By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS — Last Saturday, retiring U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky endorsed North Township Trustee Frank Mrvan. “I know that Frank Mrvan will fight with each breath and every fiber of his being to further collaborate and implement his vision for the next transformational initiatives that will bring the people of Northwest Indiana together in order to grow our regional economy, create more good-paying jobs, and improve our quality of place,” Visclosky said in a prepared statement.

That prompted Mrvan to tell the Northwest Indiana Times: “He’s not passing away; he’s just levitating himself to be able to advise and be able to help.”

The Visclosky nod came in tandem with the United Steelworkers District 7 endorsement, with President Mike Millsap adding, “We have profound strength in electing the next member of Congress. Frank, I hope you and the Steelworkers will be friends for a very long time.”

The frontrunner in this open 1st CD primary is Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., who told Howey Politics Indiana on Wednesday, “We knew Pete was coming out for Frank. You’d think that endorsement was the biggest thing, but I’m clearly leading the endorsement game.”

McDermott, the five-term mayor and former Lake County Democratic chairman, has an impressive list of endorsements, including Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr.; Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter; Lake County Treasurer Peggy Katona; Lake County Surveyor Bill Emerson Jr.; Lake County Auditor John Petalas; Lake County Commissioner Mike Repay; Lake County Councilman David Hamm; Crown Point Mayor David Uran; Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor; Hammond Council members Bill Emerson Sr., Scott Rakos, Barry Tyler Jr., Janet Venecz and Dave Woerpel; Hobart Councilman David Vinzant; Gary Councilman Michael Brown; Lake Station Councilman Rick Long; and East Chicago Clerk Adrian Santos.

McDermott has also been endorsed by the Northwest Indiana Building and Construction Trades; Hammond Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 51; Hammond Firefighters Local 556; Portage Firefighters Local 3151; Hobart Firefighters Local 1641; Painters and Allied Trades District 91; and Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers Local 26.

The mayor told HPI he’s about “60%” to his $500,000 fundraising goal and hopes to do advertising in the Chicago TV market.

He was just reelected to a fifth term in Hammond, which makes up about 10% of the district. “If I come out of Hammond with two-thirds of the vote, with 10,000 votes, it’s going to be real tough to beat me,” he said. “I have a path to victory, it’s good and it’s reasonable.”

McDermott added that Trustee Mrvan isn’t well known in Porter County. “I will get good crossover support there,” McDermott said. “I’m getting a tremendous amount of Republican votes. It’s very encouraging I’m getting out of Porter County.”

The other key force in the race is State Rep. Mara Candaleria Reardon. With the General Assembly’s sine die, Reardon was expected to skip the party last night in Indianapolis and move into full campaign mode. She has been endorsed by the Latino Victory Fund, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ BOLD PAC and the SMART-TD railworkers union. HPI Primary Horse Race Status: Likely McDermott.

Governor

Holcomb, Myers on the coronavirus

Gov. Eric Holcomb dealt with the spreading coronavirus by declaring on Monday, “We’re remarkably prepared and you’re seeing that play out right now in our coordination. Again, this is all about staying informed to the facts on the ground as they change and they will continue to change. We plan to, through the state department of health, continue to put out up-to-date information on a daily basis.”

At this writing, ISDH said that 10 Hoosiers have contracted the virus in Marion, Johnson, Boone, Noble, Howard, Hendricks and Adams counties. On Monday, Avon schools closed based on one elementary student testing positive, “They made the right decision for them and that should underscore the main point that we all need to take from this: We need to adapt to the facts on the ground and there is no ‘one size fits all,’” Holcomb said.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dr. Woody Myers called for Indiana to take additional measures to protect Hoosiers from the coronavirus, specifically COVID-19. “State officials must take immediate steps to facilitate laboratory testing within the state,” Myers, a former Indiana health commissioner, said. “We have a public health emergency, so the testing should be free to those who need it because of symptoms or exposure. That will eliminate the delays in receiving confirmation of positive cases.”

Myers proposed steps that Indiana should take immediately. Myers urged the state to:

1. Create an inventory and real-time database of all negative pressure hospital rooms in Indiana and make it available 24/7 to all Indiana physicians;

2. Create contingency plans now for those individuals in confined settings not easily moved – cruise ships, nursing homes, jails and prisons;
 
3. Give Hoosier teachers and school administrators more tools now, with weekly webinars conducted for all Indiana teachers and administrators where factual information is presented and where questions can be asked and answered by medical professionals. We should make non-invasive thermometers (that do not touch the patient) available in every school;

4. Use all of Indiana’s consumer protection assets to both report and prevent price gouging;
 
5. With federal help, determine when and how major public events, where thousands of people will gather, should be modified or postponed or cancelled;
 
6. Advocate for a paid-sick-leave law.

“Indiana must pull out all of the stops when it comes to preparedness and not wait for direction from Washington, where contradictions between federal officials continue to frustrate and confuse, putting lives at risk,” said Myers. “It’s time in this session of the legislature for decisive action. It’s time for informed leadership.”

Libertarians nominate Rainwater

The Libertarian Party of Indiana has nominated Donald Rainwater of Westfield for governor and William Henry of Plainfield for lieutenant governor. Rainwater is a 1981 graduate of Warren Central High School, served eight years in the Navy and has worked in software engineering and information technology for the past 20 years. He ran unsuccessfully for Westfield mayor in 2019. His campaign platform pledges to reduce or abolish taxes for Indiana residents.

Congress

5th CD: Mitchell to host virtual events

 
In response to the postponement of multiple previously scheduled opportunities for 5th CD residents, the Kelly Mitchell for Congress campaign announced a virtual townhall series to connect with voters amid the coronavirus pandemic. “The health and safety of Hoosiers is important to me,” Mitchell said. “We are launching this townhall series to give 5th District voters a voice. Our goal is to engage voters and give them the opportunity to ask questions, hear my platform, and learn why I am the best candidate to represent them in Congress.” The first virtual townhall date is Wednesday, March 18th from 7:00-8:00 pm. To join, dial 317-342-8568. You can submit questions in advance via email to Questions@HoosiersForKelly.com.
Statewides

Lake County Dems endorse Weinzapfel

Democratic Indiana attorney general candidate Jonathan Weinzapfel announced he has been endorsed by the Lake County Democratic Central Committee city and town chairs. “Being from Evansville, I understand the frustrations of many Lake County residents who feel neglected and ignored by Indianapolis,” Weinzapfel said. “As attorney general, I’ll be a voice for them and for common sense reforms that improve the lives of all Hoosiers.”  “From Lake County to Vanderburgh County we are putting together the statewide coalition needed to secure the Democratic Party’s nomination this summer and to defeat Curtis Hill this fall,” added Weinzapfel, who faces State Sen. Karen Tallian of Ogden Dunes.

Presidential 2020

Sanders to continue campaigns


Bernie Sanders on Wednesday announced he will continue his campaign for president (Politico). “Last night, obviously, was not a good night for our campaign from a delegate point of view,” Sanders acknowledged in an address delivered from his campaign headquarters in Burlington, Vermont. But “while we are currently losing the delegate count” in the race for the Democratic nomination, “we are strongly winning in two enormously important areas which will determine the future of our country.”

Biden has huge lead in Florida


TALLAHASSEE — Joe Biden is in line to deliver a knockout punch to Bernie Sanders in Florida in Tuesday‘s Democratic primary, according to a new poll that gives the former vice president a staggering 44% lead. Biden is lapping Sanders in voter support, with support from 66% of likely Democratic primary voters to 22% Sanders, according to a University of North Florida.