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Thursday, October 15, 2015 9:20 AM
INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence kicked off the infrastructure debate with a $1 billion proposal to repair state highways, interstates and bridges. Local government officials want the governor and General Assembly to take it several steps further, and provide what the Indiana Association of Cities & Towns calls a “sustainable” funding source. IACT President Matthew Greller told Howey Politics Indiana on Wednesday that the Pence plan is a good start. “The big thing is it’s good the administration is addressing infrastructure in a very serious way with a very serious proposal and a lot of money. But it includes no money for city and town streets and county roads. I’m disappointed because the vast majority of road miles in Indiana are maintained by local governments.”
  • Buttigieg tells Fox News 'all signs' point to candidacy

    Howey Politics Indiana

    South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg signaled a full-fledged presidential campaign is in the works during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. "Now we’re seeing all of those things, but because I’m not highly famous and I’m not personally wealthy, it takes a little bit to get the organization in place for a launch," Buttigieg told host Chris Wallace. "All of the signs are pointing in the right direction and when we do come out it’s going to be a big one. There's something happening right now that calls for something completely different than what we’ve been seeing. Generationally different, regionally different, somebody with a different life story and a different background." He told HPI last month a campaign kickoff would likely come in April in South Bend. His appearance comes a day after he announced he had crossed the 65,000 donor threshold that will qualify him for the Democratic presidential debates that begin in June. "We are building a community that believes in this bold vision for the future, and there are tens of thousands of people (76,025 to be exact) around the country who invested because they believe a midwestern, millennial, war veteran, mayoral voice should be a part of the conversation," he said on Saturday.

  • Atomic! Trump's 'support'; Bayh on 25th; Banks, Buttigieg on Sunday
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Trump's chilling interview: Here are your Ides of March power lunch talking points for the week: This is chillingPresident Trump told Breitbart News, "I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of Bikers for Trump. I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad. But the left plays it cuter and tougher.” What "certain point" is our president talking about? These comments come after the president's former attorney/fixer, the convicted felon Michael Cohen, hinted at an American coup d'etat in his testimony before the House Oversight Committee. “Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.” Whew.

  • Sen. Birch Bayh used political capital on policy for the ages

    INDIANAPOLIS - There were two compelling aspects of U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh. He was a liberal senator representing a conservative state, and yet he took audacious policy stances at odds with a broad swath of his constituency that would have doomed most other politicians. In essence, this was a public servant willing to use all of his political capital to achieve compelling and enduring policy goals. Birch Bayh was a statesman. He crafted the most amendments (two, precisely) to the U.S. Constitution since the Founding Fathers created the Bill of Rights nearly two centuries before. Inspired by his wife, Marvella, he championed women's equality through the failed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and access to collegiate sports funding through his Title IX provisions included in the 1972 Education Act.

  • Atomic! Birch Bayh & Senate lions; Donnelly's job; Trump woes
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Bayh and Senate lions

    Here are your bomb cyclone power lunch talking points: The latter half of the 20th Century found Indiana producing a number of lions in the Senate, with Birch Bayh upsetting U.S. Sen. Homer Capehart in 1962, Sen. Richard Lugar entering in 1977, the future vice president Dan Quayle defeating Bayh in 1980 and then Dan Coats, a future national intelligence director in 1988. Bayh stands out in this group for several reasons: He authored two of the 27 U.S. Constitution amendments. He was the driving force behind Title IX, which opened collegiate athletes to women. Bayh never won an election by more than 5%, but he showed political courage by parting with President Johnson on the Vietnam War, and he thwarted two of President Nixon's U.S. Supreme Court nominees.  Reaction to Bayh's death at age 91 in Washington is bringing tributes. Former House Speaker John Gregg honored Bayh, a former speaker himself, saying, "Sen. Birch Bayh was a true statesman whose legislative legacy is unmatched in modern history. America is stronger and more inclusive because of Birch Bayh. We send our love to the Bayh family and thank them for sharing him with us." 
  • Atomic! Young with Trump; Hate crime peril; Cyclone bomb!
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Young, Braun to back Trump on emergency: Here are your hump day power lunch talking points: Both U.S. Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun are siding with President Trump on Thursday's vote on his emergency declaration for the border law. The resolution against the emergency is expected to pass with at least four Republicans defecting, Trump will veto and an override will fail. Then the attorneys will find a windfall when the whole thing ends up in court. The fascinating thing is how many Republican senators are willing to give up the power of the purse to Trump. The big arm twister here was Vice President Pence, who lobbied Young and won his vote with an offer for Trump to sign legislation reining in his power to declare future emergencies. So Trump wins this one, and such legislation would prevent future presidents, though House passage on that would be impossible. Young said on Tuesday, “After weeks of careful study and discussion, I have decided to vote to preserve President Trump’s national emergency declaration. It is clear that the President’s declaration adheres to decades-old statutes and procedures laid out in federal law, and there is no question that a national crisis exists at our southern border."
  • HPI Analysis: Indiana journalism's thin gray line

    SPEEDWAY – There we were, seated in Claude & Annie’s Bar, four unlikely souls in a world about to be transformed in ways no one could have predicted. I remember that journalist Harrison J. Ullmann, attorney Peter Rusthoven and yours truly were drinking beer. Talk show host Mike Pence was having a Coke. We had just completed a taping of “The Mike Pence Show” in January, 1997, at a TV studio near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Like any small business, I struggled in those early years after The Howey Political Report began publishing in 1994. Pence was gearing up his radio and TV shows. I had gone through a divorce, had custody of my two sons and needed health coverage. The internet was just revving up after it was founded 30 years ago this past week, its founder Tim Berners-Lee now calling it an “uncontrollable monster.”  The conservative wing of this gathering, Pence and Rusthoven, were urging the liberal Ullmann to hire this writer, ostensibly as a “conservative” voice in the leftward alternative NUVO Newsweekly. Ullmann heeded their advice, commencing a three-year run that had me writing about everything from neighborhoods seeking to purge crack dealers, Mayor Goldsmith’s drug interdiction roadblocks that almost upended the 4th Amendment in the U.S. Supreme Court, to lethal assaults inside the Marion County lockup. 
  • Buttigieg the '1 percenter' finding money traction

    INDIANAPOLIS  — Pete Buttigieg is a “one percenter.” No, he’s not a billionaire who received a motherlode financial break in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The South Bend mayor is at that threshold in the CNN/Des Moines Register Poll, with another 1% listing him as their second choice. Essentially, the CNN/Register Poll’s value is that of the earliest 2020 name ID mileposts and not truly indicative of how this Democratic presidential nomination race will unfold. But on Sunday night, Mayor Pete received an hour of primetime exposure during his CNN Town Hall with host Jake Tapper. The reaction within the Democratic Party was overwhelmingly positive.
  • Bias bill, teacher pay, gaming set for second half

    INDIANAPOLIS  — The Indiana General Assembly has now moved fully into the latter half of its legislative session this year, with the crossover bills now having received their committee assignments and the first batch beginning to hit second reading. That means legislators will soon be feeling the squeeze of final deadlines in April. While the Republican super majorities make the whole process a little more straightforward, there are still some hot button issues that the GOP will need to work out. In particular, Gov. Eric Holcomb, Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, and Senate President Pro Tempore Rod Bray have displayed disagreement over the passage of a bias crime law and a comprehensive gaming bill, but will also need to see to it that their party’s efforts to raise teacher pay don’t raise the ire of Hoosier educators.
  • Lewandowski and Bossie lay out scorched earth Trump reelect

    INDIANAPOLIS – Hoosier Republicans got a preview of what can only be described as the coming scorched earth reelection campaign of President Trump and Vice President Pence from the ultimate insiders, Cory Lewandowski and Dave Bossie. Along with moderator Marty Obst, the pair laid out a nihilistic vision for the upcoming reelection campaign should the president survive the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia collusion report. “The president is going to dismantle whoever the Democrats put up,” said Bossie. “I believe in operation chaos. I’m going to impact every Democrat right up through the convention. I hope they pick Bernie Sanders, then you’re going to see capitalism versus socialism.”

  • Mayor Buttigieg gains traction with his CNN town hall

    INDIANAPOLIS - South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg's first foray into cable primetime found him talking not only about his views on Medicare and the Electoral College, but about Mike Pence and the Hoosier body politic. Buttigieg took his Democratic presidential exploration to a CNN town hall with host Jake Tapper Sunday night, a day after a CNN/Des Moines Register poll showed him with 1% in an Iowa poll, far behind frontrunners Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders. On the first question, he was asked about his experience. Buttigieg responded, "One thing you never hear of is a city shutting down because of a disagreement on policy. Experience is one of the best reasons for me to run. I have more experience under my belt than the president. That's a low bar, I know that. I also have more executive experience than the vice president. Experience is what qualifies me to have a seat at the table."

  • Atomic! Tax reform backfire; Brooks targeted; Young pans GND
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Back firing tax reform: Here are your Thursday power lunch talking points: President Trump and congressional Republicans believed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 would an enduring legacy and popular. But the public never bought in, with a Gallup Poll last October showing 46% disapproved, 39% approved, 64% did not see an increase in take-home pay, while 51% say they haven't been helped financially. The first concrete indicator of how wrong they were occurred last November when Democrats gained 40 U.S. House seats. They portrayed the cuts as a boon for the wealthy, with just slivers for the middle class. Don't be surprised if the next six weeks bring about more Bronx cheers and bad poll numbers. Why? The federal deficit which is approaching a trillion bucks at $913.5 billion and that is directly related to the tax reforms and increasing federal spending. And this is with a good economy. Those numbers will continue to explode if we enter a recession, let alone a deep recession. Then there's April 15, the tax filing deadline. That's when many Americans will learn where they stand year-to-year, and we're already hearing that tax refunds are diminishing and more folks will be writing substantial checks to the IRS.
  • Atomic! 'Witch hunt' ramp up; 'Dying of Whiteness'; IN cig tax
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Overplay Example 1, congressional Democrats: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: Instead of waiting for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to release his Russian collusion findings and pressing for its public release, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee is launching a "sweeping" probe of President Trump, his campaign, his organization and his family. It issued 81 document requests spanning from Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, David Pecker and Steve Bannon to Cory Lewandowski and Allen Weisselberg. If there are impacts on any Hoosiers, the list includes the Trump Campaign, the Trump transition team headed by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, and the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee.

  • Atomic! Trump approval; Mayor Pete in Iowa; Manufacturing up
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis 

    1. Trump & Co. by the numbers

    Here are your freezing cold power lunch talking points: After a sensational week where President Trump saw his talks with Kim Jong Un collapse, the "rat" Michael Cohen testified before Congress, and Trump hugged the American flag and called the Robert Mueller probe "bullshit" at CPAC, the NBC/Wall Street Journal  poll puts the president's approval at 46% (up 3% from January) and his reelect at 41% (compared to 45% for Barack Obama, 52% for George W. Bush and 38% for Bill Clinton, all of them reelected). The top groups approving of Trump: Republicans (88%), rural residents (60%), whites without college degrees (60%), men (54%) and whites overall (54%). Mining down further, 58% don’t think he’s been honest and truthful regarding the Russia probe; and 60% disapprove of his national emergency declaration to build a border wall.

    With his disapproval at 52%, the top groups who are alienated include: African Americans (88%), Latinos (64%), women (61%), those ages 18-34 (57%), whites with college degrees (55%) and independents (51%). “It’s a 45-55 against the president at this stage of the game,” said Democratic pollster Peter Hart. Republican pollster Bill McInturff: “As long as these economic numbers look like this, that always keeps an incumbent president in the race." Democrat Fred Yang: “Another lesson we painfully learned from 2016 is that elections are a choice between candidates and not a referendum on one candidate.”

    2. Polling and Mayor Pete

    South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is taking his Democratic presidential exploration back to Iowa today with stops in Davenport, Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. He has yet to register in any polls, but the NBC/WSJ  survey has some good news for him. On "desirable characteristics," being a gay or lesbian comes in at 68/30% totally enthusiastic/comfortable or opposite; and 56/40% for someone under age 40. Here's the bad news for Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, on someone over age 75, it's 37/62%, and for a socialist, 25/72%. So that's doubly bad news for the Bern. CNN is hosting Buttigieg at a 9 p.m. Sunday town hall broadcast from Austin, Tex. So Mayor Pete is headed for primetime.

    3. Democratic field expands

    Like the universe, the Democratic presidential field continues to expand, with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee launching a campaign based on climate change over the weekend, while former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper jumped in today. Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders kicked off his campaign over the weekend. NBC/WSJ Poll offered this nugget as Vice President Pence lashed out as "socialism" at CPAC last Friday: 18% of all Americans say they view "socialism" positively, versus 50% who see it in a negative light. The numbers for capitalism are almost the exact opposite: 50% positive, 19% negative.

    4. U.S., China trade deal nears

    President Trump might actually break into a plus 50% approval if a trade deal with China materializes. The Wall Street Journal: "China and the U.S. are in the final stage of completing a trade deal, with Beijing offering to lower tariffs and other restrictions on American farm, chemical, auto and other products and Washington considering removing most, if not all, sanctions levied against Chinese products since last year. The agreement is taking shape following February’s talks in Washington, people briefed on the matter on both sides said. They cautioned that hurdles remain, and each side faces possible resistance at home that the terms are too favorable to the other side." Trump is preparing to host Chinese President Xi Jinping around March 27 at Mar-a-Lago.

    5. Manufacturing in vogue

    Indiana Manufacturing Association President/CEO Brian Burton had to like these numbers from the Wall Street Journal: U.S. manufacturing employment has risen for 18 straight months, the longest stretch of gains since the mid-1990s. Employers have added 274,000 non-managerial manufacturing jobs since July 2017. Overall employment in the sector peaked at 19.6 million people in 1979; today, the industry employs about 12.8 million, but that's up from a nadir of 11.5 million in 2010. Of course, Indiana is the most manufacturing intensive state in the nation. Burton is reminding Gov. Eric Holcomb and lawmakers that in Indiana, manufacturing still has more clout than the high tech sector. Speaking on that front, Gov. Holcomb is heading to France, Germany and Belgium this week  for his latest trade mission.

    Thanks for reading, folks. It's The Atomic!

  • HPI Interview: Donnelly surveys career, but won't be running

    NOTRE DAME — Don’t expect to see Joe Donnelly on the ballot any time soon. When we sat down with him at Rohr’s tavern at the Morris Inn here, we asked about his political future. Specifically, we asked about the 2020 gubernatorial race where there is no obvious Democratic candidate. During the current General Assembly session with Republicans gutting a hate crimes bill and snuffing redistricting reform, only 2012 and 2016 nominee John Gregg is commenting (on Twitter), and he is not appearing to be taking steps to make a third run. Would Donnelly consider a challenge to Gov. Eric Holcomb? “I am not looking at any other races,” Donnelly responded.
  • Atomic! Young on Trump decree; Trucker shortage; Pete on CNN
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Anderson

    1. Sen. Young gauges emergency declaration: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: We caught up with U.S. Sen. Todd Young this morning to find where he stands on President Trump's national emergency declaration that has lost the support of at least four Republican senators. "I haven't made up my mind with respect to the emergency declaration," Young told reporters at Carter Logistics. "I, of course, want to make sure it is consistent with the law and the constitution." Young explained further, "My disposition hasn't changed, informed by my own experience and by knowledge at the situation of the border now. We really do need to act to further secure the southern border. That means not just boots on the ground and investments in technology, but also investments in a physical barrier. Being a U.S. Marine back in the mid-90s, I served in the Yuma sector in Arizona, an area of heavy narco and human trafficking. In the years of George W. Bush a physical barrier was erected and trafficking went down over the next decade by 95%. This didn't used to be an ideological issue. The reason we are here is because Democrats suddenly decided post election they are going to change their position on this." HPI asked about the congressional "power of the purse" that could be abrogated by Trump's declaration as well as setting precedence for future presidents to declare emergencies over climate or guns. "Of course I want to protect the power of the purse," Young said.
  • HPI Analysis: Mayor Buttigieg's Indiana angles

    INDIANAPOLIS – The next president of the United States from Indiana was supposed to be a man. He would have a name like Birch, or Richard, Dan, Evan, Mitch or Mike. He would have been at it for a long, long time, with every move over a conspicuous career progression aimed at that ultimate prize of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. This proving ground would unfold in the chambers of Congress, or the West Wing, or even the Statehouse second floor. There would be Christmas cards from the candidate with the wife and two or three kids. There would be convention keynote addresses at or near primetime, or a State of the Union rebuttal. There would be multiple appearances on “Meet The Press,” “Face The Nation” and “Fox & Friends.” We would be carrying the water for this hopeful, gauging his political instincts, watching his ties to money, fame, Des Moines and Manchester. In conjuring the next Hoosier to join William Henry Harrison, Abraham Lincoln or Benjamin Harrison in the pantheon of political greatness, the point of transfixion wasn’t supposed to be on a mayor of a medium-sized city, a gay man with a husband, toiling in an office high above snowy South Bend. 
  • Statehouse: Shiny objects at General Assembly midway

    INDIANAPOLIS – If there’s a bright, shiny object in the General Assembly at the midway point, it is one that has been fashioned with red and black spray paint. It occurred at a Carmel synagogue last summer and resulted in the arrest of two western Indiana men. But it changed the dynamic on whether Indiana should have a hate crimes law, prompting Gov. Eric Holcomb to make it a priority, as Indiana is one of only five states without one. “It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s long overdue,” Holcomb said in December, vowing to be a vocal proponent. “I’m convinced the overwhelming majority of Hoosiers feel the same way.”  He’s correct on the “overwhelming majority of Hoosiers” aspect, with a Realtors Poll in December showing 73% back such a law. But that’s not the majority that matters; it’s the 40 Republicans in the Senate and 67 in the House, and they are balking at the so-called “list” that was deleted from SB12 last week. Of the 45 states with hate crime laws, only Utah has one sans a list. The Republican governor now at odds with his legislative super majorities offered another way: Use federal code language and place it in the sentencing phase of hate crimes. Holcomb provided a history lesson: “There are folks that just are against a list. I disagree, respectfully. We have all kinds of lists. We just passed a lot of bills with lists. We have a list in the 1st Amendment.; we have 27 amendments. We have a list in the Civil Rights Act of 1964."
  • Atomic! Trump, Pence abroad; Deadline days; ISU honors Khashoggi
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY and JACOB CURRY, in Indianapolis

    1. Trump, Pence fanning out across the globe: Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: President Trump is headed to Vietnam for his second summit with North Korea despot Kim Jong UnVice President Pence is wheels up for Colombia (after spending part of the weekend in Columbus, Ind.) where he will anoint Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Of the two trips, Pence seems to be on better terra firma. Speaking in Bogata, Pence is expected to profess "unwavering support" for Guaidó as the U.S. seeks to pressure strongman Maduro to exit. The Trump/Kim summit is trickier. Last September, Trump (literally) professed his "love" for the dictator known to kill his political opponents with flamethrowers, artillery and chemicals. "He's got a great personality," Trump said, "He's a funny guy" (quick, someone cue up Joe Pesci from "Goodfellas." Trump: "He's very smart. He's a great negotiator. He loves his people.” Trump appears to be angling for a Nobel Peace Prize (the administration asked Japan to nominate him) and intel officials are worried, with NBC  reporting: “One of the worst possible outcomes is he makes some crazy deal pledging to withdraw U.S. troops for a vague promise of denuclearization," said one former senior U.S. official.”

  • Mayor Buttigieg enters hate crime fray in potential RFRA redux

    INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana's hate crime controversies intersected with the emerging 2020 presidential race Sunday when South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg called changes on Senate Bill 12 in the Indiana Senate a "crushing disappointment" and urged an overflow crowd at IUPUI to "summon courage" and make their voices heard. It came as Buttigieg brought his book tour and presidential exploration back home to Indiana, just days after the Republican super majority Senate weakened SB12, the hate crime bill that Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb has designated as a top priority. Holcomb quickly signaled his displeasure, saying, "The version of the bill approved today by the Senate does not get Indiana off the list of states without a bias crime law. We have a long way to go, a lot of work to do, and fortunately the time yet still to do it."

  • HPI Interview: How Sen. Donnelly was Trumped

    NOTRE DAME, Ind. – When the polls closed on Election Day last November, U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly expected to defeat Republican Mike Braun. He believed he had weathered the Brett Kavanaugh spectacle that his party sprang on the nation in mid-September. He believed he could outlast the Mexican “caravan” that was more than 1,300 miles away with a Cat 5 hurricane between it in the U.S. It would disappear from Fox News a day later. But a Donnelly reelection was not to be.  Donnelly was upset in a $110 million Senate race, where one person was responsible for pumping $20 million against his reelection. The Granger Democrat believed his campaign had met every metric it had deemed crucial. He would crest one million votes. He raised far more money than any Hoosier Democrat ever had. He led among early voters. In a back corner of Rohr’s tavern in Notre Dame’s Morris Inn on Monday, Donnelly sat down with Howey Politics Indiana to deconstruct the end of his Senate career, at least for the time being.
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  • Gov. Holcomb talks about redistricting reform
    “I want to see more evidence of where our legislative districts are gerrymandered. How is it that Republicans have 89% of the county commissioners and the GOP has a majority of county sheriffs, a majority of statewide elective offices. Those are not gerrymandered.” - Gov. Eric Holcomb, when asked by the Anderson Herald-Bulletin's Ken de la Bastide if he would support an independent redistricting commission. Holcomb added, “This has long been the jurisdiction of the legislature. I’m very open-minded if we can make the system truly fair. I want to see that proposal.” 
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  • Huston's advice to Trump is to dump Pence, add Haley to the ticket

    Vice President Mike Pence once headed the Indiana Policy Review think tank. On Friday night, members heard a former aide to President Nixon suggested President Trump should replace him on the 2020 ticket with former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley.

    "My political advice to the president would be that he replace Pence with Nikki Haley," said Indianapolis attorney Tom Huston. "I don't think Pence adds anything to the ticket. He's already said that Pence is going to be on the ticket. Now let me say, I don't like Nikki Haley. But I do think she would bring something to the ticket that would be valuable to him to win reelection." Huston headed the Young Americans for Freedom, a group of young conservatives, before joining the Nixon administration as a speechwriter, then became a special projects aide and forged the controversial "Huston Plan" designed to confront domestic terrorism during the Vietnam War era. Huston was the featured speaker about the state of modern American conservatism.

    President Trump publicly asked Pence to stay on the ticket right after the 2018 election, but media reports had him questioning Pence's loyalty and what he would bring to the reelection bid. Some believe Nikki Haley, the former United Nations Ambassador and South Carolina governor, could help Trump attract female voters. - Brian A. Howey, publisher

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