By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS  – Republican majority legislators have scheduled a series of public meetings across the state on Aug. 6-7 in each of Indiana’s nine congressional districts. House Democratic Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta said that additional hearings should be scheduled after the actual maps are drawn.

Legislators are expected to return to the Statehouse in mid-to-late September to redraw the district boundaries. The meetings will be grouped into geographic areas, including north, south and central. The northern group meetings will be in Lafayette and Valparaiso on Friday, Aug. 6, and in Fort Wayne and Elkhart on Saturday, Aug. 7. In addition, the southern group will host meetings in Anderson and Columbus on Friday, Aug. 6, and Evansville and Sellersburg on Saturday, Aug. 7. The central meeting will held in Indianapolis on Wednesday, Aug. 11.

State Rep. Tim Wesco (R-Osceola), chair of the House Committee on Elections and Apportionment, will chair the redistricting meetings in the north, and State Sen. Jon Ford (R-Terre Haute), chair of the Senate Committee on Elections, will chair the meetings in the south. Wesco and Ford are expected to co-chair the central Indiana meeting. “We look forward to hosting these important meetings across the state to hear directly from the public on Indiana’s redistricting process,” Wesco said. “Hoosiers can be confident that we’ll continue to meet all of our statutory and constitutional requirements.” 

“Public input on redistricting is extremely important to the map-drawing process,” Ford said. “We look forward to hearing from Hoosiers from all over Indiana during these meetings.” Campus meeting room information will be updated as it’s available on the Indiana General Assembly’s website at iga.in.gov. Meetings will be livestreamed and archived at iga.in.gov.

GiaQuinta said in a letter to House Speaker Todd Huston and Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray that more hearings should be scheduled following the release of preliminary maps. “The public will be commenting on abstract concepts rather than detailed proposals,” GiaQuinta wrote.  

Indiana Democratic Chairman Mike Schmuhl reacted to the General Assembly redistricting hearings, saying,  “Over the last decade, Hoosiers have witnessed ‘right to work’ laws create a ‘work more for less’ economy, manufactured culture wars like RFRA unfairly attack our friends and family members, and a system that has gutted public school funding and diminished our children’s future – all tracing back to gerrymandered district maps drawn by the Indiana Republican Party. Hoosiers need balance to be restored. 

“The Indiana Republican supermajority will no doubt be tempted to continue to rig the system against Hoosiers who simply want to choose their representatives in free, fair, and competitive elections,” Schmuhl continued. “Indiana Democrats are ready to take this vital democratic debate across the state and demand that Republicans value and respect all Hoosier voices – not just elected Republican officeholders and operatives behind closed doors. Our state cannot go through another decade with this imbalance in our government. We will hold them accountable now  and in future electoral cycles ... we will never stop fighting for a better Indiana.”

Donnelly makes jobs pitch in Anderson

About 50 local Democrats and interested residents gathered to hear former U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly push for passage of the American Jobs Plan (de la Bastide, Anderson Herald Bulletin). The American Jobs Plan has been proposed by President Joe Biden to spend $2.7 trillion on improving infrastructure throughout the country and creating millions of good jobs. “What’s so interesting about it is, every dollar is paid for,” Donnelly said of the Biden proposal. “It’s not going to add to the federal deficit at all, but what it does do is bring investments to Anderson and Muncie and the people here.” Donnelly said that a few years ago, a multitrillion-dollar tax cut was passed that gave our money away and wasn’t paid for. “It’s rebuilding Indiana, and people will be able to continue to go back to work,” he said in a field near the new downtown Transit Center. “We lost millions of jobs during the pandemic and just last month saw a million jobs come back.”

Governor

Doden begins his 92-county tour

Indiana’s only declared candidate in the 2024 governor’s race begins his 92 county listening tour today, but not before sitting down with WANE 15. Eric Doden sent a message to potential Republican candidates with his first report to the Indiana Election Division. He raised nearly $1 million to signal this race will likely be expensive and he will be able to compete in any ad war across Indiana’s multiple TV markets. But will voters respond to his message? Doden does not like mandates from the state. “I don’t really think government should be mandating things,” he starts. “I think government’s role is to educate.” He says he would not have imposed a statewide mask mandate to curb COVID-19 but would have allowed cities and counties to require Hoosiers to mask up if they determined a local need. “I think a lot of what should happen is between you and your health provider – even in terms of vaccination. I know I certainly asked my health provider, ‘should I be vaccinated?’ They had a very strong opinion that, given the fact that I had already had some immunity to COVID, that I should not. They may change their mind but that’s between me and my health provider.” He’s running, he says, to help Indiana’s smaller towns with their distressed properties. “We have about 80 cities that are between 2,500 and 30,000 (people). And in a lot of those cities, and we’ve started studying this, about 80% of their core historic assets are in distress.”
INGOP diversity class graduates

Over 300 friends and supporters of the Indiana Republican Party celebrated the graduation of the inaugural cohort of the Indiana Republican Party Diversity Leadership Series last Friday. Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Gov. Eric Holcomb, and Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer spoke during the luncheon.

“Things like this just don’t happen,” McDaniel said. “This is intentional. This is a partnership of Gov. Holcomb, Chairman Hupfer, and everyone in this room. Expanding coalitions and growing our party has been a passion of mine since I became chair of the RNC. Not just to win votes, but to build authentic relationships and share our message with all communities.”

Holcomb said, “We grow opportunity in Indiana. The future of our state is in this room. That future is in sharing our Republican message with communities that haven’t always heard from us.”

Chairman Kyle Hupfer added, “Our hope is this is really a beginning. We share a message of unity, inclusion and opportunity.”

The class of 15 graduates represents a wide range of backgrounds and communities across Indiana. The class includes members of law enforcement, military veterans, faith leaders, entrepreneurs and leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

Presidential

Harris flagging in polls

Vice President Harris has some ground to make up in order to be perceived more favorably by the public, a complicating factor for the Biden administration as it maps out its midterm strategy (The Hill). Six months into office, polls indicate Harris is viewed less favorably than President Biden. Vice presidents historically do not outperform the leader at the top of the ticket. But her lower ratings haven’t gone unnoticed. In a trio of recent surveys, Harris earned a combined unfavorable rating of 46 percent, according to an aggregate average compiled by RealClearPolitics. That number is 3 points below Biden’s 43 percent in the same category.