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Tuesday, January 21, 2020
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  • There will be a well-funded battle over the marriage amendment. Megan Robertson managed campaigns have always had access to cash, including Rep. Luke Messer’s million dollar campaign in 2012 and a similar effort in 2011 for Mayor Ballard. An HPI Poll conducted by Bellwether Research’s Christine Matthews in April revealed 50% support the amendment, and 46% opposed. The Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll in October 2012 had 48% supporting the amendment and 45% opposed. So this issue will be the prime political battleground in Indiana next year. – Brian A. Howey
  • The Pence media office has a credibility problem. I made an inquiry on the employment fate of legislative director Heather Neal late Monday afternoon, and spokeswoman Christina Denault essentially repeated what Gov. Pence had said:  "As the governor said earlier today in a press scrum following the swearing in, Heather is a valued member of our staff, and we have nothing further to say about her status at this time." The problem is, this was not true. Neal was on her way out to a private strategy firm. Even if that deal hadn’t been consummated at the time of my inquiry, a candid press operation would have followed up with a phone call or an email. The Governor-elect sat in my office a few days prior to his inauguration and pleaded for a “do over” after my request for interviews during the summer and fall of 2012 had been ignored. But the same thing is happening again this year.  Press emails to Kara Brooks of the Pence press office are routed through Denault, which suggests an interesting information control dynamic. Gov. Pence does not appear prepared to candidly discuss issues of the day, some of which have multi-billion dollar consequences for the state and its citizens. Some friendly advice to the governor: As a congressman, you championed media access and shield issues. As a radio and TV talk show host, you thrived on access to lawmakers. As governor, your accessibility has been far below that of your predecessors. You probably should rethink that. – Brian A. Howey
  • It was interesting to hear the take from NBC war correspondent Richard Engel on whether the U.S. should cut off aid to Egypt. It is something the Israelis, the Saudis and other U.S. allies would oppose. Once the aid would be cut off, the U.S. would lose leverage with the Egyptian military. - Brian A. Howey
  • Legislating by "statement" gets you headlines, but it's like having cotton candy for Thanksgiving dinner. Not only is this reflected in the previous three stories (and the very last one of today's Daily Wire), but I hear similar comments from an array of Republican friends, colleagues and acquaintances who continually say things like "the party has left me behind." It was striking how Chairman Reince Priebus 100-page assessment of the 2012 disaster last winter and its recommendations for recovery were largely dismissed by Hoosier GOP lawmakers and leaders. None of them wanted to discuss the report, a few told me they didn't read it, and few have altered policy and political stances. - Brian A. Howey
  • It was a brisk evening out on The Lawn with the Black Crows last night. It reinforced the notion that this summer has been so much nicer than last year’s oven/steam bath. The weather is providing Hoosier farmers wiith bumper crops, which underscores the notion, “Ain’t God been good to Indiana?” – Brian A. Howey
  • Americans want President Obama and Congress to solve problems. The tax code reform pushed by Rep. Todd Young may be the best chance for a solution to come out of Washington that will create jobs across the nation. Yes, it's time for some statesmanship. Haven't seen much of that lately. - Brian A. Howey
  • I'd like to know what Chairman Berry was referring to when he cited "gotcha journalism" in Indiana during the 2012 campaign. Was it Mourdock related? Seems to me most of his problems were self-inflicted. Was he talking about Sen. Lugar's residency issue? Mitt Romney's "47%" at a fundraiser? With candidate Pence, there was no "gotcha" because he and Mourdock largely evaded direct contact with the news media. Just curious. - Brian A. Howey
  • We learn today that Indiana has the fifth highest infant mortality rate in the nation. Is this acceptable? Articles like this underscore the point Howard County Republican Chairman Craig Dunn made in a Howey Politics column earlier this summer, which was we have a vibrant pro life movement in this state with the most political clout its ever had. At what point does this movement invest in the children who were brought out of the womb? Tax cuts are great, but what about the health and well being of Hoosier kids and families? I'd love to hear what Gov. Pence, Indiana Right to Life and the Indiana Family Institute has to say about this story and Dunn's column. The silence is deafening. - Brian A. Howey
  • There's a reason I put the Clarksville sewer rate increase in today's top five stories. Indiana passed on accepting federal funding to separate sanitary and storm sewer systems a generation ago due to an ideological rejection over federal funding. And because of those decisions, today's municipal rate payers are getting slammed with rising sewer fees. The folks in Clarksville must come up with an extra $20 a month now. If you're an Indiana lawmaker, you need to keep this in mind over the next year as the state decides how to handle Medicaid expansion in the emerging Obamacare era. Specifically, by refusing to expand Medicaid, Indiana risks the financial stability of local hospitals as well as the big medical centers which take federal DSH payments. Those will disappear in the coming years. Without a Medicaid expansion, billions of dollars will no longer flow into the Indiana medical system. Better think long and hard about that, folks. - Brian A. Howey
  • The Boston Globe is sold for $70 million, down from $1.1 billion a generation ago. The Washington Post goes for $250 million when a generation ago it was worth billions. Wonder what the slimmer and slimmer mall-bound Indianapolis Star is worth now? - Brian A. Howey
  • The one inevitable aspect of Tony Bennett's fall is that Supt. Glenda Ritz will almost certainly be the last elected Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction. The emails coming from the Ritz staff are political payback for hostile legislative Republicans will induce legislation making the superintendent a gubernatorial appointee. This is something I've advocated for a long time- along with an appointed comptroller that would combine the auditor and treasurers office - creating a true executive administration where the buck stops with the Gov. - Brian A. Howey
  • Ed Snowden has entered Russia. It prompts memories of my travels to Russia. A colleague and I decided we'd like to go out into Moscow to check out the nightlife. One of the delegation's two interpreters offered to come along. The Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize winning reporter/editor David Hoffman then nonchalantly pointed out that this particular interpreter had a Chechen accent. We decided to walk to Red Square and the Kremlin on our own. - Brian A. Howey
  • Well, a government shutdown would make for a lot of good copy, from this fall through November 2014. File Rep. Stutzman's desires in that "Be careful what you wish for" file. - Brian A. Howey
  • The education narratives in Indiana are defying conventional wisdom. The angst of former Supt. Tony Bennett and his staff over Christel DeHaan's charter school over an "A" grade not achieved reveals a preconceived notion mindset, the establishment of a facade, as opposed to creating a system that provides an accurate benchmark on student performance. Bennett says DOE was "right" to change the DeHaan grade from a "C" to an "A". This is corrupt thinking and undermines the entire system. And God bless those now 11th grade algebra students at the DeHaan school whose performance has now been magnified in what is an education scandal. As for the ISTEP testing delay, this narrative fell apart when test scores actually went up. So we're keeping those scores! But if they had gone down, there would have been calls for not only this year's results to be scrapped, but, perhaps, the entire system. What does this mindset tell us? - Brian A. Howey
  • I'm looking forward to the Major League Baseball induction next year of Chicago White Sox star Frank Thomas into the baseball Hall of Fame. In the steroid era, the Big Hurt played clean. - Brian A. Howey
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  • Gov. Holcomb files for reelection
    “Indiana is on a roll and we’re not taking our foot off the gas. While the names on the ballot will be Suzanne’s and mine, we’re representing a statewide team that is mobilized, energized and organized for victory in Indiana. Teamwork will bring home the checkered flag on Election Day and teamwork will ensure we’re Putting People First for four more years.” - Gov. Eric Holcomb, in filing for reelection at the Indiana secretary of state's office Tuesday morning. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Owens reacted, saying, "We got into this race because we believe Indiana needs bold leadership and fresh ideas. As we travel the state, we're hearing that Hoosiers agree with us that our teachers need and deserve support now, not later and that we need to do more than simply maintain a status quo when it comes to the environment and ensuring that Indiana is a state that welcomes all. We don't just need more jobs, we need good paying jobs and ways for Hoosiers to get the skills and training needed for them. We're in the final stages of qualifying for the ballot and will soon be turning our full energy to listening to Hoosiers everywhere and fundraising to support spreading our message to every corner of the state to win this election."
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  • 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%.

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