By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis
1. Senate GOP stake futures to Bray
Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: There were indicators that State Sen. Rodric Bray and his floor leader running mate, Mark Messmer, were the clear frontrunners to replace Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, and that it might happen on Monday. It did, but it essentially is a futures game. The real vote will occur after the Nov. 6 election when there will be at least four new senators replacing Long, the defeated Joe Zakas, and the retiring Doug Eckerty and Jim Smith. Sources say they expect the Bray selection to endure after the election, that Long isn’t intending to step down early, but Bray will pick up the mantle of fundraising and protecting the GOP’s super majority status, as well as to begin planning for what will be an epic 2019 budget session.
Bray’s election differed from the other two pro tempore showdowns in 1980 and 2006. Those were three-way races, with Robert Garton defeating Larry Borst and Joe Harrison in 1980 (Harrison cut a deal with the winner), and Long out-distanced Brent Steele and Tom Weatherwax in 2006 with the help of six female senators and four moderates. Bray’s showdown was with Travis Holdman, who was running with Eric Bassler. “I really couldn’t be more pleased,” Bray told the Bloomington Herald-Times. “We haven’t set priorities for next session, but we’ll spend the summer looking at those types of things.” As for his race against Holdman, Bray said, "At no period of time did we create any sort of hot spot or tension between us. He gave us congratulations and offered to work with us. So his supporters are going to do the same."
2. A quick special session
Sine die in March turned into a fiasco  when retirement speeches gobbled time, leaving five bills stranded. Monday was utter efficiency, with Republicans ramming through the five bills, the House concluding before noon, the Senate several hours later, with Gov. Eric Holcomb signing them by end of business day. Democrats like Rep. Ed DeLaney pushed back on legislation that would align state tax policy with the ever-evolving feds, but super minorities don’t even get crumbs. Just rhetoric, with House Minority Leader Terry Goodin sputtering, “It continues to amaze me that the Republicans want to enjoy all the advantages of having a supermajority … except when they screw up.” The general public yawned. On the school takeovers of Muncie and Gary, there were Democrat warnings that school districts like Michigan City, Medora and Whitko could be on the same distressed path.
3. PencePolitical rattles Trump loyalists
In public, Vice President Pence fawns over his boss, President Trump, and in Elkhart last week, the president celebrated his sidekick. But there was a spate of stories Monday suggesting the Trump loyalists are paranoid about the Pence political operations. Politico  and the New York Times  revealed tensions, with Trump swooping in to address the NRA after Pence had the original gig, supplanted the veep at Davos, and will address the Susan B. Anthony List after the veep keynoted last year. Politico: "It was always pretty apparent that Pence had a role and that role was to be subservient to Trump," said a former White House official who also served on the campaign. "Pence should be not seen and not heard and kind of put away in a corner.” And the NYT: “In at least two instances, the vice president, Pence Chief of Staff Nick Ayers and other aides (i.e. Marty Obst) have badly overstepped.” And this from the NYT: “Tensions also flared last year, after Mr. Ayers and another Pence aide were reported to have made suggestive comments to Republican donors about planning for an unpredictable 2020 election. Most brazenly, Marty Obst, a senior Pence adviser, told a Republican donor that Mr. Pence wanted to be prepared for the next presidential race in case there was an opening.” With this crew, the ambition is palpable, seeping through every pore.
4. The Pence dilemma
With the Robert Mueller probe almost certainly to extend beyond the mid-terms (and going dark), the biggest parlor game in the civilized world is whether President Trump runs for reelection. His reelect campaign manager Brad Parscale is laying out a digitally based operation. Vice President Pence’s delicate dilemma is he has to be prepared in case Trump doesn’t run, but can’t proceed so overtly that it stokes Trump’s legendary paranoia and shark-like tendencies to turn on friends, partners and allies. While we’ve noted that Trump can’t fire a veep like he can a cabinet officer, he can dump Pence from the 2020 ticket, just as he almost did on July 14, 2016, in favor of Gov. Chris Christie.
5. The cost of an epidemic at $4 billion (annually)
Gov. Eric Holcomb told HPI  months ago the state was assembling the data set on the extent of the opioid crisis. The Bloomington Herald-Times: “New research from Indiana University finds opioid addiction lowers Indiana's economic output and costs the state more than $4 billion in economic damage.” Ryan Brewer, associate professor of finance at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus, and Kayla Freeman, a doctoral candidate in finance at the IU Kelley School of Business, studied the effect of the opioid epidemic on state and local economies. "I think it's a big social problem for Indiana, of course," Brewer said. "When you have people out of the workforce, it's less attractive for business owners and less attractive for people considering moving here." The research found the lost gross state product has gone from zero in 2003 to $1.72 billion in 2016,  nearly double the $926 million loss from the year before.
Thanks for reading, folks. It’s The Atomic!