FRENCH LICK – Steve Braun is back on the congressional stage, this time in the 5th CD where he actually lives. The former legislator and brother of U.S. Sen. Mike Braun ran in the neighboring 4th CD in 2018, was considered a favorite with a significant money advantage as a self-funder, but was upset by State Rep. Jim Baird.

Braun filed his FEC paperwork this week, joining Republican Micah Beckwith in the race, though Indiana Treasurer Kelly Mitchell, businessman Terry Henderson, former senator Mike Delph and State Sen. John Ruckelshaus are currently weighing bids.

Braun raised $1,241,320 for his 2018 race, which included an $830,000 loan from himself. But the frontrunner made two mistakes. His campaign sent out the “arm and a leg” direct mail piece that was controversial because Baird had lost an arm while fighting in the Vietnam War. He also underestimated Baird’s support in the 4th CD farm community, which the farmer quietly worked.

Baird had less than half the funds Braun did – $564,244, of which $250,000 came from a loan from himself – but used a grassroots campaign to clip Braun by a little under 6,000 votes, or by 36.6% to 29.5%.

Beckwith kicked off his campaign on Aug. 15. “By God’s grace, America is still the shining city on a hill,” Beckwith said at his kickoff rally in Noblesville. “But let us not become complacent, let us not fall asleep. For the future of liberty and the future of American values rest solely in our hands to protect, to preserve and to pass on to our children and our children’s children. We come together to unite around a common cause. A cause that is just and noble. A cause that demands good men and women rise up. We come together to unite around Freedom. I am ready to boldly stand for those freedoms that you and your family hold dear. I am Micah Beckwith and I am running for Congress!”

In a Good Citizen Podcast, Beckwith talked about being a Millennial pastor. The Hillsdale, Mich., native said he studied constitutional issues at Hillsdale College as well as Huntington University. He grew up in an evangelical family and played in a Christian rock band. “They were very, very intent on the church and morality being the center of our nation,” Beckwith said of the constitutional framers. He said supporters have been telling him, “The Lord is opening a door in public life for you.”

On the Democratic side, 2018 nominee Dee Thornton, Jennifer Christie, former legislator Christina Hale and Andrew Jacobs III, son of the late Rep. Andrew Jacobs Jr., have all filed. 

Christie filed in June. “It’s time for new leadership and it’s time for a change,” Christie said. “We’re in it for the issues. There are issues we must deal with now,” mentioning climate change and health care. 

This past week, Christie reacted to the wildfires devouring the Amazon forests in Brazil. “My husband and I spent years traveling throughout the Amazon region. The richness of the Amazon is profound in every way; the Earth is precious and unique,” she posted on Facebook. “The abundant diversity that has evolved over billions of years is burning before our eyes. Once gone, it can never be replaced. I cannot think of anything sadder than a species that would destroy themselves and the entire world for greed. That is us burning.”

Thornton was at the IDEA convention in French Lick over the weekend and told HPI, “We kicked off our campaign in July, we had a great turnout and we’re organizing and mobilizing and getting read.” She noted that her 2018 campaign didn’t kick off until January of that year. “After the primary we only had about five or six months to get ready, so we’re starting early this time.”

She raised only about $75,000 in her campaign against Rep. Susan Brooks while drawing 44% of the vote, but said it is a “daily activity” this cycle. “I feel real good about it in terms of where we are this year.” She did not say how much she has raised.

Is the 5th a purple district? “I have lived in Hamilton County for 28 years and I’ve seen drastic change. It’s happening throughout the 5th District. It’s absolutely winnable. My campaign demonstrates a Democrat can get traction. But at the end of the day, it’s about voter turnout. We have to make sure that women vote.” 


Myers recalls the Ryan White saga

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Woody Myers recalled his role in the Ryan White case when he was Indiana health commissioner under Gov. Robert Orr. In an email to supporters, Myers explained, “Courage. It’s a trait every leader must have and is what I saw in a boy I had the privilege to know when I was Indiana State Health Commissioner. His story is still relevant today and helped shape the man and leader I am.” He recalled how White was diagnosed as HIV positive after a blood transfusion. After his illness became public, the Western School Corporation in Howard County sought to keep him from attending class after 117 parents and 50 teachers signed a petition. Myers was asked to weigh in. 

“My answer was ‘yes,’” Myers explained. “I spoke with the local county health officer at the time, a physician, who knew our public health assessment that Ryan was not a threat to his classmates or teachers was correct. But he told me he did not want to go against those whose fear overshadowed science and some of the families opposed were his patients, so he would not approve.” Myers continued: “We did not play politics, rather at the State Board of Health we embraced Ryan, physically and publicly, and we used all avenues of communication to make sure everyone who would listen to the evidence knew that Ryan White was not the threat. The real threat was ignorance, and it was fear.” 

He said when mother Jeanne White moved the family to a neighboring county, “Our team educated the teachers, the parents, and the public. Ryan’s new school system did the right thing; they welcomed welcome him with open arms.” Ryan White died of his disease on April 8, 1990. “Later this month, exactly 22 years after Ryan was accepted and supported by Hamilton Heights High School, a commemorative historical marker will be dedicated in Arcadia, Indiana, a ceremony Jeanne White and I will attend,” Myers said. “What I knew then and still believe today is that so many of our public health problems, problems with education, and with helping families that struggle could be solved if we had leaders with the courage to speak out, speak truth to power, run for political office, and serve the public instead of the political extremes.”

Holcomb reacts to lower test scores

Gov. Eric Holcomb reacted to the low test scores on the first ILearn testing regime that replaced ISTEP. Supt. Jennifer McCormick has indicated the test scores will be much lower than ISTEP.  “The results of the 2018-19 ILearn proficiency test are scheduled to be released next week. The results will show a decrease compared to the previously administered ISTEP+ test,” Holcomb said. “Since this is the first year of the ILearn assessment, I will ask Superintendent McCormick to support my request that the General Assembly take action to hold schools harmless so the test scores do not have an adverse impact on teacher evaluations and schools’ letter grades for the 2018-19 school year. This action will ease the transition to ILearn, which is a student assessment that allows Indiana to comply with federal ESSA requirements.” Holcomb added, “I appreciate the dedicated work of Hoosier educators. Bringing consistency and continuity to how we measure student progress and preparing students for post-secondary success is a shared and important goal.”


Sen. Tallian to run for AG

State Sen. Karen Tallian said Wednesday she will seek the Democratic attorney general nomination. “Curtis Hill has not been an advocate for Indiana citizens, and he has not brought integrity and reason to this office,” Tallian said. “While I have been proud to serve in the State Senate, a decade of Republican supermajority across three branches of government has made Indiana a state of extreme politics.” The attorney general has faced sexual harassment allegations, has ignored Gov. Eric Holcomb’s call that he resign, and faces a Supreme Court ethics review. Republican Zionsville attorney John Westercamp announced he will challenge Hill in the June 2020 GOP convention, and former congressman Todd Rokita is exploring a potential challenge. Tallian mounted a brief campaign for governor in 2015.


2nd CD: Hackett to launch campaign

Notre Dame adjunct law professor Pat Hackett is holding her formal campaign launch on her candidacy for the Democratic against Rep. Jackie Walorski. The event will take place Wednesday evening, August 28th at 6pm at the South Bend Civic Theatre. The event is free and the public is encouraged to attend. “I am running to reclaim the people’s voice in Congress and to help restore this nation’s core commitment to dignity and justice for all, not the few. This district deserves an actual representative whose purpose is to serve the constituents and not outside financial special interests. I look forward to engaging voters throughout the district and addressing the many serious concerns they have on issues such as our economy, health care, the corrupting influence of money in politics, climate change, gun violence prevention, immigration reform, and more. I am honored by the tremendous early support for our grassroots campaign and encourage people to join us and help restore real representation to the people of this district.” 


Fort Wayne: Firefighters endorse Smith

The Fort Wayne Professional Firefighters, IAFF Local 124 Political Action Committee will on Thursday endorse Republican Tim Smith in the upcoming mayoral election (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). It’s the first time the union PAC has endorsed a mayoral candidate in 16 years. “As we have gotten to know Tim Smith over the course of this past year, we have come to appreciate his openness and honesty,” the PAC said in a news release. “We look forward to the opportunity to work with and for him in the near future.” Specifically, the union PAC believes Smith “will be a visionary for public safety, the community” and will be an effective city leader.

Merritt calls for ‘holistic’ infrastructure

Republican Indianapolis mayoral nominee Jim Merritt called for a “holistic” approach to infrastructure. “It’s August and there are still hundreds of unfilled potholes throughout our neighborhoods,” Merritt said. “You see work that is being done, like the Red Line; however, it has been poorly planned and is choking traffic and frustrating our drivers. You see bridges that have been closed for months or years. You see road building, not road maintenance. All of these things demonstrate that our infrastructure is deteriorating, not improving.” According to Merritt, the reason for these problems is that the mayor is more concerned with short-term political gain than long-term care for our city. “Mayor Hogsett has failed in managing our streets. He has failed in communication, both to our citizens and to stakeholders. He has failed in managing repairs and maintenance to protect and improve our roads. He has simply failed in leadership,” Merritt said. Merritt proposed a “holistic approach” to addressing these problems that includes three key components, transparency, sustainable funding, and long-term strategy.