• HPI Interview: Sen. Young looks beyond the pandemic to social impacts

    INDIANAPOLIS  – With Indiana and the nation heading up the steep incline toward a coronavirus apex expected to crest in mid- to late-April, Howey Politics Indiana  conducted this interview with Sen. Todd Young, who finds himself in the biggest crisis he has faced since joining Congress nine years ago.

    “We’re doing what Americans do in times of crisis,” Young explained, “identifying ways to adapt, improvise and overcome. Unlike the 2008-09 economic crisis, which is something Americans never wanted to relive, our economy was red hot as we headed into this pandemic. We literally have a public health crisis at the same time we have an economic crisis. It’s disrupted our society. So this has impacted every facet of our lives and has inspired how Americans, and Hoosiers more specifically, have been responding.”

    Young made a point of reaching out to local government officials reading this HPI Interview. “We are open for business; we are working seven days a week,” Young said of his Senate office. “We will respond to every email, every phone call, every letter and it will form my policy responses in the coming weeks and months.”

    Other highlights on our half hour conversation focused on how this pandemic will likely reshape society, and whether the Trump administration mishandled the early stages of the crisis, with President Trump routinely saying “who would have believed” such an event could happen.

    “Public health experts, some of whom were sited in the bowels of the national security establishment, were warning about this sort of disaster for decades,” said Young, who “war-gamed” a pandemic a few years ago with the Center for Strategic International Studies. “Clearly there will be a lot of lessons learned as we prepare for future pandemics after we overcome the current one. My own office is preparing a punch sheet of different things they are learning along the way so that on the back end we might do our part to optimize the system.”

    Here is our HPI Interview  with Sen. Young conducted Monday morning:

    HPI: How is your family holding up during this pandemic and shutdown?

    Sen. Young: 
    My kids can get their homework done in two and a half to three hours. They play during the rest of the day. They’ve found other outlets like music and arts, which is not bad. I think we’re going to be rethinking a lot of things on the back end of this; things like distance learning and remote working, and, hopefully, even rediscovering how important community is to us. I think there’s been a lot of reflection on that. Spending time away from one another is being reminded that we need one another, right?

    HPI: Absolutely. Talk a little more about how this pandemic is likely to change American society. What do you expect, or is this evolving territory?

    Young: I do have some expectations that have been reinforced. They’ve just been reflections of what I’ve thought before, reinforced by what we’ve seen recently. One reflection, of course, is people can work digitally, remotely and effectively and are discovering they can do both with online platforms. They can remotely teleconference and work out the kinks on that front, figure out ways to divide up work among teams, and remotely manage projects. I think a lot of people will be choosing remote work, or at least recognizing that as an option. On the educational front, I think we’re going to have to rethink things over a period of time of how K-12 and higher ed are structured. There still is some place for some social interaction. Just ask my 13-year-old; she misses her friends. We need to develop our children socially and intellectually. It’s remarkable how effectively a young person and older learners can do their work remotely in consultation with a diligent teacher – and her teacher is incredibly diligent – that doesn’t require a human presence. There could be economic benefits, there could be familial benefits for those who want to spend time at home with elderly parents, with young children. This could have environmental benefits when we think about the reduction in emissions associated with remote learning. I think we’re all trying to learn from this grand social experiment which is a byproduct of a very difficult economic crisis.

    HPI: All of the medical experts and epidemiologists are saying that testing is the key to identify and isolate vectors and victims, so we can reopen society. How does the CARES Act address that and when do you see widespread testing?

    Young: I think those experts are absolutely right that if we are able to clamp down on the public health challenges, ultimately the economic challenges will take care of themselves. In fact, as everyone knows we’re coming off one of our best economies in five decades, but we’re telling people they can’t go to work. There are many jobs that cannot be performed remotely. We are telling our young Americans they can’t go to school, so all of this is the function of the requisite social distancing associated with the crisis. With regard to testing, I’m listening to our governor and leaders as well as those who are trying to coordinate the response at the federal level; trying to determine the inventory of masks, test kits, of PPE and of ventilators and other necessary items. I’ve spent the last three weeks seemingly non-stop on the phone to get a sense of the needs and concerns of rank and file Hoosiers, businesses and hospitals. I’ve learned that our government leaders have been able to work effectively with our health care providers and businesses to begin making many of these products. One of America’s pre-eminent workshops, the State of Indiana, is the most manufacturing-intensive state in the country; we have face shields being produced in Madison, ventilators are hopefully going to be manufactured at a GM plant in Kokomo. There are increasing number of examples around the state, and I know around the country as well. At the same time, our diplomats have been working with other countries to source as many of these essential items as possible. We’re doing what Americans do in times of crisis, identifying ways to adapt, improvise and overcome. A precise timeline is unclear to me. I have received reassurances from all levels of government that the pipeline of these materials is going to continue to increase. I’m also hearing at the ground level we’re starting to see test kits and masks come in.

    HPI: Should Congress be prepared to fund a vote-by-mail system in November? Epidemiologists are describing a “W” shaped pandemic that could flare up next autumn.

    Young: I’ve been in contact with colleagues on both sides of the aisle about changing the rules for an emergency situation, perhaps like the one we’re about to encounter, when we may not have enough senators present to perform a quorum. The change in rules would require an agreement by the Senate majority leader and Democratic leader to approve emergency technology, a verification for individual senator’s vote. I think it’s important to prepare ourselves for these contingencies. This would not be a vote-by-mail system per se. Instead it would involve a much more rigorous verification system.

    HPI: I’m asking about conducting the General Election by mail next November.

    Young: It’s my understanding these are state-by-state decisions. That’s how our elections have always been conducted. I know our leaders have been quite attentive and responsive to the needs of Hoosiers as relates to voting, which is manifested in the recent decisions to the primary election.

    HPI: Funding a vote-by-mail system for the state is a state and local function and possible impediment. Would you be interested in congressional legislation that would fund state-by-state vote by mail if the pandemic reared its ugly head next autumn?

    Young: Some sort of remote voting system, whether it’s mail or other more secure means might be appropriate, if that’s the decision of our state leaders. Yes, I’d give strong consideration to their request, of course.

    HPI: We went into this pandemic crisis with a federal budget deficit of $1 trillion and we just added $2.2 trillion with the CARES Act and there is speculation on a fourth piece of rescue funding legislation if this shutdown lasts into May or June. How are we going to pay for all of this, particularly with the damaged economy?

    The first thing we’re going to do is try and shore up the jobs people go back to after we have addressed that major challenge. So if we’re able to get our economy moving again, we stop bleeding red ink, we start bringing revenue back in, hopefully we’ll resume the growth level allowing us to bring in more revenue than before this pandemic hit. We continue to identify areas where we can make government more efficient and optimize more sustainable government. That’s how we do it. We come up with a plan to improve our balance sheet over time. I think right now is not a time to think of the dollar figure associated with feeding people, allowing them to pay their rent with these circumstances, or making people whole with the government mandating they not show up for work. The social obligation and my solidarity with all Americans and Hoosiers is to help people out at this time.

    HPI: Did the Trump administration drop the ball on this by disbanding the National Security Council’s pandemic team in 2018?

    Young: The administration has been responsive since the early stages of this crisis. President Trump banned flights coming in from China, which was the epicenter of this pandemic. He’s assembled a coronavirus task force where we’ve found the health experts leading the policy response, which is what you want. He’s worked in historically rapid fashion with congressional leaders and other stakeholders to provide relief to the American people, in contrast to the 2008-09 situation when it took four months to get a stimulus package out the door. We were able to complete the same sort of mission in just a few weeks. So I think between that response and the regulatory relief that has allowed our private businesses to be able to get people the help they need in time of crisis, Republicans, working with many members in the House, have taken swift actions to provide emergency relief the people need to live on.

    HPI: President Trump has said on several of occasions something like “who knew” this type of pandemic was possible? But there are scores of health experts and your predecessor in the Senate, Dan Coats, who talked about the potential for pandemics. We’ve seen the system come up short in the early stages with lack of testing, PPE and ventilators. The U.S. has the National Petroleum Reserve, but had no stockpiles of medical materials. How should we prepare for the inevitable next pandemic?

    Young: Public health experts, some of whom were sited in the national security establishment, were warning about this sort of disaster for decades. Clearly there will be a lot of lessons learned as we prepare for future pandemics after we overcome the current one. My own office is preparing a punch sheet of different things they are learning along the way so that we might do our part to optimize the system. I know the administration and some of the others are doing the same. I was involved in a war gaming exercise a couple of years ago with the Center for Strategic International Studies. It’s not like this has been off radar. The president did provide funding for pandemic response that we haven’t historically provided a year ago. With all of that said, this has clearly exposed the vulnerabilities associated with having extensive supply chains where we rely on other countries to provide national security essential equipment, on such things as rudimentary as surgical masks and personal protective equipment that needs to be produced here. We’re going to have to think more critically about that moving forward. We’re going to have to have more plans on how we scale up production quickly. All of these things go back a number of years. In light of this administration, this Congress, the response has been quite appropriate and quite rapid.

     Normally in the winter, there is a congressional hearing on the national intelligence assessment that your predecessor, former National Intelligence Director Coats, as well as the CIA and FBI directors, participate in. That hearing in 2019 produced some fireworks between President Trump and Coats. There was no such assessment this past winter that could have flagged the still nascent pandemic due to opposition from the White House. Should such an assessment be restored?

    Young: I’m not sure what the president’s rationale is for that. I assumed he has some rationale, so I would want to hear that first. As a former intelligence professional myself, I’ve got great respect for and place high value in the great work product of our intelligence professionals.

    HPI: Anything you want to add to whatI have asked?

    Young: Maybe some of your readers might be interested in what my office can do for assistance with state and local authorities.

    HPI: Absolutely. I have a lot of mayors and city councilmen who read this.

    Young: We are working very hard to be responsive to all of the needs across the state, and that means helping them navigate assistance programs we’ve been able to stand up. That also means I’d like to augment what state authorities are providing as it relates to the public health situation. That means, amidst all the other challenges, dealing with the regular functions of a Senate office. That means assisting veterans … and other entities with emergent needs. We are open for business; we are working seven days a week. We will respond to every email, every phone call, every letter and it will form my policy responses in the coming weeks and months.

    HPI: Is this the biggest crisis you’ve faced in your decade in Congress?

    Young: Without question. Unlike the 2008-09 economic crisis, which is something Americans never wanted to relive, our economy was red hot as we headed into this pandemic. The economy in 2008 was lethargic and when the financial crisis hit, our businesses had been in debt, shoring up their balance sheets, and putting aside some cash for a rainy day. This economy is strong in contrast. What happens is people are investing in the future on property, on plants, equipment and workforce training. And so our companies didn’t have any cash, or much cash, so in a number of days a number of Hoosier businesses were going out of business and without the where-with-all to keep our economy going. We were within days of decimating our Hoosier economy and we are still working hard to ensure that doesn’t happen. All of this is conflated with a public health situation that makes it difficult to assess the severity. We literally have a public health crisis at the same time we have an economic crisis. It’s disrupted our society. So this has impacted every facet of our lives and has inspired how Americans, and Hoosiers more specifically, have been responding.
  • Holcomb, Lawson announce rescheduling on May 5 primary to June 2

    NASHVILLE, Ind. - Saying all Hoosiers "have a right to elect our leaders in a safe and open environment," Gov. Eric Holcomb, Secretary of State Connie Lawson and the two major party chairs jointly announced the May 5 primary has been rescheduled for June 2.

    Lawson said she has been in contact with county clerks and said she would ask the Indiana Election Commission to "suspend all absentee ballot rules" to allow that option to a broader swathe of the public and have ballots delivered to polling officials by family members. While Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer and Democratic Chairman John Zody had pushed for universal vote-by-mail, Lawson said, "Clerks were concerned about capacity if everybody voted by absentee."

    Moving the election to June 2 would shift a number of pre-election deadlines, including campaign finance reporting, registration and the dispatching of military ballots. "The reason we all came to agreement for June 2 was to give both parties time to work through their state and national convention processes. All of these steps will be in concert," Lawson said. "It will be a learning process. I am confident we will conduct a safe and secure election." 

    Holcomb reiterated his view stated on Thursday that the May 5 primary "needed to be pushed back to ensure the safety of county employees, poll workers and voters." He added that he wanted to give Lawson, Hupfer and Zody "time to build a consensus."

    Hupfer said, “Hoosiers have always come together in times of crisis and today’s bipartisan announcement to move Indiana’s primary election to June 2 is yet another example of that unity. Moving our primary is not a step we took lightly, but it is necessary. Moving to June 2 will provide for the safety and security of all involved in the election process and allow additional time for those tasked with the job of conducting the election to prepare."

    Hupfer added that he and the Republican Central Committee are "planning for an alternative if required" for the party's June convention.

    Zody, who is on the ballot himself for an Indiana Senate seat, said of his party's June 13 convention, "We have been talking about what alternatives would be." He said that the election of delegates to the Democratic National Convention occurs at the state convention. Asked if the Democratic Central Committee was on board with the delay, Zody said, "We have had robust discussions. We have folks who have concerns and folks who are in support."

    The Indiana Election Commission was supposed to meet today, but pushed that back to 10 a.m. March 25.
  • HPI Analysis: Hoosiers are facing generational crisis against coronavirus

    INDIANAPOLIS  – Hoosiers are facing their greatest physical and economic threat since the Great Depression and on the most crucial aspect of this crisis – the availability of coronavirus testing that would allow health and policy executives to learn of the extent of the spread and contact trace those in a cluster – we are flying blind.

    As of Thursday, only a mere 380 out of 6.85 million Hoosiers have been tested. While there have been 56 confirmed cases (including 19 in Indianapolis) and two deaths, Bill Joy, the computer scientist who co-founded Sun Microsystems, told New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, “The last few weeks were actually pretty unsurprising and predictable in how the pandemic spread. But we’ve now reached a point where all of our interlocking systems, each with their own feedback loops, are all shutting down in unpredictable ways. This will inevitably lead to some random and chaotic consequences, like health care workers not having child care.”

    Joy described the power of exponentials: “The virus is like a loan shark who charges 25% a day interest. We borrowed $1 (the first coronavirus to appear here). We then fiddled for 40 days. Now we owe $7,500. If we wait three more weeks to pay, we’ll owe almost $1 million.”

    Last Friday, Dr. Box, Indiana’s health commissioner, said modeling showed that up to 60,000 Hoosiers may be carrying the highly contagious virus. If these unknowing carriers transmit it to 2.5 people, as pandemic models suggest, another 150,000 people can be exposed, and they become spreaders. “People ask me a lot of times, ‘Well, how many negatives have you had?’ Well, unfortunately I don’t have that knowledge,” Dr. Box said.

    Dr. Woody Myers, the presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee and past state health commissioner, said Wednesday that testing should be the “top priority” at this stage of the pandemic. “Without testing, we don’t know where the patients are, where the clusters are,” Myers said.

    “Stealth” coronavirus cases are fueling the pandemic, with a staggering 86% of people infected walking around undetected, according to a study Monday in the journal Science. “It’s the undocumented infections which are driving the spread of the outbreak,” said co-author Jeffrey Shaman of Columbia University Mailman School, according to GeekWire.

    That’s why when Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the state’s first death on Monday, he ominously said, “This is the beginning. This is real.” He and Dr. Box will give an update at 1 p.m. today in the Statehouse south atrium. You can watch the livestreaming by clicking here.

    Since Monday, Holcomb has ordered all bars and restaurants closed; limited public gatherings to a maximum of 50 people; and activation of the National Guard to help with logistics and, if needed, establish MASH units. More than 270 school districts have closed, as have most of the colleges and universities. The NCAA’s March Madness has been cancelled, as have the ISHAA tournaments.

    If the Indianapolis 500 is cancelled (at this writing it’s still on for May, but like the Kentucky Derby likely to be postponed), that would be a devastating economic hit on the state. The Indiana Business Resource Center commissioned a study in 2000 that estimated the economic impact was $331 million. Adjusted for inflation in 2010, it was estimated to be $431.1 million. It will almost certainly crest the $500 million figure this year.

    Holcomb faces a similar scenario as Gov. Mitch Daniels did in 2008, when the Great Recession almost sacked the domestic auto industry and Indiana’s extensive network of auto supply firms. Holcomb’s second term, should he defeat Dr. Myers in November, is likely to be in stark economic contrast to his first term, which was marked by record investments and low jobless rates (it was 3.1% in January).

    Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin warned Republican senators at their weekly Tuesday luncheon that unemployment could reach 20%, levels seen in places like Elkhart, Kokomo and Anderson during the 2008-09 Great Recession.

    At least 60 American health care workers have tested positive for the virus with just 4,226 cases reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday. Of those cases, 229 were travel-related, 245 came via close contact, and 3,752 are under investigation. According to the Harvard Global Health Institute, if 60% of the U.S. population contracts the virus, the nation would need seven times the number of available hospital beds. That has prompted calls for additional beds to be created in now-vacant college dorms and private surgery centers.

    The United States is expected to lose 4.6 million travel-related jobs this year as the coronavirus outbreak levies an $809 billion blow to the economy, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

    An internal report from the Department of Health and Human Services obtained by the New York Times concluded that the “pandemic will last 18 months or longer and could include multiple waves of illness.”

    Without widespread testing, Indiana and the U.S. has been faced with literally shutting down the economy, as opposed to South Korea, which tested and isolated those infected without broader shutdown.

    The Trump administration is working on a $1 trillion rescue package that could include two $2,000 checks to be mailed to most Americans, one within two weeks and a second in May, and $50 billion for the American airline industry. Last Sunday the Federal Reserve cut interest rates to zero. With budget deficits already more than $1 trillion, and national debt more than $22 trillion, the American quiver is quickly running out of arrows. What happens if “social distancing” lasts six to 18 months, as opposed to six weeks?

    Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the federal coronavirus task force, said on Tuesday, “Every American can be confident that we’re going to do whatever it takes to keep the American people safe and when we defeat the coronavirus in the United States, the economy will come roaring back. All of our health experts agree, you do not need the results of coronavirus testing to know what you should do. Every American in every community should be following President Trump’s guidelines.”

    As for President Trump, he told the nation on Tuesday, “This is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

    On Jan. 22, he told CNBC when asked about a pandemic, “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” On Feb. 27, at a White House meeting: “It’s going to disappear. One day – it’s like a miracle – it will disappear.” On March 7, standing next to President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil at Mar-a-Lago, he was asked if he was concerned. “No, I’m not concerned at all. No, I’m not. No, we’ve done a great job.”

    The president, who at the 2016 Republican National Convention declared, “I alone can fix it,” was asked last Friday about the lack of testing. “I don’t take responsibility at all,” he said. The “responsibility” in the wake of its glaring absence from Washington has essentially been shouldered by both Republican and Democratic governors, sports league commissioners, and mayors.

    Beth Cameron, who headed the National Security Council’s pandemic response team, observed in a Washington Post op-ed, “When President Trump took office in 2017, the White House’s National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense survived the transition intact. Its mission was the same as when I was asked to lead the office, established after the Ebola epidemic of 2014: To do everything possible within the vast powers and resources of the U.S. government to prepare for the next disease outbreak and prevent it from becoming an epidemic or pandemic. One year later, I was mystified when the White House dissolved the office, leaving the country less prepared for pandemics like COVID-19.

    The U.S. government’s slow and inadequate response to the new coronavirus underscores the need for organized, accountable leadership to prepare for and respond to pandemic threats. In a health security crisis, speed is essential. When this new coronavirus emerged, there was no clear White House-led structure to oversee our response, and we lost valuable time.”

    Ron Klain, the Indianapolis native who headed President Obama’s Ebola task force in 2014-15, said on CNN Wednesday, “As bad as this is, something worse is yet to come. The virus will be more patient than we are.”

    Status of testing

    ISDH Communications Director Jennifer O’Malley told HPI on Wednesday that “the ISDH lab is testing seven days a week, with results typically available within 24 hours. LabCorp is also performing tests in the state. All options for expanding testing are being explored. ISDH received additional testing materials from the CDC last week and again this week.

    “Despite the additional supplies, ISDH, like other states, still has finite resources for testing because we receive our materials from the CDC,” O’Malley continued. “We are prioritizing high-risk individuals and healthcare workers, but individuals who do not meet those criteria can pursue testing through a private lab with their healthcare provider. Private labs have been asked to report their results to ISDH, and all information received is included in the count. However, there may be some lag time while private lab results are in transit to ISDH.”

    On Wednesday, Eli Lilly & Company announced it will use its labs to test for the virus, adding to the state’s testing capabilities and making testing available for more people. Lilly is also piloting drive-through testing. “This partnership between the Indiana State Department of Health and Eli Lilly and Company will be transformational in our efforts to accelerate testing for COVID-19,” Gov. Holcomb said. “We are grateful for Lilly’s dedication to the health and safety of Hoosiers as we continue to put all of our focus into slowing the spread.”

    Pence counting on personal hygiene

    Vice President Pence told National Public Radio’s Steve Inskeep on Wednesday, “It really is all about trying to focus on two things. No. 1 is we really believe if every American will take strong steps now over the next 15 days, that we can significantly impact the spread of the coronavirus in the United States. And also, as every American puts these common sense personal habits and hygiene into practice, we’re going to protect the most vulnerable among us.”

    Inskeep pressed Pence on the pandemic modeling he has seen: How many people are on their way to being sick, for example? How serious will the damage to the economy will be if nothing is done? What are your assumptions about how bad this is?

    PENCE: Well, we got modeling in in the last several days, and that’s what precipitated the president’s decision. But let me say – and Dr. Tony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, two of the leading experts in the world on infectious disease, tell us – is that we are still at that point in the spread of the coronavirus in the United States where strong action, common sense, personal hygiene and what they call social distancing for now among every American can significantly reduce the spread of the virus in our country.

    INSKEEP: But is that taking it from catastrophe to still a disaster, or what is on the horizon here?

    PENCE: Well, look. There will be many thousands of Americans that contract the coronavirus. We know that. And as we expand testing, those numbers are going to be more evident to the American public every day. But what your listeners should know is that most Americans who contract the coronavirus will either have mild to serious flu-like symptoms and completely recover. Many will have no symptoms at all.”

    Surgeon General Jerome Adams acknowledged on NBC’s “Today Show” Wednesday that the Trump administration’s recommendation that Americans practice preventive measures for 15 days is “likely not going to be enough” time to successfully halt the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. Fifteen days is likely not going to be enough to get us all the way through. But we really need to lean into it now so that we can bend the curve in the next 15 days, and at that point we’ll reassess.” 


    On Monday, Gov. Holcomb said, “For those of you who think we are over-reacting, I can assure you we are not. Indiana is under a state of emergency. We will win this war with COVID-19. Make no mistake about it, collectively the actions we are taking today will have a positive impact 30, 60, 90 days later.”

    While he didn’t speak, Indiana National Guard Brig. Gen. R. Dale Lyles was present at the Statehouse press conference when Holcomb said the state had “contingency plans” to deal with a flood of cases that some fear will swamp the medical system: “We will respond to facts on the ground,” Holcomb said. “We want to stay as ahead of the game as we can. Every tool, every resource is on the table. We’re trying to slow the curve so it doesn’t last as long. We have resources around the state to deal with a surge.”

    David Lauter of the Los Angeles Times reported: “The coronavirus pandemic has confronted governments around the globe with the ultimate bad choice: Wreck your economy or lose millions of lives. While some initially hesitated, leaders and legislators in the United States and worldwide increasingly have decided they have to accept the severe economic pain.”

    “Everything else will come back,” President Trump said Tuesday even as the economic downturn and global turmoil deepened. “Lives won’t come back.” 
  • HPI Analysis: How Bosma created his super majority House power base

    INDIANAPOLIS  – Speaking in the well of the Indiana House just after he had passed the gavel to Speaker Todd Huston, Brian Bosma reflected on one of the key elements of his record tenure. “We have to have a long-term vision here,” Bosma said at the end of a historic 12 years as speaker, including the last 10. “We each need to think a decade away.”

    He was speaking from experience. While Republicans have held the Indiana Senate for all but two years (1974-76) in the past half century, the Indiana House had swung back and forth between Republicans and Democrats regularly (along with two 50/50 splits), until 2010. Bosma was instrumental in the creation of the super majority House, and he held it as speaker for an unprecedented decade.

    His first stint as speaker lasted a mere two years, from 2004 through the 2006 election, that served as a referendum on not only the Iraq War nationally, but on the passage of Daylight Saving Time and Gov. Mitch Daniels’ toll road lease via his Major Moves program. In 2004, Bosma helped create the 52-48 GOP majority that allowed Bosma to replace Democratic Speaker B. Patrick Bauer, with the defeat of Democrats Markt Lytle, Alan Chowning, John Frenz and Ron Herrell while using the Karl Rove-inspired anti-gay-marriage issue.

    If there was a political failing in Gov. Daniels’ tenure, it was his inability to pull a Republican House majority with his 58% landslide reelection victory over Democrat Jill Long Thompson in 2008. That was the year Barack Obama became the first Democrat to carry Indiana’s 11 Electoral College votes since 1964 and Democrats were able to pick off Reps. Andy Thomas and Jon Elrod in a downtown Indianapolis district

    That set the stage for what became the transformative 2010 election, when a nucleus of Susan Ellspermann, Mike Karickhoff, Kevin Mahan, Cindy Kirchhofer, Matt Ubelhor, Jim Baird and Rebecca Kubacki helped forge a 60-40 majority.

    While Senate Presidents Pro Tem Robert Garton and then David Long had ruling tenures measured in decades (Garton from 1980 to 2006; Long from 2006 to 2018), Daniels, deputy chief of staff Eric Holcomb and Bosma created what would eventually become the super majority House in 2010. It was solidified by the 2012 (including the arrival of Todd Huston) and 2014 elections that crossed the super majority threshold.

    Actually, Bosma began laying the political groundwork for a systemic approach after he became House minority leader back in 2001. “Starting in 2002, there wasn’t a cycle where he didn’t have an agenda,” explained Mike Gentry, who heads the House Republican Campaign Committee and the Mark It Red consulting group. “He always had an agenda that he would take into the cycle and then that would become the caucus policy agenda.”

    Bosma traveled to Florida, Pennsylvania and Iowa where he picked the brains of Republican speakers. He then traveled extensively across the state, recruiting candidates, often in their living rooms and kitchens. He would enlist the help of other local elected officials, and after Gov. Daniels took office, had help from above. On a recent trip to Lake County, Bosma noted that he had been there over 90 times.

    “We used all that benchmarking information to create a system,” said Gentry. “We focused – with limited resources with the Democrat-drawn maps – on where we could win. We would say, ‘These are seats we thought we could win’, and then mustered resources. It was because of Brian setting out early on to put together a system, then having an agenda that pushed Indiana forward.”

    “He was focused,” Gentry said.

    Bosma worked even harder to develop this enduring House GOP majority. Gov. Mitch Daniels formed the Aiming Higher PAC that pumped more than $1 million into House races during the 2010 cycle. Daniels, Bosma, Holcomb and the Hoosiers for Economic Growth PAC began recruiting the class of 2010 (which also included the unsuccessful campaigns of current Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer, and former DLGF Commissioner Cheryl Musgrave) in 2009.

    While 2010 was the transformative year, it was 2006 that may have been Bosma’s most influential year. Hoosier Republican U.S. Reps. Chris Chocola, John Hostettler and Mike Sodrel all lost in that Democratic wave that developed nationally due to the Iraq War. “We could have lost a corresponding 30 House seats,” Gentry said. Instead, House Republicans lost one seat held by Rep. Troy Woodruff. Not falling into a deep hole then set the stage for 2010 when Republicans retook the House and the driver’s seat when it came to drawing up the 2011 maps. The Republicans haven’t been in the minority since, with these maps the first in modern times when the Indiana House hasn’t shifted control to the Democrats.

    Purdue President Mitch Daniels told HPI on Wednesday that the Aiming Higher PAC was actually formed to fund the 2004 transition team. “In 2006 it was revived as a PAC and it raised some money,” Daniels explained. “That year the money was given to Bosma’s committee, the House Republican Campaign Committee. We supported them, but they identified the candidates. And then it sat because in 2007 and 2008 we were campaigning for ourselves. 

    “It was brought back for the 2010 cycle,” Daniels continued. “The difference there was we recruited the candidates ourselves and we chose which ones to support. We coordinated, we talked to Brian’s group all the time, but we didn’t just give them the money. We operated as an independent identity. We were looking for reform-minded people who not only would win elections, but would help us make reforms we had not yet made. In that cycle, we supported some people they thought couldn’t win. We ended up winning 60 seats. Even they didn’t imagine that. We supported some were too long of shots to back. We bet on some real long shots like Wendy McNamara down in the southwest corner, and Sue Ellspermann. Our critieria were a little different. We were looking for allies who would stand up for changes and reforms we wanted to advocate, not just get elected.”

    Daniels added,  “We were certainly glad to see that majority. We wanted to finish strong. There were things we wanted to do. You heard me say lame ducks can still fly. We wanted to be as active as we could be  right to the end. We were able to deliver some of our biggest changes in year seven and year eight when you’re supposed to  be out of gas.”

    Eric Holcomb, then Daniels’s deputy chief of staff, told HPI after the results had come in, “The 2010 elections put on stage, front and center stage, just how different the two major political parties are today. The Democrats chose a two-front strategy: One, demonize job creators by attacking local employers, and two, smear their opponents. Even when the going got tough, Republicans stayed disciplined and stayed on message talking instead about jobs, spending, and taxes.”

    Holcomb added, “The Indiana Republican Party has become the ‘Party of Purpose’ while the Democrats, both national and state parties, have drifted away from their founding principles. This will be the single biggest reason Reagan Democrats defect in droves.”

    “This was not about winning an election,” Bosma said on Election Night in November 2010. “That’s the easy part. Now, we are prepared to make the tough decisions to bring Indiana into the 21st Century all the way, to balance the budget without a tax increase, to prioritize the items that we’re going to have to deal with in education and job creation.

    “So many different areas need our attention as Republicans to be innovative, reform-minded and conservative, and that’s what this team pledges to do and we’re going to do it with you,” Bosma continued.

    After the middle four years of Gov. Daniels’ tenure with Speaker Bauer in the way, Bosma’s elevation ignited the 2011 education reforms. With Huston as Supt. Tony Bennett’s chief of staff and Bosma sponsoring legislation that expanded charter schools, allowed students to enroll in any district, and created the nation’s first voucher program, the pent-up Republican agenda barreled forth.

    It also created SEA1, the teacher evaluation bill that Daniels and legislative leaders described as “landmark” and even “revolutionary.”

    “The governor made the comment that this is no ordinary moment, this is no ordinary General Assembly,” Bennett said as Daniels, Bosma and Senate President David Long looked on. “This General Assembly and this governor have opened the door to honor Indiana’s truly inspired and inspiring teachers in no way like we’ve ever done before. This particular measure has the most direct impact on student performance in our schools, has the most direct impact on economic development for our state’s future and it has the most direct impact on making sure that we have a human capital system that carries forward a legacy of great instruction for this state.”

    Bosma’s final speech

    Bosma dispensed other advice during his final speech on Monday after handing the gavel to Huston. “This is an unbelievably wonderful institution,” Bosma said. “It is literally the crucible of democracy in this state and you must work hard to protect it.” 

    He noted a weekend Wall Street Journal story: “Headline, Illinois races toward default. I went through the details of what Illinois has attempted to do and we have adopted the exact opposite path: Fully funding pensions, not raising expenditures as revenues plummet, not making promises to future pensioners that cannot be kept without future tax increases, and the likelihood of an Illinois bankruptcy. I don’t wish that on them. I wish we had 50 healthy states, but we don’t. This is a healthy state because of the institution of the legislature. Under Republican leadership and Democrats, it’s been the key.”

    Bosma was extremely protective of nurturing his House majority. When Gov. Mike Pence sought an income tax cut in 2013 as checking off a box on a future presidential bid, Bosma and Long applied the brakes, giving Pence just a fraction of what he had originally sought. Bosma didn’t want to defend a future tax hike during the next recession.

    “I want to tell you about what I want you to remember about this institution,” Bosma continued. “First of all, you younger legislators, you need to prepare yourself to lead. It doesn’t just happen. You need to study, you need to read bills and listen to the more senior members as they debate them, and you need to learn your area and find your area of expertise. As my team knows, you have to have a long-term vision here.

    “My next admonition is, be courageous,” Bosma said. “Step out and be bold. I am confident in Speaker Huston’s ability to take the reins and hit the ground running, and I have no doubt his strong leadership and excitement for Indiana’s momentum will serve this chamber and our state well.”

    A classic example of Bosma’s leadership as speaker came during the 2016 session when the state was racked by thousands of clandestine methamphetamine labs that were injuring first responders, were home to hundreds of children, and were contaminating hundreds of houses and motel rooms. For several years Indiana led the nation on meth labs. Health committee chairs Mike Young in the Senate and Cindy Kirchhofer in the House attempted to block the bills in February 2016, saying there wasn’t enough time on the schedule. This is when Bosma stepped in, signaling behind the scenes that the legislation needed to be heard on the House floor.

    As HPI reported in 2016: “His clout was essential.” Within a year, the number of reported meth labs had fallen more than 70% in 2017 and the removal of children from such environs dropped 80%.

    After he was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Mark Massa, Huston said, “My family has always stressed the importance of public service and conservative leadership, and I am honored and blessed to be placed in this position to help make sure Indiana stays on the right track. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate and Gov. Eric Holcomb to fuel Indiana’s economic engine, and make our state a destination for all.”
  • HPI Horse Race: Mayor Pete signals he's in race for long haul

    INDIANAPOLIS  – Pete Buttigieg’s Democratic presidential campaign signalled he’s in for the long haul, claiming more opportunities for success when the nomination fight shifts to the Midwest in mid-March. The Buttigieg campaign is approaching Super Tuesday by targeting specific congressional districts and said in a Tuesday memo that as the field culls, it has a strategy to cap Bernie Sanders’ momentum.

    The memo came after a raucous debate Tuesday in South Carolina, where the former South Bend mayor made his case against a Sanders nomination. “If you think the last four years has been chaotic, divisive, toxic, exhausting, imagine spending the better part of 2020 with Bernie Sanders vs. Donald Trump,” Buttigieg said.

    “The only way you can do this is to actually win the presidency. And I am not looking forward to a scenario where it comes down to Donald Trump with his nostalgia for the social order of the 1950s and Bernie Sanders with a nostalgia for the revolutionary politics of the 1960s. This is not about what coups were happening in the 1970s or 80s. This is about the future. This is about 2020. We are not going to survive or succeed and we’re certainly not going to win by reliving the Cold War, and we’re not going to win these critical House and Senate races if people in those races have to explain why the nominee of the Democratic Party is telling people to look at the bright side of the Castro regime.

    “We’ve got to be a lot smarter about this and look to the future,” said the former South Bend mayor, who had first- and second-place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, but appears to have stalled with minority voters in Nevada and now South Carolina. A Winthrop Poll from the Palmetto State revealed Buttigieg polling just 4% with African-American voters, exposing what could be the fatal flaw in his surprising presidential bid.

    Buttigieg is languishing in polls not only in South Carolina, where Joe Biden had an 18% lead over Sanders in a Clemson/Palmetto Poll released Wednesday, but in the 14 Super Tuesday states that vote in six days. But on March 10 and 17, the race shifts to Midwestern states Michigan, Illinois and Ohio, where the campaign believes Buttigieg will be competitive. 

    Blunting Sanders’ momentum in South Carolina, influential U.S. Rep. James Clyburn endorsed Biden on Wednesday, tweeting, “I know Joe Biden. I know his character, his heart, and his record. Joe Biden has stood for the hard-working people of South Carolina. We know Joe. But more importantly, he knows us. In South Carolina, we choose presidents. I’m calling on you to stand with @JoeBiden.”

    If Biden can hold off Sanders in South Carolina on Saturday, then pick up some states on Super Tuesday next week, that could stall Sanders’ inevitability. If Sanders pulls a South Carolina upset on Saturday and picks up momentum three days later on Super Tuesday when 35% of the delegates will be awarded, the Vermont socialist could become the runaway freight train to the nomination.

    A memo from Buttigieg campaign leadership on Tuesday night said, “Our plan is to limit Sanders’ delegate lead to no more than 350 pledged delegates. If we do this, Pete will need to beat Sanders by approximately 10% in the remaining contests. We see this as the upper limit of a realistic path to victory; there is a ceiling to Sanders’ support. If we are able to limit Sanders to no more than 250 pledged delegates, Pete will only have to beat Sanders by approximately 5% in the remaining contests. As we’ve seen in our research and in early contests, Pete has broad appeal and is often voters’ first or second choice even in a historically crowded field. So as the number of candidates narrows, we see the 5-10% wins as highly attainable. To cut Sanders’ delegate lead, and to maximize Pete’s delegate haul on Super Tuesday, our plan is to clear the qualification threshold in as many congressional districts as possible. The rules for winning delegates in any district require a candidate to capture 15% support from the voters in that district. So the importance of clearing the threshold isn’t just important in a multi-candidate race -- it’s existential.”

    The memo added, “We believe the field will significantly winnow after Super Tuesday, and our research and internal polls show that the remaining contests in March are favorable to Pete. We’re running an organizing program that will maximize our delegate count on Super Tuesday and beyond. With both the accelerated timeline and the size of Super Tuesday, the only way to effectively scale up to win delegates is through a massive grassroots network. Our volunteer leads have already hosted over 3,000 events across Super Tuesday states, including more than 250 events this past weekend alone. Because of how delegates are awarded at the individual district level, we can precisely target each district on platforms like YouTube and Facebook without any geographic spillage. We will also concentrate our efforts on premium, non-skippable inventory on connected-TV devices through ads on platforms like Hulu and Roku. Our goal is to maximize Pete’s delegate haul across Super Tuesday districts. Our team has identified 22 critical media markets that include more than one of our targeted districts. This maximizes efficiency of our buys.”

    Buttigieg is getting some help from the VoteVets Super PAC with a seven-figure TV ad buy. His campaign unveiled TV ads in 12 of the 14 Super Tuesday states in 22 media markets. On Wednesday, the Pete For America campaign began airing and distributing a new series of television and digital ads featuring South Bend community leader Gladys Muhammad and highlighting the Douglass Plan, the campaign’s comprehensive white paper to invest in the empowerment of Black America.

    Muhammad says she saw firsthand the mayor’s commitment to turning the city around – including reducing Black unemployment by nearly 70%, expanding access to affordable housing, and increasing household income by a third. The ad features the candidate saying, “What’s that? Well, I can’t, I can’t interrupt Ms. Gladys. So she has something to say.” Muhammad then says, “I’m from South bend and I’ve been working in the community for 40 years. We need you to support Pete. He understands commitment. He has compassion. He has the Douglass Plan, that if we get behind, we can change this country. This is America, land of the free and the brave.”

    The second ad, titled “Douglass Plan,” highlights Buttigieg’s commitment to tackling systemic racism. The new ads come days after Buttigieg was endorsed by South Carolina’s second-largest newspaper, The State, where the paper praised his ability to unify the country to defeat Donald Trump, stating, “The Democrats need a nominee who seeks to bring Americans together based on broad common ground, and not divide them along narrow interests.”

    During Tuesday’s South Carolina debate, Buttigieg called Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “stop & frisk” policies in New York “racist” and added, “I’m not here to score points. I come at this with a great deal of humility because we have had a lot of issues, especially when it comes to racial justice and policing in my own community. And I come to this with some humility because I’m conscious of the fact that there’s seven white people on this stage talking about racial justice. None of us have the experience ... of, for example, walking down the street or in a mall and feeling eyes on us regarding us as dangerous without knowing the first thing about us just because of the color of our skin.”

    But at the beginning of February, Buttigieg had just $6.6 million left of $76.4 million raised, a rapid burn rate that netted him a mere 25 delegates (Sanders had 39, Biden 13). That compares to Sanders’ $117.3 million raised (including a whopping $25 million in January) with $16.8 million to begin this month.

    Buttigieg set a $13 million fundraising goal by March 3, with the campaign eyeing a post-Super Tuesday world. The rest of March will bring more favorable Midwestern states into play. On March 10, the Buttigieg camp believes the former mayor can win in neighboring Michigan, where the southwestern edge of the state is in the South Bend media market (Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington are the other states and he was endorsed by Washington’s lieutenant governor). On March 17, neighboring Ohio and Illinois will vote along with Arizona and Florida.

    Buttigieg attempted to take on Sanders and an estimated $60 trillion in new spending proposals during Tuesday night’s debate. “So let’s do some math,” Buttigieg said. “Sen. Sanders at one point said [Medicare for All] was going to be $40 trillion, then it was $30 trillion, then it was $17 trillion. It’s an incredible shrinking price tag, at some point has said it is unknowable to even see what the price tag would be. Now, there are new numbers going. I’ll tell you exactly what it adds up to. It adds up to four more years of Donald Trump, Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House, and the inability to get the Senate into Democratic hands.

    “The time has come for us to stop acting like the presidency is the only office that matters,” Buttigieg said of the scenario where the socialist Sanders wreaks carnage for down ballot Democrats. “Not only is this a way to get Donald Trump reelected, we got a House to worry about. We got a Senate to worry about. And this is really important. Look, if you want to keep the House in Democratic hands, you might want to check with the people who actually turned the House blue: 40 Democrats who are not running on your platform. They are running away from your platform as fast as they possibly can. I want to send those Democrats back to the United States House. Let’s listen to them when they say they don’t want to be out there defending Senator Sanders’ math.”

    The latest Reuters/Ipsos polling shows Sanders’ rising momentum in the race has given him more credibility with Democratic voters. Some 26% of Democrats and independents polled Feb. 17-25 said they believed Sanders was the strongest Democrat in a head-to-head matchup with Trump, compared with 20% who picked billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg and 17% who named former Vice President Joe Biden. That was a big change from a month earlier, when 27% of respondents gave Biden the edge, and just 17% thought Sanders could beat Trump.

    What Sanders brings to the table is “Bernie’s Army,” a core of ardent supporters dedicated to ... him. An Indiana Democratic operative with access to party voting rolls told Howey Politics Indiana that Sanders drew in thousands of new voters in 2016 Indiana primary when he defeated Hillary Clinton 53-47% without any party establishment support. The danger in an “anybody but Bernie” scenario is that since the 2016 primary, most of those Bernie voters didn’t go to the polls again to support Sen. Joe Donnelly in his 2018 loss or vote in last year’s municipal elections. The danger for any Democratic nominee not named Bernie Sanders is that his army stays home in November. NBC reported that in 2016, some 12% of Sanders primary supporters voted for Trump in November.
  • Horse Race: 2011 maps reveal a decade of GOP dominance

    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.

    In each of the television era decades – going back to the 1950s – the Indiana House has always changed hands at least once, or, as in 1988, was a split 50/50 resulting in co-speakers, followed by outright Democratic control in 1990. Wave elections in 1958 in the final Eisenhower mid-term, 1964 with the LBJ landslide and Republican Lt. Gov. Richard Ristine’s tie-breaking vote on the income tax, the 1974 Watergate election that had Hoosier Democrats taking both the House and Senate,  the 1994 Gingrich Revolution for the GOP, as well as the 1998 Clinton impeachment fallout, and the 2006 anti-Bush43 wave including the the Major Moves toll road lease fallout, brought at least one party change in the Indiana House.

    This precedent of GOP dominance actually commenced in 2010 when Gov. Mitch Daniels, Republican Chairman Eric Holcomb, and Speaker Brian Bosma recruited and funded an influential class of House Republicans that morphed into the current skein of GOP super majorities. 

    An HPI analysis of potential fall races reveals only six to eight potential flipped House seats, depending on how the primary cycle ends up. That would likely occur with a Democratic wave, which is a precarious bet with Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders as the current presidential frontrunner.

    The other signifcant trend is that change in the General Assembly is most likely to happen via party caucus when members either retire or take another job, or via the primary.  Legislators who won office via caucus are being contested in the May primary election. State Sens. Brian Buchanan and Justin Busch who followed Sens. Brandt Hershman and David Long into the Senate, as well as State Rep. Dollyne Sherman, are all facing challenges, though at this point we are forecasting that the incumbents are likely to return.

    The other notable trend following the Feb. 7 filing deadline is that 25 teachers have filed, including 22 Democrats seeking House and Senate seats.

    At this early point, Howey Politics Indiana is not forecasting any incumbent upsets. But one race to keep an eye on is the matchup between two former LaGrange County prosecutors with Jeff Wible’s GOP primary challenge to State Sen. Susan Glick.

    From a historical standpoint, State Rep. B. Patrick Bauer’s retirement has set up a three-way showdown to see if daughter Maureen Bauer can extend that family dynasty to three generations.

    Another marquee race is whether Fishers Deputy Mayor Leah McGrath can hold off Chris Jeter in the HD88 GOP primary for the nomination to succeed House Speaker Brian Bosma. She has been endorsed by Gov. Holcomb.

    Here is our exclusive General Assembly primary race rundown:

    Senate Republican primaries

    SD7: State Sen. Brian W. Buchanan is facing a primary challenge from businessman Ethan H. Brown and Vernon Budde. Analysis: Buchanan was appointed to the seat by Republican precinct committee members when former state Sen. Brandt Hershman resigned in early 2018. When Buchanan filed, he said he wanted to focus on “efficient spending of our tax dollars,” keeping taxes low, decreasing regulations to attract jobs to the state and supporting Indiana agriculture. He told the Lafayette Journal & Courier, “I welcome the competition. I am going to continue doing what I have been since becoming a senator – traveling my Senate district, talking with constituents, and listening to their thoughts, ideas and concerns. This is the process, anyone can run, and I respect that. I look forward to Election Day.” Brown explained, “By electing me you will be electing a Christian conservative who loves and respects the 2nd Amendment. Every Hoosier has the right to protect him or herself and their families. I will work passionately to make Indiana a constitutional carry state and I will not quit until that happens.” Budde, who works for Wallenius Wilhelmsen Solutions installing features on vehicles made at the Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. plant in Lafayette, said he filed for the experience. “It’s something I can tell the kids, ‘Hey, I filed,’ just to get that experience,” Budde said about his first run for public office. Primary Horse Race Status: Safe Buchanan.

    SD13: State Sen. Susan Glick is facing a challenge from another former LaGrange County prosecutor, Jeffrey W. Wible. Sen. Glick is seeking a third full term after she was appointed by caucus to succeed State Sen. Bud Meeks. “Balancing the needs of local government, implementing responsible school financing measures, spurring economic development as well as protecting the rights of all of our citizens without burdening them with unnecessary taxes and regulation continue to be my primary goals in serving you in the General Assembly,” Glick said. Primary Horse Race Status: Leans Glick.

    SD20: When Scott Baldwin, former Marine, police officer and Department of Corrections employee filed, he essentially forced incumbent State Sen. Victoria Spartz to opt for the 5th CD race. Spartz won the GOP caucus to replace powerful Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley. Baldwin will face John “J.R.” Gaylor, who is president/CEO at Associated Builders and Contractors of Indiana. Gaylor is well-connected in GOP politics. Baldwin has the endorsements of Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness and Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen. “With a history of public service and as an active member of the Noblesville community, Scott Baldwin will be an incredible state senator who will listen to and serve the needs of our residents well,” said Jensen. “Scott Baldwin is an entrepreneur with a track record of success who will bring an important perspective to the state legislature,” said Fadness. After his Marine service during Operation Desert Storm, Baldwin served as an officer with the Indiana Department of Corrections where he helped launch the first Special Emergency Response Team. He then served as a patrol officer, field training supervisor and detective supervisor with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) for more than a decade, during which he earned two medals of bravery and a medal ofvalor. “I’ve dedicated my life and career to serving our country and community, through my background in the military, law enforcement and public safety, to building and growing businesses in central Indiana,” Baldwin said. “As senator serving the residents of District 20, I will champion common sense, conservative leadership to help build our economy and grow jobs, promote fiscal responsibility, improve public safety and ensure Hamilton County continues to thrive.” Primary Horse Race Status: Leans Baldwin.

    SD16: State Sen. Justin Busch won Republican precinct caucus 51-35 to finish the term of Senate President Pro Tem David Long. He faces Tom Rhoades, Parkview Health public safety director who is a member of the Southwest Allen County School Board. Prior to being elected to the State Senate, Busch served as vice president of the Allen County Council. He also served as an aide to three U.S. senators from Indiana, including as Northeast regional director for U.S. Sen. Todd Young. “As a state senator, I am proud to have supported a balanced budget without raising taxes, record funding increases for K-12 education and school safety measures, and have always fought for our conservative Hoosier values,” Busch said. “Putting Northeast Indiana first to attract better jobs with higher wages, promoting fiscal responsibility by cutting excessive government regulations, and supporting the men and women in the law enforcement community are some of my top priorities, and I look forward to continuing our work in the months and years ahead.” Primary Horse Race Status: Likely Busch.

    SD30: State Sen. John Ruckelshaus is facing a primary challenge from Terry Michael. Ruckelshaus pondered a run for the 5h CD before opting to seek reelection. Primary Horse Race Status: Safe Ruckelshaus.

    Senate Democrat primaries

    SD10: Sen. David L. Niezgodski v. Alex Bowman: Niezgodski has served in the Senate since 2016 after a 10-year stint in the House where he left as assistant minority whip. He is president and owner of Niezgodski Plumbing Inc., he is a former St. Joseph County commissioner and chaired the NICTD Board (South Shore) for seven years. Bowman is a South Bend attorney, who says he is fulfilling a “years-old promise.”  “Elections should be about choice,” Bowman said about his decision to become the second of only two Democratic candidates vying for the position. “I believe it’s always better for the voters to choose their candidates than to have the choice made for them.” In announcing his campaign, Bowman said he was keeping the promise he made to himself: That upon earning his law degree he would return to his hometown and be a voice for people in the community that means so much to him. “I am committed to promoting the kind of economic growth and job opportunities in South Bend and Mishawaka that will encourage people to build their lives right here, in the place they already call home,” Bowman said. Primary Horse Race Status: Likely Niezgodski.

    SD16: Tim Barr and Juli Dominguez are both teachers seeking the seat held by State Sen. Justin Busch. Democrats have little chance of winning the seat that was held by former Senate President Pro Tem David Long in Fort Wayne and Allen County. Primary Horse Race Status: Tossup.

    SD36: Ashley Eason faces Jason Fletcher in the SD36 primary in Marion and Johnson counties held by State Sen. Jack Sandlin. Eason is a nonprofit executive. “I have led teams and projects with business and government partners, so I have a unique understanding of the needs of each sector,” she explained. “I also understand how to achieve great outcomes with limited resources. I have deep experience leading bi-partisan advocacy teams connected with communities at the grassroots level, having coordinated 300 high-level volunteers across four Midwestern states.” Jason E. Fletcher is a south side Indianapolis community activist, urging local control for Manual HS. Primary Horse Race Status: Leans Fletcher.

    SD40: When State Sen. Mark Stoops declined to seek another term, that set off a showdown between Indiana Democratic Chairman John Zody, and 2016 unsuccessful 9th CD nominee Shelli Yoder. Trent Feuerbach, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican 9th CD nomination, is the third candidate. Yoder ran for the 9th CD in 2012 and 2016, losing to then U.S. Rep. Todd Young in her first race 55% to 44%, and Trey Hollingsworth in 2016. The former Miss Indiana is a lecturer at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Zody is a former aide to Govs. Frank O’Bannon and Joe Kernan, as well as U.S. Rep. Baron Hill. He was elected to his second term as state chairman in 2017. He is a part-time instructor for Indiana University Bloomington’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA), where he completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees in public affairs. We give Zody a nominal edge here given his tenure as state chair, and the fact that he served as Rep. Hill’s 9th CD district director. Primary Horse Race Status: Likely Zody.

    Republican House primaries

    HD4: State Rep. Ed Soliday will face the “Blohm family” challenge throughout 2020. He faces Sara Blohm in the primary, and, possibly, Ben Blohm if he defeats Deb Porter in the Democratic primary. Primary Horse Race Status: Safe Soliday.

    HD18: Open seat (Rep. David Wolkins is retiring). Russ Reahard and Winona Lake Councilman Craig Snow are seeking the GOP nomination. Snow enters this race with the endorsements of Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer and Wabash Mayor Scott Long. Thallemer and Long said they need somebody in the statehouse who will listen to and consider supporting a range of issues important to cities and towns. “I truly feel like he’s got the skills and intelligence to really make a difference,” Thallemer said. Long said municipalities continue to worry about any attempts by the legislature “to circumvent local control and hurt their ability to function and get things done.” Reahard of Wabash describes himself as a “constitutional conservative and seeks to uphold the sanctity of life from conception until natural death.” He will also defend the 2nd Amendment. He believes in “low taxes, balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility” and in “treating the root causes of drug addiction, crime and suicide in society.” If elected, the release states Reahard plans to “be a voice for the voiceless, a protector for orphans and those who are weak and powerless to protect themselves,” especially the 8,000 unborn “murdered each year in Indiana through abortion.” Primary Horse Race Status: Tossup.

    State Rep. Curt Nisly is facing Bill Dixon, who complains about Nisly’s “behavior.” Dixon told InkFreeNews, “Somebody’s going to lose their seat. If my opponent is allowed to continue behaving as he has in Indianapolis, it is going to be us.” Dixon describes Nisly as a “radical, right-wing conservative,” adding, “While Nisly’s positions are questionable, the real issue here is that we are going to go from two state representatives in our area to one.” Dixon claims that multiple current state representatives have already told him that, if Nisly wins, the legislature will eliminate the seat in order to get rid of Nisly, who they believe exhibits unacceptable behavior on the floor of the House. “This isn’t a normal election,” Dixon declared. “This isn’t about a particular issue like guns or schools or abortion. As basic as those are, this election is even more basic. It’s about whether or not we will keep this seat. Indianapolis will, because of growing faster, be due seats. It would be easy for the powers that be to give them ours.” Primary Horse Race Status: Leans Nisly.

    HD32: State Rep. Tony Cook is facing Daniel A. Bragg. The challenger doesn’t have a website and has not filled out the Ballotpedia questionnaire. Primary Horse Race Status: Safe Cook.

    HD33: Freshman State Rep. John “J.D.” Prescott of Union City is facing a primary challenge from teacher Brittany Kloer. Prescott, a Union County farmer, has authored bills on rural broadband development, historic bridges and 529 college saving distributions. A leader in the agriculture community, Prescott serves as president of the Randolph County Young Farmers organization. Kloer explained, “I am running because I believe our schools can be better. I am running because I believe we need to put our students first. As a lifelong teacher, I have seen how our school system has changed the lives of so many students. I’ve also seen how students slip through the cracks. I am running because our current representation is full of individuals who have never worked a day in the classroom. However, during the 2019 legislative session there were 219 bills proposed pertaining to education. With the mass majority of these representatives not coming from the classroom, how are we supposed to believe that these bills will not only benefit ourselves as teachers, but our students as well? We need to be able to have an accurate representation to provide the highest quality education for our students. I am running because I believe in public education.” Primary Horse Race Status: Leans Prescott.

    HD35: Two Republicans are seeking to challenge Democratic Rep. Melanie Wright. Elizabeth Rowray is a Yorktown School Board trustee. James Peters describes himself as “100% pro-life, pro second amendment, and a constitutional conservative. I want us to be even more fiscally responsible. As your nominee I will promise to do what I say I am going to do which is rare in this day and age. I am asking for your vote as a Republican because I will fight for the rights of the unborn as well as our individual freedoms.” Primary Horse Race Status: Tossup.

    H45: State Rep. Bruce Borders is facing a challenge by Vigo County farmer Jeff Gormon. The challenger told the Terre Haute Tribune-Star that his challenge “is not an indictment on the job he thinks Borders has done, but is borne of a passion to serve the people of west central Indiana.” He added, “This is something I’m passionate about and something I think I can do well. I talked to Mr. Borders before making this announcement to let him know I’d be running and that I’m not upset with him but just wanted to give this a shot. “I think it’s time for some change,” Gormon, who is manager of Gormon Family Farms. He has served on the Indiana Farm Bureau state board of directors since 2008, and was a Linton Township advisory board member for 16 years. “Sometimes elected officials get elected, get into office and think they have all the answers.” Primary Horse Race Status: Safe Borders.

    HD50: State Rep. Dan Leonard is being challenged by Huntington teacher John Stoffel. The challenger explained, “More than 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, said that ‘a government of the people, for the people, and by the people shall not perish from the earth.’ During our country’s darkest moment, Lincoln saw the brightest hope for its future. I am running for the Indiana House of Representatives District 50 seat because I have that same hope.” Primary Horse Race Status: Likely Leonard.

     State Rep. Tom Saunders vs. Jeff Embry. This is a rematch from a 2016 primary race. Embry is a truck driver who did not mount much of a campaign. Primary Horse Race Status: Safe Saunders.

    HD57: State Rep. Sean Eberhart is facing Edward Comstock II. Comstock does not have a website nor has he filled out the Ballotpedia candidate questionnaire. Primary Horse Race Status: Safe Eberhart.

    HD58: Open (State Rep. Woody Burton is retiring). Greenwood Councilman David Hopper, Bruce Armstrong, Heather Bline, Michelle Davis, and Jay Hart. Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers is pushing Hopper, while Rep. Burton is backing Davis, director of adult education at the Central Nine Career Center. Whoever wins in the primary will face Democrat Cindy Reinert, a retired Greenwood attorney who ran against Burton in 2018, losing 63.3% to 36.7%. Primary Horse Race Status: Tossup.

    HD60: State Rep. Peggy Mayfield is facing Martinsville School Board Trustee Dave Rinehart. Rinehart said that he loves to serve his community and would like to help tackle topics such as education, health care, roads, youth and veterans, if elected to the Indiana legislature. Primary Horse Race Status: Likely Mayfield.

    HD62: State Rep. Jeff Ellington is being challenged by Greg Knott. We could not find a campaign website for Knott, nor has he responded to Ballotpedia’s candidate questionnaire. Primary Horse Race Status: Safe Ellington.

    HD66: Zach Payne and Brian Tibbs have filed to challenge Democrat Rep. Terry Goodin. Neither Payne nor Tibbs has a campaign website and neither has responded to the Ballotpedia’s candidate questionnaire. This seat will not be in play in November. Primary Horse Race Status: Tossup.

     State Rep. Steve Davisson faces Mark Cox of Henryville. Cox has no campaign website and has not filled out candidate questionnaires. Primary Horse Race Status: Safe Davisson.

    HD75: (Open seat, State Rep. Ron Bacon is retiring). Warrick County Republican Chairman Michael Griffin and Warrick County Councilwoman Cindy Ledbetter. Warrick County attorney Rick Martin was supposed to run for this seat, but on the day he announced his candidacy, he was arrested on a DUI. Griffin told Warrick News he believes his background in finance will make him a good fit for the position. While he is currently retired, he said his work with Old National Bank and First Federal Savings Bank shows his strengths. “I treat people fairly,” he said. “I want to treat people the way I need to be treated. If people know me, that’s my platform.” The primary winner will face Democrat John Hurley, who lost to Rep. Bacon in 2018. Primary Horse Race Status: Leans Griffin.

    HD79: House Majority Leader Matthew Lehman is facing a challenge from Taylor Isch, who does not have a website nor filled out candidate questionnaires. Primary Horse Race Status: Safe Lehman.

    HD88: (Open seat, House Speaker Brian Bosma is retiring). Fishers Deputy Mayor Leah McGrath and Chris Jeter. McGrath passed on a 5th CD run to seek the seat held for the past generation by Speaker Bosma. Gov. Eric Holcomb has endorsed McGrath. Jeter is a Fishers lawyer and Iraq war veteran. “I want to continue to advance economic opportunity, create jobs, reform education and maintain our state’s status as the best place in the nation to start and run a business. I look forward to traveling the district and sharing my vision of Indiana’s next chapter,” Jeter told the Noblesville Times. As Fishers first deputy mayor, McGrath helped to lead the community’s transition from a town to a city, including efforts to modernize the city’s internal operations, eliminating antiquated ordinances and updating local codes. She also spearheaded a city-wide effort to develop its first long-range comprehensive plan. “The majority of the things I have worked on here in Fishers over the years have really been focused on community involvement and community engagement,” McGrath told the TownePost. “Under Republican leadership, Indiana has steadily moved in the right direction for nearly two decades. Gov. Holcomb and Speaker Bosma deserve much credit for where we have come as a state, but there is still much work to be done. As our community’s representative in the General Assembly, I will bring a commitment to look at old problems in new ways, to always protect taxpayers, to challenge the status quo when necessary and bring people together to address the challenges our children and grandchildren will face.” Primary Horse Race Status: Safe McGrath.

    HD93: State Rep. Dollyne Sherman, who was appointed by Republican caucus to replace State Rep. Dave Frizzell, is facing a challenge from John Jacob, who does not have a campaign website and has not filled out campaign questionnaires. Sherman started in the Republican politics as a press secretary for the late Gov. Robert Orr in the 1980s. She then did the same job for Indianapolis Mayor Steve Goldsmith. She has also worked for U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks and former Gov. Mitch Daniels. Primary Horse Race Status: Safe Sherman.

    HD100: (Open seat, State Rep. Dan Forestal is not seeking reelection). Wayne Harmon and Niles Yensel are seeking the GOP nomination. Harmon has been a frequent candidate for the 7th CD. This is an overwhelmingly Democratic seat that will not be in play this fall. Primary Horse Race Status: Tossup.

    House Democrat primaries

    HD1: In District 1, Democratic State Rep. Carolyn Jackson, of Hammond, is facing a Democratic challenger, former Hammond councilman Anthony Higgs, according to the Indiana Election Division. Primary Horse Race Status: Likely Jackson.

    HD3: Freshman State Rep. Ragen Hatcher will square off against Jessica Renslow, an instructional designer and business strategist. Hatcher had pondered entry into the 1st CD race after U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky decided to retire, but she opted for reelection. Primary Horse Race Status: Safe Hatcher.

    HD6: (Open seat, Rep. B. Patrick Bauer is retiring). Maureen Bauer, Garrett Blad and Drew Duncan are seeking the Democratic nomination which is tantamount to winning the seat. Maureen Bauer is seeking to extend the family dynasty to three generations. Her grandfather was former State Rep. Bernie Bauer and her father is the current Rep. Bauer. Asked by the South Bend Tribune if she would have access to Bauer’s $103,000 campaign war chest, Bauer said that Rep. Bauer had not committed to doing that. “I plan to fundraise and knock on doors, make phone calls and do all that is typical of a campaign,” she said. “In the end, it’s about meeting the voters and getting their vote for the most qualified candidate, which I believe I am. I’ve never heard him giving me all the money. I think some of the money will certainly stay in the district to get the House District 6 candidate elected, but there are many other races that are important. My dad has worked very hard across the state to get Democrats elected.” Blad, who works out of his near-northwest South Bend home as national press coordinator for Sunrise Movement, a Washington-based nonprofit environmental advocacy group, said it’s “infuriating” to think Bauer might give unspent campaign money to his daughter’s campaign, regardless of the amount. “I know she will have access to more money than anyone else who’s running in this campaign, and that’s not money she earned in any way,” Blad said. “I think Hoosiers and the American people in general are sick of nepotism. This campaign that we are going to be building is going to be powered by people and grassroots donations across this district, and I believe that is the strongest way we will not only win but build a movement to influence change in Indianapolis.” Duncan, a management trainee for Enterprise car rental, said he began telling people in December that he would challenge Bauer in the primary. “Our fundraising is going pretty well,” Duncan said. “Not that I can throw punches with $100,000, but I think we’re suited to win our race.” Duncan has run unsuccessfully in party caucuses four times, most recently for party chair, and was campaign manager for Rep. Joe Taylor’s 2018 narrow win over Republican Troy Dillon. “This is not going to be a race where a person can just spend money and win the seat,” Duncan said. Voters “want to see an active and present representation. Her father had a lot of power and if he plans to hand some of that over to her, that’s a part of running for office.” Primary Horse Race Status: Likely Bauer.

    HD12: (Open, State Rep. Mara Candaleria Reardon is running in the 1st CD). Democrats running include Mike Andrade, Brandon Dothager and Mike McInerney. Andrade has been endorsed by Lake County Democratic Jim Wieser. Primary Horse Race Status: Leans Andrade.

    HD25: Maurice Fuller and Alex Sabol are Democrats seeking to challenge long-time Republican State Rep. Don Lehe, who defeated Fuller in 2018 by a 70.8% to 29.2% margin. This is a reliably Republican seat. Fuller and Sabol do not appear to be mounting credible campaigns. Primary Horse Race Status: Tossup.

    Mark Hinton and Ashley Klein are the Democrats seeking to challenge State Rep. Jerry Torr. Hinton is seeking a rematch, after he was defeated by Torr 57% to 43% in 2018.  Klein decided to jump in after Democrats took two Carmel City Council seats in 2019. “After the recent municipal elections, we’ve seen that Carmel residents are shifting as voters, recognizing one-party rule isn’t right for us,” she told the Carmel Current. “We need to start putting the state of Indiana first on our nation’s report card rankings, and I’m hopeful that Carmel can help lead the way to a prosperous future for all Hoosiers.” Klein has held positions at various law firms as a commercial real estate appraiser and at United Way of Central Indiana, working with foster youth. She is a residential real estate broker at F.C. Tucker Co. in Carmel. Hinton is an educator. Primary Horse Race Status: Leans Hinton.

    HD42: Amy Burke Adams, Jasen Lave, and Brandi Cooper Vandiver are Democrats seeking to challenge State Rep. Alan Morrison. None of these Democrats has a website or has filled out candidate questionnaires. Primary Horse Race Status: Tossup.

    HD49: Joseph Lehman and Amanda Qualls are the Democrats who have filed to challenge freshman Republican State Rep. Christy Stutzman. Neither appears to be running an active campaign. Primary Horse Race Status: Tossup.

    HD59: Two Columbus area educators – Dale Nowlin, Cinde Wirth – are vying to challenge State Rep. Ryan Lauer, who defeated Nowlin in 2018, 56.8% to 40.6%. Primary Horse Race Status: Leans Nowlin.

    HD93: Angela Elliott, Andy Miller and Abdul-Aziz Yamobi have filed for this seat held by appointed State Rep. Dollyne Sherman. None of these Democrats appears to be mounting a campaign for this reliably Republican seat. Primary Horse Race Status: Tossup.

    HD95: State Rep. John Bartlett v. Eugene Dooley. Bartlett is expected to easily win this primary challenge. Primary Horse Race Status: Safe Bartlett.

    HD98: State Rep. Robin Shackleford, Edwin Johns and Bob Kern. Rep. Shackleford should easily be renominated in this Democratic Indianapolis district. Primary Horse Race Status: Safe Shackleford.

    HD100: (Open seat, indicted State Rep. Dan Forestal is not seeking reelection). Indianapolis Councilman Blake Johnson will take on Clif Marsiglio in the primary. Johnson, 33, is the CEO of IndyHub, a not-for-profit that connects young adults with community opportunities. Primary Horse Race Status: Likely Johnson. 
  • HPI Analysis: Buttigieg seeks to build a national movement

    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.”

    The former South Bend mayor now heads into a browner America, with the Nevada caucuses and South Carolina primary coming in the next 18 days, followed by Super Tuesday on March 3 in diverse states like Texas and California. He does so as the first openly gay candidate just two presidential cycles into an era when that isn’t seen as a disqualifying electoral liability, and as a mayor of a medium-sized Indiana city, for an office that has never had such an official attempt such a career leap.

    On Wednesday morning, Buttigieg began his move toward gaining African-American support seen as vital to what could be a generational movement. He announced the endorsement of South Carolina State Rep. J.A. Moore, an African-American businessman and chef. “Electability is top of mind for every South Carolina voter. If anyone had doubts, Pete Buttigieg has proven he’s the only viable candidate to build a cross-racial, rural, urban and suburban coalition to win in November.” said Moore.

    That endorsement came as Pete for America in South Carolina expanded to 55 staff members across six field offices, as well as 100 in Nevada. The campaign has also been investing in paid media across the state, running digital, television and radio ads, including one featuring Walter Clyburn Reed and Abe Jenkins reflecting on the legacies of their respective grandfathers. Clyburn Reed is the grandson of Rep. James E. Clyburn, and Jenkins is the grandson of civil rights leader Esau Jenkins.

    It’s an attempt to fix the glaring hole in his resume, the lack of African-American support, which was just 4% in the most recent Charleston Post & Courier poll. Buttigieg is polling in the single digits in the Real Clear Politics polling composites in Nevada (7%), South Carolina (5.5%), California (7.3%), and Texas (5%). But that’s been familiar territory for the mayor.

    “We have to engage voters in very racially diverse states,” Buttigieg said early Wednesday morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “We have to share this message that we have to come together and confront Donald Trump and unify the Democratic Party over values we share. There’s going to be a very clear choice here. Sen. Sanders, who I greatly respect, has got an approach that you’ve either got to be for his revolution or the status quo. Most people don’t see where they fit in that message. Our message is real, meaningful, bold, progressive reform in a way that can actually bring Americans together and not polarize us.”

    Asked about the coming pitch to Palmetto State blacks, Buttigieg explained, “The key is that I’m sharing South Bend’s story but also other black and Latino voices from our community are also sharing their experience of South Bend’s story. The Douglass Plan isn’t something that just came out of the blue. It connects to things we’ve learned, sometimes the hard way, at home. Just like America’s story, our city’s story is complex and challenging, but it is a story of working side by side to deliver for black residents. I’ll be telling that story so ideas of the Douglass Plan connect to the world that I’ve done.

    “A lot of the folks I’ve talked to over the last year say, ‘The plan seems great ... but, c’mon, are you really going to be a competitive campaign?’ Now that we’ve put that question to rest, I think we’re getting a whole new look from black and Latino voters who have so much riding on whether we defeat Donald Trump.”

    With the apparent implosion of former vice president Joe Biden, the key question is where does his support go?  Veteran analyst Josh Kraushaar of the National Journal observed, “Who wins the African-American vote going forward? No one, other than Biden, has a claim to their support. Bernie has a faction of the activist base, but deeply skeptical he can broaden support.”

    U.S. Rep. James Clyburn said Wednesday morning Biden “is still the leading candidate in South Carolina. I think Nevada will have an impact” but said that Biden lacked a forward leaning perspective. New York Post columnist Ben Domenech wrote Wednesday of Biden, “He is low on money, and the crush of ad spending by Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer in critical states means that he can barely afford to compete in key markets. His events seem exhausted and strained, his voice quavering between a harsh staccato and a whisper.”

    As for his pitch to Nevada this next week, Buttigieg noted that a wide swath of labor isn’t interested in Sanders’ Medicare for All plan. “Nevada is a great place where union workers gave concessions on wages to get excellent plans,” Buttigieg explained yesterday on ‘Morning Joe’. “I’m talking about culinary workers ... who are prioritizing health care and they are not interested in Sen. Sanders’ plan of eliminating all private plans. They actually got and fought for the good coverage they have now. If the choice is between Sen. Sanders telling them they’re going to have to give that up and me saying we can increase enhanced choice ... I think that is a very good debate for us to have.”

    Starting Monday, the Buttigieg campaign will have boots on the ground in every Super Tuesday state that will help further resource and train thousands of grassroots volunteer networks in all 165 congressional districts, the campaign said. Additionally, Pete for America announced four upcoming trips in the next two weeks that will take Buttigieg to Super Tuesday states including California, North Carolina, Utah, and Virginia. This also comes on the heels of a six-figure digital buy in several Super Tuesday states. He has fundraisers set later this week in Indianapolis and California.

    “We are building the campaign that will not only win this nomination but will defeat Donald Trump in November,” said Samantha Steelman, organizing director for Super Tuesday States. “To compete in all the states on Super Tuesday, you need a massive network of grassroots volunteers. For months, we have had a team building that organization by harnessing the energy and grassroots momentum behind Pete and turning it into real organizing work. This ramp up will provide more staff and resources to train, resource, and guide our 25,000 volunteers in Super Tuesday states that will push our campaign across the finish line on March 3rd.”

    Buttigieg burnished his campaign cred this past week in a state that Sanders won in a landslide four years ago. In addition to Sanders’ movement and Bloomberg’s profound wealth, Buttigieg will have to fend off the late surge of Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who prevented the outright Buttigieg Granite State upset. With Biden imploding, Buttigieg will attempt to consolidate the “moderate” middle lane, which carried more than 55% of the New Hampshire vote. Veteran operative David Axelrod said, “What is striking ... and we saw last week in Iowa as well, Pete Buttigieg runs relatively well across all categories. He does well in different kinds of communities. And he has done a good job of casting a broad message that is hitting a large target.”

    Two weeks ago, Real Clear Politics polling composite in New Hampshire had Sanders leading at 25%, Joe Biden at 17%, Elizabeth Warren and Buttigieg tied at 14%, with Klobuchar at 6%. ABC News exit polling revealed Buttigieg won those who made their choice in the campaign’s closing days. .

    The other key challenge for Buttigieg is money. Not only is he coming up against Bloomberg’s deep pockets, but Sanders announced he raised an astounding $25 million in January. CNBC reported that one new Buttigieg supporter is former Goldman Sachs partner David Heller. Another is National Association of Manufacturers president and CEO Jerry Jasinowski. His campaign has spent more in South Carolina than in Nevada so far, but that may be changing. Mr. Buttigieg has $388,000 in ads placed for this week in Nevada and $75,000 in South Carolina.
  • Buttigieg comes within eyelash of stunning NH upset of Sen. Sanders


    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.

    Appearing just before 11 p.m., a buoyant Buttigieg told supporters in Nashua, "Here in a state that goes by the motto Live free or Die, you made up your own mind. You have shown this campaign is here to stay. So many of you turned out—die-hard Democrats, Independents unwilling to stay on the sidelines, and even some newly-former Republicans, ready to vote for something new. Ready to vote for a politics defined by how many we can call in, instead of by who we push out."

    "Now, our campaign moves on — to Nevada and South Carolina, and to communities all across our country—welcoming new allies to our movement at every step," Buttigieg sais. "We must get this right, with an unaccountable president, we must get this right."

    Sanders told jubilant supporters, "Let me take this opportunity to thank the people of New Hampshire of this great victory tonight. The reason we won in New Hampshire, the reason we won in Iowa was the hard work of so many volunteers. This victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump. The reason we're going to win is we're putting together a multi-racial, multi-cultural movement."

    Veteran operative David Axelrod said, "What is striking ... and we saw last week in Iowa as well, Pete Buttigieg runs relatively well across all categories. He does well in different kinds of communities. And he has done a good job of casting a broad message that is hitting a large target."

    Two weeks ago, Real Clear Politics polling composite at Sanders leading at 25%, Joe Biden at 17%, Elizabeth Warren and Buttigieg were tied at 14% with Klobuchar at 6%. "Give Pete credit, Pete drove turn out. Amy drove turn out. That's what we're looking for in November," said former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe.

    ABC News exit polling revealed Buttigieg won those who made their choice in the campaign’s closing days. Those late deciders accounted for a remarkable 50% of all voters, far more than in previous New Hampshire primaries.

    The "moderate" Buttigieg and Klobuchar massed almost 45% of the vote (over 50% if you include Joe Biden). Sanders ended up with a little more than a quarter of the vote.

    Klobuchar celebrated her third place finish, but will probably lack the resources to compete effectively in the Super Tuesday states unless she picks up Biden and Warren supporters in Nevada and South Carolina. "We love you New Hampshire," Klobuchar said. "I love America and I will beat Donald Trump. We have beaten the odds every step of the way."

    Joe Biden, who has has run for president three times and has never won a primary or caucus, said from South Carolina, "We just heard from the first two of 50 states. Two of them. Not all the nation, not half the nation … two. Now where I come from, that's the opening bell not the closing bell." 

    Veteran political journalist Ron Brownstein observed, "Once again it seems virtually certain that the winner will capture the smallest percentage of any Democratic winner ever. None of these candidates is big enough to separate from the others." 

    Larry Sabato, the University of Virginia political analyst, put Tuesday's election in perspective: "Two small white states aren’t the alpha and omega this time around." If Biden implodes before South Carolina vote 18 days off, veteran analyst Josh Kraushaar of the National Journal added, "Who wins the African-American vote going forward? No one, other than Biden, has a claim to their support. Bernie has a faction of the activist base, but deeply skeptical he can broaden support."

    Developing . . . .

  • HPI Horse Race: Holcomb expects challenge to Roth primary filing


    INDIANAPOLIS - Republican Brian Roth filed for the Republican gubernatorial nomination by the noon Friday deadline, but in a campaign Facebook posting said he will await to see if secretary of state's office will qualify him. Roth posted on his personal Facebook page, "It might be over in the mind of Kyle Hupfer but options remain. We did fall short of collecting the required signatures."

    That will certainly bring a challenge from Gov. Eric Holcomb’s reelection campaign. Indiana Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer, who doubles as Gov. Eric Holcomb's campaign manager, said Friday, "While Brian Roth came up short of collecting the necessary signatures to be on the May primary ballot, I appreciate the effort he and his supporters put in over the last few months to be active in our party. Although his signature collection effort was not successful and he will not be on the ballot in May, I am encouraged by Brian’s willingness to put himself in the public arena."

    Campaign spokesman Jake Oakman told HPI Sunday morning, "The Secretary of state's office lists him as a candidate because he filed, but he wouldn't be able to sustain a challenge to the Election Board." Oakman said Roth is about 2,000 signatures short. "Someone could file with no signatures at all and they'd be on the ballot if no one challenged it." The Holcomb campaign will file that challenge.

    Once Roth is dispatched, it sets up a showdown between Gov. Holcomb and Dr. Woody Myers, the only Democrat to qualify for the ballot. Businessman Josh Owens suspended his campaign late last week, endorsing Myers, who told the IBJ, “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.”

    Holcomb starts the post-filing period with a $7 million cash advantage.

  • HPI Analysis: Mayor Pete's 'astonishing rise'


    INDIANAPOLIS  – When you factor in where Pete Buttigieg was a year ago – poised as a potential Dennis Kucinich or Alan Keyes of presidential politics – and where he is today, poised as a top-tier candidate after what appears to be a virtual tie in the Iowa caucuses (Buttigieg had a 26.2% to 26.1% lead over Bernie Sanders with 96.9% of precincts reporting late last night), the pertinent question is whether the sky, or 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., will be his limit.

    From a Hoosier perspective, “Mayor Pete” has already eclipsed the late Sens. Birch Bayh’s (13%) and Richard Lugar’s (4%) presidential campaigns in their 1976 and 1996 Iowa caucus runs. He has outlasted and out-raised Sen. Evan Bayh and Vice President Dan Quayle in their 2008 and 2000 presidential excursions.

    “Official, verified caucus results from state of Iowa, they’re not complete but the results are the majority and they show our campaign in first place,” Buttigieg said at a rally at Laconia, N.H., minutes after the results began coming Wednesday. “We don’t know all of the numbers but we know this much, the campaign that started a year ago with four staff members, no name recognition, no money, just a big idea; a campaign that some said had no business even making this attempt, has taken its place at the front of this race to replace the current president.”

    Buttigieg continued, “No matter what happens next, this much is undeniable: That fact represents an astonishing victory for this campaign, this candidacy and this vision you have all been a part of. This validates the message that connects the urban, the rural, and suburban communities, that we can reach out to Democrats, independents and even some future former Republicans ready to bring change to this country.”

    Iowa was key in the inevitable “electability” question for Buttigieg. He needed to demonstrate he could win in a Midwestern state, and conspicuously targeting Republicans dovetailed into his emerging narrative that he can go toe-to-toe with President Trump.

    Tuesday night’s Iowa meltdown essentially deprived the former South Bend mayor of the polling bump the caucus winner would get. But he overcame Sen. Bernie Sanders’s pitchfork brigades, stands to feast on moderate lane supporters of the swooning Joe Biden in the next few weeks, and faces the unprecedented wealth of a fellow former mayor in Michael Bloomberg. Biden said in New Hampshire on Wednesday, “I’m not going to sugar coat it. We took a gut punch in Iowa.”

    Take into account the extensive ground game he has laid in the Super Tuesday state of California, and the notion that Buttigieg has the potential to become the first Hoosier to win a Democratic presidential nomination is not particularly far-fetched.

    Buttigieg has already made history, becoming the first openly gay major party presidential contender to make it into the top tier campaigns. That he made his late Iowa campaign push in a series of Obama-to-Trump counties in mostly rural portions of the Hawkeye State is equally impressive and portends an evolving electorate. Buttigieg has targeted what he calls “future former Republicans,” who have the ability to vote in New Hampshire next Tuesday.

    William Saletan writing in Slate, observed, “Several candidates, including Biden and Klobuchar, have promised to beat Trump by building a coalition that reaches beyond the left. But in Iowa, Buttigieg proved that he can put together that kind of coalition. He won decisively among caucusgoers who called themselves ‘somewhat liberal’ — a segment that represented more than 40% of attendees — and he tied Biden for the lead among moderates. Among independents, he trailed Sanders but outpolled Biden.” 

    As of Wednesday morning, Buttigieg was winning 60 of Iowa’s 99 counties. Sanders had 18 counties. Biden had seven. With 96.94% of Iowa results filed, Buttigieg had  26.2%, Sanders at 26.1%, Elizabeth Warren was 18.2%, Joe Biden at 15.8% and Amy Klobuchar at 12.2%. Buttigieg had a four delegate state equivalent lead. 

    NH supposedly Sanders country

    The Granite State is expected to be friendly territory for Vermont’s Sanders and Massachusetts’ Warren, but Sanders’ army of supporters did not create what many had projected to be a record caucus turnout. In a continuation of movement picked up in last night’s WBZ/Boston Globe/Suffolk University tracking poll, it’s another day of good results in New Hampshire for Buttigieg (CBSBoston). Sanders continues to lead the field with 25%, but Buttigieg is closing in with a 19% showing, his best yet in this poll. Buttigieg is up 8% from last week. Biden dropped three points from last night to 12%, and Warren is holding steady at 11%. Looking deeper into the crosstabs, Buttigieg appears to be siphoning voters away from Biden in a couple of key areas. He’s up by 4% among women while Biden is down by 4%, with a similar scenario among registered Democrats, a crucial demographic for Biden. 

    A Saint Anselm College Survey Center had Sanders and Biden at 19%, followed by Buttigieg at 14%, and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar at 11%.

    On Thursday, Buttigieg will sit down with “The View,” hold a conversation with New Hampshire veterans, join CNN for a live town hall, and appear on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” On Friday, he will step onstage for the ABC/WMUR Democratic Primary debate. On Saturday, Buttigieg will speak at the “Our Rights, Our Courts” forum, host GOTV rallies in Keene and Lebanon, and join the McIntyre-Shaheen “100 Club” event. And on Saturday, the former South Bend mayor will host GOTV rallies in Nashua and Dover.

    Sanders had a $5 million-to-$3 million TV ad edge over Buttigieg, according to MSNBC. Politico reported that Sanders raised $25 million on January, prompting Buttigieg to schedule several fundraisers in the coming week.

    Buttigieg told the Manchester Union-Leader, “I recognize I am competing with not one but two New England senators from states touching New Hampshire. We recognize this is a competitive challenge but I think that the independent nature that is so important here in New Hampshire also allows us to prove once again that this is a campaign that can bring in many different kinds of people across the spectrum and form the coalition that can defeat Donald Trump.”

    Winning the spin

    Buttigieg is clicking on several key attributes that should take him into Super Tuesday in a little less than a month. His communications guru Lis Smith continues to land the candidate on the talk shows. He was the only contender to make the full round on last Sunday’s shows (sans Fox News Sunday, though he did a town hall with that network earlier in the week).

    While he was the fifth candidate to enter the dead air space after the Iowa caucus debacle was realized around 11 p.m., he made Wednesday morning headlines, declaring, “Because tonight, an improbable hope became an undeniable reality. So we don’t know all the results, but we know by the time it’s all said and done, Iowa, you have shocked the nation because by all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.”

    Politico reported that he was winning the post-Iowa spin game; for the second straight day, Buttigieg captured the limelight, at one point choking back tears during a nationally televised news conference where he seemed to acknowledge the triumph of ascending to this place in a presidential primary without specifically saying so. If his lead holds, Buttigieg will have accomplished a phenomenal feat, catapulting from little-known mayor with an unusual name to a formidable national figure who would go on to edge out some of the most recognizable names in Democratic politics.

    “If you watched all the speeches last night with the sound down, you would say Mayor Pete won and gave a victory speech and everyone else gave a regular speech,” Iowa consultant Jeff Link told Politico. “It just looked like a victory speech, the crowd was fired up, he was fired up, he was energetic.”

    That contrasted with poorly attended Biden rallies and Sanders’ cranky demeanor. Axios reported Wednesday, that Buttigieg sees a moment to overtake Biden with an electability message after the scrambled Iowa results left some top Biden supporters distraught. If the partial results released yesterday by the Iowa Democratic Party had been trumpeted Monday night instead of being delayed by the app snafu, Buttigieg would have been a national sensation. Instead, Buttigieg’s kinda-victory declaration before results were out – which his rivals’ surrogates criticized as presumptuous and shady – was drowned out by the macro story of the Democrats’ embarrassing disaster.”

    If Buttigieg answered some of the electability questions surrounding his candidacy, Biden fired this salvo at Sanders: “If Sen. Sanders is the nominee ... every candidate in our party will have to carry the label he’s given to himself, Democratic socialist. You’ve already seen what President Trump will do with that. Donald Trump is desperate to pin the socialist label of socialist, socialist, socialist, on our party. We can’t let him do that.” Biden also said of Buttigieg, “I have great respect for Mayor Pete and his service to this nation. But I do believe it’s a risk, to be just straight up with you, for this party to nominate someone who’s never held an office higher than mayor of a town of 100,000 people in Indiana.”

    That didn’t work so well in Iowa.

    Hogsett to file Pete’s paperwork

    Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Pete for America volunteers will submit over 8,300 signatures to officially place Pete Buttigieg on Indiana’s Democratic primary ballot at the Indiana Secretary of State’s office at 11:45 a.m. today.

  • Buttigieg declares victory in Iowa caucus fiasco

    INDIANAPOLIS - There are no Iowa caucus results because of an apparent App glitch, but Pete Buttigieg declared victory in an election nightmare coming in an era of fake news, alternative facts and rigged results. “What a night. Because tonight, an improbable hope became an undeniable reality," Buttigieg told supporters in Des Moines around 12:20 a.m. as the crowd chanted "President Pete." 

    "So we don't know all the results, but we know by the time it's all said and done, Iowa, you have shocked the nation because by all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious." The Buttigieg campaign was reacting to internal vote counts. Buttigieg followed Sens. Amy Klobachar, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden who sucked up air time, each projecting victory shortly before midnight. Buttigieg and rival campaigns began putting out mind-jarring tally sheets that in isolation made no sense, prompting voters and partisans to question the legitimacy of the Iowa results. It is a devastating turn of events in an era where President Trump and Sanders have based their campaigns complaining about a "rigged system."

    The app prompted "inconsistencies" in the three-tier results. It comes on the heels of the CNN/Des Moines Register Poll that was scrapped on Saturday after the Buttigieg campaign complained the candidate had been left off the list. 

    The Iowa Democratic Party said around 11 p.m. Monday, “This is not a hack or an intrusion,” said a spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party. The party is using photos of results and a paper trail to validate the results. 

    In a 1 a.m. conference call with reporters, Iowa Democrat Chairman Troy Price said the party was manually tabulating results that would be reported "later today." Price said, “This is taking longer than expected,The system is in place to make sure we can report results with full confidence.”

    Brad Parscale, President Trump’s campaign manager, called it a “meltdown” on Twitter. “They can’t even run a caucus and they want to run the government,” he tweeted. “No thank you. It would be natural for people to doubt the fairness of the process.”

    Developing . . . .
  • Mayor Pete making frenzied final pitch before Monday's Iowa caucuses

    INDIANAPOLIS - President Trump and Vice President Pence were in Des Moines Thursday night, with the former telling Hawkeye State farmers they will fail if he's not reelected. And Mayor Pete? He was in Sioux City, Council Bluffs, and then Clinton and Davenport seeking support from disaffected Republicans.

    The Buttigieg presidential campaign is fully in "Phase IV" mode, which is to gin up the Monday caucus vote that stands to make or break his upstart campaign. Anything less than a first or second place finish will likely consign his campaign to the dustbin of history. Widely regarded as a top tier candidate, Buttigieg's polling advantage eroded in January. As of Saturday, the Real Clear Politics polling composite has Bernie Sanders leading at 23.8%, Joe Biden at 20.2%, Buttigieg at 15.8%, Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 14.6% and Sen. Amy Klobuchar at 9.6%.

    The former South Bend mayor is scheduled for Get Out the Caucus vote events Saturday in Waterloo, Oelwein, Dubuque, Anamosa, and Cedar Rapids. "It’s all big and ambitious, but that’s what we’ve been from the beginning," the Buttigieg campaign said in a fundraising appeal. "It’s what Pete believes it will take to meet the challenges facing our country, too. Phase Four is a turning point. Phase Four is where we win this thing." 

    Turnout is expected to be historic, an element that Buttigieg needs for a lane to win. Buttigieg is widely believed to have the top two ground organizations (Warren is the other). With the polls becoming a within-the-margin-of-error hash, turnout will be key.

    Sean Manning of the Buttigieg campaign explained, "In 25 of the pivotal counties Pete has visited, he’s drawn the largest crowd in 19 of them. The turnouts are showing a real hunger in Iowa for Pete's message of turning the page on the Trump presidency and uniting Americans around bold solutions –– even in conservative areas."

    In the last 20 days, Buttigieg has held 48 town halls across Iowa, and visited 25 of the 31 Iowa counties that flipped from Obama to Trump in 2016. In 19 of those 25 visits, he has drawn the largest crowds of any Democratic candidate this cycle. Today, he will visit two more of these Obama-Trump counties. Over 5,500 Iowans have attended a PFA caucus training leading into the caucuses, including over 1,400 Iowans in Obama/Trump counties. Pete for America will have Iowans leading Pete groups in all 1,678 precincts on Caucus Day. 

    Pete for America kicked off its GOTC weekend that will include over 70 surrogate events leading into the caucuses over the next three days, including canvass kickoffs with Mayor Quentin Hart, U.S. Reps. Dave Loebsack, Anthony Brown, and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley on the ground for the mayor.

    Appearing on Bill Maher's "Real Time" show Friday night, Buttgieg talked of his "coalition" designed to defeat Trump and Pence. "Part of how we're going to win is to pull in a broad coalition," Buttgieg said. "And there are a lot of what I like to call future former Republicans who are showing up at my events. We've been campaigning in some counties in Iowa here - they swung maybe 20 points toward Donald Trump and yet, folks are coming out of the woodwork to my events. And I'm not trying to trick them, I'm not pretending to be conservative, but I'm making sure that we have a vision that a good, healthy majority of Americans can get on board with. And that's not just true in terms of policy. It's true in terms of tone and style and just the kind of president that I think we want right now."

    Buttigieg caught the attention of President Trump, who, at Drake University Thursday night, envisioned a rematch with his dream opponent, Hillary Clinton. "I like that idea," Trump said during his rambling 90-minute stream of consciousness. "I like it. Wouldn't we like to run against her? Who's tougher, her, crazy Bernie, Biden, Boot-edge-edge? Who would be the closest? Boot-edge-edge? I don't know, maybe we take another crack at Crazy Hillary. Would that be OK? She was so easy. Remember that speech, so innocently given, talking about deplorables, remember? Remember deplorables?"

    Trump also made his pitch to swing state Iowans: "All I have to do is say, 'Uh, hello Iowa. You have no choice but to vote for me. Otherwise, everything you have loved in your entire life will be gone. Goodbye, Iowa. Have a good time.' Instead, I work my a-- off up here, OK? True." 

  • HPI Horse Race: It's showtime for Pete Buttigieg

    INDIANAPOLIS  – Mitch Daniels notes the modern penchant of American voters who have voted for the polar opposite of the presidential status quo, whether it is JFK following Ike, or Donald Trump on the heels of Barack Obama. Democratic voters in Iowa face a huge fork in the road next Monday night when they caucus. Do they pass the torch to a new generation, which is the clarion message of former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg? Or do they lend credence to President Trump’s ideological opposite, the socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders?

    Or do they opt for Joe Biden, who has premised his campaign on the idea that he is best positioned to take out Trump, with the Senate impeachment trial a huge Exhibit A in the president’s fear and loathing of the former vice president?

    The Real Clear Politics polling composite with Sanders at 24.8%, Biden at 20.6% and Buttigieg at 17% appears to make this another three-way showdown. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who landed the Des Moines Register endorsement last weekend, was at 14.6% while Sen. Amy Klobachar was at a distant 9%. In 2008, Iowa Democrats narrowly opted for Obama over Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.

    There is great volatility in this showdown. An Emerson College Poll this past week found 38% unsure of how they’ll vote. A recent Suffolk survey put that number at 45%, while 13% are truly undecided.

    The latest poll of the state, out Wednesday from Monmouth University, showed Biden and Sanders running a close one-two, with the former vice president at 23% and the Vermont senator at 21%. Next were Buttigieg and Warren, at 16 and 15%, respectively, and Klobuchar at 10 (Politico). 

    “Caucus electorates are the most difficult to model in polling. The smartest takeaway from this, or any Iowa poll for that matter, is to be prepared for anything on Monday,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. There has not been a large increase in the number of voters who have settled on a candidate in the past few weeks. Currently, 47% of likely Iowa caucusgoers are firmly decided on their candidate choice.  That hasn’t changed much from Monmouth’s poll two weeks ago when firm support stood at 43%. Nearly half (45%) say they are open to switching support on caucus night, including 13% who rate this as a high possibility, 23% a moderate possibility, and 9% a low possibility. Firm support for the top polling candidates ranges from 47% for Klobuchar, 48% for Biden, and 49% for Buttigieg to 55% for Warren and 58% for Sanders.

    Vox Media’s Sean Collins writes: “The good news for Sanders and Warren is that their supporters seem to be relatively locked in; Suffolk found about 60% of their current supporters said they are sure to caucus for them. About half, 53%, of Biden’s supporters said they are committed to him. Buttigieg had a 48% commitment rate, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, 42%. The other polls showed similar results, with Warren and Sanders supporters being the most steadfast. Iowa’s system of assessing candidate viability makes Iowans’ second choices of great importance. Essentially, Iowans who caucus for any candidate who does not receive at least 15% support in a given district are asked to caucus for their second choice. Warren was the top second choice in the New York Times poll; Biden in the CBS survey.”

    With Sanders, Warren and Klobachar caged in by President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, Buttigieg and Biden have had Iowa pretty much to themselves this past week. Buttigieg had more than a dozen town halls, beginning with a Fox News event last Sunday night. He is targeting independent moderates and disaffected Republicans. He’s got nine GOTV events scheduled through Sunday.

    Dogging Mayor Pete’s campaign is his standing with African-America voters. While they represent a tiny sliver of expected caucus participants in Iowa, it goes to his electability arguments against President Trump. He spent $2 million in South Carolina on radio and TV ads touting his inclusive nature, but a recent Fox News Poll found just 2% of South Carolina black voters are backing him. A national Quinnipiac University poll published on Tuesday found Buttigieg at 0% support among black primary voters.

    “If he does well in Iowa, I don’t see [Buttigieg] as dead on arrival here, but he’s certainly on life support in South Carolina,” State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, an influential state lawmaker who has not endorsed in the 2020 primary, told Politico.

    A New York Times story on Tuesday featured minority staffers on his campaign complaining about their lack of inclusion. “That may not be something that’s typical or has happened a lot before in presidential campaigns, to try to empower staffers at all levels to be able to speak to their concerns and experiences, to raise concerns and to have these tough conversations,” Buttigieg told reporters after a campaign stop in Ottumwa, Iowa. “And they are tough.”

    On Wednesday, Buttigieg announced his campaign co-chairs, including U.S. Reps. Anthony G. Brown, Don Beyer, and Annie Kuster, civil rights leader Lamell McMorris, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, and South Bend Councilwoman Sharon McBride. Rep. Brown, McMorris and McBride are African-American.

    “I am thrilled to stand shoulder to shoulder with these inspiring leaders who reflect the boldness and strength of our country,” said Buttigieg. “I admire all that they have done to bridge the gap between Americans of both parties in order to tackle the urgent issues that have grown worse under this president.”

    Councilwoman McBride said, “I have seen on the campaign trail that many Americans are still getting to know Pete, and I’ve been honored to share with others what I know to be true about him from our work together in South Bend.”

    “As I’ve been traveling the country with Pete, I’ve seen firsthand the hunger Americans have for a president who can bring Americans together so that we heal our divides and restore decency to our nation’s highest office,” said Rep. Brown.

    “When I met Pete in Atlanta, I found him to be not only brilliant but also a genuine, authentic leader who values honesty and transparency and who works to build consensus,” said McMorris. “America needs a leader who can rally citizens to unite and tackle our mounting challenges. Pete has proven himself to be the leader that we need with the plan we need. His comprehensive Douglass Plan for Black America will further extend political freedom, economic parity, and justice to more Americans in our country.”

    Buttigieg returned to the U.S. Conference of Mayors a week ago. It was where he kicked off his campaign exploratory committee one year ago. “It was exactly a year ago on this day and in this place that we first launched this exploratory committee for president that became my campaign,” he said. “And at that time, an awful lot of people thought the idea of putting a mayor in the White House seemed improbable. We had a staff of four and a little office back home smaller than the stage area where I’m standing. I had no big email list, no senatorial PAC. I had a personal fortune amounting to literally thousands of dollars and a name that didn’t exactly roll off the tongue. But what we had was this idea that our country would be better off if Washington started to look a little more like our best run cities and towns before the reverse started to happen.”

    As for his closing electability argument, Buttigieg said at the Fox News town hall, “The biggest risk that we could take right now would be to try to go up against this president with the same old playbook that we’ve been relying on that helps explain how we got here in the first place. I think it’s time for something completely different. Look, I’ll admit if what you’re looking for is the most years spent in Washington, you’ve got a clear choice and it’s not going to be me, but I would also argue that the kind of experience you have governing on the ground in a city of any size is the kind of experience we need a little more of in Washington, because we don’t have the luxury of alternative facts.”

    On CBS “Face The Nation” last Sunday, Buttigieg was asked to describe a successful Iowa outcome. “I’m not going to set a goalpost, but clearly it’s important for us to do well here in Iowa because this is our first opportunity to actually show versus tell about our ability to earn the support of voters,” Buttigieg responded. “And we’ve got a fantastic organization here on the ground, more than 100 organizers filling those slots for precinct captains and the organization that’s really going to move people to the caucuses. Now, what I think is all different this year is a lot of folks have really been waiting until these last few days to make their decision. And so that creates the opportunity for us one more time to talk about the kind of president I seek to be, what it would mean to have a president focused on unifying the country, but also why my approach is the best to win and to defeat Donald Trump.”

    Focus on Obama to Trump counties

    As he walked out to a crowd of over a hundred people at a fairground venue in Osceola, Iowa on Tuesday afternoon, Buttigieg told the crowd that he spent New Years in the small town when he worked as an Obama staffer in 2008 (Vice News). Several voters that VICE News spoke with at his events in Osceola and Indianola cited Buttigieg’s “fresh face” and “energy” as his appeal, qualities that made a young senator named Barack Obama stand out to Iowans more than a decade ago. “This campaign is calling out to Democrats, calling out to independents, and ‘future former Republicans,’ he said, making a direct pitch to conservative voters that his campaign was hoping would attend.

    Osceola, which is in Clarke County, voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election by 49.8%, then flipped to Donald Trump in the 2016 contest by a much larger margin of 60.2%. Buttigieg’s campaign has employed a strategy in the final weeks leading to the caucus to purposefully send the candidate to these Obama-to-Trump counties in an attempt to woo conservatives to their side.

    Politico reports today: The play is to get Buttigieg in front of as many Iowans as possible, taking advantage of an impeachment-free schedule. He’s focusing on rural areas, where other candidates won’t have time or resources to get to. What’s most interesting about his events is the Q-and-A time with voters: He often takes five to seven questions from the crowd or pulled from a fishbowl of pre-written queries. Earlier this week, several challenged his lack of support among black voters — a sign that his weakness in South Carolina is seeping into his ground game in Iowa.
  • HPI Analysis: Trumpublicans face impeachment risks

    INDIANAPOLIS  – President Trump doesn’t look to be in much danger of losing his office this winter. But if history teaches us anything from past 20th Century impeachment efforts, his reelection is on thin ice next November and his Trumpublicans may face harrowing losses outside of Indiana.

    The latest polling comes for CNN and Monmouth that had 49% favoring impeachment, with 51% in CNN and Pew Research and 50% in Monmouth backing his removal from office. This doesn’t appear to be enough to dislodge any of the 53 Senate Republicans from voting for his acquittal (Sen. Mike Braun predicted acquittal on Wednesday), but it bodes ill for his reelection and the party’s prospects this November.

    That 69% in the CNN/SRS Poll (including 48% of Republicans) want witnesses in the Senate trial is also fascinating and portends ominously for the GOP. And there is enough polling on this to establish a trend: Washington Post/ABC News: 71% supporting witnesses to 22% who don’t; Quinnipiac: 66% to 17%;  and Morning Consult/Politico: 57% to 24%

    Political Wire’s Taegan Goddard observed, “By repeatedly blocking Democratic amendments yesterday, Republicans are going against the clear will of the people.

    “An even bigger risk for Republicans is that additional evidence will almost certainly come out about the president’s wrongdoing. Late last night, new emails were released showing budget officials had already laid the groundwork to freeze military aid the day before the president’s fateful phone call with Ukraine’s president. There will be more. And the campaign ads will write themselves. Republicans are abetting a cover-up.”

    House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, one of the House managers, warned Tuesday, “The facts will come out in the end. The documents, which the president is hiding, will be released through the FOIA or through other means over time. Witnesses will tell their stories in book and film. The truth will come out. The question is, will it come out in time?”

    The danger for Republicans is that Senate trial rules are supposed to keep them mute for the next couple of weeks and the trial duration, while Democratic House managers lay out their case in detail against the president. President Trump can be expected to weigh in via Twitter, which has already contributed to his low approval and national right/wrong track numbers.

    The fact that nearly half of likely voters back impeachment and/or removal from office is new territory. Little wonder that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is leery of allowing additional witnesses like former national security advisor John Bolton or Rudy Giuliani henchman Lev Parnas that could add sensational testimony into this stew.

    Why does this analysis portend to a GOP disaster, particularly when our June 2016 warning of a blue wave reversed its course when the final WTHR/Howey Politics Indiana Poll in November 2016 had Trump with an 11% lead in Indiana?

    Because President Trump is in territory that President Nixon avoided until the very end when his GOP base support collapsed, and President Clinton never experienced.

    In 1998-99, President Clinton enjoyed wide popular support. Gallup put his job approval at 60% in the summer of 1998 at a time of stained blue dresses, while the commander-in-chief schooled us in the definition of what the word “is” was. His approval spiked to 73% after the December House impeachment vote.

    In contrast, President Trump’s approve/disapprove numbers were 43/52% in the Monmouth Poll while the national right/wrong track numbers are a dismal 37/56%, despite the red hot economy. CNN put his job approval at 45/51%.

    According to Pew Research, only 30% favored Clinton’s removal from office prior to his Senate acquittal, or 19% below where President Trump stands.

    As for President Nixon, in the spring of 1974 Gallup had just 44% who thought he should be removed from office, while just 41% disagreed. After the Supreme Court ordered Nixon to surrender the so-called “smoking gun” audio tapes, 57% favored his removal.

    Why do we believe this could be a dicey predicament for Republicans beyond Indiana (we do not believe Gov. Eric Holcomb, any of the congressional incumbents of the GOP’s legislative majorities are in any danger)? 

    Because presidential approval and the right/wrong track numbers translate into potential down ballot races (right, Gov. Matt Bevin?).

    In 1998, Democrats actually picked up five seats in the U.S. House, seven in the Indiana House, and did not pick up any Senate seats despite it being President Clinton’s second mid-term election. It was the first time since 1934 that the non-presidential party failed to gain congressional seats in a mid-term election. It was also the first time since 1822 that the non-presidential party had failed to gain seats in the mid-term election of a president’s second term.

    In 1974, Democrats won net gains of four seats in the Senate, 49 seats in the House, and four seats in the gubernatorial elections. The Democrats won the nationwide House popular vote by 16.8%. There were other elements at play, including President Ford’s pardon of Nixon, and Ford’s WIN (Whip Inflation Now) program. But 1974 is known as the “Watergate election” and it resulted in far-reaching down ballot gains for Democrats, who won majorities in the Indiana House and Senate. In fact, 1974 was the last time for Democratic Indiana Senate control.

    Pew Research observed: “Trump’s approval ratings have been fairly stable since the early days of his presidency, but at a considerably lower level – around 40% in a summer 2019 Pew Research Center survey. A Pew Center survey taken shortly after Clinton’s Jan. 26, 1998, denial of the Lewinsky affair allegations found that 71% of Americans approved of how he was handling his job as president, 10 percentage points higher than a survey taken just before the scandal broke. Clinton benefited from widespread support for his policies and skepticism about the media’s coverage of the allegations.

    “While that initial boost faded over time, Clinton’s approval rating in August 1998 was still a robust 62%, where it remained for months – throughout his admission of the affair, the release of the Starr report and the opening of impeachment proceedings.

    Clinton’s approval hit 71% again in mid-December, after the House vote to impeach him,” Pew observed. “The Center’s results were consistent with polling by other organizations, which typically found between a quarter and a third of Americans favoring Clinton’s impeachment. That contrasted with the Watergate situation, which saw public support for Nixon’s impeachment steadily rise as more and more was learned about the scandal.”

    Here’s another difference between the Nixon and Clinton impeachments, according to Pew Research: “Unlike the Watergate hearings, which gripped much of the country in 1973, Americans largely tuned out the proceedings against Clinton.”

    The TV networks, along with the cable channels, carried the opening arguments on Wednesday, though viewership is unknown at this point.

    If there’s solace for Trump and his Republicans, it is that many Americans are not following his impeachment like they did Nixon’s. But in their peripheral vision, about half of registered voters don’t like what they are seeing and hearing. And unlike 2016, the loathed Hillary Clinton will not be on the ballot.

    Who the Democrats nominate will certainly have an impact, but if you’re a Republican on the ballot this November, best be prepared to batten down the hatches.
  • Horse Race: Holcomb starts with $7M cash advantage

    INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb will hold a $7.25 million cash edge on Dr. Woody Myers, who told Howey Politics Indiana on Wednesday that he “raised and spent $173,000, plus or minus.”

    Myers said in a statement his campaign will report $172,801 raised. A second Democrat, Indianapolis businessman Josh Owens, filed a report of $83,906 raised and a little over $16,000 cash on hand. The largest campaign fund of any Democratic gubernatorial candidate belongs to 2012 and 2016 nominee John Gregg. He has about $360,000 left over from his 2016 campaign but didn’t collect any contributions during the past year.

    Holcomb’s campaign account, combined with the accounts of Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and the Indiana Republican Party, ended the year with $8.61 million cash on hand. This combined total is also record-setting, topping the historical combined totals at this point in the gubernatorial cycle.

    “Hoosiers are donating their time, talent and resources to help Gov. Holcomb and Lt. Gov. Crouch get reelected in November, and this new fundraising record demonstrates the strength of our campaign and the enthusiasm for the Republican ticket,” said Kyle Hupfer, Holcomb for Indiana campaign manager. “With these record-breaking fundraising numbers, it’s clear that Hoosiers want the Holcomb-Crouch team to keep putting people first for the next four years.”

    The combined total surpasses the previously reported 2019 cash-on-hand total of $8.25 million. It includes the Indiana Republican Party cash-on-hand, which ended the year with $1.04 million in the bank, and Lt. Gov. Crouch’s cash-on-hand, who posted a total of $316,570 at the end of 2019.

    Myers told HPI, “There were decisions I have made and I don’t regret them. I’m not a politician. I made some decisions not to do major campaign fundraising until after the November elections. I didn’t want to step on mayoral campaigns. I was told you can do both, but if I’m going to be a great governor I’m going to need great mayors to help.”

    Myers added, “We’ve hired the best fundraising team in the country, the team that got Beshear elected in Kentucky. We’ve hired several more fundraising staff, and we’ve got a lot of events that are already on the books or are in planning stages. I’m happy with the progress we’ve made.”

    The Myers campaign hired Scott Gale with Fundraising Management Group (FMG). Gale most recently helped propel Democrat Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.  Mary Klinkose is coordinating fundraising for the campaign. Klinkose’s resume shows she began her career with Gov. Evan Bayh and has worked as a fundraiser for the Marion County Democratic Party and raised money for former congressman Baron Hill’s U.S. Senate campaign and other Democratic statewide campaigns. Aaren Myer and Jack Metcalfe round out the finance team.

    Myers’ new campaign manager is Zakiya Thomas, who he described as “battle-tested, helping to elect Democrats statewide in red-to-blue states. Thomas most recently worked on Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign as the deputy national political director.  Indianapolis-native Aaron Schaler is taking on the role of deputy campaign manager. Schaler is the former president of Hoosiers for Justice and of Indiana Stonewall Democrats, where he helped bring awareness to LGBTQ issues.

    In a statement, Myers said, “I am proud that we spent the first six months of this campaign traveling to 34 counties around Indiana, listening to Hoosiers talk about the issues they care about and sharing our message for a better Indiana. Our campaign is creating a solid grassroots organization, building out a talented staff, and working with the best fundraising and communications consultants in the country. We’re on pace to submit petition signatures ahead of the Feb. 4 deadline and are opening our new campaign headquarters in the historic Stutz Building in Indianapolis.”


    1st CD: McDermott has big money lead

    Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. appears to have raised more money in the two months since U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Gary, announced his retirement than any of the other Democratic candidates seeking to represent Northwest Indiana in Congress (Carden, NWI Times). The five-term leader of Lake County’s most populous city tells The Times his Federal Election Commission fundraising report, set to be made public Jan. 31, will show he raised $170,000 from 271 donors between Nov. 6, when he announced his bid, and Dec. 31. McDermott said he was particularly proud that nearly half his donations were under $100, including 72 donors who gave $20.20 in recognition of the 2020 election year. “It’s a real good cross-section from Lake and Porter counties,” McDermott said. “Every penny counts, and we appreciate all the support. I think next quarter we’ll do better than this. I need to have half a million dollars to run the campaign I want to run, so I’m 40% of the way to where I need to be.” State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, expects to report donations totaling $100,000. Valparaiso attorney Jim Harper, who ran an unsuccessful 2018 campaign for Indiana secretary of state, said he feels “really good” about raising $80,000 in a multi-candidate field during the six weeks he’s been actively campaigning. North Township Trustee Frank J. Mrvan said his FEC report will show he raised $53,916 from 91 donors during the same period as McDermott.

    Leyva runs again for GOP nod

    A Republican congressional candidate who has lost seven times this century to retiring U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Gary, wants to see how he’ll fare without Visclosky on the ballot (NWI Times). Mark Leyva, of Highland, this week announced he’s seeking the GOP nomination for a chance to represent all of Lake and Porter counties and western LaPorte County in the U.S. House. The former steelworker said if he’s elected to serve The Region he will work to support organized labor and “advance legislation which allows our domestic steel industry to be competitive in the U.S. and global markets.”

    2nd CD: Leucke endorses Hackett

    Former South Bend Mayor Steve Luecke endorsed Pat Hackett for Congress on Tuesday. In a video released by the campaign on Tuesday, the former South Bend mayor shared why he was supporting Hackett’s candidacy. “I am endorsing Pat Hackett because of her integrity, her values and her work ethic. I know she will be a great representative for our community as a voice for health care for all and an economy that works for everyone. She will bring a voice to Congress that represents the values of the 2nd District. I encourage people to join Pat’s campaign.”


    Attorney General: Krupp announces

    Indiana Department of Revenue Commissioner Adam Krupp is resigning at the end of the month to campaign full time for attorney general and try to unseat fellow Republican Curtis Hill (IBJ). Krupp, 41, officially announced his plans to seek the Republican nomination for attorney general Monday morning. Republican incumbent Hill is seeking reelection despite allegations that he inappropriately touched a state lawmaker and three legislative staffers in 2018. He has resisted calls from top Republican officials to resign. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb tapped Krupp to run the revenue department in 2017, and Krupp also worked under former governors Mike Pence and Mitch Daniels. Krupp said his resignation will take effect Jan. 31. “I’ll be over the state fast and furious the next five months,” Krupp said. “I want to be all in. I want to be everywhere I can.” He said he met with Holcomb about his decision to leave the DOR and run for attorney general. “He was very thankful and supportive of my service in his administration,” Krupp said. “He wished me the best, and we shook hands, and we went from there.”

    Holcomb statement on Krupp

    “I’m grateful to Adam for his years of dedication to the public,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said in a written statement (IBJ). “His leadership helped transform the Department of Revenue into one recognized and ranked as a best place in the state to work. He leaves the department perfectly positioned to continue delivering Hoosiers with great government service at a great taxpayer value. I wish him well in his new endeavors.” Holcomb, who has called on Hill to resign, has not offered any endorsements in the attorney general’s race.

    Is Rokita running?

    HPI asked former congressman and secretary of state Todd Rokita if he was running for attorney general. He texted back: “Well, between my federal leadership PAC and ny federal reelect account as well as my still open state account, I have about as much cash on hand as Curtis (Hill) and I haven’t raised money for two years.”

    Westercamp fails to get traction

    Central Indiana attorney John Westercamp hopes to get the nod instead of Attorney General Curtis Hill at the Republican Party’s state convention next year. But his campaign has struggled to gain traction (Kelly & Francisco, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Westercamp’s first finance report filed in July showed he had raised $55,000. But the Zionsville resident hasn’t had a single large donation – $1,000 or more – to report since. That’s perhaps why some Republicans are whispering about finding another candidate to challenge Hill, who is saddled with scandal over allegedly groping women at an Indianapolis bar and questions about his spending while in office. Westercamp says he has visited all 92 counties and received more than 120 public endorsements from Republicans including from state legislators, county party officials and local government officials. The list includes Rex Early, former chairman of the state GOP and President Donald Trump’s Indiana campaign. In addition, he has received endorsements from several Steuben County Republicans and State Rep. Dave Heine, R-New Haven.

    Tallian posts $205K

    State Sen. Karen Tallian’s year-end report shows she posted $205,000. “We have to keep our eye on the prize” said Linda Lawson, former state representative and retired Hammond police captain. “The process right now is about choosing the candidate who is best able to defeat Curtis Hill next November. Karen Tallian is the most qualified candidate in this race, on either side of the aisle, and the person most likely to win in the fall.” Tallian has raised over $205,000 in the last quarter in her campaign to be the next attorney general.  “We set a goal, and we met it,” said Tallian. Her campaign manager, Alex Cortwright, said that the report evidences her wide support all across the state.  “Except for a couple of old high-school buddies, these donations are from Hoosiers.  This is in stark contrast to the past reports filed by Attorney General Curtis Hill, which show that large chunks of his money are  coming from out of state” he said. Former Evansville mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel said his campaign finance report will show he raised $124,100 in the 21 days after launching his campaign Dec. 10. He also has some $480,000 left over from prior runs for public office.

    General Assembly

    HD7: Councilman Teshka files

    South Bend Councilman Jake Teshka filed to run for Republican HD7 Tuesday. “Residents of House District 7 need an effective state representative who can work across the aisle and fight for their needs. My experience on city council has taught me that we need leaders who listen before they speak, and I will do just that,” Teshka said in a statement released Tuesday morning. HD7 was won by former State Rep. Joe Taylor, who defeated Republican Troy Dillon 51.7% to 48.3% in 2018, then resigned. He was replaced by Ross Deal. “As a state representative, I will focus on driving more education dollars into our children’s classrooms and championing proposals that deliver mental health services to citizens that need our support.”

    HD15: Slager seeks rematch

    Republican Hal Slager is seeking a rematch with Democratic State Rep. Chris Chyung. Slager was upset in 2018, losing to Chyung by just 82 votes.

    HD24: Schaibley faces rematch

    Republican State Rep. Donna Schaibley is facing a rematch against Democrat Naomi Bechtold, who lost 55.6% to 41.6% in 2018.

    HD34: Basham to challenge Errington

    Retired Muncie educator Dale Basham, who sees “fantastic things happening in Muncie,” announced over the weekend that he will seek the Republican nomination for House District 34, currently represented by Democratic Rep. Sue Errington, who ran unopposed in 2018 (Slabaugh, Muncie Star Press). The candidate, who is one of Muncie’s most vocal cheerleaders, said it dawned on him to throw his hat in the ring when he learned – while on the road speaking about “all of the fantastic things happening in Muncie” – that the Indiana State Teachers Association was looking for educators to run for the Indiana General Assembly. The epiphany occurred during a speaking engagement in Metropolis, Ill., when Basham asked himself, “Why I am in Metropolis talking about Muncie and not in Muncie, Indiana, talking about how fantastic Muncie, Indiana, is,” he told supporters at his campaign headquarters in the former Munson’s used-car dealership on Saturday night.

    SD20: Baldwin in as Spartz suspends

    Scott Baldwin announced today he is running in the Republican primary for State Senate representing District 20. His candidacy prompted incumbent Sen. Victoria Spartz to suspend her campaign in order to explore a 5th CD run. “I’ve dedicated my life and career to serving our country and community, through my background in the military, law enforcement and public safety, to building and growing businesses in central Indiana,” Baldwin said. “As senator serving the residents of District 20, I will champion common sense, conservative leadership to help build our economy and grow jobs, promote fiscal responsibility, improve public safety and ensure Hamilton County continues to thrive.” Baldwin has endorsements from Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen, Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness, Hamilton County Commissioner Steve Dillinger and 17 other local elected officials within Hamilton County. 
  • HPI Analysis: Teacher pay an issue of semantics

    INDIANAPOLIS  – Wait ‘til next year?

    That was part of the reaction to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s fourth State of the State address Tuesday night when he announced he would use $250 million of the state’s $2.3 billion surplus to free up $55 million “to redirect” to teacher pay. Next year.

    Except the governor’s office produced data that 99% of teachers received an average pay bump of more than $1,200 this year, due to actions he took in 2019.

    Holcomb and Speaker Brian Bosma had hinted over the past week that the governor would address teacher pay during his statewide televised speech. The reality is that Holcomb and GOP legislative leaders believe they’ve already delivered on the issue that roused 15,000 teachers to the Statehouse on Organization Day last November. The implied political threat was a fate similar to the 2012 election verdict on Republican Supt. Tony Bennett, who was upset by Democrat Glenda Ritz who rode a wave of teacher support augmented by a Tahir Square-styled social media campaign.

    Holcomb, who is sitting on a $7 million reelection war chest, appears to be confident in internal polling that shows his reelection to be on stable ground.

    “I know a little about this. My mother was a teacher, and I saw how hard she worked,” Holcomb said in a speech where the reaction often seemed to be on a two-second time delay. “That’s why I created the Teacher Compensation Commission and asked them to come up with a sustainable plan to make our teacher salaries competitive with other Midwestern states. Their report is due this spring, but we didn’t wait. Last year, we devoted an unprecedented increase of 763 million new dollars in K-12 education, including paying down $150 million in the Teacher Retirement Fund, which freed up $65 million more a year for teacher pay increases. All of our school corporations have finalized their locally bargained contracts and more Indiana school districts have raised teacher salaries this year than in any other year in recent history.”

    Holcomb continued, “Tonight, I am recommending that in the next budget the General Assembly use an additional $250 million from our surplus and put it toward teacher retirement funds. In turn, $50 million a year will be generated to redirect to teacher pay. Together that’s $115 million more available annually to increase teacher pay with more to come after the Compensation Commission releases its recommendations.”

    Waiting until the 2021 biennial budget didn’t sit well with Democratic Chairman John Zody, who is running for a Senate seat in November. “Bottom line, pay raises for hardworking educators are more than a year away, if ever,” Zody said, “That’s not taking action, it’s taking a back seat.”

    Dr. Woody Myers, who is seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, observed, “It took thousands of teachers rallying at the Statehouse saying, ‘Enough is enough’ for the governor to acknowledge that Indiana has failed our teachers and students. When adjusted for inflation, average Indiana teacher salaries have dropped 15% since 2000 and a third of new Indiana teachers leave their jobs within five years.”

    And rogue Republican Supt. Jennifer McCormick said she was “disappointed” in the “delay” of teacher pay hikes. “While I appreciate the governor including the teacher compensation crisis in the State of the State Address, I am disappointed Indiana continues to delay necessary action,” said McCormick, who had been rumored as a potential ticket mate to State Sen. Eddie Melton until he pulled out of the gubernatorial race last week. “Insufficient school funding resulting in inadequate teacher compensation impacts 1.1 million students, 78,000 Hoosier educators, and the future of our great state. Students cannot afford to lose more great educators while Indiana decides if we can afford them.”

    But according to data from the Education Employment Relations Board, 99% of school corporations have raised teacher salaries this year, with about 60% of those school corporations providing increases equal to or larger than their raises last year. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported that last year’s average salary increase was $1,299. The governor’s office also said 62,595 out of 63,006 Indiana teachers, representing 99% of traditional public school teachers, work in one of the 301 public school corporations that are increasing teacher pay this year.

    Keith Gambill, ISTA president, said that the governor “continued to work to find innovative solutions to increase teacher pay. He also laid a foundation for what could be done in the future on a larger scale. However, Hoosier educators need action now. We will continue to advocate for lawmakers to invest at least $75 million this year to provide an increase to teachers’ base salaries.”

    Heavy on education

    Gov. Holcomb’s speech was heavy on education. He said that out of 23,000 Hoosiers enrolled in Workforce Ready Programs, 10,000 had completed a Next
    Level jobs workforce-ready-eligible certificate program, which he called a “mega milestone.” He said another 2,000 Hoosiers who previously started college but didn’t finish came back and completed their post-secondary educations. He said the goal to teach 1,000 Department of Corrections inmates computer coding has been reached and expanded to 3,000. “Because of these new programs and opportunities, our state recidivism rate has dropped 4%,” Holcomb said. “By 2022, I want 500 returning citizens annually to have validated job opportunities waiting for them before they walk out of prison, and 3,000 more formerly incarcerated individuals in jobs within five months of their release.”

    Historic economic numbers

    Holcomb noted that the jobless rate has dropped to 3.2%, or a “19-year low.” He added, “We’ve set all-time records in jobs commitments and capital investment. In fact, there are an additional 88,000 jobs in the IEDC’s pipeline because of the work that’s been done in the past three years. And it’s not just the quantity of these jobs, but the quality. Last year’s new jobs commitments averaged more than $28 an hour – another all-time high.”

    He announced that “Fiat-Chrysler has chosen Indiana for diversification and will invest nearly $400 million in its Kokomo facility” and that other investment will be announced at the sprawling Toyota complex at Princeton.

    The Republican governor added, “In 2019, we ranked No.1 in “infrastructure, top two in the nation for “long-term fiscal stability, No.1 in the Midwest and top five nationally for business. A recent editorial in the Chicago Tribune put it this way: ‘What does Indiana offer that Illinois doesn’t? Lower taxes, more stable home values, balanced state budgets and funded pension systems.’”

    Holcomb vowed to complete the “free-flow” U.S. 31 from South Bend to Indianapolis, and promised to strengthen public health and attack the drug epidemic. He said he would “expand OB navigator program to 20 counties” and added, “We’ve taken many steps to attack the opioid epidemic, including restricting the number of prescriptions and increasing outpatient addiction treatment and the trend is finally improving. In 2018, opioid prescriptions dropped 12% – faster than the national average – and, most importantly, deaths from drug overdoses went down nearly 13%, twice the decline of the national average.”

    Holcomb also addressed the state’s high smoking rate and his goal to move up the legal purchase age from 18 to 21. “We know that 95% of smokers start the habit before age 21, and there’s been an alarming rise in e-cigarette use among Indiana’s youth,” Holcomb said, “In addition to raising the age to 21, we’ll also seek to increase the penalties for retailers who sell tobacco and vaping products to underage buyers. Our message hasn’t changed: If you peddle illegal substances to our kids, we’re coming after you.”

    Gains in infant mortality

    Holcomb also claimed “Our infant mortality rate decreased significantly from 2017 to 2018 and is at its lowest since 2012.” Data from the Indiana State Department of Health released Wednesday show 559 Indiana babies died before the age of one in 2018, down from 602 in 2017. The overall infant mortality rate stood at 6.8 per 1,000 babies in 2018, down from 7.3 in 2017.

    “Indiana has been investing heavily in improving health outcomes for moms and babies as we work toward Gov. Holcomb’s goal of having the lowest infant mortality rate in the Midwest by 2024,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “It’s heartening to see those efforts pay off so that more Hoosier babies can celebrate their first birthdays.”

    Holcomb explained, “There’s no better person in the nation to lead this effort than our Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box, an OB-GYN and expert in this field. The Levels of Care program I asked you to approve ensures that the highest-risk babies are now delivered at hospitals with the necessary facilities. And more expecting mothers are being verbally screened for substance-use disorder and receive support and medicine when they need it. Steps like these are making a difference.”

    DCS update

    As for the troubled Department of Child Services, Holcomb said, “In 2018, I tasked Director Terry Stigdon to right the ship, and she did just that, undertaking a total culture change, focused on supporting the frontline staff who work directly with children. The result is a much more stable workforce. The turnover rate of family case managers has been reduced by 18%. And now we’re seeing significantly improved safety outcomes – fewer kids in the system, fewer returning to the system and a faster rate to permanency.”

    Myers response

    Dr. Myers said that Gov. Holcomb did not address “maternal mortality” in his address. “There are now 33 counties where you cannot have a baby (in a hospital),” Myers said. “We need to focus in a bipartisan way on costs and solutions on infant and maternal mortality. One thing he did mention is there is a strong connection between cigarette consumption when you’re pregnant and infant mortality.”

    Myers said that Holcomb should raise taxes on cigarettes as opposed to just raising the purchase age.

    “There was a lot I wanted to hear that I didn’t hear on jobs and education,” Myers said. “Starting with education, it’s the most pressing issue as far as dollars spent. It’s the most pressing concern among Hoosiers. I don’t think we heard what we needed to hear. There were 15,000-plus Hoosiers who came to the Statehouse ... and I don’t think the governor saw them or heard them the way they needed to be heard. I just don’t get it. If it’s a crisis, why aren’t we acting like it? When I talk with school superintendents in the state they’re telling me they’re having a hard time recruiting teachers. We know we are losing teachers to all our surrounding states and we also know starting salaries in Indiana are terribly low. We know the ILEARN test has been a failure as was the ISTEP test.”

    Asked how he would address standardized testing, Myers said he would go back to the Common Core concept. “We spent a millions of dollars on those tests and we didn’t get what we paid for.”

    Myers called it a “false narrative” that a 10-week session isn’t long enough to deal with teacher pay this year. 
  • Holcomb announces $250M 'redirect' for teacher pay

    INDIANAPOLIS – Two months after nearly 15,000 teachers rallied at the Statehouse for more pay, Gov. Eric Holcomb used his fourth State of the State address to announce he would use $250 million of the state's $2.3 billion surplus to free up $55 million "to redirect to teacher pay."

    Up until this point, Holcomb and the Republican super majorities had said they would wait until the next biennial budget session in 2021.

    He said that Indiana's robust financial standing "starts with a good education, and that means great schools filled with great teachers. I know a little about this. My mother was a teacher, and I saw how hard she worked."

    "That’s why I created the Teacher Compensation Commission and asked them to come up with a sustainable plan to make our teacher salaries competitive with other Midwestern states," Holcomb said. "Their report is due this spring, but we didn’t wait. Last year, we devoted an unprecedented increase of $763 million new dollars in K-12 education, including paying down $150 million in the Teacher Retirement Fund, which freed up $65 million more a year for teacher pay increases. All of our school corporations have finalized their locally bargained contracts and more Indiana school districts have raised teacher salaries this year than in any other year in  recent history."

    Holcomb contiued, "Tonight, I am recommending that in the next budget the General Assembly use an additional $250 million from our surplus and put it toward teacher retirement funds. In turn, $50 million a year will be generated to redirect to teacher pay. Together that’s $115 million more available annually to increase teacher pay with more to come after the Compensation Commission releases its recommendations."

    Holcomb noted that the jobless rate has dropped to 3.2%, or a "19-year low."
    He added, "We’ve set all-time records in jobs commitments and capital investment. In fact, there are an additional 88,000 jobs in the IEDC’s pipeline because of the work that’s been done in the past three years. And it’s not just the quantity of these jobs, but the quality. Last year’s new jobs commitments averaged more than $28 an hour – another all-time high.

    He announced that "Fiat-Chrysler has chosen Indiana for diversification and will invest nearly $400 million in its Kokomo facility" and that other investment will be announced at the sprawling Toyota complex at Princeton.

    The Republican governor added, "In 2019, we ranked: #1 in “infrastructure. Top two in the nation for “long-term fiscal stability, #1 in the Midwest and top five nationally for business. A recent editorial in the Chicago Tribune put it this way: 'What does Indiana offer that Illinois doesn’t? Lower taxes, more stable home values, balanced state budgets and funded pension systems.'"

    Holcomb vowed to complete the "free-flow" U.S. 31 from South Bend to Indianapolis, and promised to strengthen public health and attack the drug epidemic. He said he would  "expand OB navigator program to 20 counties" and added, "We’ve taken many steps to attack the opioid epidemic, including restricting the number of prescriptions and increasing outpatient addiction treatment and the trend is finally improving. In 2018, opioid prescriptions dropped 12% – faster than the national average – and, most importantly, deaths from drug overdoses went down nearly 13% – twice the decline of the national average."

    As for the troubled Department of Child Services, Holcomb said, "In 2018, I tasked Director Terry Stigdon to right the ship, and she did just that,
     undertaking a total culture change, focused on supporting the frontline staff who work directly with children. The result is a much more stable workforce. The turnover rate of family case managers has been reduced by 18%. And now we’re seeing significantly improved safety outcomes – fewer kids in the system, fewer returning to the system and a faster rate to permanency.

  • 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%.

    This is a fascinating statistic, given the record low unemployment (54% of Hoosiers think of the jobs situation as “good times”) and the bullishly unbridled stock markets.

    As for the Indiana right/wrong track, 47% see the state on the right track, while 36% say wrong track. Gov. Eric Holcomb’s job approval stands at 51% while 25% disapprove and a relatively high 25% have no opinion. That may be a reflection on how President Trump dominates news cycles, as well as the local and state press which is in atrophy.

    As for his reelection, an almost identical 51% believe Gov. Holcomb deserves a second term (26%) or 25% saying he “probably” does, while 24% say no.

    The 2020 list also features Buttigieg at No.3. He is in a three-way tie in Iowa and is competitive in New Hampshire after raising north of $70 million. Not bad for a Hoosier mayor of a 100,000-population city. If he prevails in those two states, with Politico describing him as the “linchpin” in the race, that could propel him well into the national realm.

    The 2020 Power 50 has been shaped by the opioid crisis, and what appears to be an unprecedented Indiana Supreme Court showdown that could determine the fate of embattled Attorney General Curtis Hill, who faces a two-year suspension of his law license. If he loses that license – even for a couple of days or weeks – would that give Gov. Holcomb the leverage to remove the Republican he has called on to resign? If that happens, will that head off a bizarre Republican convention showdown in June?

    In the We Ask America Poll (conducted online between Dec.5-15, with 1,000 interviews and a MOE at +/- 3.1%) Hoosier voters care about affordable healthcare and a stable economy.  Asked to rank what issues they’d like the governor and legislators in Indianapolis to focus on in the new year, Hoosiers focused primarily on creating jobs and improving the economy while making health care more affordable.

    These issues help shape the 2020 HPI Power 50 List on who is most likely to shape and steer events for the coming year. Here is our list:

    1. Vice President Mike Pence:
     Who can question the vice president’s killer instincts on his lifelong quest for 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.? He anted up for the veep nomination at a time in 2016 when most establishment Republicans were brandishing 10-foot poles. He was the difference maker during the post “Access Hollywood” home stretch victory run. He appears to have weathered President Trump’s most wild and profane excesses, from the race-baiting MAGA rally tropes aimed at The Squad, to Robert Mueller’s Russia Probe, to the Ukraine scandal that brought on the current impeachment debacle, and now Jarvanka’s Machiavellian behind-the-scenes palace coups. Awaiting Pence in 2020 will be the likely futile inside attempts to force him off the ticket this spring and early summer, amid the “anything goes” antics of President Trump in his bid to use impeachment to beat the “socialist” Democrats and win a second term. Politico is already looking beyond 2020 to 2024, noting that Pence is already pressing the swing state flesh. There are other clues that indicate Pence is thinking of what a successful presidential campaign might look like in a post-MAGA landscape. Like Trump, he has formed a close circle of loyal advisers both inside and outside the White House, who often work to insulate Pence from controversy whenever the president does something that sets Washington ablaze. He leans heavily on his former chief of staff Nick Ayers, his gubernatorial campaign manager Marty Obst, Club for Growth president David McIntosh, and his current chief of staff Marc Short, according to a person close to Pence. “They basically try to keep him clean from any of the day-to-day messes that are happening,” the person said. “That’s part of why he travels so much and why he’s glad to do these day-long bus tours, which get him out of D.C. and in front of the same voters he will need if he runs for president in the near future.” Pence has proven to be a Trump-era survivor with the type of Teflon veneer that would have made The Gipper and his Fellas proud. Look for Pence to continue to bone up his foreign policy cred with forays warning of a rising China to regime change in Venezuela.

    2. Gov. Eric Holcomb: He enters 2020 in the consequentially strongest position of any modern Hoosier governor. Not only does he have an $8 million cash advantage over his eventual Democratic challenger, he faces reelection with President Trump and Vice President Pence atop the ticket, and may be in a position to select the next attorney general if the Supreme Court gives him that opening, as well as the next superintendent of public instruction. With the change of the guard underway in the Indiana General Assembly, he faces a second term where he will be the senior power broker. In the We Ask America Poll on behalf of the Indiana Manufacturers Association, Gov. Holcomb’s job approval stands at 51% approve and 25% disapprove. While the governor is underwater with Democrats at a net -12% job approval (30% approve/43% disapprove), he sits +17% (40% approve/23% disapprove) with independents and +61% (73% Approve/12% Disapprove) with Republicans. Among men, 61% approve of his job performance while just 23% disapprove. Among the key demographic women voters, 41% approve while 28% disapprove. The job approval almost exactly mirrors his reelect numbers. As the We Ask America pollster noted, “Among those (who) are unsure, the governor’s job approval sits right-side up at 22% approve/12% disapprove. While there exists a path to knocking off the governor, it’s a narrow one.” The right/wrong track numbers in the We Ask America Poll shows 47% believe the state is on the right track, compared to 36% who believe it’s on the wrong track. The We Ask America Poll reflects similar findings by Morning Consult and the Ball State Hoosier Poll from November. Holcomb appeared to open the door to teacher pay raises this year. That constituency represents the greatest peril to his reelection, so if he can neutralize that grassroots movement that helped defeat Supt. Tony Bennett in 2012, he faces a glide path in 2020. In 2018 and 2019, his Next Level agenda was achieved, allowing the governor to hand out million dollar checks to cities and counties. He is on a path to doing the same with his $90 million trails program, as well as expanding rural broadband. “Because of the hard work of Hoosiers, Indiana has become a destination of certainty and stability, but we can’t stop there,” Holcomb said when he unveiled his Next Level agenda in December. “As I travel the state, I hear people concerned about rising health care costs, the increase in youth vaping, and our education system. My goal is to listen to their concerns and find solutions to build a bolder, brighter future.”

    3. Pete Buttigieg: South Bend’s “Mayor Pete” has become what Politico describes as the “linchpin” in the Democratic presidential race. It will likely be either Pete or one of the septuagenarians (Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren) for the Democratic nomination. Successful recent Democratic presidents (JFK, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama) were all young first-time, progressive candidates. When Buttigieg declared himself a candidate about a year ago, even many Hoosier Democrats were pinching themselves to make sure this wasn’t a dream. When he posted a $19 million second quarter FEC haul, he became a credible contender. When he delivered a sobering foreign policy address at IU last June, he won the imprimatur (privately) of many Lugarites. At this writing, he leads the polls heading into next month’s Iowa caucuses and is among the frontrunners in New Hampshire. If he wins either one or both, all eyes will be on him in South Carolina, where the support of African-Americans has been elusive for this gay Democrat. Can Buttigieg become the first Hoosier to win a Democratic nomination for president? Or the first Hoosier nominee since Wendell Willkie in 1940? And if he does, could he carry Indiana in November? Those are the current $64,000 questions, but at this point, our take is the sky is the limit for this 37-year-old former mayor. If he were to win the nomination and upset President Trump this November, he would be the youngest president, and the first mayor to go directly from city hall to the White House. If Buttigieg is denied the nomination, it would be easy to see him on the ticket, or in a future Democratic administration.

    4. U.S. Sen. Todd Young: No one in the Indiana congressional delegation has more at stake on impeachment than Young. His challenge is not deciding how to vote following a Senate trial – whenever one finally gets underway. There’s no doubt he’ll vote to acquit President Trump. But how does he get to that conclusion and still maintain a valuable political asset, the image of being a serious legislator? At times, he says he will weigh the evidence and make a decision in the best interests of Indiana. But then he puts out a Dec. 17 email from his campaign arm, Friends of Todd Young, that says, “Join Senator Todd Young now and take a stand to defend President Trump – Add your name today!” That’s hardly the tone of an impartial juror. He walks a similar tight rope on Trump’s proclivity to project being a tough-guy executive who doesn’t need to involve Congress in his decisions. Young is carving out a niche for himself on foreign policy as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. After Trump ordered a military attack against Iranian Gen. Qaesem Soleimani that resulted in Soleimani’s death, Young put out a statement in support of Trump’s action but also cautioned that Congress must be involved in consideration of the next steps against Iran. Young can’t be a serious legislator and acquiesce to Trump’s running roughshod over Congress on Iran or any other aspect of Middle East policy. Young’s future in the Senate GOP will be bright if he can help the party maintain its majority this fall as the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

    5. U.S. Sen. Mike Braun:
     There’s no point in monitoring Braun to see when he will distance himself from President Trump on anything. He owes his Senate seat to Trump’s coming to Indiana to campaign for him in the final days of the 2018 election. It helped put Braun over the top in his defeat of Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly. Whatever Trump does, no matter how unpresidential or politically questionable, there’s little chance Braun will do anything other than stand shoulder-to-shoulder with him. His go-to tactic is to justify whatever Trump does as an example of Trump’s being a political disrupter, a mantle that Braun also proudly takes on for himself. Braun’s challenge is to become more than a back-bencher gadfly. He has to develop a signature approach to addressing important policy issues. There’s some indication he might do that. One area is the environment. In October, he co-founded the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus, which sounds as if it will do more than deny that climate change is a reality. He could directly impact the lives of many of his Hoosier constituents through his work on the Senate Agriculture Committee. He also could have a hand in restoring the GOP’s badly damaged reputation as opponents of profligate federal spending through his work on the Senate Budget Committee. He also has indicated a willingness to delve into health care policy and develop solutions that are based on what he says worked for employees of his manufacturing business. Braun’s high ranking in the HPI 50 has to do with potential. But he’s got to prove that he’s more than a disrupter.

    6. Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray: 
    The Martinsville Republican heads into his second session at the helm attempting to deflect the “Red for Ed” movement that had more than 15,000 teachers turn out at the Indiana Statehouse on Organization Day. Bray, Gov. Holcomb and Speaker Brian Bosma have been adamant that they will not be open to legislation on comprehensive teacher pay raises until the 2021 biennial budget session. “We look forward to a short session, where we’re going to not fix all this – I can assure you it’s much too complex to do that – but really begin to move the state forward,” Bray said. Another thorny issue is holding teachers harmless from the poor ILEARN scores. In October, Bray and Bosma urged the Department of Education to tell schools they can use 2018 testing data to calculate teacher appreciation grants. “Directing schools to take advantage of this flexibility will ensure that TAG’s are received by teachers before the statutory deadline in December, and will ensure that no teacher will lose eligibility for a TAG because of this year’s ILEARN results,” Bray and Bosma wrote in a letter to DOE. Bray will spend this session pushing Gov. Holcomb’s agenda.

    7. Secretary of State Connie Lawson: After the Russians attempted to hack a number of state election systems in 2016, Lawson holds the most conspicuous office when it comes to election security. As the state’s chief elections officer, she has been emphatic that Indiana’s electoral process has not been compromised, nor is it in a position to be, as it is not connected to the Internet and consists of 92 county components. But a Dec. 21, 2019, story in the Columbus Republic noted a recent 2020 Indiana Election Administrators Conference sponsored by Lawson’s office urged the 450 local elections officials to draft “doomsday” response scenarios that include a cyberattack directed at the county’s voting systems, theft or physical tampering of electronic poll books and a catastrophic natural disaster that wipes out electricity and cellphone towers. The threat of foreign elections hacking persists, and it goes beyond the Russians. Lawson will become the voice of election integrity in this state during these times of anxiety.

    8. Speakers Brian Bosma and Todd Huston:
     Bosma arranged for Huston to become “Speaker-elect” during last November’s Organization Day. It doesn’t quite create the dual speakers of the 50/50 House era, but it gives Huston his second apprenticeship after serving as co-chair of the Ways & Means Committee during Dr. Tim Brown’s recuperation period. For Bosma, this session will be his political swan song. Close political associates tell HPI they don’t anticipate future runs for governor or Congress. Bosma will leave as the longest serving speaker in his two stints, and one who brought transparency to the process with internet streaming of session days and committees. His tenure will be marked by a series of tax cuts and the historic 2011 education vouchers, which he says will mark his most significant achievement. It also planted the seeds for the “Red for Ed” showdown for this session and the 2021 biennial budget year. With no biennial budget this year, and the notion that this coming session will wrap up quickly in an election year. Speaker-elect Huston should be able to get acclimated to what is considered the second most powerful office in the Statehouse. He served as former Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett’s chief of staff, so he has been exposed to the trappings and controversies of power. He knows how to frame policy issues into law. Come next fall, all eyes will be on Huston’s reelection bid. Huston defeated Democrat Aimee Rivera Cole by just 2,772 votes or with 54.5% in 2018. In 2016 Huston defeated Democrat Mike Boland 64-36%, or by a little less than 10,000 votes. Expect Indiana Republicans to take overt measures to protect this new speaker, particularly with the “Red for Ed” movement seeking to bring the issue of teacher pay to the fore this session.

    9. Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch: She’s the governor’s biggest individual donor and they have a closer relationship than the prior two administrations. If the governor wants to look at legacy where he helps bring in the first female or minority governor in the state’s history, the LG is in a solid spot for consideration. She’s tireless, has great legislative relationships, and raises money at a level we’ve never seen from someone in that job. Her executive portfolio, that includes the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, Office of Community and Rural Affairs and Office of Tourism Development (soon to be the Indiana Destination Development Corporation) has been sans drama during her tenure. Will she break the Hoosier glass ceiling in 2024 when the governor’s seat is expected to be an open one? High ranking Republicans we talk with are filled with admiration of Crouch, but they do not consider her nomination at the top of the state ticket in 2024 to be a fait accompli – at this point. One reason is she would be 72 if she were to take office in 2025 and would turn 73 the following month. And there will be competition, most likely from U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, with one prominent Republican mentioning Ivy Tech President and former LG Sue Ellspermann as a potential contender. But if Crouch gets into that race, expect her to be a force to be reckoned with as she will possess the instruments of the LG’s office and her chair of the Indiana Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission.

    10. Dr. Woody Myers: There are two Democrats seeking the gubernatorial nomination, former Indiana and New York City health commissioner Woody Myers and gay businessman Josh Owens. We see the nomination likely going to Myers. Myers entered the race first and is preparing to challenge Gov. Holcomb on the perception that the state is hitting on all cylinders. In an August HPI Interview, Myers said, “We’ve bought plenty of Band-Aids. We’re putting them on a lot of the problems of the state. We need to look deeper into why some of these problems exist and figuring out the root causes; working with colleagues and experts on those problems is a much better way to go.” In calling for more treatment options for those with opioid addiction, Myers was asked how he would pay for those services. “Well, that’s why we have a surplus. Isn’t that why ... we have it, for emergencies? I would much rather see the multiple millions of dollars going to be invested in a (state fair) swine barn used to improve treatment access slots and for things that are truly a crisis in our state.” We see Owens as what we call a “stunt candidate.” He has little background or relationships in the Democratic Party. If Pete Buttigieg took a pass on this gubernatorial stepping stone, it’s hard to imagine Owens finding the kind of traction to win the nomination.

    11. Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer: He is one of the governor’s most trusted advisers and closest friends. He occupies two incredibly important jobs and will spend 2020 on the road with the governor. In 2019, Indiana Republicans increased their lead in city halls from seven to 23, and are now preparing to reelect Gov. Holcomb and defend the congressional delegation and its General Assembly super majorities. “We’re obviously not taking anything for granted and we’re going to keep our foot on the gas through next November’s election,” Hupfer told HPI in December. “We’ve certainly continued on the upward trajectory since he was elected. The governor was as active as any I’ve ever seen in mayoral races. He took us from plus seven to plus 23 Republican mayors across the state. As Team Holcomb between his campaign and state party, we sent, jointly, mail in 60 races, we sent out ballot applications in dozens of races and we saw historic victories in places like Kokomo and Muncie. That’s only going to grow the field of who we have to help us next November.” Hupfer is wearing two hats, the other as the governor’s campaign manager. “The other historic show of strength is to have the ballot qualification signatures in hand in October,” Hupfer continued. “To have those in hand on Oct. 1 is really unheard of. Our ground game infrastructure is only getting stronger. It got stronger during the Braun Senate race with state party in charge of the ground game; we were able to flex that for mayoral races and that will continue. Probably by mid- to late-January we’ll announce our entire statewide team with county coordinators in every county, we’ll have our five regional directors in place; we already have four of them. We are already 75% to 80% staffed. The Congress of Counties in January will be the beginning of our ground game.”

    12. ISTA President Keith Gambill: He is serving a three-year term and is seeking to make teacher pay the top General Assembly and election issue. “Salaries are first and foremost,” Gambill said. “Too many educators are seeing much, if not all, of their wage increases being eaten up by increased health care costs. Secondly, respect for our work and allowing us the professional courtesy to make the decisions that are in the best interest of our students.” Gambill was able to generate more than 15,000 teachers for the Organization Day “Red for Ed” rally, but faces the “red wall,” or GOP leadership intent on taking a comprehensive approach during the 2021 biennial budget session. Gambill explained that without an immediate “good faith” investment this year, Indiana won’t be able to keep up with teacher salaries in surrounding states. “And to think that we can wait a year and we’re going to be closer to meeting that goal is short-sighted,” he told WFYI. Gambill previously served two terms as the ISTA vice president and as president of the Evansville Teachers Association before assuming the role of ISTA president. Gambill, a middle school music and drama teacher, has taught in Evansville’s public schools for more than 30 years.

    13. Mike Schmuhl: He met Pete Buttigieg at South Bend St. Joseph HS and now manages the mayor’s extraordinary frontrunning presidential campaign.  His prior campaign portfolio prior included Buttigieg’s breakthrough 2011 mayor campaign, and, as Schmuhl told Politico, “I’ve worked for Pete, for Joe Donnelly, for Mel Hall, for Shelli Yoder. It just so happens that one of them is running for president, and honestly, if one of them wasn’t, I wouldn’t be doing this. And it just so happens the one I know the best, the one I’ve known for the longest time, is the one who is running.” He’s now running the biggest presidential campaign headquartered in Indiana since Wendell Willkie’s 1940 effort in Rushville. Schmuhl, whose only experience in the nation’s capital came with a three-year stint at the Washington Post, and Buttigieg parted ways after graduation, with the former staying at Notre Dame while the latter went to Harvard. They began running into each other when Schmuhl ran Donnelly’s final House campaign and Buttigieg was running for Indiana treasurer in 2010. Schmuhl now oversees a $70 million, 500-person campaign that has been deemed a “frontrunner” outfit. He and comm director Lis Smith, who joined Buttigieg on his unsuccessful 2018 DNC chair run, planned out this presidential race over beers at the Rusty Knot in New York’s West Village and the candidate’s South Bend home in 2018. Schmuhl told Politico that when Buttigieg drops big news on him, it usually starts out casually: “‘Hey man, I’m thinking of running for mayor.’ ‘Hey man, I’m going to Afghanistan.’ ‘Hey man, I’m gay.’ ‘Hey man, I want to be DNC chairman.’ ‘Hey man, I think I might run for president,’” Schmuhl said. “The guy knows how to keep you on edge.” Schmuhl, Buttigieg explained to Politico, “shares a lot of my instincts, but can also press or nudge me when I’m kind of veering off where I need to be. He uniquely understands both my story and my city’s story, and those two things are so important to each other and they’re so important to this campaign.”

    14. Marc Short: He is the long-time aide to Vice President Mike Pence who is now the veep’s chief of staff. That’s a key gatekeeper position for Pence, who is expected to not only remain on the ticket with President Trump this year, but run for president in 2024. This makes Short a staple on the Sunday talk show circuit.

    15. HHS Sec. Alex Azar and CMS Director Seema Verma:
     These two Hoosiers control more than $1 trillion in annual spending, but they’ve been making news for their feud that has required the intervention of Vice President Pence and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Word of the feud broke out in Politico, followed by reports in the following days on Verma sticking taxpayers with the costs of stolen Ivanka Trump series jewelry (wonder how that surfaced in the media?). It’s ignited a West Wing parlor game as to which one (or, perhaps, neither) survives. Our bet is that she outlasts Azar and would be on the short list for HHS secretary if she wants that over a Silicon Valley tech job.

    16. Attorney General Curtis Hill: He faces a two-year suspension of his law license as the result of sexual groping allegations from a Democratic legislator and three staffers, with the Indiana Supreme Court likely to determine his fate in the coming months. If his license is suspended, that could kick off a legal battle over whether that would be enough to force him from office. This is completely uncharted territory. Even if the Supreme Court were to reduce that two-year suspension to just weeks or days, that could give Gov. Holcomb an opening to jettison Hill, who he has called on to resign in this era of “zero tolerance” on the sexual harassment front. Even if the suspension would be measured in days, there is no mechanism in place that could restore the office to Hill. Even without such intervention, Hill faces a political floor fight for the GOP nomination next June from Zionsville attorney John Westercamp, IDOR Commissioner Adam Krupp and possibly other candidates. The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette reported that Hill has set up a satellite office in Elkhart, where he is under the scrutiny of Mrs. Hill, though his tenure at the Indiana Statehouse has been marked by conspicuous office renovation expenses.

    17. Commerce Sec. Jim Schellinger: His work and worldwide travels allowed Gov. Holcomb to declare a third consecutive, record-breaking year in 2019, with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) securing 296 commitments, investing more than $8.44 billion while creating up to 27,137 jobs with average wages of $28.60/hour – marking the highest annual records for capital investment and average wages since the IEDC was established in 2005.

    18. U.S. Rep. Jim Banks: 
    His political trajectory – from Whitley County Republican chairman to the Indiana Senate and 3rd CD representative in Congress – indicates he has plans for bigger offices in the future, perhaps a run for governor in 2024. He’s making the most out of his role on the House Armed Services Committee to pave the road to his political future. He’s developing relationships with defense contractors and military bases all around the state. He’s also an aggressive acolyte of President Trump. He supported Trump’s diversion of funds from Indiana defense installations to fund a southern border wall. He also was one of the most smash-mouth defenders of Trump during House impeachment proceedings. His rock-solid safe northeast Indiana congressional seat gives him plenty of latitude to plot his political future.

    19. Indiana Treasurer Kelly Mitchell:
     With the Feb. 7 primary filing deadline still a long way off, at this writing the Indiana treasurer might have the inside lane for the GOP nomination, though conservative Rev. Micah Beckwith is expected to mount a serious challenge from the right. Mitchell was the only Republican to post six figures in the FEC third quarter. Her Statehouse constitutional base gives her a solid fundraising base. We normally don’t list CD aspirants on the Power 50, but Mitchell’s higher profile status makes her an exception.

    20. Christina Hale:
     We’re skeptical the “ruby red” 5th CD can go purple, but the 2016 LG nominee is the one Democrat who could make it happen. She is trying to duplicate her tireless victory over State Reo. Cindy Noe by less than 100 votes in 2012. In that purple Indianapolis district, she won reelection in 2014 with just 51.5% of the vote. Yes, Sen. Donnelly carried the 5th CD in 2018 and State Sen. J.D. Ford defeated Mike Delph, but the 5th turned a brighter red up north (Republicans carried the Kokomo Council unanimously), but Donnelly had far more exposure and name ID than Hale has. Indiana GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer told HPI in December that all party hands are on notice that the 5th could be vulnerable. For Hale to win, she’s going to need a national wave that extends into the Hoosier State in a repudiation of President Trump. Anyone want to take that bet?

    21. Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr.: 
    The highly ambitious four-term mayor finally has a reasonable path to a higher office with the retirement of U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky. He will have a real fight for the Democratic nomination with North Township Trustee Frank Mrvan Jr., State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, and perhaps Bill Hanna likely to make the race. If the Visclosky machine gets fully on board with one of them, that could deny McDermott his long-anticipated ascension. But as the mayor of Lake County’s largest city and as former county Democratic chairman, it might be precarious to bet against him.

    22. FSSA Sec. Jennifer Sullivan and IDOH Commissioner Kris Box
    : FSSA Secretary Sullivan is poised to play a huge role in 2020 as Gov. Holcomb continues to focus more on public health. Box continues to play a conspicuous public role in communicating the successes of the Holcomb Admin in the opioid and infant mortality battles.

    23. INDOT Commissioner Joe McGuinness: He is running the highest profile Holcomb legacy project in Section 6 of I-69. He also oversaw a record number of 2019 INDOT projects with an expectation to continue that trajectory. One of the governor’s most trusted agency heads, the former Franklin mayor would be on a  short list should there be a senior opening in the governor’s office.

    24. Chief Justice Loretta Rush: She may hold the professional and political fate of Attorney General Hill in her hands. With Myra Selby’s recommendation of a two-year license suspension, it wil likely be up to the Supreme Court to make the final determination, and the CJ will be the most influential on that front.

    25. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett: 
    He began his second term after his 71% reelection victory in November over State Sen. Jim Merritt. In doing so, Hogsett overcame homicide and infrastructure crises (with the help at DPW from former Democratic state chairman Dan Parker). Hogsett was rewarded with a Democratic council super majority, which should make his second term go much more smoothly in Indianapolis, which has become a Democratic bastion.  

    26. Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry: 
    The mayor won a historic fourth consecutive term against well-funded Republican Tim Smith with 61%, or by 12,000 votes, last November. His coattails turned a 7-2 GOP council majority to 5-4 Republican. “You ain’t seen nothing yet,” Henry said at his victory celebration. Henry challenged his city to “break out of their comfort zone” by tackling issues not normally addressed at the city level, including health, energy and the arts during what he said will be his final term.

    27. Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke: The three-term mayor coasted to an easy victory without a credible Democratic opponent last November, becoming only the third Evansville mayor to do so. But he will have to work with a strong Democratic council majority as his coattails did not extend down ballot. Winnecke presided over a revival of his downtown, including a sprawling medical school campus, and the inland relocation of the city’s casino. He also hosted the Indiana Republican convention in 2018. What’s next? “We have a lot of work to do still in the area of cleaning up dilapidated housing, creating more affordable housing with all of our community partners,” he told WFIE-TV. “And, we also realize the work relating to the water and sewer department, which is not always fun and exciting but certainly a necessity for our community.”

    28. Democratic Chairman John Zody: 
    He has presided over the super minority Democratic Party for nearly seven years now. He has had to endure the Donald Trump/Mike Pence era that has upended his party’s attempts to find contemporary relevance. While Democrats held on to big city footings in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, they still remain relegated to urban areas and the college towns. Zody hopes to find political refuge in the General Assembly in 2020. He has declared for the seat being vacated by retiring State Sen. Mark Stoops.

    29. Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett: In a city with a reputation for chewing up and spitting out incumbents, Republican Mayor Bennett won a fourth term by just a few hundred votes. It came after he helped successfully steer one of the Gary casinos to his city, while getting a handle on the city’s financial crisis that came after the General Assembly passed tax caps during the Daniels administration. “I don’t think the people here are as concerned as much about the “R” or the “D” so much as they want good government,” Bennett told the Tribune-Star on election night. “At the end of the day, I think this vote shows the people appreciate what we’ve been doing.” Bennett ties Pete Chalos with four terms as mayor and trails only Ralph Tucker, who served five terms. Bennett is the longest-serving Republican.

    30. U.S. Rep. Andre Carson:
     With the coming retirement of U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky and Sen. Joe Donnelly’s 2018 defeat, Carson is the last Hoosier Democrat standing in this Trump/super majority GOP era. As a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee, Carson had an intimate look at impeachment proceedings. His location in the middle of action gave Carson eventual vote to impeach President Trump, a grounding and gravitas beyond those cast by other members of the House. His Intelligence Committee seat also positions him to play a role in potential House opposition to any request Trump makes for war powers to take military actions in the Middle East. On the home front, Carson could give a big home-state boost to former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, if he were to endorse him. Looking ahead to November, will Carson do any work outside his district to help turn Indianapolis suburbs blue – or at least purple?

    31. U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski: She has put a Republican hammer lock on the 2nd CD, a district that used to be consistently competitive. So far, it doesn’t look as if she’ll have to break a sweat to win her seat again this year, despite being one of the few GOP women in Congress during a time when President Trump is going out of his way to offend women and minorities in the electorate. Walorski, a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, is one of the few Republicans in Congress who has remained true to GOP values on free trade. She has not been shy about criticizing the excesses of Trump’s trade war with China. But she’s pushed back on trade – and on Trump’s rude behavior – without running afoul of the White House. If former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg had decided to work his way up to the White House by running for Congress first, we would have loved to have seen a Buttigieg-Walorski matchup. She would have been the favorite.

    32. Drug Czar Douglas Huntsinger: 
     He will assume the role of executive director for drug prevention, treatment and enforcement and chairman of the Indiana Commission to Combat Drug Abuse following the retirement of Jim McClelland. A native of Frankton,  Huntsinger is currently deputy director for drug prevention, treatment and enforcement, overseeing operational aspects of the state’s response to the drug crisis since 2017. He previously served as executive producer of the Indiana State Fair and as a policy director in the office of former Gov. Daniels. Additionally, he serves as a member of the Indiana Jail Overcrowding Task Force.

    33. Purdue President Mitch Daniels
    : The former two-term governor has garnered unending positive press over his seven years as Purdue president for his success in freezing tuition and introducing other innovations in West Lafayette. Yes, he fell on his face recently with his comment about an outstanding African American scholar being the “rarest of creatures.” But overall, he has had a golden touch at Purdue. As for his holding the line on tuition, since 2012, annual borrowing by Purdue undergraduates is down $57 million and the percent graduating debt-free is up 13 percentage points to 59%.  He has also brought the Purdue Polytech High Schools to downtown Indianapolis and Broad Ripple, with a potential third campus on the west side of South Bend. The Wall Street Journal has been particularly laudatory of Daniels’ tenure at the school on the banks of the Wabash River. But that publication has had a bromance with Daniels for years. The question is: Will the WSJ continue to celebrate Purdue after Daniels retires? That’s when we’ll know what kind of legacy he has left.

    34. IU President IU President Michael McRobbie: As old IU celebrates its bicentennial this year, it’s worth noting President McRobbie’s legacy since he arrived on campus in 1997 as first vice president for information technology and then took the helm in 2007. He has presided over construction or renovation of more than 100 major new facilities across all campuses with a total value of around $2.5 billion and launched the largest fundraising campaign in IU’s history with a $3 billion goal.

    35. USDA Under Sec. Ted McKinney: The under secretary of agriculture for trade and foreign agricultural affairs had quite a year serving under “Tariff Man” (i.e. President Trump). With the Senate poised to pass USMCA this week and Trump signing phase I of his trade deal with China next week, there must be palpable relief for the former Indiana Ag director. He told Hoosier farmers in Lafayette last summer, “USMCA drove this visit. My world is to settle some of these trade differences, and that’s why certainty on USMCA would be enormously important.” Trump is promising more trade sanctions in the coming year, and McKinney will likely spend another busy year urging calm down on the nervous farm.

    36. Surgeon General Jerome Adams:
     He became the 20th surgeon general in 2017, and the first Hoosier. He was part of the Hoosier tide brought into the Trump administration by Vice President Mike Pence. He has been at the forefront of the nation’s battle with opioid addiction, as well as taking a hard line against the legalization of marijuana. Dr. Adams has called for a cultural shift on addiction, urging the public and policymakers to view it as a chronic, treatable disease rather than a “moral failing.” He also has called for expanding access to evidence-based treatment and broadening the availability of naloxone.

    37. Ways & Means Chairman Tim Brown
    : Informed and reliable sources tell HPI that Dr. Brown intends to seek reelection this year. It caps his medical comeback after suffering severe injuries in a motorcycle accident in 2018. Should Gov. Holcomb decide to open up funding on the teacher pay front, the venerable chairman will play a key role.

    38. Bill and Ann Moreau: With a widely perceived “civics” deficit in the state, the retired Barnes & Thornburg partner and his wife have established “The Indiana Citizen” website. With the support of Bob Grand, Jeanne Kelsay, Michael Goldenberg, Russell Cox and Trevor Foughty, this non-partisan, non-profit platform described as “The Crossroads of Civic Engagement” will seek to increase 2020 voter participation by 20%,  or 500,000 votes, next year. “That would move Indiana from the bottom 10 to the top 10,” Moreau told HPI. “We’ve got some big, big goals for this platform. We’re trying to create a single place where a Hoosier can get registered to vote, check out their registration, find out who represents them, and find out every bit of public information we can load there about the candidates and the issues as we head into 2020.”

    39. Republican National Committeeman John Hammond III: He warned Republicans about President Trump’s fitness for office in 2015 while observing that many Americans yearned for a “strongman” in the White House, then joined the RNC in 2016. So Hammond represents a key slot in the transformation of the GOP into the “Party of Trump.” Hammond is also a key confidante of Vice President Pence.

    40. Chamber President Kevin Brinegar: After years of pushing for a cigarette tax increase, raising the age of tobacco purchase has found critical mass in Congress and with Gov. Holcomb.

    41. IMA President Brian Burton: We keep hearing about the contraction of manufacturing, and Burton tells HPI that part of that is because of President Trump’s tariffs. The reason that hasn’t reverberated more across the state is that there are still 70,000-plus unfilled jobs. “We still have 545,000 manufacturing jobs in the state,” Burton said, though he notes that statistic is “under counted” because it doesn’t include HR, accounting, and security personnel employed by state manufacturers. As for the coming election, Burton said the We Ask American Poll reveals that “Creating jobs and improving the economy” (22%) and “making health more affordable” (20%) are the top two issues.

    42. Marty Obst: This Hoosier GOP operative continues to be a close ally of both Vice President Pence and Gov. Holcomb. He remains the first name on most people’s list for fundraising in Indiana, though that has spread to the national level. He is expected to play a substantial role in President Trump’s reelection campaign as well as setting up for whatever the future may hold for the VP.

    43. U.S. Rep. Greg Pence: He’s leading his congressional life on Capitol Hill the same way he conducted his campaign – hidden away from the media, except at the recent House leadership presser on impeachment, when he stood with leadership as a beacon to the paranoid President Trump that Team Pence was fully manning the ramparts. His office touts his interactions with constituents, but it’s not clear anyone other than those in the room know what he’s up to or what he stands for. Sure, his press shop puts out statements about bills he supports and work he’s doing. He’s a member of the House Transportation Committee. But no journalist has had access to him to our knowledge. HPI interview requests languish in his press secretary’s inbox. This kind of hermetically sealed congressional service may be OK while his brother is vice president. But at some point, he has to let people know who Greg Pence is beyond a well-connected member of Congress.

    44. U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon: He is another Republican member of the Hoosier congressional delegation who has turned a once competitive district into a reliable GOP seat. It’s no longer the “Bloody 8th,” it’s the “Boring 8th.” He serves on an influential House committee, Energy and Commerce, but hasn’t crafted particularly profound or signature legislation. He seems content on being a solid but low-key back bencher.

    45. State Sen. Jeff Raatz and State Rep. Robert Behning: The two chamber education chairs will be dealing with two hot button issues for this election year: The ILEARN Hold Harmless legislation that began moving on the first session day, and the teacher pay issue.

    46. Kurt and Kristin Luidhardt: This husband/wife team heads up the Indianapolis-based Prosper Group, which handles many of President Trump’s reelection campaign digital strategies.

    47. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky: The dean of the Hoosier congressional delegation will retire in 2021, taking with him his longtime seat on the House Appropriations Committee, where he was chair of the Defense subcommittee. His career spanned from a time when congressional earmarks made appropriators the “cardinals” of Capitol Hill to an era where earmarks have been eliminated. But his role in determining how the federal government spent its money always made Visclosky one of the most quietly powerful Hoosiers in Washington. A champion of northwest Indiana industry – e.g., steel – and infrastructure, it will be interesting to see how the prickly relationship between Visclosky and Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott evolves as McDermott runs for the open 1st CD seat.

    48. U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks: She was the member of the Hoosier congressional delegation with the brightest future – until she stunned everyone by announcing her retirement last summer. The third Republican woman to win a House seat in Indiana, the former Indianapolis deputy mayor and U.S. attorney came within a single vote in the Republican Central Committee of being the party’s 2016 gubernatorial nominee. She says her political career is over. A former chair of the House Ethics Committee, she has been critical of President Trump’s divisive rhetoric. She developed a reputation as being smart and effective – one of the “adults in the room,” as she was dubbed in a recent Wall Street Journal column by Fred Barnes about Brooks’ vote against impeachment. One of just 13 GOP women in the House, Brooks would have been much higher on this list if she had decided to stay in the arena and try to increase that number. Now, she says she will be a “coach and mentor” for a new generation of Republicans.

    49. Earl Goode: Gov. Holcomb’s chief of staff makes the trains run on time. He did the same task for Gov. Daniels for nearly five years. The question is always, “How long will he stay?” And who will take his place?

    50. Joe Donnelly: You can bet that U.S. Sen. Todd Young is keeping tabs on this former Democratic senator. Young is up for reelection in 2022 and Donnelly would pose the best chance for Hoosier Democrats to reclaim the Senate seat they lost in 2018. Donnelly has been mum on his political future beyond expressing no interest in the 2020 gubernatorial race. He joined the Washington law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld as a partner last year. He remains as the most potentially potent Democrat in Indiana. 
  • HPI Power 50: Another year of transition as we head into 2020

    INDIANAPOLIS  — As we experienced last year with the change in Indiana Senate leadership, the 2020 Howey Politics Indiana Power 50 list is in for some significant revamping.

    It’s our annual exercise of rating the who’s who in our movers and shakers HPI invites its influential readership to weigh in. Some of you submit full lists. Others will nominate a specific person and reasons for inclusion. We invite both.

    Not only has there been the Indiana House speaker transition from Brian Bosma to Todd Huston, U.S. Reps. Pete Visclosky and Susan Brooks are retiring, there is South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg's rise to national prominence, and Gov. Eric Holcomb’s fiscal team has changed. There are close to 20 new mayors. There is also change in the administration’s opioid crisis team, as well as the Alex Azar/Seema Verma drama within the Trump administration.

    In the coming year, will Vice President Mike Pence remain on the ticket with President Trump and will he play a decisive role to bring Republicans home as he did down the 2016 homestretch? Will Christina Hale turn the once ruby red 5th CD blue? Will Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., get the job switch he has long coveted by winning the 1st CD Democratic nomination.

    Send me your thoughts, or an entire list. We’ll publish our 2020 list on Tuesday, Jan. 7, kicking off what should be a fascinating election year of the best political coverage in Indiana.

    2019 Power 50 List

    1. Gov. Eric Holcomb
    2. Vice President Mike Pence
    3. Speaker Brian Bosma
    4. Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray
    5. Ways & Means Chairman Tim Brown
    6. Senate Appropriations Chairman Ryan Mishler
    7. U.S. Sen. Todd Young
    8. Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch
    9. U.S. Sen. Mike Braun
    10. National Intelligence Director Dan Coats
    11. Reps. Todd Huston and Holli Sullivan
    12. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett
    13. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg
    14. Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer
    15. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky
    16. State Sen. Ron Alting and Mike Bohacek
    17. U.S. Rep. Andre Carson
    18. U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski
    19. RNC Committee Members John Hammond III and Anne Hathaway
    20. Budget Director Jason Dudich and OMB Director Micah Vincent
    21. Joe Donnelly, John Gregg, Baron Hill and Christina Hale
    22. Bob Grand
    23. CMS Director Seema Verma
    24. Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke
    25. Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr.
    26. U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks
    27. U.S. Rep. Jim Banks
    28. Commerce Sec. Jim Schellinger and Elaine Bedel, president of IEDC
    29. Indiana Manufactuers Assn. President Brian Burton
    30. ISTA President Theresa Meredith
    31. Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry  
    32. Purdue President Mitch Daniels
    33. State Sen. Travis Holdman
    34. Drug Czar Jim McClelland, Health Commissioner Kristina Box and FSSA Sec. Jennifer Walthall
    35. HHS Sec. Alex Azar
    36. Surgeon General Jerome Adams
    37. Attorney General Curtis Hill
    38. Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight
    39. State Sen. Jim Merritt 
    40. Earl Goode
    41. Marty Obst
    42. U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon
    43. Rod Ratcliff
    44. Chamber President Kevin Brinegar
    45. Anne Hazlett of USDA
    46. U.S. Rep. Greg Pence
    47. U.S. Rep. Jim Baird
    48. Senate Majority Leader Mark Messmer
    49. Luke Kenley
    50. Victor Oladipo 
  • Frontrunner Mayor Pete withstands incoming at Dem debate

    INDIANAPOLIS - South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg wore a black suit, white shirt and blue tie to Thursday's sixth Democratic debate in Los Angeles, but he might has well have had on his bullseye on his back. He more than withstood two withering attacks from U.S. Sens. Amy Klobachar and Elizabeth Warren, more evidence he has joined the ranks of the frontrunners born out by recent Iowa polling. 

    "I think winning matters," Klobuchar said. "I think a track record of getting things done matters. And I also think showing our party that we can actually bring people with us, have a wider tent, have a bigger coalition and, yes, longer coattails, that matters." Buttigieg quickly saidm, "I gotta respond to that. Senator, I know that if you just go by vote totals, maybe what goes on in my city seems small to you. If you want to talk about the capacity to win? Try putting together a coalition to bring you back to office with 88% of the vote as a gay dude in Mike Pence's Indiana." 

    Klobachar responded, "Mayor, if you had won in Indiana that would be one thing. You tried and you lost by 20 points." That was in reference to Buttigieg's 2010 race where he lost to Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock a year before he ran for mayor of South Bend. 

    Warren took aim, saying, “So the mayor just recently had a fundraiser that was held in a wine cave full of crystals and served $900 a bottle wine,” she said. “Think about who comes to that. He had promised that every fundraiser he would do would be open door, but this one was closed door. We made the decision many years ago that rich people in smoke-filled rooms would not pick the next president of the United States. Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States.” 

    “Can’t help but feel that might have been directed at me,” Buttigieg told Warren. Buttigieg noted that, "according to Forbes magazine, I am literally the only person on this stage who is not a millionaire or a billionaire." And he warned Warren against "issuing purity tests you cannot yourself pass." He added, “If you can’t say, 'No' to a donor, then you have no business running in the first place. Did it corrupt you, Senator? Of course not. So to denounce the same kind of fundraising guidelines that President Obama went by, that Speaker Pelosi goes by, that you yourself went by until not long ago, in order to build the Democratic Party and build a campaign ready for the fight of our lives, these purity tests shrink the stakes of the most important election.” 

    The Buttigieg campaign cited a New York Times story that revealed that “Ms. Warren wooed wealthy donors for years, stockpiling money from fundraisers, and has used $10.4 million from her 2018 Senate race to underwrite her 2020 bid. The open secret of Ms. Warren’s campaign is that her big-money fund-raising through 2018 helped lay the foundation for her anti-big-money run for the presidency."

    Buttigieg got high marks for the debate. CNN’s Dana Bash observed, "The thing that was most striking is that Pete Buttigieg … he did get the incoming in the second half, but he also was ready for it. Every single issue that he was hit on -- Elizabeth Warren on the fundraising and other issues like his experience, with Amy Klobuchar -- he was ready, he hit back." 

    The Washington Posts’ Robert Costa said, “They see Pete as a real threat now … he is a viable contender for the Democratic nomination.” Former Sen. Claire McCaskill said on MSNBC,  “What Pete has tried to do is be a legitimate outsider. And you can't blame him for campaigning against Washington. I mean, everybody in the country thinks Washington cannot figure it out. And so that's the dynamic that was set up here. But I actually thought Pete did a good job...he was very effective.”

    The general consensus is that national frontrunner Joe Biden had his best debate while Sen. Klobachar may have had her "breakout" moment, but Buttieig augmented the perception that he is an Iowa frontrunner. The latest Iowa State University–Civiqs poll finds Buttigieg at 24%, followed by Sanders at 21%, Warren at 18% and former Vice President Joe Biden at 15%. The RealClearPolitics average of Iowa polls finds Buttigieg at 22%, followed by Sanders at 20%, Biden at 18% and Warren at 16%. Many voters remain undecided, and Warren is the top second choice for voters, at 20%, Sanders at 14%, Biden at 13% and Buttigieg at 10%.
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