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Tuesday, November 13, 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! Legislative leaders set; Dems reboot; IN pot island
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. General Assembly power leadership set: Here are your final election week power lunch talking points:  With the General Assembly’s 121st session less than two months away, leadership is set, with two of the four caucuses sporting a new helmsman. As expected, Senate Republicans elected Rodrick Bray as president prom tempore (as well as chair of Rules Committee). He was initially selected last March in the waning days of the last session, and three new senators - Linda Rogers(replacing Joe Zakas), Chris Garten (Jim Smith) and Mike Gaskill (Doug Eckerty) - didn’t alter the outcome.  Bray has appointed Mark Messmer as majority floor leader, and Jim Merritt was elected majority caucus chair. Other new Senate committee chairs include Sen. Jeff Raatzfor Education, Chip Perfect for Commerce and Technology, Messmer for Environment, Eric Bassler for Insurance & Financial Institutions as well as Joint Rules, and Jim Tomes for Veterans. “My fellow caucus members and I are well-positioned to take on the challenges  before our state,” Bray said. “Much of the heavy lifting is done at the committee level, and I am confident that these individuals will lead with knowledge, integrity and hard work.”

  • Dems make tiny gains in legislature; Goodin ousted
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – While two House races remain incomplete due to a lack of totals from Porter County, it appears Indiana Democrats gained only one seat in the Indiana Senate and just three in the Indiana House. The GOP super majories are intact as of this writing. Absentee ballots put Rep. Joe Taylor over the top after it appeared he lost on Election Night. Republican State Rep. Julie Olthoff trails Democrat Lisa Beck by by 504 votes in HD19 with 61 of 65 precincts reporting. There have been no totals reported from HD4, where State Rep. Ed Soliday was challenged by Democrat Frank Szczepanski. Indiana Democratic Chairman John Zody said Thursday morning he was confident Beck would win after Porter County results come in. He called it "unacceptable" that no results were in for HD4 two days after the election, calling the Porter election a "miscarriage of election administration." Democrats picked up two other seats with Chris Chyung defeating State Rep. Hal Slager by 86 votes in HD15, while Chris Campbell defeated Republican State Rep. Sally Siegrist 57-43%. 
  • Ford defeating Delph, but potential gains modest
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - In an election where the Indiana Democratic Party had to make serious inroads into Republican General Assembly super majorities to regain relevance, beyond J. D. Ford’s defeat of State Sen. Mike Delph, the effort came up short. With 94% reporting, Ford had a more than a 3,000 vote lead, ahead 53-47%. It was a rematch from their 2014 race and gave Democrats a chance to claim a 10th seat. In the Indiana House, Democrat Chris Campbell had a 59-41% lead over State Rep. Sally Siegrist, with 50% of precincts reporting. In another off-the-radar close call, Democrat State Rep. Melanie Wright had 339-vote victory over Republican Ben Fisher. Democrat Rep. Joe Taylor had less than a 50-vote lead over Republican Troy Dillon in a seat not on the radar. Democrat Kyle Miller was trailing State Rep. Martin Carbaugh by just 399 votes with 53% of precincts reporting.
  • Braun upsets Donnelly as GOP surges to apex of power
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    and JACOB CURRY


    INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Republicans waited six years for the moment they that came on election night: Joe Donnelly's unlikely tenure as the Democratic Senator from the Hoosier State ended with an emphatic victory by his opponent Mike Braun. The GOP regained Richard Lugar's former Senate seat with a no-nonsense Jasper businessman leading the charge. With 70% of precincts reporting, he held a 54-42% lead over Donnelly with Libertarian Lucy Brenton at 4%. Speaking in the JW Marriott's White River Ballroom, before a crowd of jubilant supporters, Senator-elect Mike Braun came to the stage to chants of "Mike! Mike! Mike!" Braun started his speech with the same words he started his primary victory speech with: "What a journey this has been." 
  • Atomic! Death of polls; a Brauny bet; follow the $$; Ollie ditched
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. The death of political polling:  A couple of Rexisms  are in order here when it comes to President Trump’s sway in this state: 1.) “I don’t have to slam my hand in the car door twiceto learn that it hurts”; and (we’re paraphrasing here) 2.) “Being chairman of the party of the governor and one that doesn’t is the difference between shit and ice cream.” So in the Hoosier State, we cannot discount the impact of Trump/Pence, and the GOP has vastly more money. Braun ended up with a money lead over Donnelly. Democrats have put most of their money in Joe Donnelly. President Trump is back in Fort Wayne tonight for a final pitch. It’s designed to stoke up the base; it could motivate the Dem vote, but 2016 is fresh in our mindsSo we can’t base our final INSen forecasts on polling. A lot of it is follow the money and gut. Nate Silver’sFiveThirtyEight gives Sen. Joe Donnelly a 70.8% chance of winning this morning, down from 80% last week, but up from 68% last week. But what kind of cred does he have, given his DUI-style dialogue on his own forecasting model this past weekend? He might as well quoted HPI  (i.e. “Anything can happen.”) We view the Senate race as a tossup.  We’re watching heavy turnout in Indy, but also across red Indiana. Mike Braun was in a tossup race in the primary, and won going away, by 10%. If we had to put a money bet on it, Braun pulls it out.
  • Atomic! INSen intensity & persuasion; Legis races heat up
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. INSen intensity and persuasion: Here are your final Friday pre-election power lunch talking points: With President Trump and Vice President Pence winging into Southport this evening, we’ve mined down into the two late network polls  that gave U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly leads over Mike Braun. In the Fox News Poll  that had Donnelly up by a surprising 45-38% margin, the crosstabs revealed Democrats are maintaining a voter intensity edge. Likely voters were asked how interested they are in the Senate race, 44% of Democrats said they were “extremely” interested, compared to 37% for Republicans and 16% for independents. On the ideological spectrum, 45% of liberals, 37% of conservatives, 31% of moderates and 37% of evangelicals described themselves that way. As for location, 42% of suburbanites fit that category, compared to 37% of urban voters and 33% of rural voters. In the head-to-head question, Braun was carrying 78% of Republican voters, compared to 84% of Democrats who support Donnelly. Donnelly had a 30-18% lead among independent voters, while 18% of those were backing Libertarian Lucy Brenton. That poll showed that 19% could change their mind, including 14% of Democrats and 19% of Republicans.

  • Horse Race: Only handful of House races in play
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – The battle for the Indiana House is conforming to some of our earliest forecasting, in that there are only a handful of seats that appear to be in play in the final days of the campaign. Howey Politics Indiana has Democratic challenges to Republican State Reps. Julie Olthoff, Dale Devon, Sally Siegrist and Martin Carbaugh in its “Tossup” category, while the open HD71 being vacated by Democratic State Rep. Steve Stemler looks to be a pickup opportunity for Republicans. Chris Campbell's challenge to Rep. Siegrist heated up significantly as Democrats dropped a mailer linking her to the defense of House Speaker Brian Bosma and allegations of a relationship with an intern, according to Dave Bangert of the Lafayette Journal & Courier. Our “Leans” category includes only one race, that of State Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer, who faces a rematch with Democrat John Barnes.

  • HPI Analysis: Donnelly faces the full brunt of Trump
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – After a flurry of late polls from obscure firms like Mason and Cygnal, and a few surveys from Republican partisans, the growing perception at the end of last week was that Republican Mike Braun was gaining late momentum in his race to unseat U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly. But on Wednesday, Fox News had Donnelly up 45-38%, which represents a true outlier, while NBC/Marist had Donnelly with a 48-46% lead over Braun, with 2% for “other” and 7% undecided. Donnelly had a 63-47% lead among people who had already voted and he had a 48-32% lead among independents. President Trump’s approval stood at 48/40 approve/disapprove. A CBS News survey released Sunday had Braun leading 46-43%. In the Fox Poll, the race shifted since September when Braun was up by 2%.  In early October, Donnelly was up by 2%. Donnelly’s edge comes in large part from greater party loyalty and higher interest in the election among Democrats.  Fully 88% of Democrats back him vs. 80% of Republicans for Braun. In addition, nearly 1 in 10 Republicans go for Donnelly. Independents are about twice as likely to support the incumbent. But 19% said they could change their mind.

  • Horse Race: 4 tossups, 2 leaners in Senate races
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – While the nine Indiana Senate Democrats had hoped that a “blue wave” would allow them to grow their tiny caucus, our analysis shows only four “Tossup” races and only two in the “Leans” category. Any Democrat gains will be very modest. Our tossup races include the J.D. Ford rematch with Sen. Mike Delph, Sen. Jon Ford’s efforts to turn back Democrat Chris Gambill, the open SD26 in the Delaware/Madison county area, and Anna Murray’s challenge to Sen. Ron Grooms in the suburban Louisville area. The “Kavanaugh effect” has probably helped several other potentially vulnerable Republicans, but it could be backfiring in a couple of Indianapolis suburban races involving Delph and Sen. Jim Merritt. Of those two, Merritt appears to be on safer ground than Delph, who is in a true dogfight.
  • Horse Race: Dems losing CD races due to 2011 maps
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – The crucial days for the 2018 midterms actually occurred seven years ago. Those were the days of reapportionment, when House and Senate Republicans and then-Gov. Mitch Daniels developed and approved congressional and General Assembly district maps. Now four campaign cycles in, those maps which were disguised as the antithesis of gerrymandering for their compact shapes and respect for county lines and “communities of interest” have created a scenario where there are just eight tossup legislative races and no such congressional races. On the congressional front, we’ve watched Democrats Mel Hall in the 2nd CD, Courtney Tritch in the 3rd CD,  and Liz Watson in the 9th CD all raise handsome amounts of money in their challenges to U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski, Jim Banks and Trey Hollingsworth. We rate Banks as "Safe" on next Tuesday, while Walorski and Hollingsworth are "Likely" winners. There is nothing that has a whiff of a tossup.
  • Sec. Hagel, Sexton parents endorse Donnelly
    By JACOB CURRY

    INDIANAPOLIS – Former Defense Sec. Chuck Hagel endorsed U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly at the Fort Harrison Veterans Center Wedbesday. They were joined Jeff and Barb Sexton, the parents of Jacob Sexton, for whom Donnelly’s Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act, enacted in 2013, was named. Before introducing Secretary Hagel, Donnelly spoke about the importance of bipartisanship when tackling and respecting veterans’ issues. “There’s no Republican, there’s no Democrat on veterans. There’s no Republicans or Democrats when it comes to America. There’s no red or blue, it’s about the red, white, and blue. That’s what this nation is about,” the senator said.
  • Braun, Donnelly use final debate to spar on pre-existing conditions

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly and Republican nominee Mike Braun sparred on health care issues in their final showdown, coming just a week before Hoosier voters will render a verdict on their public roles. Donnelly and Democrats nationally have been campaigning on the issue of pre-existing conditions, often citing the Texas v. United States lawsuit that would end those Obamacare protections. In his opening statement, Donnelly said of Braun, “He supports a lawsuit that takes away your coverage of pre-existing conditions. Mike’s after your health care, your Social Security and Medicare. That’s what this election is about.” Braun said later in the debate that “Joe was for the Affordable Care Act. It’s the unaffordable care act. I would never be for any replacement that doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions.” But Braun did not disavow the Texas v. United States lawsuit.

  • Atomic! Bosma on TV; Delph dogfight; Trump approval plunge
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Bosma on air; Delph dogfight: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: House Speaker Brian Bosma began running TV ads Monday on broadcast TV. “We’ve balanced your budget and lowered your taxes,” Bosma says in the spot, adding that he helped raise education funding and “we’ve even built a long-term transportation plan.” Bosma is facing Democrat Poonam Gill. The House Republican Campaign Committee began funneling more than $20,000 in funds last week. Reports from over the weekend is that HRCC was polling in HD88, though are sources there say Bosma’s numbers are good. Pre-general election campaign finance reports show that Bosma had an ending balance of $1.53 million. In contrast, Gill has raised $129,389  and had an ending balance of $74,914. In nearby SD29, State Sen. Mike Delph has spent more than $463,311 in his reelection bid and posted an ending balance of $113,050.
  • Atomic! Braun's late mo; final INSen pitches; Tuesday debate
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. The final INSen homestretch: Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: Republican Senate nominee Mike Braun appears to have the late momentum  in his challenge toU.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly. A CBS Poll released this weekend had Braun up 46-43%, and that the third of the last five surveys (including a partisan one from Braun’s campaign) that had him leading, but all are within the margin of error. FiveThirtyEight is now giving Donnelly a 67.6% chance of winning, but that’s down from 80.9% a week ago. What we don’t know is whether an influx of angry suburban female voters (the likes who fueled upsets in Alabama and Virginia this past year) will be enough to off-set President Trump’s base fearful of the caravan and angered by Donnelly’s vote onJustice Brett KavanaughPresident Trump will campaign for Braun in Southport on Friday at the local high school gym, and has scheduled an election eve rally in Fort Wayne on Nov. 5 to make his final pitch for the Republican.
  • Atomic! Bombs & caravans; bomber arrest; Lugar treaty warning
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.
    and MARK SCHOEFF JR. in Washington, D.C.


    1. Two potent split screen optics: Here are your final power lunch talking points for week: Americans are watching another day of jarring split screen optics. There’s the NYPD bomb truck carrying pipe bombs that were targeting Sen. Cory Booker, former national intel director James Clapper, and CNN. The networks are reporting that a man has been arrested in Plantation, Fla. Police were shown towing a white van covered with Trump stickers. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will give a briefing at 2:30. A dozen have now been intercepted, all aimed at critics of President Trump. And there’s the immigrant caravan about a thousand miles south of the U.S./Mexican border. Both have the potential of profoundly reshaping the mid-term elections. The President Trump and his administration are prioritizing the caravan, a move to stoke up the base. Trump wants to close the southern border to immigrants and deploy 800 U.S. troops. Homeland Security Sec. Kirstjen M. Nielsen traveled to the border on Thursday, will be in California today and told Fox News, “We do not have any intention right now to shoot at people, but they will be apprehended.” Trump tweeted Thursday, “To those in the Caravan, turnaround, we are not letting people into the United States illegally. Go back to your Country  and if you want, apply for citizenship like millions of others are doing!”

  • HPI Analysis: Freakish events buffet mid-terms
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – On April 3, 1974, one of the most freakish weather events in recorded memory raked Indiana and the central U.S. It was called the “Super Outbreak,” and in one day at least 18 tornadoes gashed Indiana, from Monticello to Rochester to Madison. The next day, I joined a Peru Daily Tribune  photographer and headed up to Rochester and Talma to shoot and report the carnage. On Old U.S. 31, the Ghrist Motel was in shambles. There was one room where the roof was torn off, a pickup truck was wedged in the walls, and on the dresser sat a plug-in soup warmer. Sitting next to it was an empty can of corn, its top attached but peeled back. Both sat on the top serenely, unmoved, as a deathly maelstrom blasted the surroundings. Indiana’s political reality feels quite as hectic as the “Super Outbreak” in the final weeks before the 2018 mid-terms. The data sets are freakish and wanton. The pundits and talking heads are confused. There’s that Mexican caravan President Trump is hyping, and bombs are being sent to former presidents, vice presidents and CNN. Heading into the final days, about the only thing we can safely predict is that healthy Republican majorities will be maintained in the Indiana House and Senate, and the GOP will easily carry the three statewide races.
  • Horse Race: Ad wars churn in 2nd CD
    By JACOB CURRY
    and BRIAN A. HOWEY


    INDIANAPOLIS – With their debates finished and Election Day now less than two weeks away, the 2nd CD  campaigns are in full swing, having released a flurry of recent ads. This week, both the Mel Hall and Rep. Jackie Walorski campaigns put out two new ads, each opting for one positive message and one aggressive message. Their tone and direction reveal what the campaigns are focusing on in these final days, health care and character. In one, Rep. Walorski brings on Julie Graham, the widow of Dr. Todd Graham, whose murder by a patient upset about withheld opioid medications provided the impetus for a provision added to a congressional bill to fight opioid addiction. Graham praises the representative’s work as effective and an honor to her late husband. 
  • Horse Race: Late money spills into 9 General Assembly races
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - While final pre-election finance reports will be posted on the Election Division’s website on Friday, the bulk of the late contributions to Republican House candidates have been reported in five races, and in nine races in both the House and Senate. HD19, where incumbent Republican Julie Olthoff is in a tight race with Democrat Lisa Beck. This is one of the few districts in the state that is closely split between the two parties. The House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC) has given Olthoff $65,000. Horse Race Status: Tossup. HD89, where GOP incumbent Cindy Kirchhofer faces former Democratic Rep. John Barnes. HRCC has given nearly $36,000 to Kirchhofer and a host of health care-related PACs and GOP caucus contributions added about $10,000 more. Horse Race Status: Tossup. HD4, where incumbent Republican Ed Soliday faces Frank Szczepanski in another Northwest Indiana area district seen as competitive. Soliday has reported over $27,000 in late contributions. Horse Race Status: Leans Soliday. HD5, where GOP incumbent Dale DeVon is in a tight race with South Bend area heart surgeon Donald Westerhausen. HRCC put another $40,000 into DeVon’s campaign. That makes a total  of $65,000 they’ve given to DeVon. Horse Race Status: Tossup.
  • President Trump signs opioid bill with Donnelly provisions
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - President Trump signed key legislation that represents his Phase II in the opioid war, with several provisions proposed by U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly. “Together, we are going to end the scourge of drug addiction in America," Trump said. "We are going to end it or, at least, make a big dent in this terrible terrible problem."  President Trump signed the bipartisan Substance Use Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act. Donnelly spoke on the Senate Floor earlier this month about his bipartisan efforts to address this public health crisis. “As the opioid epidemic continues to harm families and communities across Indiana and the United States, I’m very glad the President signed the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act into law,” Donnelly said. “This gives us more tools to combat this public health crisis. This law includes several provisions I authored, and works to ensure that those providing prevention, treatment, and recovery services in our communities have the resources they need.”

  • Special prosecutor, I.G. won't pursue charges on AG Hill
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – Two reports issued Tuesday on allegations of sexual harassment and assault by Attorney General Curtis Hill freed him from a potential criminal indictment, but left him open to a civil suit while tossing the Indiana Statehouse into uncomfortable uncertainty as Gov. Eric Holcomb and bipartisan legislative leaders renewed calls for him to resign. In their wake, Hill remains a deeply damaged Statehouse entity and a pariah with the majority of his own political party. His reaction of defiance can only be mitigated if he seeks a course of recognition of his now well-documented actions and redemption. Pending civil suits will keep him in the news with a harsh glare. On Wednesday, Gov. Holcomb told Indiana Public Media, “I believe that resignation would be the proper course – now that this has been confirmed three times.” But Holcomb says he doesn’t have the authority to tell the legislature to impeach Hill – he says he can only offer his personal opinion.
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  • Republican super majorities hold in General Assembly
    “Hoosiers appreciate results, and that's exactly what they get from Gov. Eric Holcomb and Republicans at the Statehouse. By voting to maintain our supermajorities in the General Assembly, Hoosiers have made it clear that Indiana is on the right track, and that we must continue this momentum." - Indiana Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer, after House and Senate super majorities held with results finally coming in from Porter County Friday afternoon, with Rep. Ed Soliday defeated Democrat Frank Szczepanski 54-46%. Democrats did pick up three seats with Lisa Beck defeating Republican Rep. Julie Olthoff, giving House Republicans a 67-33 seat majority while Indiana Senate Republicans hold a 40-10 advantage where Democrats picked up one seat with J.D. Ford’s defeat of Sen. Mike Delph. In addition to Beck in the House, Democrat Chris Campbell defeated Rep. Sally Siegrist while Democrat Chris Chyung upset Republican Rep. Hal Slager. 
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  • Marijuana and the 56% proposition (even in Indiana)

    Michiganders approved recreational marijuana with 56% of the vote, joining neighboring Canada and along with the West Coast states, Colorado, Maine and even North Dakota. It’s only a matter of time before Illinois joins the party. The Chicago Tribune  reports that incoming Democrat Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker favors legalization and Democrats in both chambers predict it will easily pass. “I suspect it’s a done deal,” said Pat Brady, former chairman of the Illinois Republican Party. “People see it as a new source of revenue. The true battle will be over who gets their cut of it taxwise.”

    Ohio voters rejected a referendum in 2016, but will vote on the issue in November 2019, so Indiana is poised to be the middle finger of pot prohibition, expending funds on enforcement instead of reaping a tax windfall. One thing that strikes us is with Michigan voters approving it with 56%, that's nearly identifical referendums in Washington, Oregon and Colorado, and the Howey Politics/WTHR Poll from 2016 showed about 56% of Hoosiers favored medicinal marijuana. - Brian A. Howey, publisher

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