By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Greenwood
1. Senate pro tempore deals
Here are your Monday power lunch talking points from Narnia: In 1980, Sen. Bob Garton cut a deal with Sen. Joe Harrison which allowed the former to prevail over Sen. Larry Borst to win as president pro tempore. In 2006, Sen. David Long was able to edge out Sen. Brent Steele by cobbling the support of six female senators, as well as a handful of moderates. With Long’s exit, expect some wheeling and dealing over the next seven months.
What’s the most likely? While the ultimate election likely won’t happen until after the November election when there will be at least three new senators, keep an eye on Sen. Rodric Bray, who sources say may be teaming up  with Sen. Mark Messmer to form the president/majority leader tandem. Another pairing could involve the other top contender, Sen. Travis Holdman, who might be looking at a similar tandem with Sen. Eric Bassler. There’s a long way to go  and a Democratic wave could change the caucus in November, but these appear to be the key players  evolving out of this mix.
2. Donnelly continues money clip
U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly reported raising $1.63 million in the first quarter and had $6.4 million cash on hand. He’ll need every penny of it if the Koch Brothers follow through on their $400 million “investment,” though the Washington Post  reported over the weekend that Charles and David Koch are not happy with President Trump’s tariffs, his Dreamer bait and switch, and the exploding federal deficits. The Senate race will really take definition when Republicans Luke Messer and Todd Rokita report their first quarter hauls. If those results are as tepid as they were in the fourth quarter of 2017, that gives a real opening to the self-funding Mike Braun, who already holds a large gross rating point edge in TV advertising so far this cycle.
3. Trump’s new red line
With the latest Syrian chemical attack by the criminal Assad regime, President Trump’s bromance with Russian President Putin appears to be waning. Trump tweeted on Sunday, “Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!” Agreed, Mr. President. React with something more profound than lobbing a few missiles  into Assad’s runways, which were repaired within hours after your last attack.
4. Trump and Xi
Axios reports that with no consultation with his economic team or key aides like John Kelly and Marc Short, President Trump threatened $100 billion more in tariffs on China. That wasn’t a thunderstorm you heard, but widespread indigestion from Hoosier pork and soybean farmers  already sweating the first $50 billion in Trumpian tariffs. But Trump believes he and Chinese President Xi will sort it all out. He tweeted, “President Xi and I will always be friends, no matter what happens with our dispute on trade. China will take down its Trade Barriers because it is the right thing to do. Taxes will become Reciprocal & a deal will be made on Intellectual Property. Great future for both countries!” 
5. South Bend Doctors writing fewer opioid scripts
South Bend area doctors were stunned by the murder of Dr. Todd Graham last summer after he refused to fill an opioid prescription. The South Bend Tribune  reports that local doctors gathered to reassess. “When Todd was killed, that galvanized everybody,” said Dr. Stephen Anderson, chief medical officer for Saint Joseph Health System. “I hate to say it, but it really took something like that to look at ourselves, our behaviors as prescribers and how that has contributed to the excess of narcotics in the community.” The SBTrib reports: The number of prescriptions in St. Joseph County has steadily decreased  in recent years, totaling about 81 prescriptions per 100 people in 2016, according to the most recent data from CDC; that’s a drop from a 2012 high of 100 prescriptions per 100 people.
Spring is on the way, folks. Really. It’s true. It has to be true, right? It’s The Atomic!