By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS – Unlike every cycle in modern Indiana election history, the attorney general race is generating more late money flow than the race for governor. Since Democrat Jonathan Weinzapfel and Republican Todd Rokita secured their party attorney general nominations, about a half million dollars has been spilling into this race, with Rokita holding about a 4-to-1 advantage.

Democrats and unions appear to be investing in Weinzapfel as opposed to gubernatorial nominee Woody Myers. His campaign has not reported any supplemental donations since mid-July. While the campaign told Howey Politics Indiana it was spending on its digital campaign, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported that the Myers campaign has spent $750 on Facebook.

Rokita received $405,000 from the Republican Attorney General Action Fund between July 13 and Aug. 27, when $250,000 was reported. In addition, Rokita has posted $59,500 from nine donors, the biggest $15,000 from the Fund for American Exceptionalism. Giving $10,000 each were Robert Koch, Pike Plaza Properties, Kelley Automotive Group, Anthony Alderson, and Dr. Anil Diwan.

Weinzapfel received $30,000 from the Indiana State Teachers Association’s IPACE on Sept. 8, after the teachers’ PAC declined to endorse or invest in the Myers campaign earlier this summer. The Democrat received $45,116 in in-kind voter communications from the Democratic Attorney General Association between July 29 and Sept. 1.

The Democrat received $50,000 from the Indiana Laborers District Council PAC, $25,000 from the Boilermakers Local 374, $10,000 from the IBEW PAC Voluntary Fund, $10,000 from DRIVE Committee and $10,000 from Alice Schloss.

The Eric Holcomb for Indiana Committee reported $593,814 since July 27. That includes $100,000 from the Republican Governors Association Right Direction PAC; $50,000 from both Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath and Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon; $20,000 from both Bruce Leetz and Kelley Automotive Group of Fort Wayne; $25,000 from the NE Indiana PAC for Better Government; and $10,000 from both the Marathon Petroleum Corp Employees and the General Motors PAC.

 In addition, Holcomb received $178,278 from Team Holcomb JFC (Joint Fundraising Committee), and $130,536 from Team Holcomb PAC. The former raises funds under state regulations; the latter under federal guidelines.

The Libertarian nominee, Donald Rainwater, posted $10,819 in contributions in his mid-year report, had $4,574 in expenditures, and had $6,245 cash on hand. He has reported no supplemental donations since his mid-year report.

A poll posted by IndyPolitics had Holcomb leading Myers 36-30%, with Rainwater drawing 24%. There is little evidence that this is a credible poll. However, a Republicans for Rainwater Facebook page reveals 8,237 members as of Tuesday afternoon.

The Facebook page explains: “This group is for Hoosier Republicans to engage and coordinate to elect Donald Rainwater as Governor of Indiana. We know that RINO Eric Holcomb needs to go! He has proven over and over again that he is not a Conservative, and he certainly doesn’t care about the Constitution! Republicans have resisted voting for a Libertarian due to a fear of “splitting the vote.” Not this year! Republicans UNITE to vote in a real conservative – Donald Rainwater! This November, let’s make sure that The Donald stays in the White House and another Donald takes up the Indiana Gubernatorial Seat!!! RINO REMOVER REPUBLICANS VOTE RAINWATER!”

Holcomb begins new ad

Gov. Holcomb’s reelection campaign began a new TV ad this week, emphasizing more than $50 million spent on broadband expansion with Next Level funding. “Connecting communities, connecting people,” Holcomb says in the ad’s voiceover. It is part of the “seven figure” buy the Holcomb campaign described to HPI last week. 

Biden endorses Myers

 Myers received the endorsement of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Wednesday. “Throughout his career, Dr. Woody Myers has fought to expand access to high-quality, affordable health care for all Hoosiers,” Biden said. “Dr. Myers has served under both Democratic and Republican administrations to make life better for working families. I am proud to endorse Dr. Myers and look forward to working with him to continue the fight to expand access to health care, improve Indiana’s public schools, and create good paying jobs for all Hoosiers.” Myers reacted, saying, “President Trump has failed America and Joe Biden is the only option to restore economic prosperity and put each Hoosier on a path to wellness. Linda Lawson and I look forward to working with him to get out the vote in Indiana to elect Democrats up and down the ballot.”
Horse Race Status: Safe Holcomb.  

Statewides


Attorney General: McCormick endorses Weinzapfel

The Republican state schools chief is crossing party lines to endorse the Democratic candidate for Indiana attorney general (Carden, NWI Times). Supt. Jennifer McCormick, announced Thursday she’s backing former Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel over Republican former U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, a Munster native, in the Nov. 3 election for attorney general. “This isn’t about politics,” McCormick said. “This is about who has the experience, the integrity and the vision to best represent all Hoosiers, especially our children. Jonathan has a well-earned reputation for bipartisan problem solving, for listening and for making a real difference in every job he’s had. That’s why I am supporting him and that’s why I am calling all Republicans to join me in supporting him.”

State Police Alliance endorses Rokita

The bipartisan Indiana State Police Alliance, representing Indiana’s state troopers, today officially endorsed Todd Rokita for attorney general. “We are honored to bring forward an endorsement of Todd Rokita for Indiana’s attorney general,” stated Cory Martin, executive director of the Indiana State Police Alliance, “Mr. Rokita stands to protect Hoosiers from crime, fight lawlessness in our streets, and uphold our constitutional rights.  It is because of his tremendous support and dedication that our board of directors unanimously voted to endorse Mr. Rokita.” Horse Race Status: Leans Rokita.
 
Congress


5th CD: New Spartz ad on health care

After a week of the Women Voter PAC running ads portraying Republican Victoria Spartz as in the thrall of health care lobbyists, and the Christina Hale campaign airing TV ads on her work on the topic in the Indiana General Assembly, the Republican campaign began airing its second ad titled “All of Us” to the Indianapolis media market on Wednesday.

“Growing up in a socialist country, I have experienced the failings of government controlled healthcare first hand,” Spartz says in the ad. “My father died at 41. As a small business owner, I understand what it’s like to struggle to find affordable health insurance. That’s why I worked to reduce health care costs and Governor Holcomb and I guaranteed protections for Hoosiers with preexisting conditions.”
 
Campaign manager Catherine Seat explained, “Victoria Spartz knows that quality health care is a personal for all of us. In the State Senate, that’s why she worked with Governor Holcomb to protect Hoosiers with pre-existing conditions, and worked on reforms to increase transparency, stop surprise billing and lower health care costs. Christina Hale is just another phony politician peddling empty promises. Hale supported policies that caused healthcare prices to skyrocket and created bigger health care monopolies. In Congress, she will mindlessly push the button for Pelosi’s complete government healthcare takeover,” Seat added. This ad is again part of a buy on Indianapolis broadcast and digital platforms.

Campaigns spar over TV ads


The Victoria Spartz for Congress campaign released a “fact check” responding to Hale’s new “deceptive” ads: “FACT 1: Christina Hale has voted against hundreds of millions in increased funding for K-12 education; in April of 2013, Hale voted against a two-year state budget that included $190 million for K-12 education. In April 2015, Hale voted against a two-year state budget that increased K-12 funding by about $460 million, including $7.5 million more per year to the Department of Child Services to add more than 100 child welfare workers. FACT 2: Hale voted to protect child predators in Indiana schools and voted against harsher punishments for sex offenders. In March 2016, Hale voted against a Pence-signed bill that strengthened background checks for teachers. House Bill 1005 requires schools to check child welfare records to determine if a teaching applicant has a verified case of child abuse or neglect against them. In March 2014, Hale was one of only 10 house members who voted against a Pence-signed criminal justice reform bill that strengthened punishments for sex offenders. FACT 3: Hale voted against millions in school safety grants that help keep Indiana schools safe. In 2013, Hale voted against a Pence-signed state budget that created a $20 million program to provide secured school safety grants.”
 
Hale campaign reacts

Hale’s campaign reacted to the Spartz campaign’s “fact check.” Campaign manager Joann Saridakis told HPI, “Once again, the Spartz campaign is trying to distort Christina’s record and mislead voters. Here’s the truth: Christina has dedicated her life to fighting for and empowering children, both here in Indiana and across the world. In the General Assembly, she fought hard to provide more funding to public schools and passed bipartisan legislation to protect children from exploitation and sexual assault. Meanwhile, Victoria Spartz authored legislation to deregulate schools and remove teacher training requirements for bullying and child abuse prevention. To make matters worse, she also opposed giving Medicaid reimbursements to Indiana’s schools, which would allow them to use federal funding to address mental health and substance abuse issues. And even after the tragic 2018 school shooting in Noblesville, Spartz voted against legislation that would prevent juveniles with felony records from purchasing firearms. When it comes to fighting for Indiana’s schools and children, the contrast between these two candidates could not be more clear.”

Spartz funded campaign with real estate

Spartz caught the attention of political observers this year when she contributed more than $1 million to her own congressional campaign. The big question: Where did that money come from? Before this year, Spartz had donated to other candidates and to her own state Senate campaign, but never in such large amounts (Erdody, IBJ). And although she has worked as an accountant in the past, she only claimed earned income of $71,000 from her work as a legislator last year, according to a financial disclosure form she filed as a candidate for the U.S. House. Instead, it appears clear from that disclosure form and other public records that Spartz and her husband, Jason Spartz, have largely made their money buying, selling, leasing and farming land. In fact, Spartz told IBJ she was able to fund her congressional campaign with money the couple made selling property in the past few years. Initially, they intended to use the money to buy or build a house. But that hasn’t happened, so she said she opted instead to invest in her campaign. State and local property records show that Victoria and Jason Spartz have, indeed, seen some successful real estate investments, most recently selling a property for $5.1 million in Noblesville for a commercial development. They bought the land for less than $1 million. Horse Race Status: Tossup.

1ST CD: Steelworkers denounce billboards


Billboards have started to spring up around Northwest Indiana from a group called “Steelworkers of NW Indiana” promoting the reelection of President Donald Trump and the election of 1st District Republican Congressional candidate Mark Leyva (Pete, NWI Times). The billboards read “Steelworkers of NW Indiana for Trump 2020 and Mark Leyva for U.S. Congress District 01 Indiana ... Paid for by Proud Union Steelworkers of NWI.” But the local United Steelworkers union is decrying the billboards, which were independently paid for by some of its members, as misleading. USW District 7 Director Mike Millsap said the union endorsed t Joe Biden for president and North Township Trustee Frank Mrvan for Congress. “Whoever is behind this absolutely did this to deceive the community, our membership and our retirees,” Millsap said. “We don’t endorse Trump or Leyva.” Horse Race Status: Safe Mrvan.

General Assembly


HD35: Wright begins TV ads

Democratic State Rep. Melanie Wright is up on the air with a TV ad this morning. “I work for rural communities,” Wright says in the ad. “I fight for our values, our communities and our people.” Wright is being challenged by Republican Yorktown School Trustee Elizabeth Rowray. Horse Race Status: Tossup.

HD37: McCormick endorses Cole

Democrat Aimee Rivera Cole, who is challenging House Speaker Todd Huston, was endorsed by Supt. Jennifer McCormick. “We need a champion for students at the Statehouse who will work in a bipartisanship manner and respect the educators’ voice,” McCormick said on Monday. “Aimee Rivera Cole is that person. She will reach across the aisle to pursue what is best for our kids and educators.” Cole said, “Both Dr. McCormick and I ran for office to fight for students and public education. So I am honored to receive this endorsement. Dr. McCormick has remained first and foremost an educator, earning the respect of many teachers.” Horse Race Status: Likely Huston.

Presidential 2020

Biden doesn’t trust Trump on vaccines

Joe Biden said Wednesday that while he trusts what scientists say about a potential coronavirus vaccine, he doesn’t trust President Donald Trump. Biden, speaking in Wilmington, Delaware, after being briefed by public health experts about a potential vaccine, cited Trump’s “incompetence and dishonesty” surrounding the distribution of personal protective equipment and coronavirus testing. The U.S. “can’t afford to repeat those fiascos when it comes to a vaccine,” he said. “I trust vaccines, I trust scientists, but I don’t trust Donald Trump,” Biden said, “and at this moment, the American people can’t, either.”

Trump fails on manufacturing promise

Four years after he won the Midwest by vowing to revitalize the U.S. manufacturing workforce, President Donald Trump is campaigning for reelection on a job well done. The numbers tell a different story (Politico). The president’s path to the Oval Office was paved by his victory in this factory-intense region, where a downturn in manufacturing that began in 2015 opened the door for him to appeal to demoralized blue-collar voters. But the White House’s trade wars kicked the sector into another slump in 2019, with Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Pennsylvania facing declines or plateaus in manufacturing employment even back in February, well before Covid-19 forced layoffs at dozens of plants. As of July, the most recent month for which data is available, each state is down between 20,000 and 40,000 workers from pre-pandemic levels.

Biden leads 5% in Fox News Poll


Joe Biden leads President Trump by 5 percentage points among likely voters in a national Fox News poll released Sunday. Biden has a 51% to 46% percent advantage in the survey, Fox News’s first since the party conventions this summer and its first to question likely voters. 

Biden leads in CBS AZ, MN polls

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden gained a small lead over President Trump in the battleground state of Arizona and holds a larger 9-point lead in Minnesota, according to a new poll. Biden is backed by 47% of likely voters in Arizona, compared with Trump’s 44%, according to a CBS News poll released Sunday. Biden’s 3-point lead is within the poll’s margin of error. In Minnesota, a state Trump narrowly lost in 2016, Biden is backed by 50% of likely voters.. The survey found 41% of likely voters said they would vote for Trump.