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Friday, May 25, 2018
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  • INDIANAPOLIS – As we’ve watched political events in Indiana unfold over the past few weeks (and really, as we’ve watched them unfold nationally over the past few years) there’s a temptation to suggest that we’re witnessing things that have never happened before, that we’re in a uniquely historical time in our politics. But with more than 200 years of state history to draw on, it turns out that King Solomon was probably right: There is nothing new under the sun. Consider the rise of Mike Braun, who is taking his outsider businessman campaign into a general election for U.S. Senate, against the backdrop of a long line of Hoosier Senators with deep political experience. Todd Young, Joe Donnelly, Dan Coats, and Dan Quayle all came from the U.S. House; Evan Bayh served as governor; Dick Lugar and Vance Hartke both served as mayors of major cities; Birch Bayh had been speaker of the Indiana House; and Bill Jenner had been the State Senate pro tem. Braun (who only served a handful of terms as a rank-and-file state representative) certainly appears to have a unique background. But Homer Capehart was the original trailblazer of the outsider-businessman-to-U.S.-Senate path.
  • INDIANAPOLIS – Only one state senator in Indiana’s history has been elected to serve 10 terms. Unofficially, and depending on which state government entity you believe, there may actually be two, but that’s a messy story that may soon be moot anyway, so let’s start with the straightforward data. When Wells County Democrat Von Eichhorn retired from the Indiana Senate in 1966 after serving a then-record seven terms, a freshman legislator named Joe Harrison, R-Attica, entered the chamber. Nobody would touch Eichhorn’s record until 1994, when Harrison was elected to an eighth term, followed by a ninth term in 1998, and – by default after no one filed to run against him in either the primary or the general – a 10th, and final, term from 2002-2006.  It wouldn’t take as long for Harrison’s sole ownership of the record to be challenged; Larry Borst, R-Greenwood, ran for his 10th term in 2004, and Bob Garton, R-Columbus, did so in 2006; both, however, would lose their primaries. No one else had the opportunity to attempt a 10th term until 2014, but that year Johnny Nugent, R-Dearborn, opted to retire after nine terms rather than run for reelection.
  • 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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  • Gov. Holcomb, ISP Supt. Carter discuss school shooting
    “I am satisfied we’re on the right path, we’re headed in the right direction. We want to make sure the resources are there and the schools are secure. Traveling here today, the speaker and the president of the Senate were in perpetual huddle to make sure we’re not leaving any stone unturned. Whatever is needed by any school in the state we’re going to find a way to deliver on that. We’re on the right road, there is funding and resources to make sure our schools are safe.” - Gov. Eric Holcomb after returning to Indianapolis from Paris last Friday afternoon, addressing the school shooting that left a teacher and a student wounded at Noblesville West Middle School. Holcomb is expecting a school safety report on Aug. 1 and said the state will then begin to address “deficiencies.” Teacher Jason Seaman suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen, hip and forearm after he tackled the suspect. He is reportedly out of surgery. Indiana State Police Supt. Doug Carter called the situation “terror” but said Noblesville school had a plan and followed it Friday.
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  • Hoosier GOP dreams of a 'President Pence'
    Vice President Mike Pence returned to Indy Friday. He visited drivers and troops at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He raised big bucks for INSen nominee Mike Braun. He faithfully touted President Trump’s tax reforms under the banner “Promises made, promises kept” and bestowed effusive praise on the billionaire bossman for freeing North Korea prisoners, moving the embassy to Jerusalem and achieving big tax cuts.

    In tow were the predictable aides like Marty Obst, who heads the Great America Leadership PAC that has become the Pence political wing. It prompted a spasm of speculation in Politico  and the "failing" NYT  this past week that the Pence political ops were making President Trump and his loyalists nervous. There’s the persistent notion that Pence is doing what any smart pol would do, which is to prepare contingencies for 2020, either as the most loyal veep or as the GOP standard bearer. Trump’s nagging legal and ethical problems have created “hungry” looks in the Pence braintrust, most conspicuously Chief of Staff Nick Ayres, friends of the POTUS have noticed.

    So it was interesting that the original Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, has signed on to the Pence PAC. He was in Indy Friday with the veep along with Trump reelection campaign manager Brad Parscale. One can say this was simply a united front on display. But this is an administration that sends der kamcaign kommissars into the deep state bureaucracy to make sure the cabinet secretaries and minions are truly loyal. It has vetoed employment for those deemed not original Trumpy or even secretly NeverTrump. This is a president who prizes loyalty above anything else, even competency. 

    So welcome to Indy, Brad and Corey. It’s a trusting city and Republicans here love their veep. Many Hoosier Republicans dream of Pence joining the pantheon of the Harrisons and Lincoln at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Pence even had all their portraits in his Statehouse office. To a Hoosier Republican, “President Pence” is envisioned as an achievable goal.
    - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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