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Friday, July 3, 2020
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Thursday, November 14, 2019 11:58 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS  — South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has joined former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at the top of the leaderboard in the third Monmouth University Poll of the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses. Buttigieg’s gains since the summer have been across the board, with increasing support coming from nearly every demographic group.  Regardless, less than one-third of likely caucusgoers say that they are firmly set on their choice of candidate and most would not be too disappointed if they had to switch their support.  
  • Hale internal poll gives her 6% lead over Spartz

    Howey Politics Indiana

    INDIANAPOLIS - Democratic 5th CD nominee Christina Hale released an internal GBAO poll showing her leading Republican State Sen. Victoria Spartz, 51-46%. Hale’s advantage is driven by her showing among women (59–38%) and voters with a college degree (also 59–38%). “Hoosiers in the 5th District want leaders who will get to work to solve the problems they deal with every day. While some in Washington are focused on taking away protections for pre-existing conditions, I’m committed to working across the aisle to make health care more affordable and accessible for every Hoosier family," Hale said. "We’re excited about our campaign’s growing momentum and will continue working to earn the support of 5th District voters.” Spartz campaign manager Mike Berg called the poll "fabricated," adding, "To believe this poll, you need to believe that President Trump is currently down 10 points in a district he carried by 12. For those counting at home, that would be an unbelievable 22-point swing."

  • HPI Analysis: Gauging the Trump, Pence reelect
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – The original sin of any credible political operator is to base campaign assumptions on the previous cycle. In the context of the American presidency (particularly from a Hoosier perspective), 2016 was a historic doozy. While some point to 1968 as the last year for such political volatility, the year 2016 that produced the Trump/Pence ticket was utterly unpredictable, prompting the frequent “Anything can happen” forecast from these quarters. The June 23, 2016, edition of Howey Politics Indiana  is worth revisiting: “This is the official posting of a tsunami watch for Indiana. With Donald Trump’s presidential campaign at best in transition and in all probability, in a mode of outright implosion, with Gov. Mike Pence locked in a dead heat along with sagging reelect and job approval numbers, and with Pence attaching his dinghy to the political equivalent of the RMS Titanic, the potential for severe down-ballot trauma for Hoosier GOP nominees is heightened.”
  • Horse Race: Hill lashes political fate to a flagging Trump
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS — To hear Attorney General Curtis Hill tell it to Indiana Republican Party delegates last week, he and President Trump are two peas in a pod. “Look, I’m not perfect; no one is,” Hill said in his appeal to GOP delegates. “But like President Trump, I have faced accusations and investigations designed to destroy me politically. Like President Trump, I am a threat to Democrats and the radical liberal agenda. Both President Trump and I are wounded, some would say, and yes we are both warriors with battle scars, but I have grown stronger and wiser from every experience. Like the president, I have stood my ground and renewed my faith and continued to do my job.” Hill was coming off a 30-day Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission suspension the day before his delegate appeal in sanctions for his March 2018 sexual groping of a Democrat legislator and three female General Assembly aides. Trump has faced more than two dozen sexual harassment and assault accusations, including one from E. Jean Carroll, an advice columnist who was Miss Indiana University in 1964. She has alleged that Donald Trump raped her in a Manhattan luxury department store dressing room in the mid-1990s. Hill’s strategy to lash his political fate President Trump comes as the latter is sagging in the polls, trailing Democrat Joe Biden by 12% in a national Fox News Poll last week and 50-38% in a New York Times/Siena Poll released on Tuesday.
  • Horse Race: Weinzapfel wins Dem AG nod; GOP convention tonight
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS — Former Evansville mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel won a 48-vote Democrat attorney general nomination Wednesday night and now has to wait three weeks before he knows whether he will face embattled Republican incumbent Curtis Hill or one of three challengers. Weinzapfel defeated State Sen. Karen Tallian, 1,057 to 1,009, with 86% of the delegates participating in this pandemic inspired virtual state convention. “I am so honored to receive this nomination,” said Weinzapfel, the former two-term Evansville mayor and state legislator. “These are unprecedented times and Hoosiers want an attorney general who will focus on families, our health and our rights. The pandemic is still actively attacking Hoosiers. In the midst of this pandemic, this attorney general is actively trying to take health care from Hoosier families by suing to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
  • HPI Analysis: Pence 'celebrates' COVID-19 victory as first wave hotspots emerge
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – Last March 29, President Trump said at one of his coronavirus task force shows, “Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won.” But that is exactly what Trump and task force chair Mike Pence are saying and doing in their stewarding the United States through the COVID-19 pandemic that has infected more than 1 million people, killing 118,000. Americans are tired of isolation. Trump was told his coronavirus “shows” were harming his torpid reelection chances, so he was champing at the bit to return to his MAGA rallies he uses to fuel his ego and display political momentum. Pence’s coronavirus task force has been shuttled off to the mothballs. Trump hasn’t spoken with Dr. Anthony Fauci in weeks. On Tuesday in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Pence said there is no “second wave” and blamed the media. “In recent days, the media has taken to sounding the alarm bells over a ‘second wave’ of coronavirus infections. Such panic is overblown,” Pence writes.
  • HPI Analysis: Gauging the Trump/Pence reelect
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – The original sin of any credible political operator is to base campaign assumptions on the previous cycle. In the context of the American presidency (particularly from a Hoosier perspective), 2016 was a historic doozy. While some point to 1968 as the last year for such political volatility, the year 2016 that produced the Trump/Pence ticket was utterly unpredictable, prompting the frequent “Anything can happen” forecast from these quarters. The June 23, 2016, edition of Howey Politics Indiana  is worth revisiting: “This is the official posting of a tsunami watch for Indiana. With Donald Trump’s presidential campaign at best in transition and in all probability, in a mode of outright implosion, with Gov. Mike Pence locked in a dead heat along with sagging reelect and job approval numbers, and with Pence attaching his dinghy to the political equivalent of the RMS Titanic, the potential for severe down-ballot trauma for Hoosier GOP nominees is heightened.”

  • Horse Race: Attorney General Hill faces 3 GOP challengers
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS — On Thursday Attorney General Curtis Hill and three challengers will be making virtual video presentations to Indiana Republican Convention delegates. By July 10, the nomination will be known and its impact will likely reverberate over the next four years and over two election cycles. For Hill, winning a second nomination after Gov. Eric Holcomb, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, legislative leaders from both parties and U.S. Sen. Mike Braun called for him to resign two years ago following sexual harassment allegations, will put him on a path toward reelection and, perhaps, the open 2024 gubernatorial nomination. With Democrats winning an anemic 11% of statewide races over the past decade, this gives the GOP nomination added weight. Hill is being challenged by former congressman and secretary of state Todd Rokita, Decatur County Prosecutor Nate Harter, and Zionsville attorney John Westercamp. A number of Republicans Howey Politics Indiana  has talked to believe that if Hill doesn’t win with 50% plus one delegate on the first ballot, a shakeup will be likely. Hill maintains that outside of Indianapolis, his support remains robust.
  • Hoosier Democrats convene virtually; attorney general race results next Thursday
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana Democrats convened virtually Saturday afternoon, hearing from presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the gubernatorial ticket of Dr. Woody Myers and Linda Lawson. Attorney general candidates Karen Tallian and Jonathan Weinzapfel made pitches, though the vote ended at 7 p.m. Friday and results won’t be known until the middle of next week. Democratic spokesman Phil Johnson told HPI the results will be tabulated next Wednesday and released on Thursday. The winner will seek to challenge either Republican Attorney General Curtis Hill or one of three challengers, Todd Rokita, Nate Harter or John Westercamp. They will make their pitch next Thursday, with the winner announced on July 10.

  • Horse Race: After a decade of INDem futility, Tallian, Weinzapfel seek course change
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – As Indiana Democrats meet over the next several days for their pandemic-altered state convention, the party appears to be wandering the desert like Moses, virtually unable to win statewide. November will be the final election of this second decade of the 21st Century. Of the 19 statewide races of the past decade (including 2010), Indiana Democrats are just 2-17, or winning just 11%. The gubernatorial nominee, Dr. Woody Myers, reported $376,692 in total contributions on his April 15 pre-primary report, and a mere $22,155 cash on hand, and no recent large donations since (compared to $7.1 million for Gov. Eric Holcomb’s reelection committee). The party controls around 20% of county offices (around 10% of county commissioners), two of 11 federal seats, none of the six Statehouse constitutional offices, and has been mired in super-minority status in the General Assembly since 2014.

  • HPI Analysis: How racial politics could impact Hale/Spartz 5th CD race
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – To understand how 5th CD Democratic nominee Christina Hale will have to thread the proverbial needle to turn this reliably red district to blue in her race against Republican State Sen. Victoria Spartz, look no further than Carmel City Hall. In a bizarre subplot to the COVID-delayed Tuesday primary, on Monday, Mayor James Brainard threatened to sue Minneapolis for costs his city had incurred from the protests and riots that had spread across the nation. And Brainard invoked a curfew, its duration “indefinite” due to what Carmel Police Chief Jim Barlow described as “threats directed toward our community,” insisting the curfew was “necessary to better ensure the safety.” According to the 2010 Census, Carmel is 85% white, 3% black, and 9% Asian. The “threats” presumably were made by protesters in Indianapolis. In other major U.S. cities there were threats by protesters of taking their actions to the suburbs. A source told HPI he witnessed a Carmel demonstration Tuesday near the Monon Center, describing it as “five African-Americans and whites who looked like they belonged to the Carmel Honor Society.”  On Wednesday, Brainard announced he had ended the curfew, but said it could be reinstituted if further information warrants.
  • Gov. Holcomb vows to fight injustice, urges Hoosiers to seek peaceful methods
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Just minutes after President Trump chided American governors for not "dominating" violent protesters, Gov. Eric Holcomb vowed to use "Every breath we take, every breath we have left should be devoted to making sure what happened to Mr. Floyd never happens again." Noting that his state is now battling the COVID-19 virus and violence in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis a week ago, Holcomb observed, "What started as a justifiable, and actually, needed protest has turned into something else. Indiana, we don't have more time or lives to lose. I implore every Hoosier...to use your breath, your will, in efforts that bridge, not divide. Only then will these tense and turbulent times give way to the more optimistic days ahead." It marked a trifecta in civil discord with the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed 2,000 Hoosiers since March launched the state into a 16.9% jobless rate as the shutdown tanked the economy, and then the spasm of violence over the weekend spread to more than a dozen Indiana cities.

  • HPI Analysis: What happens when a pandemic combines with civil unrest? Look to 1968
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - What happens when a pandemic is squared by a spasm of civil unrest? That is the situation confronting Americans today, as it did over a half century ago in 1968. Many American cities erupted in violence after the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. that April. And the Hong Kong flu pandemic killed 100,000 Americans and a million world-wide, with the Centers for Disease Control documenting that the initial wave hit as schools were going into the winter break, tamping down its spread and lethality. It "smoldered" for a couple of years, with the second pandemic season in 1969-70 far more severe than the first. Hoosiers woke up Friday with the COVID-19 pandemic still on the rise here, killing at least 1,907 while 33,000 have tested positive, and a 16.9% jobless rate; while the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis cop brought unrest not only to the Twin Cities, but to Indiana's door step. Gunfire in downtown Louisville Thursday night wounded seven people protesting the March death of Breonna Taylor by Louisville police in her apartment. By Friday night, demonstrations turned tense in downtown Fort Wayne, where 29 people were arrested, and at Monument Circle in Indianapolis, where IMPD used pepper spray, four people were injured and windows were broken.
  • Mayors Henry, Hogsett react to disturbances in Fort Wayne, Indy

    Howey Politics Indiana

    INDIANAPOLIS - The mayors of Fort Wayne and Indianapolis reacted to protests that grew tense and ended in arrests and injuries Friday night, with Mayor Joe Hogsett vowing arrests if protesters don't go home following a demonstration scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday. "Our country and community are hurting as a result of the passing of George Floyd. It's a terrible tragedy for our society," Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry said. "Mr. Floyd's death did not need to happen, and we pray tonight for his family and the many others who've faced injustices. The City of Fort Wayne respects the rights of individuals to participate in peaceful demonstrations. Tonight's demonstration in downtown Fort Wayne began peacefully. As the demonstration moved along, it began to get more aggressive and the safety of the public was being put at risk. The Fort Wayne Police Department ultimately had to respond in a manner to protect the public's safety. It's vital that we come together united as a city that cares about one another and supports each other. Now more than ever we need to respectfully and peacefully engage in productive dialogue and understanding as we grieve together, knowing that we can have better days ahead of us." Some 29 people were arrested Friday, primarily for disorderly conduct, after a 5 p.m. peaceful protest spilled onto Clinton Street within 90 minutes and eventually took over the roadway. By 8 p.m., police in riot gear fired tear gas into the crowd, and by nightfall, windows of downtown business were shattered and property was vandalized. In Indianapolis, four people, including three IMPD officers were injured when Monument Circle protests turned tense. Police fired tear gas into the crowd at one point. Mayor Joe Hogsett said Saturday, "“Like so many in Indianapolis, I was horrified by the needless killing of George Floyd. I also recognize that the frustration and anger on display over the last few days isn’t new – it has been felt by communities of color for hundreds of years in a country that has far too often fallen short of providing liberty and justice for all."

  • Mitchell says Marion County vote by mail requests unheeded; Lawson won't extend deadline

    Howey Politics Indiana

    INDIANAPOLIS - Vote by mail in Indianapolis and the 5th CD race became beset with controversy as hundreds of absentee ballot requests were not met. "I sent a letter to the Marion County Election Board and Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, expressing deep concern regarding consistent and widespread reports of Marion County voters who have requested an absentee vote-by-mail ballot but have not yet received one," said Indiana Treasurer Kelly Mitchell, one of 15 GOP candidates seeking the 5th CD nomination.  "I have personally spoken with voters who are concerned their voice will not be heard. The City of Indianapolis has an obligation to ensure voters are not disenfranchised and should act immediately to remedy this issue so all eligible voters have the ability to exercise their Constitutional right safely." Marion County Clerk Myla Eldridge told state officials in a letter Thursday that more than 500 ballots had not been delivered and might not be counted if they don't reach the clerk's office by noon Election Day. She implored the Indiana Election Commission to extend the deadline. “What a shame it will be for voters and candidates if thousands of votes sit in stacks uncounted under these circumstances,” she wrote. “Our election workers will accept hand delivered absentee ballots at our three early voting locations and our 22 election day vote centers.” Secretary of State Connie Lawson said Friday she would not extend the deadline. “Not until after a call with my office, three days before the deadline to request an absentee ballot, did Marion County see fit to shift things into high gear,” Lawson said. “Lack of prior planning and preparation are not sufficient reasons to change deadlines.”

  • Horse Race: 5th CD GOP primary becomes Trump test; McDermott favored in CD1
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – The open 5th CD seat has now become a Republican primary referendum on President Trump. This past week, Club For Growth Action PAC, which has endorsed State Sen. Victoria Spartz, began airing two attack TV ads at Spartz’s two rivals who pose the biggest threat to her nomination, former Marion County prosecutor Carl Brizzi and Atlanta businesswoman Beth Henderson. The ad against Brizzi features him on a WIBC radio show, saying, “I’m not a Trump guy. I know the orange man does crazy things. I did not vote for Trump.” The ending voiceover says, “If you want President Trump in the White house, you don’t want Carl Brizzi in the House.”

  • Horse Race: SD20 GOP showdown; Lehman in tossup race
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    FISHERS —  It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s J.R. Gaylor! Over the weekend the SD20 Republican candidate deployed a new pandemic-era campaign technique, with an airplane towing a banner over Fishers and Noblesville imploring votes in his race against Scott Baldwin. This was supposed to be Baldwin’s race to lose. When he entered in January, it appeared as though he forced incumbent Sen. Victoria Spartz out of that race and into the open 5th CD, where she is perceived as one of a handful of frontrunners. Baldwin had in his pocket endorsements from Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness and rookie Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen. Gaylor, who heads ABC Builders & Contractors, entered the race in February and according to large contribution filings with the Indiana secretary of state and the pre-primary reports, opened up more than a $150,000 funding lead while his donor list includes former Senate president David Long and former Indiana GOP chair Jim Kittle, Jr. 
  • HPI Analysis: Pandemic changes the way campaigns are being run
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS —  Beth Henderson has been campaigning in the 5th CD with her two Belgian draft horses, driving into neighborhoods to show them off. Kelly Mitchell had a Zoom fundraiser with former Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard. In three batches last week, the two dozen 5th CD candidates appeared on a TownHall.org virtual meeting. Up in the 1st CD, Frank Mrvan is using Facebook showing U.S. Rep Pete Visclosky endorsing him, while Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, Jr., posted video of Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez delivering campaign yard signs on his behalf. This is the stark, blunt reality of COVID pandemic era politics. If you were counting on an extensive door-to-door campaign and leaving literature on a doorknob for the past two months, the plans you settled on during that January kitchen table meeting with your consultant have gone askew.
  • Holcomb asks SBA for 15% cuts for FY2021

    Howey Politics Indiana

    INDIANAPOLIS - Gov. Eric Holcomb announced 15% agency cuts due to the pandemic for Fiscal Year 2021 as the state's jobless toll hit nearly 17%. “This is the first of what is likely to be a number of steps we’ll take to rein in state spending while we continue to provide critical government services to Hoosiers without interruption," Holcomb said on Friday. "It will be imperative that we effectively manage our resources. During the last economic downturn, the state’s general fund revenues were nearly $3 billion less than forecasted. SBA estimates we could face an even greater loss of general fund revenue in the final 14 months of this biennium. By taking immediate action to tighten our belts across state government, we will maintain maximum flexibility to navigate a still very uncertain economic picture. All options are on the table, and as we approach tax filing deadlines and better understand all of the federal funds available to Indiana, we will make more precise adjustments ahead of crafting a budget for next biennium.” 

  • HPI Analysis: Rokita sets off remote AG battle
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – The worst kept secret in Indiana politics finally came out Wednesday: Todd Rokita is running for attorney general. “I can bring certainty in uncertain times,” Rokita said after he filed on the final day to qualify for the virtual convention that will occur in WISH-TV studios on June 18 and broadcast statewide. That comes the day after Attorney General Curtis Hill returns from his 30-day suspension over sexual harassment allegations. Rokita said he waited “out of respect” for the incumbent, but the Indiana Supreme Court’s decision to suspend Hill for 30 days brought him into the race. “I’m the only one in this race that has won twice statewide. I’m tested,” Rokita said. “The others have to promise what they’re going to do in office. I have a record.”

  • Horse Race: Poll shows Spartz leading, with high name ID
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    CARMEL – Club For Growth released a 5th CD poll showing its endorsed candidate, State Sen. Victoria Spartz, with a double-digit lead. The survey, with 409 respondents, had Spartz with 32%, Carl Brizzi at 14%, Beth Henderson at 13%, Micah Beckwith at 8%, Kelly Mitchell at 5% and Chuck Dietzen at 3%. The undecideds were at 21%, and 10% were supporting another candidate. What makes the veracity of this poll doubtful is the name ID showing Spartz with 76% name recognition, Brizzi at 74% and Henderson at 57%. Brizzi at 74% is believable because he served as Marion County prosecutor for eight years. But Spartz, who won her state Senate seat via caucus and has yet to be on a primary ballot, hasn’t spent nearly the kind of money to buy enough TV gross rating points to attain 76% name ID, even with a significant social media presence.
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  • Holcomb delays reopening; says COVID 'on the prowl'
    “Nationwide, collectively, cases are at a peak level. We have to accept the fact that this virus is on the prowl and it’s moving, even within our borders. We are living on virus time, so to speak.” - Gov. Eric Holcomb, announcing a shift in the reopening of Indiana's economy during the pandemic, which has surged to 52,000 new cases on Wednesday. He said that Indiana has moved to "stage 4.5" after initially signaling a full reopening by July 4. The restrictions remain until at least July 17, just a few weeks from the scheduled reopening of state schools, universities and fall sports, Indiana cases have remained relatively flat compared to 36 other states, but new hotspots in Evansville and the Lafayettes have joined Elkhart County. Holcomb and Indiana Health Commissioner Kristina Box urged Hoosiers to wear face masks in public, but did not make it mandatory.
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  • Trump answers Hannity question on what he'd do if elected to a 2nd term
    “Well, one of the things that will be really great, you know, the word experience is still good. I always say talent is more important than experience. I’ve always said that. But the word experience is a very important word. It’s a very important meaning. I never did this before - I never slept over in Washington. I was in Washington I think 17 times, all of the sudden, I’m the president of the United States. You know the story, I’m riding down Pennsylvania Avenue with our first lady and I say, ‘This is great.’ But I didn’t know very many people in Washington, it wasn’t my thing. I was from Manhattan, from New York. Now I know everybody. And I have great people in the administration. You make some mistakes, like you know an idiot like Bolton, all he wanted to do is drop bombs on everybody. You don’t have to drop bombs on everybody. You don’t have to kill people.” - President Trump, answering this question from Fox News' Sean Hannity at a Wisconsin town hall Thursday: “What’s at stake in this election as you compare and contrast, and what are your top priority items for a second term?”
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