man claims to build an unsinkable ship and the Titanic cascades to the Atlantic floor on its maiden voyage. Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both die on July 4, 1826 on the 50th anniversary of the publication of the Declaration of Independence, with the former's last words: "Thomas Jefferson survives" (in fact, he had been dead for five hours). Americans witnessed a fascinating contrast this week with the death of President George H.W. Bush at age 94. His final rites came on Thursday in Texas. On Friday, we are likely to wake up to tectonic grind of scandal, as Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia collusion probe reaches what some are describing as the "endgame" that has the potential to render President Trump into the same historic designation of Bush41, that of a one-term president, though for very different reasons. Earlier this week, Mueller filed a sentencing statement on former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, recommending no prison time because his cooperation stands to impact three criminal cases in formulation. A second such filing is expected on Friday for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. In tandem, they are precursors as to what lurks in the future of this presidency. It would be impossible not to see these stories as a sign of our times.

  • By JACK COLWELL
    SOUTH BEND – Long before all the recent tributes to George H.W. Bush, before all those nice things said about him after his death, he was moving up quickly and deservedly in the ranking of presidents. Not up there among the ones historians traditionally rate as the greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, the two Roosevelts and Thomas Jefferson. But the 41st president, defeated for re-election and leaving office with low approval, has climbed well into the top half in the ranking of presidents on lists of evaluations by historians. Sure, much of the high praise now for Bush, for his civility, decency, upholding of presidential dignity and ability to achieve bipartisan agreements at home and coalitions abroad, is enhanced by comparing with the present. But before there was a President Trump in the White House for comparison, Bush was moving up in esteem as historians evaluated what he did in a single term.
  • By LEE HAMILTON
    BLOOMINGTON – Patriotism has been on a lot of people’s minds lately. French President Emanuel Macron recently criticized President Trump and other world leaders for their “us versus them” view of patriotism. “By putting our own interests first,” he said, “with no regard for others, we erase the very thing that a nation holds dearest, and the thing that keeps it alive: Its moral values.” Meanwhile, just ahead of the midterm elections, the New York Times noted that two clashing visions of patriotism were heading to the polls. President Trump and Republicans saw patriotism as “conspicuous displays of respect for the traditional expressions of America — the flag, the military, the Pledge of Allegiance.” Democrats, by contrast, saw it as protecting the norms and institutions of our democracy. I don’t entirely buy this distinction, at least when it comes to partisan labels. I’ve known plenty of Democrats who consider it patriotic to honor the flag, the military, and the Pledge. And I’ve known a lot of Republicans who value our democratic traditions.
  • By MORTON J. MARCUS
    INDIANAPOLIS – Charlene Curio is a journalism student on her first off-campus interview. “Why do you write this weekly newspaper column?” she asks. “To introduce Hoosiers to their state,” I respond. “It was an idea of newspaper editors at a dinner in 1990 that became reality the next year. As I traveled the state I realized folks everywhere knew little about Indiana’s economy and population. Newspapers then, as today, focused on local sports, crime, and politics. They didn’t provide much information about the state and how what happens in one region compares to other areas.” “What should Hoosiers know about Indiana they don’t already know?” Charlene asks. “Where were you born?” I ask her. “In Indiana,” she replies with neither pride nor embarrassment. “And that’s the answer 68% of the people living in Indiana would give to that same question,” I tell her. “There are only 10 states with a higher percent of persons living in their state of birth. The top five are Louisiana (78%) followed by Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Mississippi. Altogether, 59% of Americans live in their state of birth.”
  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    LEBANON, Ind. – Indiana has become, from a functional standpoint, a one-party state. The most conspicuous stats with U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly’s defeat is Republicans control 9 of 11 congressional seats, have super majorities in the General Assembly and all of the Statehouse constitutional offices. But mine down further is to discover how abjectly out of power Democrats are beyond the big cities of Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, South Bend, Gary, Hammond, Kokomo, Bloomington and Lafayette. On the city front, Democrats control 54 out of 117 city halls. At the county level, the impotence is striking. Of 1,399 county posts (these are prior to the Nov. 6 election) - assessor, auditor, clerk, commissioners, councilmembers, recorder, and treasurer - Democrats control just 268 offices, or an anemic 20 percent. Republicans control 1,130. Out of 242 commissioner seats, Democrats have a mere 34. Of 523 council seats Democrats control just 139. They hold just 22 assessor seats, 18 auditors, 20 clerks, 18 recorders and 17 treasurers. The list doesn’t include sheriffs, prosecutors and coroners, but my bet is those offices would present a similar trend. If you see a Democrat official at a county courthouse, quickly grab your phone and take a photo. Like glaciers and American-made sedans, they are disappearing relics.

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  • HPI Analysis: 'Tariff Man' is on the clock with his base
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – On Nov. 30, Hoosier farmers had a reason to be optimistic, with word that President Trump and Chinese President Xi were on the brink of a yuuuuuuge deal on trade and tariffs as they prepared to dine in Buenos Aires at the G20. When Sunday dawned, (viola!) there was a 90-day trade cease fire. As part of the deal, China agreed to buy “a very substantial amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other product from the United States to reduce the trade imbalance between our two countries,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. Trump added, “This was an amazing and productive meeting with unlimited possibilities for both the United States and China. It is my great honor to be working with President Xi.”

  • Atomic! Individual 1's gathering storm; tariffs continue market roil
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. The gathering storm of 'Individual 1': It's Saturday, but current events  warrant a special weekend version of The Atomic! I've told this story before, but it's worth repeating. A prominent Hoosier Republican asked why I "hate" President Trump. The response: I don't hate the president, but I am wary of his rule for two reasons, he lies all the time and the White House operations are amateurish. The sentencing filings by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Southern District of New York on Friday underscore both of these points. Russian contacts to the Trump campaign go back to 2015, and everyone lied about them. There were few seasoned pros on the Trump campaign, and despite the epic upset with a huge assist from the woebegone Hillary Clinton, it showed. From the SDNY, the Michael Cohen payments to porn star Stormy Daniels constitute what appear to be campaign finance violations by the president, or "Individual 1." Every operative or candidate from the Indiana General Assembly to Congress to president must adhere to campaign finance laws, or risk jail and political oblivion. Trump appears to have ignored the standard

  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. An impactful day taking shape: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: An impactful day is taking shape  in both Washington and Indianapolis as the nation braces for sentencing statements from Special Counsel Robert Mueller on the guilty Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort. The statements are expected to shed light on where the Mueller probe is likely to go. President Trump nominated former attorney general William Barr to his old job, and Heather Nauert as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. There was a jobs report showing the nation added 155,000 jobs in November. President Trumpsigned the Continuing Resolution keeping the government open for two more weeks. There is rampant speculation that John Kelly will be out as Chief of Staff, to be replaced by Vice President Pence's COS Nick Ayres, who has a lot of White House enemies (but Ivanka and Jared love him; they loved Manafort and Michael Flynn, too). And Gov. Eric Holcomb has made a change Department of Veterans' Affairs, with Director James Brownexiting after reports that his employees were paid funds designed for homeless vets.

  • HPI Interviews: Sen. Young surveys Saudis, tariffs, Mueller
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – During his two years in the U.S. Senate, Republican Todd Young has been a persistent voice on the plight of people tormented by the Yemen civil war. He describes the current situation as one of the most severe humanitarian disasters since World War II. Since October, events in Yemen have collided with Saudi Arabia’s murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, with U.S. intelligence services directly implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). President Trump has not accepted those assessments, prompting Young and 13 Republicans to join Democrats in a delivering a historic rebuke to Saudi Arabia, which Young says has indiscriminately bombed citizens and perpetrated a famine that could kill 14 million people.

  • Bush41 had a big impact on Indiana politics
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – It isn’t an easy thing to get a former president to headline a state party dinner, but Mike McDaniel pulled it off in 1999. Former President George H.W. Bush was on the bill as the keynote. McDaniel went to the airport to pick up Bush and the first thing the former president said was, “OK, who’s for my son in Indiana and who’s not?” Bush’s vice president, Dan Quayle, had already declared for the 2000 race, but there was momentum gathering for Texas Gov. George W. Bush. “Well,” McDaniel said, “Doc Bowen’s for Dan Quayle ...” “How can Doc Bowen be for Dan Quayle?” an incredulous Bush asked. Well, the GOP chairman said, he’s from Indiana. “He’s doing it because he’s a Hoosier.” To which Bush responded, “Dan Quayle lives in Arizona.” 
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  • Lugar, Bayh warn Senate about emerging scandals
    "As former members of the U.S. Senate, Democrats and Republicans, it is our shared view that we are entering a dangerous period, and we feel an obligation to speak up about serious challenges to the rule of law, the Constitution, our governing institutions and our national security. We are on the eve of the conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation and the House’s commencement of investigations of the president and his administration. The likely convergence of these two events will occur at a time when simmering regional conflicts and global power confrontations continue to threaten our security, economy and geopolitical stability. It is a time, like other critical junctures in our history, when our nation must engage at every level with strategic precision and the hand of both the president and the Senate. We are at an inflection point in which the foundational principles of our democracy and our national security interests are at stake, and the rule of law and the ability of our institutions to function freely and independently must be upheld. Regardless of party affiliation, ideological leanings or geography, as former members of this great body, we urge current and future senators to be steadfast and zealous guardians of our democracy by ensuring that partisanship or self-interest not replace national interest." - 44 former U.S. Senators, including Richard Lugar and Evan Bayh from Indiana, writing a Washington Post op-ed article warning current senators about the emerging scandals involving President Trump.
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  • Weird scenes inside the White House
    The Nick Ayres saga fallout continues to be just ... weird. Vanity Fair's  Gabriel Sherman reports that last Friday, President Trump met with Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence, and out-going Chief of Staff John Kelly to finalize the CoS transition. A press release announcing Ayers’s hiring was reportedly drafted and ready to go for when Trump planned to announce Kelly’s departure on Monday. But Kelly was pressing for top aide Zachary Fuentes to get the job, Trump got pissed and leaked the story on Saturday. Ayres began getting calls from the press about his net worth estimated to be between $12 million and $54 million.

    Ayres then insisted he only wanted the job for several months. Sherman: “Trump was pissed, he was caught off guard,” a former West Wing official briefed on the talks said. By Sunday, Ayres not only bolted the Trump gig, but the Pence job, too, deciding to head back to Georgia. So by year's end, Trump and Pence will both be on their third chief in less than two years.

    This all comes amid rampant speculation that with scandal, House Democrat investigations and a tariff-bruised economy all looming over the horizon, who would want to work for a guy like Trump, where loyalty is a one-way street, allies get thrown under the bus, and careers can be tainted forever after folks wallow in Watergate or get the Kremlin Kramps. Trump and Pence had lunch on Monday. Wonder what was on the menu? Crow, perhaps?
    - Brian A. Howey, publisher.
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