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Tuesday, April 24, 2018
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Thursday, October 15, 2015 9:20 AM
INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence kicked off the infrastructure debate with a $1 billion proposal to repair state highways, interstates and bridges. Local government officials want the governor and General Assembly to take it several steps further, and provide what the Indiana Association of Cities & Towns calls a “sustainable” funding source. IACT President Matthew Greller told Howey Politics Indiana on Wednesday that the Pence plan is a good start. “The big thing is it’s good the administration is addressing infrastructure in a very serious way with a very serious proposal and a lot of money. But it includes no money for city and town streets and county roads. I’m disappointed because the vast majority of road miles in Indiana are maintained by local governments.”
  • Republicans used penultimate debate to burnish messages

    INDIANAPOLIS  - The three Republican U.S. Senate candidates used the penultimate debate Monday night before the Allen County Republican Lincoln Dinner to burnish their campaign themes and credentials, and offer retorts to rival criticism. On the policy front, Todd Rokita, Luke Messer and Mike Braun kept to familiar scripts. The candidates lined up neatly on the issues. All supported President Trump’s tariffs, the tax reforms, ending the Senate filibuster and all supported local needle exchange options to combat the opioid/heroin crisis. The backed arming school teachers while improving building security and all remained steadfast in their devotion to the 2nd Amendment. All support President Trump’s building of a wall on the border with Mexico. All said they emphatically support President Trump, though Braun said later in the debate, “Of my two opponents, one was a never Trumper. He was for someone else until it was inevitable. The other called him vulgar and not presidential. I’m doing this because I was fed up. That’s why I ran for the Senate.”

  • Atomic! Braun loans $5M; Rokita cash & tape; Pence bankruptcies
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Southport

    1. Rokita, Braun poles apart on money: Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: With Todd Rokita posting an underwhelming $425,532 in the first quarter, and Mike Braun’sreport showing $5.449 million in loans he made to his Republican U.S. Senate campaign, it’s clear what is driving the final TV in this race: Money and personal wealth. Luke Messer raised just $389,000 for the quarter and as they did on prior FEC reports, Messer and Rokita headed into the final five weeks with close to the same amount of cash, $1.865 million for Rokita and $1.86 million for Messer. GOP sources tell us that more than 10% of the Rokita and Messer cash won’t be available to the fall campaign, if they survive. Braun reported $2.42 million cash on hand, but he is part of the “green wave” of self-funders running in Indiana this cycle. We figured he was awaiting the Rokita and Messer hauls before upgrading modest TV buys in the final weeks. And there is still plenty of gross rating points to buy.

  • Atomic! Special session proclaimed; Messer's mess; 4 & 20
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Fort Wayne

    1. Holcomb calls the circus back: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: Gov. Eric Holcomb issued a proclamation  this morning calling a special session of the 120th Indiana General Assembly Monday, May 14. “I’m calling lawmakers back to take action on the critical issues of school safety and federal tax conformity,” Holcomb proclaimed. “And, with sharp focus, I’m confident they can finish this work in a single day.” The governor’s to-do items include the final versions of the following bills: SB 242, HB 1230, HB 1315 and HB 1316. He will seek $5 million for school safety, allow $500,000 funding advances for school safety, $12 million for Muncie schools, and seek federal tax conformance.
  • Horse Race: Rokita teeters as Messer makes Indy TV push

    INDIANAPOLIS – It was a tough week for the perceived Republican U.S. Senate race “frontrunner” Todd Rokita. He has been rebuked by the reelection campaign of President Trump for suggesting an endorsement on yard signs. He reversed himself on participating in the April 30 Indiana Debate Commission event. He is getting out-gunned in the final two weeks of the TV air war by big margins with an obvious money problem. And while he was more than competent on the WISH-TV debate on Sunday night, the Associated Press story of his getting sideways with Trump undercuts the main footer of his campaign with the Trumpian “defeat the elite” sloganeering. Rokita isn’t alone on the bad news front. The IndyStar reports today that Luke Messer had two DUIs prior to replacing State Rep. Roland Stine, who was killed by a drunk driver.

  • Horse Race: The 'green wave' of self-funders is here

    INDIANAPOLIS –  There’s been much talk about the “pink wave” in the congressional elections, both nationally and here in Indiana. But there is also a “green wave,” represented by rich candidates who are mostly self-funding their campaigns. Democrats Mel Hall and Yatish Joshi in the 2nd CD, Republicans Steve Braun and State Rep. Jim Baird in the 4th CD, Jonathan Lamb in the 6th CD, and, of course, U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth in the 9th CD all have campaigns that have received six-figure loans from the candidate or family. “Money is driving everything,” said former congressman Mark Souder. “If (Mike) Braun wins, following up on (Rep. Trey) Hollingsworth’s win, wealthy candidates are likely to become even more dominant in Indiana.  Also true if Pence gets upset.”
  • Atomic! INSen debate optics; Messer's attacks; Pence clipped
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. INSen debate rhetoric and optics: Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: Within minutes of the conclusion of WISH-TV’s INSen Republican debate Sunday night, the campaigns of Luke Messer, Todd Rokita and Mike Braun declared “victory.” So does that mean that everyone got a trophy? That won’t be determined until May 8, but beyond the rhetoric (see our coverage below in HPI News) several things lept out. First, all three believe the Robert Mueller probe should be terminated, with Braun calling it a “distraction,” Rokita opting for President Trump verbiage “witch hunt” and Messer saying “It has found nothing.” That’s a curious assertion for an investigation that has resulted in 19 indictments and five convictions while consuming Trump’s campaign manager, national security adviser and prompting telegenic attorneys to flee in fear while the president acts like he’s cornered. With Trump’s tariffs, all three found justification, which is signaling the end to an Indiana Republican Party that used to feature free trade advocates. And the three agree arming teachers is a good idea, while Gov. Eric Holcomb and Supt. Jennifer McCormick are ardently opposed to the concept.

  • INSen Republicans engage in feisty, topical debate

    BLOOMINGTON - The Three Republican candidates for Indiana’s U.S. Senate race met for a feisty one-hour debate, hosted by WISH-TV, on Sunday night. The candidates, Congressmen Luke Messer and Todd Rokita, and former State Representative Mike Braun, were asked a series of questions on hot-button national issues – from the recent action in Syria to tariffs and border security.  In what has been a highly contentious campaign, Sunday’s debate proved to be no exception. The accusations and jabs came quickly, with each candidate employing many of the same attacks that have shown up in their TV ads: “establishment,” “secret Democrat,” “career politician.”

  • INSen: GOP candidates want to disband Mueller probe


    NASHVILLE, Ind. - All three Republican U.S. Senate candidates said the Russian collusion investigation by Robert Mueller of President Trump should end during an hour debate on WISH-TV Sunday evening. It comes as the Mueller investigation appears to be heading to a crescendo after almost a year after its formation. The final debate sequence of the Indiana Republican U.S. Senate race primary began Sunday night with Todd Rokita, Luke Messer and Mike Braun burnishing their central themes that have defined their campaigns. The WISH-TV panel drew on topical news and voters learned that all three Republicans advocate the termination of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian collusion probe. “This is a witch hunt and it should end,” Rokita said. He said that as secretary of state, he knew it was impossible for Russian hackers to alter U.S. and Indiana election results. He added the Mueller “is not trusted.” “I do believe it should end,” Messer said, saying he didn’t believe Russians impacted the 2016 election. And Mike Braun called it “a distraction.” 

  • HPI Interview: Walorski expects 'long haul' on tariff battles

    INDIANAPOLIS – Since President Trump surprised just about everyone on tariffs, from his then economic advisor Gary Cohn, to the White House West Wing, to Republican leaders and Members of Congress, U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski has been on the tip of the reaction spear. She quickly sounded alarms, telling CNBC, “We’re not against his tariffs. We’re not against his ability to make an executive decision where he sees it in regard to tariffs. The issue is we’re asking him to narrow the field significantly and allow for companies who can’t find a domestic producer to be able to go and find ways that they can get this raw material to continue their business.”  She wrote President Trump on March 2, saying, “Early feedback from manufacturers in my district has me worried that immediate, blanket tariffs could reverse the economic recovery and return of manufacturing jobs to northern Indiana." 
  • Atomic! Son of Salesforce; Rokita goes national; Bezos & Braun
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Schererville, Ind.

    1. Son of GOP Salesforce: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: If the latest Associated Press  takedown – this time against Republican Senate candidateTodd Rokita and a GOP Salesforce login controversy – has a familiar ring to it, well, it’s a clone of an April 2012 controversy. In that case, Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock reportedly “breached” the Salesforce database. As HPI  explained in its April 19, 2012, edition: Campaigns which access the GOP’s various voter files sign agreements for their use, including a prohibition of transfer of data to third parties. There is also the concern that the data files remain uncorrupted for use by other candidates.The Lugar campaign is also concerned that the Mourdock campaign either transferred these files to FreedomWorks, the NRA or Club For Growth. 

  • Horse Race: Braun has $1 million INSen ad buy lead

    INDIANAPOLIS – Mike Braun has outspent Luke Messer and Todd Rokita by $1 million in TV and radio advertising thus far in the race for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination. In a buying time competitive report, Braun has spent or reserved air time to the tune of $3,030,920, compared to $1,497,755 for Messer and just $551,389 for Rokita. To date, Messer has spent or reserved 9,162 gross rating points, compared to 1,149 for Rokita and 18,653 for Braun. The three campaigns have spent $5,080,064 at this writing. This is a critical juncture for the GOP primary. This analysis comes as the campaigns are preparing the first quarter FEC reports. The advertising schedule suggests that Messer might have outraised Rokita.
  • Horse Race: Ryan retirement doesn't necessarily signal tsunami
    and BRIAN A. HOWEY

    FORT WAYNE –  Speaker Paul Ryan’s decision to not seek reelection does not signal a political tsunami is about to engulf Republicans, but it certainly suggests he doesn’t see things getting easier post-election. In other words, even if the Republicans continue in control, the Senate is likely to be nearly 50-50 and the House will have few Republican votes to spare.  Ryan lived through that once already, when he was chief of staff to then-U.S. Rep. Sam Brownback for the first two terms after the Republicans won control in the 1994 elections. In 1996 our margin narrowed, and Ryan saw how we could leverage the leadership every day. On the other hand, we were a comparatively disciplined conservative group who took some wins to keep moving forward.  
  • Atomic! Rogue Trump; IN approval 48%; INSen Trumping
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Trump’s incompetent legal traipse: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: Once again President Trump called the probe of Special Counsel Robert Mueller a “witch hunt,” and a “disgrace.” He said the FBI “broke into” attorney Michael Cohen’s office and home and added, “It’s an attack on our country, in a true sense.” Trump said that the probe has uncovered “nothing.” There are so many factual problems with the President’s rhetoric. The “witch hunt” has resulted in 19 criminal charges and five guilty pleas. Cohen is under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations for his $130,000 payment just before the 2016 election to porn star Stormy Daniels in what is now being called “the longest one night stand in history” with Trump. It is a payoff Trump says he didn’t know about. Monday’s raid was instigated by the Manhattan DA, a Republican Trump appointee who donated the max to the Trump campaign.

  • Atomic! Pro tem dealing; Joe's bucks; Trump's red line
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Greenwood

    1. Senate pro tempore deals: Here are your Monday power lunch talking points from Narnia: In 1980, Sen. Bob Garton cut a deal with Sen. Joe Harrison which allowed the former to prevail over Sen. Larry Borst to win as president pro tempore. In 2006, Sen. David Long was able to edge out Sen. Brent Steele by cobbling the support of six female senators, as well as a handful of moderates. With Long’s exit, expect some wheeling and dealing over the next seven months. What’s the most likely? While the ultimate election likely won’t happen until after the November election when there will be at least three new senators, keep an eye on Sen. Rodric Bray, who sources say may be teaming up  with Sen. Mark Messmer to form the president/majority leader tandem.
  • Horse Race: Rokita has lead in Delph's suburban district

    INDIANAPOLIS – There has been much speculation about how suburban/urban Republicans will behave in the 2018 cycle and whether female voters will be turned off by President Trump. But a Senate Majority Caucus poll on behalf of State Sen. Mike Delph’s reelection bid gives a fascinating glimpse into what’s happening in the U.S. Senate race. The poll, taken about 10 days ago in SD29 that includes Carmel and Pike Township in Indianapolis, shows Todd Rokita leading with 28%, followed by Mike Braun at 23% and Luke Messer at 12.7, with 36.3% undecided.

  • Atomic! Trumpian BS; Gov & Hammer; Surgeon Gen. Narcan
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Trump and lemmings: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: One of the more fascinating things to watch over the past 18 months has been the willingness of Republicans to nod along and smile as President Trump spins and shovels more … well, BS. In West Virginia on Thursday, Trump asserted that “millions and millions” of people voted fraudulently in the 2016 elections. Except, Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson disputes that there was any such activity and Trump’s own commission on elections collapsed under the weight of all the … BS. Then there’s the “caravan” of Central Americans coursing through Mexico and headed to the U.S. border, prompting him to call out troops because “women are being raped  at numbers never seen before.” Except, there is no evidence. If there was, the international press would be all over such a story here in the #metro era. And then there is porn star Stormy Daniels. Trump told reporters on Air Force One Thursday he wasn’t aware  that his attorney paid her $130,000 just before the 2016 election, which is really an astounding assertion. Attorney Michael Cohen just coughed up $130,000 on his own? Mr. President, we all were born just yesterday.
  • HPI Interview: Donnelly says Kochs seek to 'buy' INSen

    INDIANAPOLIS – In five weeks, U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly will finally have a Republican challenger. Asked if he preferred facing Luke Messer, Todd Rokita or Mike Braun, Donnelly said, “No.” “Even my political job is to do the best I can and put my credentials out there,” he said at Cup’s Coffee in downtown Indianapolis Wednesday afternoon. “I’m more than happy to have Hoosiers make a judgment.  Hoosiers are common sense. We don’t spend our time trying to be the flashiest, we spend our time trying to be the most solid. That’s what I’ve tried to do in the Senate.” Donnelly is often called the most vulnerable Senate Democrat. He says the Koch Brothers have already spent more than $6 million to “buy the Indiana Senate seat.”
  • Horse Race: Morales, Braun claim 4th CD momentum

    INDIANAPOLIS – Republican Diego Morales 4th CD campaign has been running TV ads since January, and the candidate says that meeting his fundraising targets and a grassroots campaign have positioned him to prevail in the May 8 primary. But Steve Braun, who has been on the air since February, also sees a clear path to victory in the race to replace U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita and might be benefitting residually from the U.S. Senate race advertising of his brother, Mike. Morales and Braun are facing State Rep. Jim Baird, Jared Thomas, Kevin Grant, James Nease and Tim Radice in the May 8 primary.
  • Atomic! Gender gaps widen; ad wars up; Putin to White House?
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Hoosier women falling behind: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: In last week’s Howey Politics IndianaErin Macey of the Indiana Institute for Working Families cited statistics from  “Wages, Wealth, & Poverty: Where Hoosier Women Stand and Ways our State Can Close the Gaps,” which revealed a widening gender wage gap, from 24 to 26%. That amounts to a $12,700 annual differential in pay from men. Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reporter Niki Kelly delves further with the Institute for Women's Policy Research’s grade of “D” for the state on a range of issues dealing with wages, health, family, poverty and opportunity. Kelly reports: “The state's highest grade is a C-, which it received in political participation, and its lowest is an F in work and family, where the state ranks 51st. Indiana's grade in this area is due in part to lack of legislative support for policies like paid leave, elder and dependent care, child care, and prekindergarten. There are 37% of women holding managerial or professional occupations (compared to 41.6% nationally), or 48th in the U.S.”

  • Atomic! Arike in the pantheon; Orwellian Sinclair; RFK/MLK week
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Arike Ogunbowale enters the Hoosier pantheon: The annals of Hoosier basketball are pockmarked with the dramatic, barn-burning, game-winning shotBobby Plump’s legendary 1954 shot for Milan HS that inspired the movie “Hoosiers”Keith Smart’s 1987 championship clincher for IU over Syracuse; Jay Edwards’ 2009 trey to propel IU’s upset No. 1 Michigan; Avery Sheets’ long-ranger that gave Butler an upset win over Milwaukee; Christian Watford’s 2001 swisher to upset No. 1 Kentucky; Kirk Haston’s 2001 killer as IU upset No. 1 Michigan State; and Dwight Clay’s corner buzzer-beater that forged Notre Dame’s stunning termination of UCLA’s 88-game winning streak in 1974. And then there is Notre Dame’s Arike OgunbowaleShe will occupy a unique spot in glorious Hoosier hoops history. On Friday, Ogunbowale’s NCAA women’s semi-finals shot terminated the mighty Connecticut dynasty. And on Sunday, it was as if God willed her three-pointer to clinch a national title over Mississippi State.
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  • Former Sen. Coburn endorses Mike Braun
    "I am pleased to support and endorse Mike Braun, Indiana Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. Like myself, Mike is a social & fiscal conservative who supports term limits. As a successful businessman, Mike brings the very knowledge and background that is badly needed in our U.S. Senate today. Mike's opposition to deficit spending and pork barrel projects together with his proven leadership abilities will make him a highly effective U.S. Senator." - Former Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, endorsing Mike Braun for the U.S. Senate Republican nomination. Braun said, "I'm beyond honored to have earned the support of one of my idols in the U.S. Senate, Tom Coburn.”
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  • A changing tide on medicinal marijuana
    CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has changed his mind on medical marijuana. He writes Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a hardliner against pot, saying, “I feel obligated to share the results of my five-year-long investigation into the medical benefits of the cannabis plant. Before I started this worldwide, in-depth investigation, I was not particularly impressed by the results of medical marijuana research, but a few years later, as I started to dedicate time with patients and scientists in various countries, I came to a different conclusion.”

    And that conclusion? “Not only can cannabis work for a variety of conditions such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and pain, sometimes, it is the only thing that works. I changed my mind, and I am certain you can, as well. It is time for safe and regulated medical marijuana to be made available nationally. I realize this is an unconventional way to reach you, but your office declined numerous requests for an interview, and as a journalist, a doctor and a citizen, I felt it imperative to make sure you had access to our findings.”

    Gupta’s special report on “Weed 4: Pot vs. Pill” airs at 8 p.m. Sunday. It comes as James Higdon writes about “Legal Marijuana’s Big Moment” coming when former Republican House Speaker John Boehner “flipped” on the topic and became an adviser to a medicinal marijuana group. As the late John Lennon might have put it, strange days, indeed. - Brian A. Howey, publisher

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