By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis


1. Buttigieg enters the presidential race


Here are your hump down power lunch talking points: This morning the cable pundits were grappling with the pronunciation of the name of the eighth Democrat to enter the 2020 presidential race, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Hoosiers tend to call him “Mayor Pete.” In a video announcing his exploratory committee, the 37-year-old Democrat, who is conjuring the pass-the-torch echoes of President John F. Kennedy, explained, "The reality is there's no going back, and there's no such thing as 'again' in the real world. We can't look for greatness in the past. Right now our country needs a fresh start.” He describes his as a “generation of school shootings” on track “to make less than our parents unless we do something different.”


Mayor Pete presents a vivid contrast to President Trump. He’s a Rhodes Scholar, volunteered for the Navy and served in the Afghanistan theater as an intelligence officer. “Good leadership brings out the best in us,” Buttigieg explained. On a week where the Washington Post put Trump’s lies and false, misleading statements at 8,158, the mayor said, “The show in Washington right now is exhausted. The corruption, the fighting, the lying have got to end. Good leadership brings out the best in us.” He ends the video saying, “We stand proud of our values. Let’s go show the world.”


2. Mayor Pete’s chances


Does Mayor Buttigieg, who could be the first gay president, have a ghost of a chance? Did Jimmy Carter in 1974, Bill Clinton in 1990, or Barack Obama in 2006? With two dozen or more candidates, many consider the 2020 Democratic nomination fight as wide open. The key will be when former vice president Joe Biden enters the race, and whether he can do what George W. Bush did in 1999 (make his nomination inevitable), or will Biden be consigned as a party elder in the dustbin (as what happened to Jeb Bush in 2015-16)? If Biden cannot create the aura of inevitability, and Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris or Beto O’Rourke fail to emerge with Obama-style momentum, then all bets are off. The nomination fight could be wide open. There is no doubt that Pete Buttigieg is a long-shot. Many see a better chance of him on the ticket if the nominee is a woman. But this is an era where … anything can happen.


3. Pence and MLK’s son


It wasn’t quite Sen. Lloyd Bentsen telling veep nominee Dan Quayle, “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy,” but when Vice President Mike Pence invoked Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on CBS Face The Nation  Sunday in making the case for President Trump's border wall, you could almost feel a retort coming. It came from the civil right’s icon’s son at the National Action Network MLK Breakfast on Monday: “Whenever I get to this period, it always is reflective,” the younger King said. “This year is probably more reflective than ever because I wonder what my father would be thinking and asking … the vice president attempted to compare the president to Martin Luther King Jr. Now, Martin Luther King Jr. was a bridge builder, not a wall builder.  Martin Luther King Jr. would say love, not hate, will make America great.”


4. Mayoral candidates lining up


Tuesday was a busy one on the Indiana mayoral front, as Fort Wayne’s Tom Henry, Richmond’s Dave Snow, and Greenwood’s Mark Myers all announced reelection bids. Henry is seeking a fourth term, Snow a second and Myers a third. In Bloomington, Amanda Barge will challenge Mayor John Hamilton in the Democratic primary, and in Kokomo, United Way President Abbie Smith will seek the Democratic nomination after Mayor Greg Goodnight passed on a fourth term. Goodnight has denounced former cop Kevin Summers in his quest for the Democratic nomination. Smith presented a platform based largely on economic development, which was always a priority for the current mayor.


5. DCS reforms pass Indiana House


One of the big ticket items in the General Assembly passed a significant hurdle Tuesday, with HB1006 which reforms the troubled Department of Child Services passing the House 100-0. It is one of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s top priorities. It would ease caseloads for DCS workers as the Holcomb administration has vowed to pump just under $300 million into the agency tasked with protecting Hoosier children.


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