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Monday, April 6, 2020
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Thursday, November 14, 2019 11:58 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS  — South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has joined former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at the top of the leaderboard in the third Monmouth University Poll of the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses. Buttigieg’s gains since the summer have been across the board, with increasing support coming from nearly every demographic group.  Regardless, less than one-third of likely caucusgoers say that they are firmly set on their choice of candidate and most would not be too disappointed if they had to switch their support.  
  • HPI Interview: Sen. Young looks beyond pandemic & social impacts

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – With Indiana and the nation heading up the steep incline toward a coronavirus apex expected to crest in mid- to late-April, Howey Politics Indiana  conducted this interview with Sen. Todd Young, who finds himself in the biggest crisis he has faced since joining Congress nine years ago. “We’re doing what Americans do in times of crisis,” Young explained, “identifying ways to adapt, improvise and overcome. Unlike the 2008-09 economic crisis, which is something Americans never wanted to relive, our economy was red hot as we headed into this pandemic. We literally have a public health crisis at the same time we have an economic crisis. It’s disrupted our society. So this has impacted every facet of our lives and has inspired how Americans, and Hoosiers more specifically, have been responding.”

  • Holcomb, health leaders reveal plans for the
coming coronavirus surge

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana unveiled its coronavirus “surge plan” Monday afternoon, with Gov. Eric Holcomb signing several executive orders while health officials said they are doubling the number of Intensive Care Unit beds and ventilators. “Just as the world turns, coronavirus knows no geography,” Holcomb said during a virtual press conference. “There will be a beginning, a middle and an end.” Clearly, Hoosier leaders believe the beginning surge is at hand and the governor indicated he is likely to extend the stay at home order past the original April 7 date. Health Commissioner Kristina Box said the “best modeling” suggests Indiana will see its peak will arrive in mid- to late-April. She added that it could be a lower, more prolonged peak, stretching into mid-May.”

  • Study of Indiana COVID-19 cases predicts mid-April peak, 2,400 deaths by August
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - While Indiana officials have been tight lipped on the number of intensive care unit beds and ventilators it has, a University of Washington state-by-state projections study of COVID-19 impacts says there are 706 ICU beds and the state will need 854 ventilators. By Aug. 4, it projects 2,400 Hoosiers will die, reaching a peak of 320 deaths per day by mid-April. Indiana is projected to reach its peak of just over 30,000 cases around April 17. It says the state has 8,485 available beds, and will need 10,458, for a bed shortage of 1,973. It projects there are 706 Intensive Care Unit beds available, while the demand will be 1,582 beds, for an ICU bed shortage of 876 beds. It projects Indiana will need 854 invasive ventilators, though it does not specify how many ventilators the state has. 
  • HPI Analysis: Primary election delayed, but what about November?
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – For more than two centuries, Hoosiers have participated in democracy by going to their local polling place to vote. In normal times they chat with their neighbors as they wait in line. These are not normal times. Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer and Democratic Chairman John Zody combined in a letter earlier this month calling for expanded absentee balloting in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that signalled what Gov. Eric Holcomb announced last Friday: A delayed primary until June 2.  In announcing the rescheduling of the primary, Holcomb reiterated his view stated on Thursday that the May 5 primary “needed to be pushed back to ensure the safety of county employees, poll workers and voters.” He added that he wanted to give Lawson, Hupfer and Zody “time to build a consensus.” On Wednesday, the Indiana Election Commission voted unanimously to move the primary to June 2. At its April 22 meeting, the discussion will likely turn to how the Nov. 3 election will be conducted.

  • Indiana descends from its economic peak in February into the coronavirus valley
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - While there’s Mount Baldy in Michigan City, Fort Wayne is known as the “Summit City” and Brown County features Browning Mountain a few miles past the Story Inn, Indiana is essentially sans prominent elevation. But February 2020 will become known as Indiana’s peak when it comes to employment. It was that month that a record number 3.29 million of us went to work. There was an estimated 105,177 unemployed and seeking jobs. On Feb. 29, the United States also recorded a fateful milestone: It’s first coronavirus death. It wouldn’t be until March 6 that the first Hoosier was reported with the virus, with just a dozen reported cases on March 12, and with an ominous pause, no new cases on Friday, March 13. Since then the cases have exploded, to 76 reported on March 22 and then 170 on Wednesday, and 338 on Thursday.
  • Horse Race: Trump gets modest pandemic poll bump
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS — In the midst of this pandemic crisis, President Trump has received a polling bump. The latest came Tuesday in a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, 25% of voters surveyed said Trump is doing an “excellent” job handling the virus, and another 17% said he is doing a “good” job. But almost as many, 39%, said he’s doing a “poor” job, and 13% rate his handling of the crisis as “just fair.” A week ago, an ABC/Ipsos Poll showed that 55% of Americans approve of the president’s management of the crisis, compared to 43% who disapprove. That was up from 43% approval the week before. It probably reflected the shift in tone during Trump’s March 16 White House pandemic briefing, when he said, “It’s bad. It’s bad. We’re going to hopefully be a best case and not a worst case. We have an invisible enemy, we have a problem that a month ago nobody ever thought about.”
  • As COVID-19 spikes, Indiana relying on 'homegrown' solutions

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - With the state’s capital city poised to join the ranks of American cities under siege from the coronavirus, as supplies from the federal government are coming in at just a fraction of our needs, the Holcomb administration acknowledged Tuesday afternoon it is relying on “homegrown” solutions. 
    That includes state prison inmates making personal protective gear for medical workers and a GM plant in Kokomo preparing to produce ventilators. “We are going to do everything to throw back COVID-19 that we have,” Gov. Holcomb said at a Tuesday afternoon Statehouse press conference. “I will tell you this, the numbers don't lie and if they don't put the fear of God in you to act, and act now and fight back, I don't know what would. We're going to continue to lose people and we know what the timeline has been when you look at the coastal states. If you look out at the two-week increments ... now was the time to act, yesterday.”

  • Here are FAQs on Gov. Holcomb's stay at home order:

    Q. When does the order take effect? A. The Stay-At-Home Order takes effect Tuesday, March 24 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Q. When does the order end? A. The order ends on Monday, April 6, at 11:59 p.m. ET, but could be extended if the outbreak warrants it. Q. Where does the order apply? A. The Stay-At-Home Order applies to the entire state of Indiana. Unless you work for an essential business or are doing an essential activity, you must stay home. Q. Is this mandatory or a recommendation? A. This order is mandatory. For the safety of all Hoosiers, people must stay home and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Q. How will this order be enforced? A. Staying home is critical to reducing the spread of COVID-19 in your community. Adhering to the order will save lives, and it is the responsibility of every Hoosier to do their part. However, if the order is not followed, the Indiana State Police will work with local law enforcement to enforce this order. The Indiana State Department of Health and the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission will enforce the restaurant and bar restrictions.

  • Holcomb, Lawson announce May 5 primary will be rescheduled to June 2
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    NASHVILLE, Ind. - Saying all Hoosiers "have a right to elect our leaders in a safe and open environment," Gov. Eric Holcomb, Secretary of State Connie Lawson and the two major party chairs jointly announced the May 5 primary has been rescheduled for June 2. Lawson said she has been in contact with county clerks and said she would ask the Indiana Election Commission to "suspend all absentee ballot rules" to allow that option to a broader swathe of the public and have ballots delivered to polling officials by family members. While Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer and Democratic Chairman John Zody had pushed for universal vote-by-mail, Lawson said, "Clerks were concerned about capacity if everybody voted by absentee." Moving the election to June 2 would shift a number of pre-election deadlines, including campaign finance reporting, registration and the dispatching of military ballots. "The reason we all came to agreement for June 2 was to give both parties time to work through their state and national convention processes. All of these steps will be in concert," Lawson said. "It will be a learning process. I am confident we will conduct a safe and secure election." 

  • HPI Analysis: Hoosiers are facing a generational crisis v. coronavirus
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – Hoosiers are facing their greatest physical and economic threat since the Great Depression and on the most crucial aspect of this crisis – the availability of coronavirus testing that would allow health and policy executives to learn of the extent of the spread and contact trace those in a cluster – we are flying blind. As of Thursday, only a mere 380 out of 6.85 million Hoosiers have been tested. While there have been 56 confirmed cases (including 19 in Indianapolis) and two deaths, Bill Joy, the computer scientist who co-founded Sun Microsystems, told New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, “The last few weeks were actually pretty unsurprising and predictable in how the pandemic spread. But we’ve now reached a point where all of our interlocking systems, each with their own feedback loops, are all shutting down in unpredictable ways. This will inevitably lead to some random and chaotic consequences, like health care workers not having child care.”
  • Horse Race: Brizzi, McDermott call for primary delay; Hale backs vote by mail
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS — Fifth CD Republican Carl Brizzi and 1st District Democrat Thomas McDermott Jr., are calling on Secretary of State Connie Lawson to delay Indiana’s May 5 primary. Fifth CD Democrat Christina Hale joined the state's two party chairmen who are seeking expanded vote by mail. Lawson’s office was coy when Howey Politics Indiana asked if a delay was under consideration. Lawson spokeswoman Valerie Warycha told HPI on Tuesday, “I’ll be in touch when I have something to share.”
  • Gov. Holcomb announces first virus death; saying 'this is the beginning; this is real'
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - The first coronavirus death was announced by Gov. Eric Holcomb Monday afternoon and he strongly reiterated his call for "social distancing." He said, "For those of you who think we are over-reacting, I can assure you we are not," Holcomb said at a Statehouse press conference. "Indiana is under a state of emergency. We will win this war with COVID-19. Make no mistake about it, collectively the actions we are taking today will have a positive impact 30, 60, 90 days later." Dr. Kristina Box of the Indiana State Department of Health added, "Here in Marion County it is clear we are seeing to community spread." She said cases cannot be "traced to Italy or China" or other U.S. hotspots like Seattle. "We expect to see more cases like this. Avoid gatherings of more than 50 people," the health commissioner said. "Stay home."

  • HPI Interview: Dr. Myers says next 2-3 days crucial in warding off 'catastrophe'
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - With 12 confirmed coronavirus cases and no deaths, Gov. Eric Holcomb declared earlier this week that Indiana is “remarkably prepared.” Yet as of Friday morning, the Indiana State Department of Health has conducted only 73 tests for the virus. Dr. Woody Myers, the presumptive Democrat challenger to Holcomb, told Howey Politics Indiana  that he sees a “potential catastrophe” unfolding in the state. “The next two or three days are more important than the next two or three weeks,” said Myers, a former Indiana health commissioner under Govs. Robert Orr and Evan Bayh. “In the next two or three days, the priority needs to be testing, testing, testing. The only way we can know where we are is to confirm where the virus is in the bodies of potential patients. That is the only way we can use what we call contact tracing.”
  • HPI Analysis: How Bosma created his super majority power base
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – Speaking in the well of the Indiana House just after he had passed the gavel to Speaker Todd Huston, Brian Bosma reflected on one of the key elements of his record tenure. “We have to have a long-term vision here,” Bosma said at the end of a historic 12 years as speaker, including the last 10. “We each need to think a decade away.” He was speaking from experience. While Republicans have held the Indiana Senate for all but two years (1974-76) in the past half century, the Indiana House had swung back and forth between Republicans and Democrats regularly (along with two 50/50 splits), until 2010. Bosma was instrumental in the creation of the super majority House, and he held it as speaker for an unprecedented decade.

  • Horse Race: Visclosky endorses Mrvan, but McDermott claims an edge

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS — Last Saturday, retiring U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky endorsed North Township Trustee Frank Mrvan. “I know that Frank Mrvan will fight with each breath and every fiber of his being to further collaborate and implement his vision for the next transformational initiatives that will bring the people of Northwest Indiana together in order to grow our regional economy, create more good-paying jobs, and improve our quality of place,” Visclosky said in a prepared statement. The frontrunner in this open 1st CD primary is Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., who told Howey Politics Indiana on Wednesday, “We knew Pete was coming out for Frank. You’d think that endorsement was the biggest thing, but I’m clearly leading the endorsement game.”

  • Sen. Young, Yovanovitch discuss values
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    BLOOMINGTON  — U.S. Sen. Todd Young gave the first Richard G. Lugar Lecture at Indiana University last Friday, calling for “three bold actions” with an America “leading with its values,” including a bolstering of the nation’s diplomatic capabilities. But the day before, former ambassador William J. Burns told the conference that of 28 State Department assistant secretary positions in the Trump administration, only one is filled, and there has been a 40% drop in Foreign Service applications. And later the day of Young’s speech, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, received the Lugar Award and made an appeal for “maintaining our principles” and “moral traditions.”
  • Speaker Bosma passes torch (and gavel) to Speaker Huston
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Speaker Brian Bosma closed out one of the most powerful eras in Indiana House history, formally passing the gavel to new Speaker Todd Huston Monday afternoon. "This is an unbelievable institution. It is the crucible of democracy in this state," Bosma said after more than an hour of listening to accolades from his colleagues. "This is a healthy state. It's been the key. We have to have a long-term vision here. We each need to think a decade away. We need to try to work to make that happen."

  • HPI Analysis: Vice President Pence faces his most arduous task
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – A friend of mine who possesses a cunning wit texted me after President Trump suddenly chose Vice President Mike Pence to head up the White House response to the coronavirus pandemic last week: “Hi Mike. You’re in charge of this epidemiological tsunami. Good luck and I have Nikki Haley on speed dial.” That sums up the political stakes facing Mike Pence, who along with HHS Sec. Alex Azar, Centers for Medicaid/Medicare Director Seema Verma and Dr. Tony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health has become the face of the pandemic’s federal government response. Or as former speaker Newt Gingrich told Politico of Pence, “If he does this well, he comes out of this as a very big national figure. If he does this badly, he comes out as a dramatically diminished figure. He knows that. His team knows that.” The underpinnings to this pandemic are that President Trump has sliced away key personnel in what should be a continual warfare against the microbes. And the president doesn’t understand or comprehend the science involved.
  • Horse Race: Clyburn, Buttigieg kick off Joe Biden's historic comeback
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS — President Trump was tweeting presciently Sunday night: “Pete Buttigieg is OUT. All of his SuperTuesday votes will go to Sleepy Joe Biden. Great timing. This is the REAL beginning of the Dems taking Bernie out of play – NO NOMINATION, AGAIN!” And then came the stunning, out-of-the-blue Super Tuesday results. Instead of trailing Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders by 250 to 350 delegates as prognosticators had expected, Biden won 343 delegates to Sanders’ 296 (at this writing), while Biden leads Sanders, 566 to 501 delegates overall. Michael Bloomberg, who spent close to a half billion dollars in Super Tuesday, won American Samoa. A week ago the mass speculation was that Sanders was the runaway freight train. Today, Democrats appear to have stepped away from the ledge, on a path to nominating Biden who is more in the mold of the John McCain or Mitt Romney. His appeal to Republicans exhausted by President Trump’s antics and mass chaos places the Democratic presidential race and the showdown with the incumbent president on a vastly different trajectory.
  • Sen. Young, Yovanovitch & Burns coming to IU this week (but not together)
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS — To varying degrees, U.S. Sen. Todd Young, Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovich and former Assistant Secretary of State William J. Burns have been critics of President Trump’s foreign policy. President Trump’s impeachment saga, stemming from his July 25, 2019, phone call with Ukraine President Zelensky, and his impact on America and the world aren’t specifically on the agenda next week, but these three figures will be on the bill at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies’ fifth annual conference on "America’s Role in the World." They won’t appear together. Ambassador Burns, who served as U.S. envoy to Russia, will do a moderated conversation with New Yorker reporter Susan Glasser at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 5. Sen. Young will give the inaugural Richard G. Lugar Lecture at 9 a.m. Friday, March 6. Yovanovitch will close the conference by receiving the Richard G. Lugar Award later that morning.

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  • Pence says U.S. pandemic is 'comparable' to Italy
    “We think Italy may be the most comparable area to the United States at this point.” - Vice President Pence, to CNN on Wednesday, after he was asked how severe the COVID-19 pandemic will get in the United States. The pandemic has hit Italy the hardest to date.
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  • President Trump, Gov. Holcomb address the pandemic in their own words
    The COVID-19 pandemic is becoming the story of our time. As Sen. Todd Young explained, unlike the Great Recession of 2008-09 and the Oil Shock recession of 1979-82, what we are experiencing today is a double hammer: A pandemic and a severe economic panic. The Hoosier State is poised to go from a historic low 3.1% unemployment rate to double digits in the span of a month. At least one pandemic model says 2,400 Hoosiers will die.

    Tough times shift our attention to leadership. Here are quotes from President Trump and Gov. Eric Holcomb as the pandemic approached the U.S. and then impacted our nation and state.

    President Trump

    Jan. 22: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” – CNBC interview.

    Feb. 10: “Looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.” – New Hampshire rally.

    Feb. 24: “The coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. … Stock market starting to look very good to me!” – On Twitter.

    Feb. 25: “China is working very, very hard. I have spoken to President Xi, and they are working very hard. If you know anything about him, I think he will be in pretty good shape. I think that is a problem that is going to go away.”

    Feb. 26: “We’re going to be pretty soon at only five people. And we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time. So we’ve had very good luck.” – At a White House news conference.
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