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Thursday, March 22, 2018
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  • INDIANAPOLIS  – As covered in Parts 1 and 2, from Indiana’s founding in 1816 until the “Black Day” of the General Assembly in 1887, the lieutenant governor served as the State Senate’s true presiding officer with the Senate president “pro tempore,” or pro tem, infrequently playing a bit, ceremonial role. When Republican Pro Tem Isaac P. Gray used his limited power and political cunning to essentially trick Democrats into ratifying the 15th Amendment, he made lifelong enemies in the Senate Democratic caucus. That didn’t change, even after he became a Democrat himself and was elected governor. Gray’s 1886 bid for the U.S. Senate, an office, at the time, selected by the state legislature, not the Hoosier electorate, led to an escalating political chess match between the Democratic governor and his rivals in the Democrat-controlled State Senate that culminated in the physical beating of a Republican lieutenant governor on the Senate floor and the ensuing Statehouse riot that lasted for four hours.
  • The Making of the Modern State Senate Pro Tem: Part 2, The “Black Day” of the General Assembly

    INDIANAPOLIS – As covered in last week’s Part 1, under Indiana’s 1816 and 1851 Constitution – as well as State Senate rules dating back to the First General Assembly – the lieutenant governor as president of the Senate was the chamber’s true presiding officer. The lieutenant governor had the power to create committees, name members and assign legislation to committees, and to manage the operations of the Senate on a daily basis. 
    The pro tem position was an afterthought, serving in a ceremonial capacity only when the lieutenant governor was absent, rarely for more than a few days at a time, and only elected on the first day the lieutenant governor was gone. But, the move toward the modern understanding of the two roles can be pinpointed with remarkable accuracy: Feb. 24, 1887.

  • First in a three-part series

    INDIANAPOLIS  – With the recent news that Senate President Pro Tem David Long will retire in November, journalists, lobbyists, and legislators alike are already starting to size up his legacy.  For most, figuring out where Long ranks compared to other pro tems is complicated primarily by the fact that for nearly 40 years Hoosiers have only experienced two of them. What most don’t realize, though, is that the history of the position  – at least the modern version of it – only extends back another decade from there. So, if you want to rank the influence of Indiana’s pro tems, your only real five options are: 1. Phil Gutman, the man who made the position what it is today and helped usher in some major reforms to the structure of Indiana’s government during the years 1970 to 1976 (a period that saw 11 constitutional amendments adopted, nine of which changed state government); 2. Bob Fair, the Democrat who got his one term from 1976-1978 during the only time in the last 50 years that Democrats controlled the chamber, and who saw some of his own party turn against him by the end of the long session because they thought he wasn’t hard enough on a Republican governor; 3. Chip Edwards, who had just settled into the position by the time he was indicted on federal bribery charges near the end of his two-year term in 1980 (and then convicted of extortion, lying to a grand jury, and corruptly influencing a grand jury witness before year’s end);
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  • McCain critical of Trump's call to congratulate Putin
    “An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections. And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election.” - U.S. Sen. John McCain, after President Trump said he called Russian President Putin and congratulated him on winning Sunday’s election. Trump ignored warnings from his national security team not to congratulate Putin and those warnings were leaked to the press apparently by senior White House officials. 
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  • The book on Pence
    There have been a number of biographies on President Trump, but none on Vice President Mike Pence. That is about to change. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael D'Antonio (“The Truth About Trump”) and former IndyStar and current AP reporter Tom LoBianco have both been in Indiana in recent weeks researching books on the former Hoosier governor. We can expect new information on Pence’s evolution from a failed congressional candidate, think-tank president, his ascent into Capitol Hill leadership, to a governorship and now a heartbeat away. The curtains will be pulled on Pence’s early relationships, finances and modus operandi.

    The rush to publish comes as President Trump acts more erratic in the face of the Russia collusion probe of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. There has been widespread speculation on whether Trump will finish his term, either voluntarily or as the result of scandal. Thus, there is a growing information thirst about a potential “President Pence.”

    The first spate of books center on the frivolous, or the family’s pet rabbit, with daughter Charlotte Pence and wife Karen penning “Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of a Vice President,” and HBO’s John Oliver’s competing “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo.” In the latter, the subject is about gay rabbits falling in love. Is this a great country, or what? - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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