By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. INGov Democrat field grows

Here are your hump day power lunch talking points: State Sen. Eddie Melton brings the potential Democratic gubernatorial field to three, joining State Rep. Karlee Macer and former state health commissioner Woody Myers. None of these potential contenders are beyond the exploratory mode, though Myers told Howey Politics Indiana  this morning, “We are moving forward. There’s a lot of work that has to be done prior to an announcement. We are looking for the right way to get this thing moving.” As Myers talked with HPI, he was in talks with his future campaign manager. He said a formal announcement will come in early July. “I’m glad others are interested,” Myers said. “The more attention this race starts to get, the better off we all are. I’m sure Eddie and Karlee will bring interesting ideas to the table.”

Melton announced his exploratory committee in Gary, appearing with local educators and citizens. “This announcement is not about me seeking a higher office,” Melton said. “This is a call to refocus on inclusive policies that reflect the voice of every Hoosier, not just a select few. This is about Indiana investing in a better future for ourselves and for our children.” Melton mentioned the teacher pay and shortage issues, along prioritizing public education. Pressed by the NWI Times, Melton would not commit to a actual campaign. He and Macer face a choice: Both would be up for reelection in 2020 and would have to give up their seats. Democrats hold only 42 of the 150 General Assembly seats. Melton’s Gary seat is solidly Democrat, but a Macer open seat would be contested by the GOP. 

2. Holcomb’s Fair Oaks dilemma

Video of what has been described as animal abuse surfaced for Fair Oaks Farms in Jasper County. WSBT-TV reported the video, from the Animal Recovery Mission, shows several cows on the farm being beaten and abused  and living in dangerous conditions. Owner Mike McCloskey tweeted, “This morning I was made aware of an animal abuse video that the group Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) produced and has released to the public and the press. Most of the footage for this video was captured on one of the dairies that belongs to Fair Oaks Farms. While we were made aware a couple months ago of the fact that ARM had gone undercover at Fair Oaks Farms, and had proactively made a statement, we had no idea what kind of footage had been captured or what – if any – abuse had occurred.” This could pose a dilemma for Gov. Eric Holcomb, who lauded Mike and Sue McCloskey during his State of the State address last January. “Over the past 50 years, Mike and Sue McCloskey went from running small dairies in California to bigger dairies in New Mexico,” Holcomb said. “When they wanted to expand their business, they chose Indiana because our prime location enabled them to reach the most customers. Today, Fair Oaks has 30,000 cows and is recognized as the sustainability leader in the U.S. dairy industry.”

3. Warren town hall tonight in Fort Wayne 

Pete Buttigieg is the only Hoosier running for president, but other Democratic contenders are making a play for votes here. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren holds and MSNBC town hall at Fort Wayne at 8 tonight, the first such event we can recall. It comes after she stumps in Elkhart. U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell hosted a town hall in Columbus last month. Buttigieg has established cred as a national candidate, but he has yet to draw an endorsement from any Hoosier Democrats.

4. Rep. Sherman joins the House

Dollyne Sherman, a former aide to Govs. Robert Orr and Mitch Daniels, as well as Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, was elected via caucus to the vacant HD93 Tuesday evening. She topped six other candidates to replace State Rep. David Frizzell. “I know who to go to when I need something done," Sherman told Indiana Public Media. "So, I can hit the ground running and there won’t be a learning curve in that area.” One of her top issues will be monitoring completion of the final section of Interstate 69, which will cut through her district on the south side of Indianapolis.I

5. Sen. Merritt evolves on gay rights

Republican Indianapolis mayoral nominee Jim Merritt intends to march in the Indy Gay Pride parade as a private citizen after he was disinvited as a candidate. Organizers cite past Indiana Senate votes as the reason. Merritt explained, “My opinions have progressed and theirs can as well. I own every vote that I have made in the legislature but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t learned along the way and that I would make the same votes today.  As mayor of Indianapolis my constituency would be different than it has been in my Senate district. I will represent all citizens of Indianapolis. My campaign has spoken with Indy Pride, Inc. today and Indy Pride, Inc. clarified that my original plans of walking as a private citizen, not as a candidate for mayor, in the parade on Saturday is acceptable. I support LGBTQ+ rights. I voted for the hate crimes legislation this year."

Have a great day, folks, and thanks for reading. It’s The Atomic!