By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS - Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., figured his first U.S. Senate run statewide would be a grind. But after spending much of the fall criscrossing the prairies, he’s infatuated with his beautiful state.

“I’m traveling a lot, two days a week,” McDermott told HPI Wednesday. He and three staffers, along with campaign manager Kevin Smith are concentrating on the 500 signatures from each congressional district needed for ballot qualification.

“I’m having a blast, people are great,” McDermott said. “I get to stay in Fort Wayne and New Albany. I really thought it was going to be a grind but it’s been wonderful. Obviously everyone wants you to be everywhere. We’re really focused on getting 500 signatures in each district. Obviously it’s a challenge in some districts.”

McDermott expects to post around $100,000 in his fourth quarter FEC report, but says he has already scheduled 20 fundraisers for January, when he expects that portion of the campaign will pick up steam.

As for issues, McDermott says that the potential for the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade next summer could be a huge break for his campaign.

“I know many women are concerned about Roe v. Wade,” he said. “I think we know what happens when Roe is overturned, Todd Young has got a lot of explaining to do. Some women are going to love him for that and others are going be angry.”

He said that if the Supreme Court announces a repeal of Roe next June, “that could energize my campaign.”

As for the recently passed infrastructure deal, McDermott said that Young will have to explain to Hoosiers why he turned down some $9 billion Congress has passed with the American Rescue Plan, the CARES Act and the infastructure deal. “I talk about how Todd Young voted against $9 billion,” McDermott said. “If Indiana doesn’t take that money, Ohio and Kentucky will.”

“People are sick of Washington,” McDermott added.  “You don’t hear people being sick of Hammond. We’ve given him 12 years to fix these problems.”

General Assembly

SD4: Former Michigan City mayor to run

Former two-term Mayor Ron Meer is making a political comeback after narrowly losing his 2019 reelection bid amid an onslaught of legal issues (Carden, NWI Times). Meer announced Thursday on Facebook he’s running next year in the May 3 Democratic primary election for Indiana Senate District 4, which includes the northern third of Porter County and the northwestern corner of LaPorte County. To advance to the Nov. 8 general election, Meer will have to defeat, perhaps among others, state Sen. Rodney Pol Jr., D-Chesterton, who was selected Oct. 21 by the district’s Democratic precinct committee leaders to complete the year remaining in the term of retired state Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes. Meer is focusing his nascent Senate campaign on his experience in local government, particularly the eight years he led LaPorte County’s most populous city.

HD87: Davis to run

Jordan A. Davis, a long-time resident of Indianapolis and graduate of Lawrence North High School, today announced his candidacy for HD 87, which covers the northeast side of Indianapolis. “No matter where life has taken me, I have always maintained my close connections to my Castleton neighborhood, even when studying abroad and at the Vincennes University Aviation Technology Center,” said Davis. “My ongoing ties to this community give me insight into the issues facing my fellow citizens. My plan is to listen to their needs, be their voice in the legislature, and help create innovative, long-term opportunities that improve their ways of life.” Davis has made it his life’s goal to assist those in need, whether they be the underprivileged and underserved youth of Chicago or families right here in the neighborhoods of Indianapolis. “As a moderate, right-leaning conservative, my beliefs align with the voters of District 87. I believe parents have the right to be involved in education. I believe gun rights need to be protected. I believe in funding nand modernizing law enforcement. And I believe that everyone should be treated equally and withnrespect,” Davis said.

GOP eyes school board races

In the wake of contentious school board meetings throughout Indiana over critical race theory, leading Republican lawmakers said they will propose allowing parents to have more of a say in what their children are taught in schools (Terbush, Chalkbeat). Critical race theory has migrated from a little-known academic framework, which examines how policies and the law perpetuate systemic racism, into a political touchstone for Republicans nationwide. It has animated debate about how schools teach about the role of race in this country. Indiana Republicans are drafting multiple education bills for the 2022 legislative session in response to these controversies, without mentioning critical race theory by name. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and several lawmakers from both sides of the aisle said at a legislative conference Wednesday that they do not believe critical race theory, or CRT, is being taught in Indiana’s K-12 schools. “CRT is not part of our state standards,” Holcomb said. “If critical race theory is being taught in the classroom in our K-12 system, it’s counter to the standards, and the local school and parents need to hold those folks who are responsible accountable.” Still, House education leader Bob Behning said the next legislative session will include a bill inspired by the critical race theory controversy that focuses on “transparency.”

GOP polling on partisan school elections

One of the questions on State Rep. Bob Heaton’s constituent survey asks: “Would you support legislation that would restrict educators from advancing their political beliefs in the classroom and ensure ideological neutrality in Hoosier schools?” Another question on Heaton’s survey asks if constituents would support “greater election transparency by requiring candidates for these [school board] positions to declare their party affiliation?” School board elections in Indiana are non-partisan, or nonpolitical. A survey by State Rep. Alan Morrison, R-Brazil, asks the same question, and a survey by State Sen. Jon Ford, R-Terre Haute, has a similar one. Meanwhile, Todd Huston, Republican speaker of the Indiana House, recently stated that Republicans will be introducing a bill “ensuring that parents have more insight and input into the curricular materials and surveys being used in their schools.” Also, it’s anticipated the Indiana General Assembly will “seriously consider legislation to make local school board elections partisan in its 2022 session,” according to a late October edition of School Matters by Steve Hinnefeld.

Senators seek Indy crime solutions

Elected officials are set to release their plan to help lower violent crime in Marion County. Republican state senators plan to meet at the Indiana Statehouse at 2 p.m. Thursday to discuss their plan. In 2019, Indianapolis saw 172 homicides. In 2020, that number jumped to 245. At last check, IMPD reports that Indianapolis sits at 253 homicides for 2021.The five state Senators outlining their details in a bill for the 2022 legislative session are Michael Crider (R-Greenfield), Aaron Freeman (R-Indianapolis), Jack E. Sandlin (R-Indianapolis), Kyle Walker (R-Lawrence), and R. Michael Young (R-Indianapolis).

Statewides

Lucas elected GOP vice chair


Former Congressional staffer and longtime Republican supporter & volunteer Erin Lucas was elected Vice Chair of the Indiana Republican Party Wednesday during a meeting of the Indiana Republican State Committee. “Erin is perfectly suited to serve as Vice Chair. I’m thrilled she stepped up to lead and am grateful the state committee unanimously elected her,” said State Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer.  Erin is a mother of one, with her second on the way. She and her husband Tyler live in South Bend. Lucas served for nearly 10 years in various capacities on the staff of Congressman Larry Bucshon. She will fill the remainder of Secretary of State Holli Sullivan’s term.

Nation

Trump says Pence wounded by Jan. 6

Former President Trump said this weekend that former Vice President Mike Pence has been “mortally wounded” by allowing the congressional certification of the 2020 election results. “I was disappointed in one thing, but it was a big thing,” Trump said during a ticketed event in Sunrise, Fla., on Saturday, according to CNN. “Mike should have sent those crooked votes back to the legislatures and you would have had a different result in the election, in my opinion,” the former president told the audience at the stop on Bill O’Reilly’s “History Tour.”  “I think Mike has been very badly hurt by what took place in respect to January 6. I think he’s been mortally wounded, frankly, because I see the reaction he’s getting from people,” Trump added, per CNN.

Many empty seats at Trump/O’Reilly rally

There were so many empty seats at Billy O’Reilly and Donald Trump’s Florida event on Saturday that organizers had to shut down the upper level of the arena in Sunrise, Florida, the Sun Sentinel reported. Trump fans sitting in the nosebleed section of the FLA Live Arena were told that they were being “upgraded” to the lower levels, according to the newspaper. 

70% of Republicans want Trump to run

Three years out from the next presidential election, voters of each party are largely sticking by their 2020 men, at least for now, our latest POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows. On the Republican side, seven in 10 voters think Trump should probably or definitely run again. That’s compared to a less-than-commanding 63% of Democrats who think the 79-year-old Biden should seek reelection. Bad news for both men: A majority of independent voters are hoping neither runs, with 59% saying no to Trump and 67% saying Biden shouldn’t seek a second term. If Biden steps aside, his second-in-command would have a plurality of Democratic support, according to the poll. Thirty-one percent of Democratic voters said they would back VP Kamala Harris, while 11% would support Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Sen. Warren and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) both pick up 8% of support. 

68% disapprove of Biden on inflation

President Joe Biden is facing significant skepticism from the American public, with his job approval rating lagging across a range of major issues, including new lows for his handling of crime, gun violence and the economic recovery, a new ABC/Ipsos poll finds. More than two-thirds of Americans (69%) disapprove of how Biden is handling inflation (only 28% approve) while more than half (57%) disapprove of his handling of the economic recovery.

AP finds just 475 vote fraud cases

An AP review of every potential case of voter fraud in the six battleground states disputed by former President Donald Trump has found fewer than 475, a number that would have made no difference in the 2020 presidential election (AP). Democrat Joe Biden won Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and their 79 Electoral College votes by a combined 311,257 votes out of 25.5 million ballots cast for president. The disputed ballots represent just 0.15% of his victory margin.