By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS – Hoosier Democrats predict that General Assembly Republicans will move to create partisan school board elections during the upcoming 2022 session.

“A couple years ago, they changed that position from an elected office to appointed,” Indiana Democratic Chairman Mike Schmuhl told Howey Politics Indiana on Tuesday, of taking the superintendent of public instruction and making it a gubernatorial cabinet office. “The reason was to take politics out of education. Now just a few years later, they’re saying they want to make local elections partisan. That’s just illogical. A few years ago, Mitch Daniels (advocated) that school board elections should be just general elections. It keeps primaries out of the process. Education should not be super political. It’s just another manufactured reaction.”

Schmuhl joined former Republican superintendent Jennifer McCormick in opposing the concept. Speaking on WISH-TV “All Indiana Politics” on Sunday, she said, “It’s very much of an organized effort that’s coming from outside of Indiana to cause disruption with critical race theory or social and emotional learning skills and curriculum tied to that. It’s very purposeful, and it goes back to an anti-public education push that again is coming outside of Indiana. It’s causing a lot of disruption.” 

McCormick added, “It does not do anyone any good, including our students, to have a bunch of disruption at a school board. Families who are discouraged or frustrated with their school board and their leaders, there’s an appropriate way to handle that, and it’s not certainly showing up at school boards and threatening people or yelling at people and being disruptive. That is not serving anyone well.” 

U.S. Senate


McDermott says no to hiring Chicago cops

Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. is a Democrat and unreservedly proud of the Hammond Police Department, as well as an unabashed supporter of law enforcement in general. But the five-term leader of Lake County’s most populous city has no interest in hiring cops who willfully ignore lawful, direct orders, or deliberately undermine the chain-of-command (Carden, NWI Times). On Friday, McDermott blasted U.S. Sen. Mike Braun for offering to help Chicago police officers who lose their jobs for refusing to comply with the city’s employee COVID-19 vaccination mandate find new positions at Indiana law enforcement agencies. “This mayor is not interested in the head cases from Chicago coming to the Hammond Police Department,” McDermott said on his “Left of Center” podcast. “(Officers) willing to throw their career away over a political issue? I just don’t want that. The number one killer of police officers across the country right now is COVID-19.” McDermott admitted he is no fan of Lightfoot. He said her political career is “toast,” said “she’s not going to get reelected,” and noted “she’s hated in Chicago.” He also said he’s glad there’s no employee vaccine mandate for the city of Hammond or the state of Indiana. “If you’re willing to throw all that away over a shot, during a pandemic; if you’re that rigid, I don’t really want you in the Hammond Police Department, I’ll be honest with you. Because I imagine you’re going to be a pain in my ass a couple years down the road also and you’re going to be a pain in the chief’s ass,” he said. “You can’t be a police officer and not take orders from the mayor.”

Statewides


Nieshalla announces for treasurer

Boone County Council President, successful entrepreneur in real estate investments, and mother of four, Elise Nieshalla, a conservative Republican, announced she is running for Treasurer: “As Indiana’s next State Treasurer, I will defend the economic freedom of Hoosiers, further ensure Indiana’s pension investments align with our values, and safeguard and grow Indiana’s financial assets,” Nieshalla said. “As a real estate entrepreneur and mom of four, I understand the value of a dollar.  I will take that perspective, as well as my experience serving as President of the Boone County Council, the fiscal body for one of the fastest growing counties in Indiana, to the State Treasurer’s Office,” Nieshalla added.  

General Assembly

HD73: Davisson son wins caucus 

J. Michael Davisson (R-Salem) was named to complete the term of his father, Rep. Steve Davisson (R-Salem), who died of cancer last month. He’ll face a primary against another GOP incumbent, State Rep. Jim Lucas, if he opts to run for a full term (WBIW). “For 11 years, I watched my father work tirelessly to serve the people of his district and to improve the lives of all Hoosiers,” Davisson said. “I am honored to have the privilege to carry on his work. I am committed to serving with the same sense of loyalty, duty, integrity, and respect that he exemplified.” 

HD45: Ellington to shift districts

State Rep. Jeff Ellington changed his voter registration address this week from his That Road home just south of Bloomington to an abandoned brick building in Bloomfield he bought for a bargain price in 2018 to renovate (Lane, Bloomington Herald-Times). He and his wife now will be living in District 45, which contains about half of Ellington’s former District 62. He intends to run for re-election to the House of Representatives in the district currently represented by House Assistant Majority Whip Bruce Borders. Borders, who has served District 45 in two stints totaling 15 years and moonlights as an Elvis Presley impersonator, could not be reached Friday morning for comment. New Republican-backed redistricting maps, which Ellington voted against, took conservative Greene County out of his Republican-heavy district and left Ellington in a more Democratic-leaning one. “Wednesday, Hope and I changed our voter registration to our Bloomfield address,” Ellington said in an email response to questions about his move. “It is my intention to run for reelection in 2022 from our Greene County home. This would put me in District 45 — Greene, Sullivan, and parts of Daviess, Knox, Vigo — in the 2022 elections, and not District 62, which used to be based around Greene County.”

Pol elected to SD4

Rodney Pol Jr. of Chesterton was elected to succeed former state senator Karen Tallian to serve the District 4 seat in the Indiana State Senate. Pol, who works as an attorney for the city of Gary, was endorsed at the caucus by the outgoing 16-year lawmaker. Pol won on the second ballot with 29 votes, defeating Deborah Chubb with 14 and Todd Connor with 11. “First and foremost, the Indiana Democratic Party wants to thank Karen Tallian for her service to District 4 and Indiana with the kind of honor, passion, and commitment that exemplifies the definition of what a public servant should be in our politics,” said Democratic Chairman Mike Schmuhl. “Senator Tallian has been a perennial champion for Hoosier families, and her advocacy for issues like women’s health care, criminal justice reform, and future cannabis legalization have made a major impact on our state. We wish Karen the best, and know that she won’t be too far away from the ongoing debates facing Indiana. Pol is a proven leader in the Chesterton community, and Democrats could not be more excited to have another champion in the General Assembly fighting for a better future for Hoosier families. Pol will join Democrats in advocating for livable wage jobs for workers, affordable and accessible broadband internet, and fully-funding Indiana’s public schools. Democrats are delivering solutions to today’s problems for Hoosiers and I know Rodney is ready to get to work.”

Sen. J.D. Ford kicks off reelect

State Sen. Jon Ford has announced he is seeking another term in SD38. “When I initially ran for office, I could see great potential for the Wabash Valley, but unfortunately progress wasn’t being made because our elected officials were more interested in playing politics than making real change,” Ford said. “During my tenure in the State Senate, I have remained an independent leader focused on delivering results. I have always put people before politics and have worked with all sides, including business and labor groups, to get things done.  At times I’ve had to stand up to my own party or special interests for the betterment of the district. And I’ve delivered on my promises of providing additional support for our local schools, teachers, and students, protecting and attracting higher-paying jobs for the middle class, securing record infrastructure funding that has allowed us to finally complete the West Terre Haute Connector – among other projects – and improving the local economy.” 

Baldwin describes Oath Keepers donation


Sen. Scott Baldwin told Howey Politics Indiana he made a donation to Oath Keepers 11 years ago when running for sheriff of Hamilton County. “I initially had no recollection or familiarity with the organization, but have since discovered that back in April 2010, more than 11 years ago, when I was running for county sheriff, an advocate for the organization described it to me as a 2nd Amendment rights group, and I donated $30,” Baldwin said in a statement to HPI. “I haven’t had any interaction or communication since. Recent media reports indicate that the group has changed significantly since its founding in 2009.” Baldwin, R-Noblesville, was resonding to a ProPublica report that he is an “annual” member of the Oath Keepers, which played a pivotal role in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection. Senate Republican Leader Sen. Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) noted Baldwin said he wasn’t affiliated with the group. “In his time in the Indiana Senate, Sen. Baldwin has been a very thoughtful and capable leader for us on a number of subjects,” Bray said.

HD71: Hawkins to seek GOP nomination

Jeffersonville Councilman Scott Hawkins announced he will seek HD71 held by Democrat State Rep. Rita Fleming. “I am running for state representative because the people of Southern Indiana need someone that will fight for them in Indianapolis. We deserve a representative that understands struggle, hard work, and has a track record of getting things done while standing strong on their core values. I look forward to being that representative”, Hawkins said. He is serving his second term as a Jeffersonville City Councilman and has been teaching U.S. government and history at Jeffersonville High School for 26+ years. Hawkins said, “This is still a 50-50 district after the 2021 redistricting. I believe the dissatisfaction with what is going on in Washington and my unique perspective of a regular guy who grew up in a Clarksville trailer park with a single mom and then became a teacher, business owner and councilman in Jeffersonville will help us make an argument for change in District 71.”