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Wednesday, November 13, 2019
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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.”
  • The Indiana Citizen takes aim at lagging Hoosier civic health
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – Next Monday morning, Hoosiers will be getting a biennial report card on civic engagement, presented by Lee Hamilton, Randall Shepard and Greg Zoeller. The state’s social “fabric” will be measured by the “Civic Health Index” and it won’t be pretty. Past reports have come and gone since 2011 without a mechanism to enhance voter participation, voluntary civic and religious assembly. That will change with the establishment of “The Indiana Citizen” website. Created by Bill and Ann Moreau with the support of board members Bob Grand, Jeanne Kelsay, Michael Goldenberg, Russell Cox and Trevor Foughty, this non-partisan, non-profit platform described as “The Crossroads of Civic Engagement” will seek to increase 2020 voter participation by 20%, or 500,000 votes,  next year. “That would move Indiana from the bottom 10 to the top 10,” Moreau told HPI Tuesday as he previewed his Indiana Citizen message. It was recorded on March 15, a day after his former boss and mentor, U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh, died.
  • Horse Race: Mayors Henry, Bennett get four more
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – It would be trite to say the 2019 municipal elections were status quo, not with 17 defeated incumbents. But there are solid trendlines: Democrats dominated in the big cities, coasting to wins in Indianapolis by Joe Hogsett and Fort Wayne by Tom Henry and picking up council seats in Evansville without a credible mayoral nominee. Republicans did extremely well in the auto belt, picking up Kokomo, Logansport and Muncie. It helped them forge a historic 70-seat night, which underscores how the Republicans are dominating in the prairies (they hold 80% of county commissioner seats), while Democrats are holding onto the big cities and college towns.

  • Horse Race: Visclosky retirement opens door for McDermott, Mrvan
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS — The dust had barely settled on Tuesday’s mayoral race when U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky dropped a bombshell: The dean of the Indiana congressional delegation won’t seek reelection. It immediately opened the door for Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. to seek the office he was planning to announce for on Dec. 6. North Township Trustee Frank J. Mrvan also jumped in. “On Nov. 6, 35 years ago today I was elected to serve as Indiana’s 1st District U.S. representative,” Visclosky wrote. “Today, I announce that I will not seek reelection. For the past 35 years our office has vigorously advocated on behalf of thousands of constituents for assistance on any number of local, state and federal isues. While we could never guarantee positive results, we could guarantee our hard work and best efforts.”
  • Michigan City Mayor Meer's defeat amidst legal mess
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  — The mayor is up for reelection within month. His son is arrested on a drug possession charge, making local headline news. In a rational world, a prudent police chief or sheriff would have immediately sought to have the case handed off to the Indiana State Police. If there were to be charges, a prudent prosecutor probably would have opted for a special prosecutor, to ensure there were no signs of impropriety. But none of that happened in Michigan City and LaPorte County this past week. Instead, Democratic Mayor Ron Meer found himself in a showdown with his own police chief, who resigned, along with senior staff following the arrest of his stepson on Oct. 10 by the LaPorte County Drug Task Force.
  • Mayors Henry, Bennett prevail in Fort Wayne and Terre Haute

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana Democrats held on to the two largest city halls in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne where Mayor Tom Henry won an unprecedented fourth term with a landslide victory over Tim Smith, and picked up Elkhart with Rod Roberson’s defeat of former mayor Dave Miller. Joe Hogsett won a second term in the capital city, easily dispatching State Sen. Jim Merritt. Democrats also made suburban gains with Emily Styron upsetting Zionsville Mayor Tim Haak, as well as picking up council seats in the Republican strongholds Carmel and Fishers. Democrats also took control of the Columbus City Council in Vice President Mike Pence's hometown.

  • Atomic! Mayoral decisions; Trump IN approval 52%; Penske buys 500
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Mayoral decisions today: Here are your Municipal Election Day talking points: We'll be watching to see if Republicans Tim Smith in Fort Wayne, Tyler Moore in Kokomo, Mark Seabrook in New Albany and Dan Ridenour in Muncie can flip city halls. The big one is Smith taking on three-term Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry in the state's second largest city. We moved that race into "tossup" last week and Henry began running negative ads. Another interesting election is happening in Terre Haute, where Republican Mayor Duke Bennett is trying fend off Democrat Councilman Karrem Nasser and independent Pat Goodwin. Turnout could be elevated there with the casino referendum on the ballot.
  • Atomic! Pete v. Liz; MC mayor indicted; Farm socialism
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Pete v. Warren: Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: First there was a spate of Iowa polling last week that had South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg in a four-way race withElizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and the fading Joe Biden. Then came Friday night's Iowa Liberty & Justice Dinner where Buttigieg provided a vivid and energized contrast with the Biden while setting up a confrontation with Warren. That prompted Mayor Pete to tell John Heilemann on Showtime's "The Circus"  Sunday night, "It's coming down to the two of us. Obviously there are a lot of candidates and a lot of things can happen, but I think that as that happens, the contrasts become clearer. The contrasts are real." His showdown with Warren came after she unveiled on Friday the biggest spending proposal in U.S. history, a $20.5 trillion Medicare For All policy behemoth, which theWall Street Journal  editorial board called a "fantasy" with about $10 trillion in missing funding.
  • Buttigieg provides vivid contrast to fading Biden in Iowa Friday
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Last week we cautioned Hoosiers to wrap their minds around the potential of a “President Mike Pence” as impeachment swirls around President Trump. After Pete Buttigieg’s Iowa Democratic Liberty and Justice Dinner speech Friday night - given in immediate contrast to fading frontrunner Joe Biden - it might be time to take a potential Mayor Pete Democratic nomination and give it viable credence. "I didn’t just come here to end the era of Donald Trump, I am here to launch the era that must come next," Buttigieg told more than 13,000 Iowans at the party's annual dinner, the same event that launched Sen. Barack Obama's improbable nomination victory over Hillary Clinton and John Edwards 12 years before.
    ?"Because in order to win and in order to lead, it’s going to take a lot more than the political warfare we have come to accept from Washington, D.C.," Buttigieg said in a room that had a distinct audible buzz that a man on the move produces. "We already have a divider in chief. I am offering a White House that you can look at on the news and feel your blood pressure go down a little bit instead of through the roof. I am asking you to picture that first day the sun comes up in this country and Donald Trump is no longer the President of the United States." Buttigieg was immediately followed by Biden, who gave a credible but unremarkable speech, with the audible buzz that moved the room just minutes before simply disappearing for the former vice president. 

  • Atomic! Pete's rise; Polarized inquiry; Conspicuous Rep. Pence

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Pete's breakout: 
    Here are your Friday power lunch talking points: On this night in November 2007, Sen. Barack Obama had his breakout moment at the Iowa Democratic Dinner, in which he talked of a “defining moment in our history” in a nation that had “lost faith that our leaders can and will do anything about it.” It would propel him to what had been seen as an unlikely nomination. Tonight, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg will appear at that dinner, a day after the House voted to begin an impeachment inquiry of President Trump. And he will have a huge buzz surrounding him after a New York Times/Siena College Poll  shows Sen. Elizabeth Warren leading in Iowa with 22%, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders at 19%, Buttigieg at 18% and the fading frontrunner Joe Biden at 17%.

  • Horse Race: Final mayoral race prognostications
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    FORT WAYNE  – Intense mayoral races could switch out city halls in Fort Wayne, Kokomo, Elkhart and Terre Haute, where an independent candidate appears to have a shot at an upset. Both state political parties are spending big in the Fort Wayne race between three-term incumbent Democrat Tom Henry and Republican challenger Tim Smith. Indiana Democrats have spent $63,000, while Indiana Republicans have pumped in $65,000 for Smith this month, bringing the GOP’s total to $102,000 for the cycle. According to local sources and campaign finance reports, Republicans appear to be in a position to pick up Kokomo, where Howard County Commissioner Tyler Moore is facing Democrat  Abbie Smith after three-term Democrat Mayor Greg Goodnight decided not to run. Republicans also believe they have a chance at picking up New Albany, where long-time businessman Mark Seabrook is challenging Mayor Jeff Gahan, as well as the open seat in Muncie, where Councilman Dan Ridenour is facing Democrat Terry Whitt Bailey after Democrat Mayor Dennis Tyler opted to retire.
  • Statehouse: Hill had a bad week of headlines as career hangs in balance
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS —  Superintendent of Public Instruction Harold Negley had a bad week in 1985, when he was indicted for conspiracy to commit ghost employment. A decade later, Clerk of Courts Dwayne Brown was another who endured a spate of embarrassing headlines that included ghost employment and inappropriate behavior with female employees. In 2012, it was Secretary of State Charlie White who faced allegations of election fraud. Negley, Brown and White would face indictment, convictions and were forced to resign. Attorney General Curtis Hill had that kind of disastrous week. He faced a Supreme Court disciplinary hearing over allegations of sexual harassment and groping at a 2018 sine die party. The ensuing headlines were a politician’s nightmare.
  • Horse Race: Buttigieg rises, but sexuality, race are hurdles
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  — Mayor Pete Buttigieg has a narrow lane to the Democratic presidential nomination. One can make the case that an obscure mayor from a mid-sized Indiana city even being in the conversation is a testament to the shrewd running of this campaign. That he raised north of $51 million, almost double of the so-called frontrunner and former vice president Joe Biden, would have been impossible to predict. Reporter Pat Rynard of the Iowa Starting Line website lays out the scenario for Buttigieg’s narrow lane, starting in the Hawkeye state: Two polls this past week had good news for Buttigieg in the lead-off caucus state. A Suffolk University and USA Today poll had the mayor in third place at 13%. More importantly, he was just five points off Joe Biden’s first-place lead of 18% (there were a lot of undecideds in this survey,  29%) and four behind Elizabeth Warren’s 17%. Bernie Sanders had fallen back to fourth at 9%. Even better for Buttigieg, an Iowa State University/Civics poll put him in second, with 20% saying he was their first choice for the caucus. 
  • Atomic! Banks accuses Dems; Pence transcript; Henry nationwide
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Banks accuses leaky Dems: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: U.S. Rep. Jim Banks is accusing House Democrats of, essentially, treasonous behavior, writing in a Fox News op-ed that they would have tipped on ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the raid that resulted in his death. "Would someone like Rep. Adam Schiff have jeopardized the viability of the mission to hurt Donald Trump? It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which, yes, Schiff and his allies would have leaked classified information to their friends in the media and railroaded this operation," Banks, R-Columbia City, writes. "Remember, they tell us each and every day that the biggest national security risk to this nation resides in the White House. By their own logic, why wouldn’t they do all that they can to remove him? Even if it meant letting one ‘austere religious scholar’ live another day." 

  • Atomic! Remember Kassig & Mueller; Pete's Iowa buzz
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Baghdadi and the givers: Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: With President Trump announcing that U.S. Special Forces had killed the notorious killer terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who created the ISIS caliphate, we remember two of this tyrant’s young victims, Butler University graduate Abdul-Rahman (Peter) Kassig and Kayla Mueller. President Trump said on Sunday, "Their murder of innocent Americans Jim Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller were especially heinous."  Kassig was a medical assistant who aided Syrian refugees through Special Emergency Response and Assistance (SERA), a non-governmental organization he founded in 2012 to provide refugees in Syria and Lebanon with medical assistance, supplies, clothing and food. He was taken hostage on Oct. 1, 2013 while attempting to deliver food and medical supplies to refugees. He was killed on or about Nov. 16, 2014. His parents Paula and Ed Kassig remembered their 26-year-old son, saying, "Our hearts are battered, but they will mend. The world is broken, but it will be healed in the end. Please pray for Abdul-Rahman, or Pete if that's how you know him, at sunset this evening. Pray also for all people in Syria, in Iraq and around the world that are held against their will."

  • Atomic! Hill replacements; USS Indy call to duty; Bellicose Pence
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Who might replace Hill? Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: The Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission hearing for Attorney General Curtis Hill ended with the embattled Republican defending himself on Thursday. The Journal Gazette's  Nikki Kelly described Hill as "relaxed and conversational," adding that he was "shocked" and "troubled" by the groping allegations from four women. He added, “I was concerned this was now becoming a political attack.” And, he said, he was unaware that State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon was wearing a backless dress. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on Hill's status within 30 days. If he loses his law license, he must resign as attorney general. Gov. Eric Holcomb, who called on Hill to resign in July 2018, would select his replacement, which is a growing trend. Two of the five constitutional offices have been gubernatorial appointments as opposed to original nomination at the party convention, including Secretary of State Connie Lawson (Gov. Daniels), Auditor Tera Klutz replacing Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch (Gov. Holcomb), and Holcomb's ascension to LG by Gov. Mike Pence when Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann resigned.
  • Atomic! Hill on the stand; 5th Ave. immunity; Pence inquiry
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Hill takes the stand: Here are your Thursday power lunch talking points: The Supreme Court Disciplinary hearing of Attorney General Curtis Hill rested its case on Wednesday. It included testimony from Elkhart County prosecutor's office employee Kathleen Bowers, who said in 2016 Hill propositioned her for sex. “We need to f*** because it would be hot," she quoted Hill as saying in December 2016, just weeks before he became attorney general. The commission also heard testimony from lobbyist Tony Samuel, who invited Hill to the sine die party, but said he spent most of the time on the other side of the bar. WIBC's  Eric Berman: Commission attorney Seth Prudenquestioned Samuel at length about a series of emails among him, Hill, Hill's chief deputy, and various political allies, going over drafts of Hill's own news releases and letters to the editor, accusing the women of falsifying their stories. The final witness was Hill, who explained the organization of his office.
  • Atomic! Damning testimony; Hill intox; Pete's sexuality
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Kokomo

    1. Hoosier senators and Trump: Here are your hump day power lunch talking points: Ambassador Bill Taylor is an appointee of President Trump and his House impeachment inquiry testimony on Tuesday was sensational and damning, essentially confirming the "quid pro quo" that President Trump sought a Ukraine inquiry on Hunter Biden in exchange for $400 million in congressionally approve military aid. The Daily Caller  contacted all Republican senators asking them if they would rule out impeachment, and only seven did.Axios  reported over the weekend that Sens. Mitt Romney and Lindsey Graham might vote to convict Trump if there was ample evidence. It's hard not to come to a conclusion that Trump did try to extort political dirt in exchange for Ukrainian aid when you read Taylor's stunning 15-page opening statementHowey Politics Indiana  reached out Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun just to get reaction to the explosive Taylor statement. Neither were listed in the Caller's  list of seven. Young spokesman Jay Kenworthy said his boss won't be commenting on House testimony. Braun's office did not respond.
  • HPI Analysis: Fissures appear in Trump's facade
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    NEWPORT, R.I. – If there’s a SWAT team standoff adjacent to a train wreck, and an F-4 scale tornado is bearing down on this twisted scene ... what do you watch first? And to whom do you listen? This is the Trump/Pence White House these days. The guardrails have vanished with Dan Coats and Gen. Mattis. So, too, has a systemic approach to policy questions and crises. The cabinet is dominated by “acting” secretaries.  In the middle of all this is the “extremely stable genius,” which is how President Trump refers to himself, and he is leading on whim and gut. Intel reports and briefings are irritants. When he made his decision to pull out of Syria and abandon the Kurds, it was news to the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. These past two weeks have been a classic cluster F***. A phone call to a Turkish autocrat two Sundays ago has sent 2 million Kurds fleeing what appears to be an ethnic cleansing campaign. Russian media is declaring President Putin has “won the lottery.”
  • Horse Race: Hale opens up big 5th CD money lead
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  — Two congressional primary showdowns are beginning to take shape, with Democrat Christina Hale posting a big money lead in the 5th CD. A second potential race is shaping up in the 1st CD with U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky pulling documents from the administration of Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. According to third quarter FEC filings, Hoosiers For Hale posted $326,367, disbursed $73,690 and had $252,677 cash on hand. The 2018 nominee Dee Thornton posted $49,415 for the quarter, had $22,565 in disbursements, and had $50,576 cash on hand. Two other 5th CD candidates also posted filings. Andy Jacobs reported $3,500 in receipts and cash on hand, while Jennifer Christie posted $6,246 in receipts and had $5,253 cash.
  • Atomic! Pete's debate power; McDermott v. Visclosky? Hill drinkin'
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Burlington, Vt.

    1. Pete takes aim at Warren, Beto: Here are your hump day power lunch talking points: Here in Bernie’s hometown, we watched Mayor Pete Buttigieg score some debate points on the biggest stage yet. He clashed with new frontrunner Elizabeth Warrenwho struggled to define and defend her “Medicare for All” proposal. Buttigieg, of course, adds on his “for those who want it” version. “I have made clear what my principles are here,” Warren said at one of the defining points of the debate. “That is costs will go up for the wealthy and for big corporations and for hard working middle class families, costs will go down. I will not sign a bill into law that does not lower costs for middle-class families.” Buttigieg had called Warren’s plan’s “elusive” and added, “Your signature is to have a plan for everything, except this.”
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  • Sen. Melton passes on 1st CD race; committed to INGov
    “Rep. Visclosky is a powerful member of Congress with a passion for improving the lives in his district and this nation. I have been lucky enough to have a front seat to his leadership throughout my lifetime and I couldn’t be more grateful for his work. I have been humbled by the outpouring of bi-partisan support encouraging me to pursue this congressional seat in 2020, but as I said upon my announcement, I am firmly committed to becoming the next governor of Indiana and fighting to improve the quality of life of every Hoosier." - State Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, passing on the open 1st CD seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky and remaining in the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. So far Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., and North Township Trustee Frank J. Mrvan have said they will pursue the 1st CD. Bill Hanna, president and CEO of the Northwest Regional Development Authority is also being encouraged to run.
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  • The Foreign Involvement in Elections Act

    Calling on Sens. Young & Braun, and Rep. Banks to author the Foreign Involvement in Elections Act, which would legalize foreign sources to fund and influence American elections. If this is the new norm, if this is OK, then legalize it.

    Fox News analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explained, "The proof is largely undisputed, except by the president himself. It consists of admissions, testimony and documents, which show that President Trump sought to induce the government of Ukraine to become involved in the 2020 presidential election. Specifically, Trump held up $391 million in American military hardware and financial aid to Ukraine until Ukrainian prosecutors commenced a criminal investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. That is a mouthful of facts to swallow in one bite, but the legal implications are straightforward and profound."

    Conservative legal scholar Cass Sunstein laid out a similar narrative a few weeks ago. So with the House passing an official impeachment inquiry on a virtual party line vote, the question for Senate Republicans and the American people is whether their fidelity to the once GOP pillar of the "rule of law" stands, or whether it is consumed by a cult of personality presidency which will profoundly change American politics; where foreign influence will be invited into future elections. It's the ultimate slippery slope for the republic. Will we keep it?  - Brian A. Howey, publisher

     
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