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Sunday, February 17, 2019
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Saturday, February 16, 2019 11:17 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS  — For a virtually unknown mayor beyond the Michiana region, South Bend’s Pete Buttigieg’s exploratory presidential rollout has been sensational. Our early analysis was that for Buttigieg to find traction, he would need compelling staff. Communications Director Lis Smith has been invaluable in the rollout. Buttigieg is taking novelty (a gay mayor with a husband) and attempting to  establish market differentiation with some early success.

She is the co-founder of 50 State Communications based in New York. The Dartmouth College graduate was the deputy campaign director for Martin O’Malley’s 2016 presidential campaign. According to Ballotpedia, Smith previously worked on campaigns for former Sen. Tom Daschle, Sen. Claire McCaskill, President Barack Obama and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. She was Obama’s director of rapid response with a reputation of adroitly using Twitter and other social media avenues. Forbes Magazine considered her one of “the essential people to follow on Twitter.” The New York Times noted that Smith’s rapid response tweets “were a big reason that the campaign was able to define Mitt Romney before he could define himself” during the 2012 campaign.

On Wednesday, the Buttigieg campaign put out a call for rapid responders.  

During a recent Howard Schultz appearance, Smith noted Ron Brownstein’s assessment: “By night’s end, the list of questions he wouldn’t answer – and aggressively refused to answer  – might exceed the number he did, certainly the number he did w/specific ideas,” with Smith adding, “Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your souls.”

According to Ballotpedia, after the Obama campaign, Smith moved to Eliot Spitzer’s run for controller of New York City. When Spitzer lost the primary election, she was hired on the communications team for Bill de Blasio’s New York City mayoral campaign. There are also press accounts of a romantic relationship with Spitzer, the former New York governor who resigned in a sex scandal.

How effective is Smith? Mayor Buttigieg has been featured on Sunday talk shows including ABC’s “This Week,” and CNN’s “State of the Union.” He did Chuck Todd’s “Meet The Press Daily” last week (with the host suggesting he’d be back on the show or its Sunday version soon) and MSNBC’s “Hardball”with Chris Matthews, CBS “This Morning” and ABC’s “The View.” There have been prominent features in the Washington Post magazine, as well as Politico, the New York Times, and the New Yorker. On Feb. 18, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni will interview the mayor in Brooklyn. The mayor did “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” Thursday night.
  • REP. YOUNG TO POST $1M FOR QUARTER: Just days before he makes a presumptive Republican U.S. Senate bid official, U.S. Rep. Todd Young scorched the fundraising circuit, preparing to post $1,024,908 for the second quarter (Howey, Howey Politics Indiana).

     

    HARRISON QUALIFIES FOR INDY MAYORAL BALLOT: Rev. Charles Harrison is now prepared to throw an interesting wrench into the Indianapolis mayoral race (Howey Politics Indiana). Allies of the United Methodist pastor filed more than 6,600 signatures to gain ballot access as an independent last week. Sources with the Marion County Voter Registration have confirmed 3,200 signatures, with another 150 pages yet to be counted, meaning Harrison qualifies for ballot access.

     

    DAILY WIRE RESENT DUE TO TECHNICAL GLITCH: We are resending today’s HPI Daily Wire due to technical glitches. We apologize for the inconvenience.

     

    SANDERS SURGE WORRIES CLINTON CAMPAIGN: The ample crowds and unexpectedly strong showing garnered by Senator Bernie Sanders are setting off worry among advisers and allies of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who believe the Vermont senator could overtake her in Iowa polls by the fall and even defeat her in the nation’s first nominating contest there (New York Times).

     

    INDIANA TEACHER POOL DRYING UP; ‘POLITICIANS’ BLAMED: School leaders in south-central Indiana are reporting that the number of applicants they get for teaching positions has declined in recent years (Ladwig, Greensburg Daily News). They blame primarily state funding constraints, which depress teacher wages, and a blame-the-teachers mentality of politicians and the media, which is pushing teachers out of the profession and prompting fewer high school grads to consider teaching an attractive career. Budd said that the number of applicants has declined especially for math, sciences and foreign languages. “It has become a real struggle,” Budd said. “The pool of applicants is definitely dried up.”

     

    TEACHING LICENSES DOWN 88%: Annual state data reveal that the number of teaching licenses the state issues has fallen a whopping 88 percent in the last six years (Greensburg Daily News). According to the Indiana Department of Education, the state issued in the 2007/08 school year about 7,500 teaching licenses. In 2013/14, the most recent year for which data were available, the state issued just 934 licenses.

     

    GM REBUFFS FIAT/CHRYSLER MERGER: John Elkann, chairman of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and scion of Italy’s Agnelli family, isn’t giving up on forging a partnership with General Motors Co. , despite being rebuffed by his Detroit rival twice in the past four years (Wall Street Journal).

     

    ZODY WANTS DETAILS ON CANCELED PORTER-NOVELLI CONTRACT: Indiana Democrats have sent the Republican Pence administration a formal request to release documents showing what the state got for its money when it hired a New York public relations firm to deal with the damage inflicted by a new religious objections law (Associated Press). Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody said Monday that he wants Gov. Mike Pence's office to release contracts, messages and emails related to the agreement with Porter Novelli.

     

    HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Hoosier taxpayers paid $365,000 to the New York PR firm Porter Novelli to repair the state’s post RFRA damage. We ought to be able to see what we paid for. Remember, Public Servants (this includes you, IEDC), you work for us, the taxpayers. - Brian A. Howey

     

    CLICK HERE TO READ TODAY'S FULL HPI DAILY WIRE.

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  • Pence visits Auschwitz for first time
    “It seems to me to be a scene of unspeakable tragedy, reminding us what tyranny is capable of. But it seems to me also to be a scene of freedom’s victory. I traveled in our delegation with people who had family members who had been at Auschwitz — some had survived, some not. But to walk with them and think that two generations ago their forebears came there in box carts and that we would arrive in a motorcade in a free Poland and a Europe restored to freedom from tyranny is an extraordinary experience for us, and I’ll carry it with me the rest of our lives.” - Vice President Mike Pence, who visited the Auschwitz concentration camp in Oswiecim, Poland on Friday along with Second Lady Karen Pence and Polish President Andrzej Duda and First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda. It was Pence's first time at the scene where Nazi Germany murdered more than 1.1 million Jews and other groups during the World War II Holocaust.
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  • Our first national park at Indiana Dunes
    It continues to amaze me how many folks from central and southern Indiana have never visited Indiana's sea, known to most of us as Lake Michigan. If you need another reason to take a couple hour trip northward on U.S. 31, U.S. 421 or I-65, thank President Trump for our first national park. It's now the Indiana Dunes National Park. The move was included in the spending package compromise that Trump signed on Friday, inserted in the legislation with the help of U.S. Sen. Todd Young and U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky. 

    Visclosky said, "I also am heartened that because of the support of our U.S. Senators, the entire Indiana Congressional delegation, and numerous Northwest Indiana organizations, we have successfully titled the first National Park in our state. This action provides our shoreline with the recognition it deserves, and I hope further builds momentum to improve open and public access to all of our region’s environmental wonders.”

    The Dunes includes white sand beaches, trails and an array of flora and bogs, with a front row seat to the Chicago skyline. It richly deserves to be Indiana's first national park.
    - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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