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Friday, May 25, 2018
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Thursday, October 15, 2015 9:20 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    
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.”
  • Atomic! Gov's joy ride; Pence the 'last straw'; Stormy reality
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.
     
    1. The Gov’s joy rideHere are your final power lunch talking points before the Indy500 and Memorial Day: Four things that animate Gov. Eric Holcomb include Hoosier high school basketball gyms, First Dog Henry, double-tracking the South Shore line and direct commercial flights to Europe. Today, the governor takes his first official joy ride on Delta Flight 501 from Paris directly to the beautiful and award-winning Indianapolis International Airport. He’s due to arrive at 4:27 p.m. and will meet the press at the baggage claim where he will almost certainly react to the Noblesville school shooting.
     
  • Atomic! Trump's 'spygate'; Braun disclosure; rally to Bayhs
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Trump seeks to discredit Mueller probe: Here are your hump day power lunch talking points: President Trump, with the tacit support of Vice President Pence, is seeking to obfuscate and discredit the Russian collusion investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The latest tactic is to allege that the FBI was spying on his 2016 presidential campaign. "Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State," he tweeted. "They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before! What goes around, comes around!" James Clapper, former director of National Intelligence before Dan Coats took the job, was asked on ABC’s “The View”  if the FBI was spying on Trump. “They were not. They were spying – a term I don't particularly like – on what the Russians were doing.” The FBI, Clapper said, was simply trying to answer the question, "Were the Russians infiltrating, trying to gain access, trying to gain leverage and influence?" What we do know is the Russians were approaching the Trump campaign at multiple levels during 2016.
  • Atomic! Obst, Lotter sound off; Dems hit the gas; Veep on FBI
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Lotter and Obst sound off: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: Indy Politics’Abdul interviewed Vice President Pence aides and affiliates Marty Obst and Marc Lotter, who addressed the Indiana GOP spring dinner Monday night. Obst notes that INSen Republican nominee Mike Braun “was up 2 points in our internal polling.” As for support for Braun, Obst said, “You’re going to see the president and vice president multiple times around the state.” On Trump’s statewide approve/disapprove in the 48/49%, Obst said, “The numbers track similar to 2016 and we won by close to 20 points.” And on the mid-terms, Obst said, “The vice president will be the tip of the spear.” On the veep’s relationship with President Trump, Lotter explained, “I think they play well off each other. They bring different skills and backgrounds and that makes it a good partnership. There is no question it’s the president we work for.”
  • Atomic! Hoosier ag angst; Trump v. DOJ; Gov in Prague
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Southport

    1. Hoosier farmers gird for DC dysfunction: Here are your Monday morning power lunch talking points: The Friday’s collapse of the farm bill, with a pending tariff war with China and U.S. allies, and a key NAFTA renegotiation deadline missed, the angst across Indiana’s amber waves of grain grows. Indiana Farm Bureau President Randy Kron reacted, saying, “We are disappointed that the House was unable to pass HR 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018. Indiana’s farmers are relying on the passage of a farm bill that helps strengthen the farm economy. The agricultural economy has experienced a significant decline in farm income over the past several years, and it is very important that this legislation protects farmers from factors that are out of their control.” Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch said she is “optimistic” that a farm bill will be forged by Sept. 30. Crouch will announce her new rural strategy  on Wednesday in Greensburg.

  • Atomic! Pence returns; Braun up in INSen poll; Gov to Europe
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Vice President Pence returns to boost Braun: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: Vice President Pence swoops into Indianapolis to raise money for Senate nomineeMike Braun and push the 2017 tax reforms that Republican congressional candidates hope to use  in this November’s mid-term elections. The reforms haven’t played a significant role in primary elections to date. Even with the contested GOP Senate primary, turnout was low while Republicans worry out vote suppression. It’s the second time in a week that Pence has returned to his “amber waves of grain” to tout the tax reforms. Doors at the Downtown Marriott open at 1:30 for the general public, WTHR-TV will live stream the event at 3:30 this afternoon. U.S. Sen. Todd Young will be there and will participate in panel discussion on tax reform.

  • HPI Interview: Bray completing Senate power transition
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – Senate Republicans entered the final sequence of the 2017-18 power shift when State Sen. Rodric Bray was preliminarily elected Senate president pro tempore. Bray’s ascension comes after the retirements of Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, Tax & Fiscal Policy Chairman Brandt Hershman and finally in February, that of Senate President Pro Tempore David Long. Bray won a party caucus with sources saying it was by a single vote over Sen. Travis Holdman. Monday’s election was a preliminary one to settle the GOP caucus instead of a months-long campaign that might have divided the majority caucus. The real vote will occur after the Nov. 6 election when there will be at least four new senators replacing Long, the defeated Sen. Joe Zakas, and the retiring Sens. Doug Eckerty and Jim Smith.
  • Horse Race: Our initial Indiana Senate forecasts
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – If you’re an Indiana Democrat gunning for the GOP super-majority Indiana Senate, you are hoping the surf’s up, because without the kind of tidal wave that propelled Democrats into General Assembly majorities back in 1964 or 1974, there is little hope that it can claw back into relevance. In our initial analysis of Indiana Senate races, we find just five races that have the potential to flip to the Democrats: The open SD26 being vacated by State Sen. Doug Eckerty in the Muncie/Anderson area; SD 29 in the Indianapolis/Carmel area where State Sen. Mike Delph just won a spirited primary; SD38 in the Terre Haute/Brazil area that went to the GOP four years ago; and the twin SDs 45 and 46 in the Jeffersonville/Clark County area where Sens. Ron Grooms and Jim Smith both won tight races in 2014.
  • Horse Race: Braun, Donnelly begin definition ads
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – The U.S. Senate campaigns of Democrat Joe Donnelly and Republican Mike Braun wasted little time defining their respective brands for the fall in a race that has already seen around $20 million spent. Just hours after the May 8 primary, Sen. Donnelly began airing his “Bridge” ad that touts his ability and willingness to work in bipartisan fashion. On Wednesday, Braun launched the MeyerMeansFamily.com website and a TV ad featuring the policies of his company, which came under attack during the contentious Republican primary. The ad is an attempt at early inoculation on his activities as a businessman. The ad notes that Braun’s company pays nearly double the minimum wage for new hires, provides “excellent benefits” while taking care of employees during his nearly 40 years in business.
  • Atomic! Bray futures; quick special; PencePolitical & paranoia
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Senate GOP stake futures to Bray: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: There were indicators that State Sen. Rodric Bray and his floor leader running mate, Mark Messmer, were the clear frontrunners to replace Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, and that it might happen on Monday. It did, but it essentially is a futures game. The real vote will occur after the Nov. 6 election when there will be at least four new senators replacing Long, the defeatedJoe Zakas, and the retiring Doug Eckerty and Jim Smith. Sources say they expect the Bray selection to endure after the election, that Long isn’t intending to step down early, but Bray will pick up the mantle of fundraising and protecting the GOP’s super majority status, as well as to begin planning for what will be an epic 2019 budget session.

  • Atomic! Gaming's billion dollar impacts; special session underway
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Gaming impacts on Indiana: Welcome back, Indiana General Assembly; here are your power lunch talking points: If the General Assembly created a specific industry, look no further than horseracing and racinos. They didn’t exist before 1993. Centaur Gaming put out a new report, “Triumph of a Team,”  and we learn that through the racetracks at Anderson and Shelbyville as well as OTBs in Indy, Clarksville and Fort Wayne/New Haven, Centaur has infused $2.4 billion in taxes, fees and incentive payments, including $31.7 million in city and county property taxes and another $127 million in city and county wagering taxes. Another $1.37 billion has been pumped into local economies. Initial direct project investment totals $860 million, including $360 million in construction and $500 million in state licensure fees.

  • Donnelly will support Haspel CIA confirmation
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    NASHVILLE, Ind. U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly announced on Saturday he will vote for the confirmation of Gina Haspel as CIA director. “I had a tough, frank, and extensive discussion with Ms. Haspel on a wide range of topics, including her vision for the agency and how she would approach the job, as well as issues of detention and interrogation,” said Donnelly, who joins Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia as the second Democrat to vote for her confirmation.  Republican Sens. John McCain and Rand Paul oppose the Haspel nomination. 
  • Daniels warns Purdue grads that tribalism leads to tyranny
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    NASHVILLE, Ind. - Purdue President Mitch Daniels warned his latest graduating class that tribalism could push democracies toward tyranny. Speaking on the West Lafayette campus, Daniels in his annual commencement address explained, “The freedoms we take for granted, the ‘blessings of liberty’ of which our Constitution speaks, are the gross exception in history. Almost all of history has belonged to the tyrants, the warlords, the autocrats, the totalitarians. And tribes always gravitate toward tyrants.” His remarks come two months after Chinese President Xi Jinping changed his country’s constitution leaving him in power indefinitely. On March 4, speaking at his Mar-A-Lago estate, President Donald Trump praised Xi, saying, “He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.”
  • Atomic! GOP's missed optic; Cohen's swamp; veep's wrap up
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. The GOP’s missed optic: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: Hoosier Republicans almost had it all last night in Elkhart. There was President Trump, invoking Bobby Knight, Gene Keady and Lou Holtz. And Vice President Mike Pence who declared “promises made, promises kept.” He was introduced by favorite local son Attorney General Curtis Hill. On stage came newly minted U.S. Senate nominee Mike Braun, who got some travel time with POTUS on the ride from South Bend to the City with a Heart. And in the wings was the recently vanquished Todd Rokita, who flew in with Pence. Missing  was the equally vanquished Luke Messer.

  • Trump lauds Braun, but Messer skips unity opportunity
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - President Trump and Vice President Pence found an adoring crowd brimming Northside Gym in Elkhart Thursday night and threw their weight behind newly minted U.S. Senate nominee Mike Braun. However, there wasn’t a show of unity as vanquished Senate candidate Luke Messer skipped the event while U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita was on hand. “Your former governor and current vice president is doing an unbelievable job for the nation. He’s making Indiana proud and we are rockin’,” Trump opened his speech after Pence’s introduction. “I am thrilled to be here with the hard working people in the Hoosier State. This is truly an exciting time for the country. Jobs are high, confidence is soaring and optimism is at the top of the chart. All of these changes are occurring because America is being respected again.” 
  • HPI Analysis: Braun completes his INSen coup
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS –  More than a year ago, when U.S. Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer began angling for the 2018 U.S. Senate nomination just as President Trump commenced a fitful start, there was the big question: Are you sure you want to give up safe House seats to run in a first Trump mid-term?  MSNBC’s Steve Kornacke provided the grist: Since 1998, incumbent senators in “hostile states” (which went for the current White House occupant) were 21-3. The questions increased by mid-summer when Jasper businessman Mike Braun began exploring a run. With congressional approval at an anemic to torpid sub-20% approval, this would be a run through razor wire, minefields and shooting galleries. Both Rokita and Messer let their ambitions rule, though credible sources say that the latter was conflicted until just days before his mid-summer entry at a Morristown barbecue. When the primary dust settled around 8:45 p.m. Tuesday, there was Braun, a winner by more than 50,000 votes at 41%, poised to take on U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly.

  • Horse Race: Baird pulls off 4th CD upset, but does Rokita return?
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – There was one major upset in Hoosier congressional races on Tuesday, with State Rep. Jim Baird shocking Steve Braun on the heels of a direct mail blunder that emerged late last week. But in the hours after the upset, Baird told the Lafayette Journal & Courier he might be willing to give the nomination back to U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita. The two 4th CD candidates were self-funders, but Braun had a big money and spending advantage. Baird didn’t mount a TV campaign until the final weekend yet forged a 6% plurality to dispatch the former state rep and Workforce Development commissioner. And Steve Braun had a branding tailwind as his brother, Mike, won a U.S. Senate nomination.
  • Horse Race: Rogers, Barrett pull off only 2 General Assembly upsets
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – The social conservative challenges to Senate and House leadership? Thud. The black challengers to Anderson area Democrats? Splat. But there were two upsets, with State Sen. Joe Zakas denied a rendezvous with history as the longest serving senator by his landslide loss to businesswoman Linda Rogers. It will be Democrat Sen. Frank Mrvan poised to take the mantle of Indiana’s most tenured senator after cruising to a 77% victory over two challengers. Currently former Sen. Joe Harrison holds the tenure record, according to Trevor Foughty who publishes the Capitolandwashington.com blog and contributes to HPI. Harrison served 10 terms. If Sen. Mrvan wins and finishes out a 10th full term, he would edge out Harrison’s record because he served at least a few months in 1994-95.  Zakas was denied a shot at a 10th full term Tuesday night, losing to Rogers, 65% to 35%.
  • Horse Race: Sen. Zakas, Rep. Hamm upset; Delph wins

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Two General Assembly Republicans lost in landslide fashion Tuesday night. State Sen. Joe Zakas was defeated by businesswoman Linda Rogers, trailing by more than 30% . After results were in Tuesday night, Rogers said in a phone interview that she was “thrilled” with the outcome (South Bend Tribune). “I appreciate all the voters of the district having confidence in me to take their problems and to Indianapolis and be their voice,” the 66-year-old said. “I worked really hard and had tremendous community support. So many people stepped up to help because they believed in the campaign.” In HD 56, Republican Bradford Barrett defeated State Rep. Dick Hamm 67-33%. Senate Republican pro tem candidate Travis Holdman easily dispatched Eric Orr by 50%. Senate Majority Caucus Leader Jim Merritt won in a landslide against social conservative Crystal LaMotte. Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane defeated Tamala Dixon-Tatum by a 30% margin.

  • Horse Race: Baird pulls off 4th CD upset; Pence, Watson win

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Two controversial mailers by PAC allies of the Republican 4th CD campaign of Steve Braun appeared to have backfired in historic fashion. State Rep. Jim Baird pulled off the biggest congressional upset Tuesday night, defeating Braun 36-30% with Diego Morales coming in third with 15%. A mailer from Citizens for a Strong America PAC late last week targeted Baird, saying he had broken promises not to raise taxes, with a photo of a gas station sign saying “ARM” and “LEG.”

  • Atomic! The Braun mo; INSen closers; Baird 'one of us'
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis
     

    1.  The Braun momentum: Here are your Election Week Monday power lunch talking points: When we piece the various tell tales together, and none of them scientific, the conclusion is that Mike Braun is best positioned to win the Republican U.S. Senate nomination. These run from the hard cold cash ($6 million, more than double what Luke Messer and Todd Rokita have had access to), the purchased gross rating points, to the fact that Braun is the only one to run an extensive talk radio campaign rich in likely primary voters. There are other anecdotal clues, like unscientific on-line polls, such as the one on the Terre Haute Tribune-Star website that that had Braun up with 62%, followed by Luke Messer at 20% and Todd Rokita at nearly 18%. We’ve seen a number of those with similar results. 

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  • Gov. Holcomb, ISP Supt. Carter discuss school shooting
    “I am satisfied we’re on the right path, we’re headed in the right direction. We want to make sure the resources are there and the schools are secure. Traveling here today, the speaker and the president of the Senate were in perpetual huddle to make sure we’re not leaving any stone unturned. Whatever is needed by any school in the state we’re going to find a way to deliver on that. We’re on the right road, there is funding and resources to make sure our schools are safe.” - Gov. Eric Holcomb after returning to Indianapolis from Paris last Friday afternoon, addressing the school shooting that left a teacher and a student wounded at Noblesville West Middle School. Holcomb is expecting a school safety report on Aug. 1 and said the state will then begin to address “deficiencies.” Teacher Jason Seaman suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen, hip and forearm after he tackled the suspect. He is reportedly out of surgery. Indiana State Police Supt. Doug Carter called the situation “terror” but said Noblesville school had a plan and followed it Friday.
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  • Hoosier GOP dreams of a 'President Pence'
    Vice President Mike Pence returned to Indy Friday. He visited drivers and troops at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He raised big bucks for INSen nominee Mike Braun. He faithfully touted President Trump’s tax reforms under the banner “Promises made, promises kept” and bestowed effusive praise on the billionaire bossman for freeing North Korea prisoners, moving the embassy to Jerusalem and achieving big tax cuts.

    In tow were the predictable aides like Marty Obst, who heads the Great America Leadership PAC that has become the Pence political wing. It prompted a spasm of speculation in Politico  and the "failing" NYT  this past week that the Pence political ops were making President Trump and his loyalists nervous. There’s the persistent notion that Pence is doing what any smart pol would do, which is to prepare contingencies for 2020, either as the most loyal veep or as the GOP standard bearer. Trump’s nagging legal and ethical problems have created “hungry” looks in the Pence braintrust, most conspicuously Chief of Staff Nick Ayres, friends of the POTUS have noticed.

    So it was interesting that the original Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, has signed on to the Pence PAC. He was in Indy Friday with the veep along with Trump reelection campaign manager Brad Parscale. One can say this was simply a united front on display. But this is an administration that sends der kamcaign kommissars into the deep state bureaucracy to make sure the cabinet secretaries and minions are truly loyal. It has vetoed employment for those deemed not original Trumpy or even secretly NeverTrump. This is a president who prizes loyalty above anything else, even competency. 

    So welcome to Indy, Brad and Corey. It’s a trusting city and Republicans here love their veep. Many Hoosier Republicans dream of Pence joining the pantheon of the Harrisons and Lincoln at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Pence even had all their portraits in his Statehouse office. To a Hoosier Republican, “President Pence” is envisioned as an achievable goal.
    - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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