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Wednesday, January 23, 2019
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Thursday, October 15, 2015 9:20 AM
INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence kicked off the infrastructure debate with a $1 billion proposal to repair state highways, interstates and bridges. Local government officials want the governor and General Assembly to take it several steps further, and provide what the Indiana Association of Cities & Towns calls a “sustainable” funding source. IACT President Matthew Greller told Howey Politics Indiana on Wednesday that the Pence plan is a good start. “The big thing is it’s good the administration is addressing infrastructure in a very serious way with a very serious proposal and a lot of money. But it includes no money for city and town streets and county roads. I’m disappointed because the vast majority of road miles in Indiana are maintained by local governments.”
  • HPI Analysis: Why there is alarm with Trump and Putin

    INDIANAPOLIS  — Let me tell you why this past week has been so jarring and so alarming when it comes to Presidents Trump and Vladimir Putin. But first, some context. I’m a Russophile. I majored in history at IU Bloomington and studied in the Russian East European Institute. When reporting for the Elkhart Truth, I covered a small Russian dissident community there with Georgi Vins. I still have the waterproof Bible he gave me (they used to tuck them into snow drifts when KGB agents appeared). In the mid-1980s, I attended a number of IU and Purdue seminars on the Soviet Union, and virtually no one was predicting the USSR’s collapse, which occurred in 1990. I’ve read most of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s books on the Soviets and their brutal gulags. I traveled to Moscow, Siberia and the Urals with Sen. Richard Lugar. I had my Moscow Grand Marriott hotel room ransacked by FSB agents while I attended the Moscow Carnegie seminar. I attended a face-to-face meeting between Lugar, Sam Nunn and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Foreign Ministry.
  • Atomic! Impeachment buzz; Pence offended; Buttigieg book
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Report fuels impeachment talk: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: Washington and cable news are agog, abuzz and aflutter over a Buzzfeed report that President Trumpinstructed attorney/fixer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress: “The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress  through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office.” Why is this explosive?  In 1974, President Nixon's first article of impeachment was on an obstruction of justice charge  in the U.S. House: “Approving, condoning, acquiescing in, and counselling witnesses with respect to the giving of false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States.” In 1998, the first article of impeachment against President Clinton included “efforts to influence the testimony of witnesses and to impede the discovery of evidence.” And on Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobachar asked attorney general nominee William Barr this: “In your memo … you wrote on page 1 that a president persuading a person to commit perjury would be obstruction. Is that right?" Barr responded, "Yes … Any person who persuades another …" So the impeachment buzz appears to be growing.

  • HPI Analysis: Holcomb defusing 2 issue hotpoints

    INDIANAPOLIS – If there is a ticking time bomb or two awaiting Gov. Eric Holcomb during this biennial budget session, it would be the teacher pay issue and his push for a hate crimes bill to land on his desk. During his third State of the State address Tuesday, Holcomb fully enjoined both issues. On the first, he won some praise from the super-minority Democrats for the administration’s resourcefulness in finding funds for a proposed 4% raise over the biennium. On the second, the small social conservative wing of the GOP sat on their hands when Holcomb said he would push for a hate crimes law, while the wider chamber erupted in applause. “It’s time for us to move off that list,” Holcomb said of Indiana being one of only five states without such a law. “I look forward to working with the General Assembly to achieve this goal so that our state law reflects what’s already in my administration’s employment policy.” The conservative wing of the GOP fears the elevation of LGBT protections in state code.

  • Horse Race: INDems mayoral bench passing on gov race

    INDIANAPOLIS  — The bench strength of the Indiana Democratic Party — its mayors — seem to be passing on the 2020 gubernatorial race. The latest was Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight, whose bombshell announcement Monday he would not seek a fourth term led to a rejection of a 2020 challenge to Gov. Eric Holcomb. “I have no interest in running for governor,” Goodnight told HPI. He follows South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who announced he wouldn’t seek a third term and appears poised for a long-shot presidential run. Buttigieg will release his new book on Feb. 10. Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott is seeking another term, and told HPI he’s only focused on a “normal municipal reelection.”
  • Horse Race: Hogsett posts $3.2 million

    INDIANAPOLIS - The Hogsett for Indianapolis campaign committee announced its 2018 annual fundraising filing Wednesday, reporting more than $1.1 million raised during the year with more than $3.2 million cash-on-hand ahead of the 2019 campaign cycle. The figures for last year continue a string of strong fundraising periods for Mayor Joe Hogsett’s reelection effort, and include contributions from more than 400 individual supporters and hundreds of low-dollar donors. For the period from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018, the Hogsett for Indianapolis campaign raised $1,105,529.68. At the close of the reporting period, cash-on-hand totaled $3,226,413.50. “While we are heartened at the continued level of direct support for Mayor Joe Hogsett’s reelection, it has been even more exciting to watch as grassroots energy builds behind this campaign,” said Heather K. Sager, campaign spokesperson. 
  • Atomic! Trump says 'I never worked for Russia; Shutdown D23
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. 'I never worked for Russia': Here are your snowy Monday power lunch talking points. President Trump had one of those Nixon at Disney moments ("I'm not a crook") this morning and over the weekend. Asked by the press as he headed to New Orleans to address the American Farm Bureau Federation’s convention if he had ever "worked for Russia," Trump responded, "I never worked for Russia. And you know that answer better than anybody. I think it's a disgrace you even asked that question. It's just a big fat hoax." The questions came after the New York Times  reported the FBI launched a counter intelligence probe after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. The Washington Postthen reported that Trump concealed the context of his meetings with Russian President Putin, confiscating notes from his interpreter. WPost: "There is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years.”

  • HPI Power 50: Holcomb, Pence reach for crest of power
    By BRIAN A. HOWEYin Indianapolis
    and MARK SCHOEFF JR., in Washington

    The next 350-plus days promise to be a watershed year. We could be watching the most powerful governor operate and consolidate in the state’s history. We could be witnessing the ascension of a fourth Hoosier president. We will be watching the first true “opioid budget” coming with looming billion-dollar price tags as Hoosiers in all socio-economic classes grapple with this insidious evil. And we will be scanning the horizons to determine whether this has become a true one-party state. This year’s Power 50 list reflects the emerging prowess of Gov. Eric Holcomb, who has accumulated an unprecedented array of political and policy attributes. It is a biennial budget year with a new leadership and fiscal team in the Senate, and new players in the House.

  • Atomic! Where the buck stops; Power grab; Mute delegation
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Where the buck stops now: Here are your final power lunch talking points for Shutdown Week III: There was a two and a half inch by 13 inch sign on a walnut base that periodically appeared on the desk of President Harry S Truman"The Buck Stops Here!"  derived from an old poker phrase. In an address at the National War College on Dec. 19, 1952 President Truman said, "You know, it's easy for the Monday morning quarterback to say what the coach should have done, after the game is over. But when the decision is up before you - and on my desk I have a motto which says 'The Buck Stops Here' - the decision has to be made." It is a phrase repeated by just about every American president  since when they vow to own a decision.Except for President Trump.  A reporter asked President Trump on the South Lawn Thursday as he headed to Marine One for the border trip: "Does the buck stop with you over this shutdown?" The President: "The buck stops with everybody."  This coming just weeks after he vowed to "own the mantle" of a government shutdown, entering a record 21 days. He's now blaming Democrats. As he headed to the Mexican border for a photo op he really didn't want to do, Trump also disavowed saying that Mexico would pay for the wall:“Obviously, I never said this, and I never meant they’re going to write out a check." But Hoosiers know otherwise. At rallies from Indy, to Westfield, to Fort Wayne to Evansville, Trump repeatedly said he would build a wall and Mexico would pay for it. I heard him say it; you heard him say it. According to the Washington Post, he's said it 212 times, even on his campaign website.
  • Sen. Merritt enters the Indianapolis GOP mayoral primary

    INDIANAPOLIS - Voters in the state capital will likely find a competitive mayoral race after State Sen. Jim Merritt announced his candidacy on Thursday. Should he defeat former councilman Jose Evans, Christopher Moore and John Schmitz in the Republican primary in May, he would face Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett as he seeks a second term. "Our city is going in the wrong direction and we can’t afford four more years of Joe Hogsett,” Merritt said. “Our murder rate continues to skyrocket. Our showcase downtown has grown more dangerous. And, we all know Mayor Joe Hogsett struggled with a sluggish, lethargic response to last winter’s destruction of our streets. I want to get back to solving crimes and data collections and monthly meetings out in the townships and talking to people at the drop of a hat rather than having everything set up. I want to be a very accessible mayor."

  • Atomic! Trump amok; Shining response; A voice to be Hurd
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. A sleepy presidential address: Here are your hump talk power lunch talking point sans camel: What was that all about? President Trump had nothin' on "Sleepin' Joe Donnelly when he gave a lackluster 10 minute speech from the Oval Office Tuesday night that simply was a recast for his rationale to shut a good chunk of the federal government down  in order to get his border wall. He came off like a kid in the corner reading something the teacher ordered. He called the wall "absolutely critical to border security." The response from Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi was compared to Grant Wood's"American Gothic"  or the "Shining"  twins. “President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis, and must reopen the government,” Pelosi said. It begs a similar question to the one we kept asking in 2016 as Donald Trump faced Hillary Clinton: Out of 325 million Americans, are these three the best we can really do?

  • House GOP agenda focuses on kids, teachers, budget

    INDIANAPOLIS - House Speaker Brian Bosma announced Republican legislative priorities for the 2019 session Monday morning that will focus on kids and teachers, as well as a balanced biennial budget. The Republicans outlined top priorities: Enacting a balanced responsible state budget, increasing protections for Indiana's youth, strengthening the state's commitment to to students and teachers, promoting further workforce initiatives and supporting Hoosier veterans.  Bosma acknowledged that the budget took special emphasis. "Passing an honestly balanced two-year state budget will take center stage," he said, but added, "We are hitting the ground running to ensure a productive legislative session." 
  • Atomic! Braun, Baird, Pence sworn in; Veep defiant; Bray agenda
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Joining a closed government: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: U.S. Sen. Mike Braun and U.S. Reps. Jim Baird and Greg Pence were sworn into Congress on Thursday with the federal government partially shut down. It has been closed for 14 days now, with the record coming in 1995 at 21 days (it closed for five days a month earlier). Republicans did that to force President Clinton on to a course to balance the budget, which actually happened for four years. The Indiana delegation has been mum on the shutdown. One reason for that is even after the 1995 paralysis, Republican majorities persisted until 2007. Baird appeared in the best photo of the day  with Reps. Brian Mast and Dan Crenshaw, all war veterans who lost body parts in battle, with Mast tweeting: "5 eyes. 5 arms. 4 legs. All American." Ya gotta love that!

  • Atomic! TeamHolcomb record; Gaveling in; Trump torches Pence

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Holcomb/Crouch obliterate money records: Welcome back, Indiana legislators. As the federal government remains partially shut down for a 13th day, our Hoosier lawmakers can show the nation how we govern here in Indiana. Gov. Eric Holcomb and Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch are poised to obliterate gubernatorial fundraising records, with a combined $4.815 million cash on hand after a money surge in December. Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer told HPI  in early December that Eric Holcomb for Indiana would likely post $3.6 million and Crouch $750,000. Those numbers have ratcheted up to $4 million and $815,000. "When the full report comes out and you dig through who's giving, there are a lot of traditional funding sources like trade unions or individuals in there who have been Democratic donors," Hupfer told HPI Wednesday afternoon. "If you don't have your traditional base with you, it becomes impossible." 

  • Atomic! McDermott reelection; Shutdown talks; Romney's check
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. McDermott headed for reelection: Here are your maiden 2019 power lunch talking points: Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. is preparing to reveal "exciting plan" on Jan. 31, but it will be focused on his city and not a 2020 statewide run. Asked whether he was considering a challenge to Gov. Eric Holcomb or a run for attorney general, McDermott told HPI on New Year’s Day, "I'm not very exciting. Just a normal municipal reelection in the plans for me." The NWI Times reported that McDermott will address the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce at noon Jan. 31. The four-term mayor, the longest-serving in Hammond history, will give a presentation about the state of the city before the crowd of local business leaders, and then take questions from the public. Following the November election, HPI  asked if he was thinking of a statewide run in 2020 in lieu of reelection. “Running for statewide office takes a year or a year and a half of your life,” McDermott said. “If you don’t have a fair chance, do you want to give up a year of your life?  What did John Gregg and Christina Hale do wrong in 2016? Nothing. Circumstances in Washington, which are beyond your control, can doom you.” That was in reference to John Gregg's challenge to Gov. Mike Pence, who then joined Donald Trump on the ticket, which subsequently swamped Gregg and Indiana Democrats, with Holcomb winning by 7%. 

  • Atomic! Pence's people deficit; Bray & Rules; Civics and grads
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Pence's relationship deficit: Here is your final Atomic! for the wild and wooly 2018: When Howey Politics Indiana did a deep dive into Vice President Mike Pence's 12 year congressional career in 2013, one thing that struck us was how few relationships he had with Democrats. He didn't work on key legislation like Sens. Dan Quayle and Ted Kennedy did. Pence was an ideological voice  and that was about it. Pence has fewer relationships across the aisle than Barack Obama. When Donald Trump chose him for the ticket, part of the rationale was his congressional relationships. But they're really not there, as the late Sen. John McCain's famous thumbs down on the Obamacare repeal/replace showed after hours of talks with PencePolitico writes about the government shutdown talks between Pence and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer this month, with this key point: "The back channel talks never stood a chance." Why? Some observations: The two men had "little shared history and no apparent personal chemistry." And: "Schumer didn’t entirely buy that Pence had authority from the president to negotiate." And: "Pence, by all appearances, has little sway over Trump’s bottom line." And: "Schumer had left the House by the time Pence was elected in 2000. And though Pence, as Trump’s No. 2, frequently comes to the Capitol for weekly Senate GOP lunches, he doesn’t stop by Schumer’s office  and rarely speaks to him by phone." And, finally, this: "Asked whether there are any Senate Democrats with whom the vice president shares a close working relationship, a senior White House official deadpanned, 'He has a good relationship with Jeff Flake,'  the outgoing Republican Trump critic from Arizona." Doink-doink. Bottom line: Other than political funders and President Trump & Clan, Pence does very little to build and sustain relationships.
  • HPI Analysis: Top 2018 Indiana political stories revisited


    NASHVILLE, Ind. – The hallmark of 2018 will be the continued erosion of the Indiana Democratic Party, with the state essentially becoming a one-party entity. U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly’s loss to Republican Mike Braun leaves the super minority party with only two congressional seats, just 41 out of 150 seats in the General Assembly, no Statehouse offices, and a catastrophic debasement of its standing across most of Indiana, particularly in rural warrens at the county level. The year marked a change of the guard at Indiana General Assembly, with Senate President Pro Tem David Long following upper chamber fiscal chairs Luke Kenley and Brandt Hershman into retirement. In the House, the critical injuries suffered by House Ways & Means Chairman Tim Brown gave us a glimpse of the next generation of fiscal leaders there.

  • Atomic! Trump troops; Vigo bellwether; Holcomb fav at 65%
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Just when it couldn't get any worse ...: Here are your Day 3 of the 12 Days of Christmas power fruit cake talking points. Government shutdown is at five days, nine hours. President Trump had an awful pre-Christmas week before lamenting on Christmas Eve that he was home alone ("poor me," except he wasn't; he was with Melania). The Dow was in free-fall, the government is closed as he pines for his border wall that the Republican Congress repeatedly took a pass on, the president told a 7-year-old girl that belief in Santa Claus at her age is "marginal," Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin rattled the markets, and a second Guatemalan child refugee died in U.S. custody. Then on Christmas Eve, the Trumps (and Vice President and Mrs. Pence) showed up at the National Cathedral where they heard the Episcopal Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde contextualize a refugee controversy: “You only have to read the first sentence of the story to know that there are deep social implications to it, should we place ourselves in this story.But wait! On Christmas Day 2, the First Couple showed up in Iraq, his first trip as president to a conflict zone. And the Dow surged a record 1,000 points, putting the Bears at bay for a few days after the worst December since 1931.
  • HPI Interview: Gov. Holcomb talks issues as his power expands

    INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric Holcomb loves his job, even a day after a school shooting in Richmond left a student dead, even after a year of watching his state grapple with the opioid crisis. He calls being governor “the most fulfilling job I have ever had” and used Taylor University’s “Silent Night”  basketball game earlier this month as a case in point. “You don’t have to wait until March to experience basketball madness,” Holcomb began. “When you go 10 points in silence in a basketball game, it’s completely silent, 1,800 people, standing room only, silent until the tenth point is scored, and then the fans erupt, storm the court ... they’re all dressed up in costumes. It is crazy. And then at the end of the game, they all sing every verse of ‘Silent Night.’ It is goosebumps crazy.” A governor needs a night like that when the day job can mean consoling and encouraging a middle-aged female heroin addict, or praising a school teacher for disrupting a school shooter, or consoling the mother of a student who committed suicide after tipping off the school. 
  • Atomic! DC amateur hour; Mnuchin startles; shutdown 2D, 11H
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. The nation that doesn't work: Merry Christmas Eve. Here's a special communication for my old friend, who I will refer to here as Amber Wave of Grain (AWG). This comes from Indiana, the State that Works, a phrase you might be familiar with. We're a state that balances budgets, passes a constitutional amendment to make sure we always do, orchestrates fully-funded road strategies, a state that filled the Union ranks in the Civil War with tall patriotic boys, and proved to be the major thrust of FDR's "Arsenal of Democracy." Hoosiers were instrumental in the rise of Lincoln, and played front line roles in the Reagan Revolution. We can spot a fraud, detect bovine scatology, and are wise enough to know that box turtles don't end up on fence posts by sheer will. My message, AWG, on this Christmas Eve is that Washington is the antithesis of Indiana. It is amateur hour in the nation's capitol. 
  • Atomic! Trump madness; Kurds betrayed; Mayor Pete in Iowa
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. The careening, reckless Trump presidency: Here's a rare Saturday Atomic! as you head out for your "Panic Saturday" shopping spree. There is panic in Washington and Western capitals  at the Winter Solstice with a Full Cold Moon. A good portion of the federal government is shuttered as a true "Madness of King George"  scenario emerges. President Trump is demanding funding for a border wall Republicans in Congress have passed on for two years. When Trump met with Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer earlier this month, he said, "I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck, I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it." But Friday the flip-flopping Tweeter-in-Chief said, "The Democrats now own the shutdown!" Wall Street Journal: "Frustrated by President Trump’s vacillations during the week, lawmakers reached a procedural agreement Friday that they wouldn’t take another vote until a deal had been struck between the White House, GOP and Democratic congressional leaders." 

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  • Sen. Braun backs off call for full border wall
    “I listened to the Border Patrol, and they said that they do not need barriers in many places, but they’ve got to have them in some places to do their job. Wherever you’ve got to have a barrier because of the traffic and existing conditions that are there, it needs to be shored up, otherwise we’re promoting open borders.” - U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, speaking in Elkhart on Tuesday. Braun said it’s urgent a solution be found to the gridlock over President Donald Trump’s insistence on funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Braun backed Trump’s wall demand as he campaigned last year against U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, frequently telling Hoosiers that Mexico would pay for the wall. With the government shutdown now over 30 days long, the South Bend Tribune reported Braun seemed to soften his position, stating that the southern border doesn’t need a wall across all 1,900 miles.
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  • Mike, make us the nation that works

    Mr. Vice President, as our governor, you coined the phrase “Indiana: The State that Works.”  It's etched on state office buildings, we see it in basketball fieldhouses and even in New York City. You’re now vice president in a federal government that doesn’t work. It’s largely dysfunctional and has been closed down for a month. Some 800,000 federal employees (and 20,000 Hoosiers) have been furloughed or aren’t getting a paycheck. There are so many Hoosiers that loved that “State That Works” Mike Pence as opposed to the Shutdown Mike Pence.

    Our unemployment rate is 3.6%, thanks largely to you and Gov. Holcomb. We have a 64.9% labor force participation rate, an all-time record. There are currently 72,388 unfilled job postings, but last July it was 103,000 and as late as March 2017, it was 117,000. Hoosier farmers are telling me they’ve got a labor shortage. Brian Burton from the Indiana Manufacturers Association tells me that 45% of the Indiana workforce will retire in the next decade due to the Baby Boom. Gov. Holcomb calls it the “silver tsunami” and frets about declining birthrates and where Indiana companies will get tech workers, farm laborers, plumbers and electricians for the next generation.

    Immigrants come to America to reap the fruits of your amber waves of grain, and they tend to have big families. They also tend to be pro life, go to church, and value their families. On Saturday, President Trump proposed in an effort to end the federal government shutdown codifying protections for Dreamers - the kids who came here with their illegal immigrant parents, and have known no other country than the USA. But he wants to do it for just three years in exchange for $5.7 billion in border protection. This is a good start, but a half pregnant proposal. I'm all for border protections, whether they be steel slats or concrete, drones, more border patrol agents and other high-tech solutions. But why limit protections for Dreamers to three years? Why not give certainty to these 10,000 or so Hoosier Dreamers, who attend our schools and universities, serve in our National Guard, enlist in the U.S. armed forces, start businesses and raise families? Some of your most hard core supporters call this "amnesty," but this is a perversion of reality.

    And why is the Trump administration on course to limit legal immigration? According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, in 2016, there were 1.2 million immigrants who became lawful permanent residents, or “green card holders” while 753,060 became naturalized citizens. In the first quarter of 2018, there was a 20% decline in green card holders. Every time a Hoosier congressman or woman attends a naturalization ceremony, they beam about the beauty of new citizens wanting to contribute and share the American  cornucopia. 

    Mr. Vice President, on Saturday you said, "There is no amnesty in the president's proposal. There is no pathway to citizenship in this proposal." We hope you reconsider. Get a deal done. Give certainty to Hoosier Dreamers, and our businessmen and farmers who are yearning for more workers. Start thinking about "America: The Nation that Works." - Brian A. Howey

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