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Thursday, September 23, 2021
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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.  
  • Horse Race: McDermott's first stump speech in Shelby County
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    SHELBYVILLE - Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., addressed Shelby County Democrats Tuesday night in his first stump speech as a candidate for the U.S. Senate. He assailed U.S. Sen. Todd Young for not supporting the American Rescue Plan as well as a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection. “As mayor of Hammond I’ve been known for economic development,” McDermott said while introducing himself. “I’ve raised $1 billion over the last 18 years when I was mayor so I know how to get a deal done.” He pointed to his College Bound program, which he said incentivized people to invest in their homes and stay in the city, with the reward of free tuition for their kids. “When I first took over as mayor, people were leaving our city,” he said. “I’ve been known as pro-police,” McDermott said. “The south side of Chicago touches the city of Hammond. So we may be a small city, but we have a big city neighbor and sometimes we have big city problems and we have to adapt. If I don’t adapt as mayor, people are going to leave our city.
  • HPI Analysis: Indiana's anti-vaxx movement

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – Four years after Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a meningitis vaccine mandate into law, he is criticizing President Biden for essentially doing the same thing, calling his COVID vaccine or testing requirement “a bridge too far. Not only is Holcomb playing politics on a pandemic that has filled up 83% of the state’s ICU beds, he’s using it as a fundraising ploy for an apparent U.S. Senate campaign three years hence. It comes in a state that not only lags in the COVID-19 vaccine sequence, but is in the bottom 10 states nationally of total vaccine rates, particularly among young school children. And it comes as national Republicans appear to be accepting a broader anti-vaxx messaging.

  • Atomic: Primaries for Crazy Caucus? Pence's hero luster; Holcomb & Braun explain vax mandates; Sanchez family aiding refugees
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Bloomington

    1. Primaries for GOP 'Crazy Caucus'

    Over the summer we had heard speculation that the House GOP's Crazy Caucus - State Reps. Jim Lucas, John Jacob and Curt Nisly - were going to be primaried in a concerted effort by more mainstream Republicans, including Gov. Eric Holcomb's political wing. So when we began sorting out the proposed House Republican maps, that effort came into focus. Lucas has been drawn into a proposed HD73 occupied by State Rep. Steven Davisson of Salem. Davisson died over the weekend of cancer. Nisly is now lumped into HD18 with freshman Rep. Craig Snow of Warsaw. Jacob's proposed HD93 is home to Democrat State Rep. Justin Moed of Indianapolis, with Jacob losing Republican-rich Johnson County. 

  • HPI Analysis: Population change produced maps
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – Proposed reapportioned congressional and Indiana House maps were released on Tuesday, revealing more of a status quo than any foundational shifts. The state’s 2020 population of 6,785,528 means each of Indiana’s nine congressional districts must have 753,948 people. The biggest shifts came in the 5th CD, which would lose Democratic Indianapolis but gain more traditional rust belt manufacturing cities of Kokomo, Muncie and Anderson. Indiana Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer told HPI Wednesday morning, “By appearances, it looks to be slightly more Republican.” Indiana Democratic Chairman Mike Schmuhl told HPI that the 5th CD will “remain in the conversation” in the 2022 and 2024 cycles. U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz defeated Democrat Christina Hale by 4% in 2020. Hale has been drawn out of the district. “It’s very interesting,” Schmuhl said of the addition of Kokomo, Muncie and Anderson as well as Hamilton County. “Those are more traditional Democratic areas. President Biden carried Carmel and Fishers. It’s the fastest growing county and it’s changing.”

  • Horse Race: Peters forms Fort Wayne mayoral exploration
    Howey Politics Indiana

    FORT WAYNE - Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters filed exploratory paperwork with the Election Board as a first step toward examining a run for Fort Wayne mayor in 2023.  Peters stated, “Filing this exploratory committee will provide me with the opportunity to look at a mayoral run through a finer lens.  This will give me the chance to better understand the work that will be necessary to be successful in this venture and the issues that matter the most to the citizens of Fort Wayne.” “Now is not the time to take our foot off of the gas pedal.  We have made great strides on so many fronts and I have helped to develop a landscape providing great business opportunities.  We must maintain that momentum to ensure that companies will want to continue to expand and locate here.”
  • Atomic! Biden goes the mandate route; Blistering GOP response; Map Tuesday; Rep. Clere primaried

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Biden goes the mandate route: On Thursday, a peeved President Biden announced a 6-pronged approach that includes mandates to a nation that is 64.5% fully vaccinated on a day where 3,242 Americans and 50 Hoosiers died of COVID-19 and 152,212 new infections reported. “My message to unvaccinated Americans is this, what more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see?” Mr. Biden said. “We’ve made vaccinations free, safe and convenient. The vaccine is FDA-approved. Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot. We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. We need to do more. This is not about freedom, or personal choice. It's about protecting yourself and those around you. Executive Director Christine Stinson of the Wayne County Health Department told the Richmond Palladium-Item of her county with 41% fully vaccinated, "This is so preventable. Our community needs more people vaccinated, or we will have more people die. We all have to come together and help get through this crisis, and this is a crisis."  How will Biden's new vaccine mandates go over? The July Kaiser Family Foundation Poll found 67% say they will vaccinate. But a Washington Post-ABC poll conducted last week found that many unvaccinated Americans say they’ll try to get exemption (35%) or quit their jobs (72%) if their employer imposes a vaccination mandate. Morning Consult reports that in August while vaccine hesitancy ticked down to 28%, the COVID surge had changed very few minds: "Across the Southeast and Midwest, cases have surged dramatically over the last month and a half. While that has led to a decline in vaccine skepticism in certain hard-hit states, in others – like Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee – levels of skepticism remain virtually unchanged." Among the vaccinated, there is palpable growing frustration and anger that the recalcitrant are stalling out the recovery, swamping ERs while 15,000 Hoosier school kids are infected or quarantined. 

  • HPI Analysis: Summer of hope ends uncertainly
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    MICHIGAN CITY – Hoosiers began the summer of 2021 in an almost giddy mood after Gov. Eric Holcomb’s “light at the end of the tunnel” address at the end of March. There was the miracle COVID-19 vaccine, which promised to reopen schools, restaurants and stadiums. ICU nurses and doctors could finally take a breather. Jobs were sure to follow. That was the Memorial Day vibe. And then there was President Biden’s promise of a Fourth of July COVID independence, with the U.S. reaching 70% vaccinated, supposedly on the brink of herd immunity. On Labor Day, the stark reality has settled in. Here in Indiana, 50% of the population has refused the vaccine. Hospital ICUs are bulging, with 31.4% of ICU beds occupied by an overwhelming majority of unvaccinated Hoosiers. The ICU bed availability stood at 21.5% with 67.2% of ventilators available while hospitalizations stood at 2,518 on Monday.

  • Horse Race: Keesling announces for GOP treasurer
    Howey Politics Indiana

    INDIANAPOLIS  – Fort Wayne City Clerk Lana Keesling announced Tuesday she is seeking the Republican nomination for Indiana state treasurer in 2022. Keesling was elected city clerk in 2015 and reelected in 2019, proving herself an electable candidate in the state’s second-largest city. She was elected to turn around a city clerk’s office mired in scandal. Since taking office, she has turned the finances of the department around while standing up to intimidation efforts by Democratic city officials. Prior to her election as city clerk, Lana Keesling was the chief financial officer of a large company managing finance, information technology, and human resources. Prior to that, she was a small business owner for 10 years. She holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) degree.
  • Atomic! Holcomb pleads for vax; Say locals in control; Welcomes refugees; Praises Cpl. Sanchez; Redistricting portal
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Holcomb pleads vax as COVID surges: A frustrated Gov. Eric Holcomb firmly believes the control of the COVID-19 pandemic now lies in the hands of local governments and school boards. In a press conference this morning, he was asked about whether he would reinstate mask mandates or other restrictions in light of the pandemic surge that is swamping ICU beds in four of 10 regions and is forecast to kill another 6,000 Hoosiers by Dec. 1. “No, we heard loud and clear from locals they wanted this to be a locally mandated, fully supported,” Holcomb said. “It’s regrettable that so many of our kids are out of the classroom on any given one day. It’s not just regrettable, it’s avoidable. And to the skeptics, to the unbelievers and deniers, I would just plead to look at the facts, to look at the numerical data that shows we can all stay safe if you get vaccinated. That is my appeal is to get vaccinated. This is what is interfering with our supply chains, this is what is holding part of our economy back, this is what is keeping our kids out of school. While we have 3.1 million and some who are vaccinated, the balance leaves a lot to spread and that is having an adverse effect on others, not just potentially yourself but others, and our economy, and our kids’ education. I would just ask that you think beyond yourself.”

  • HPI Analysis: COVID-19 in winning in Indiana
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – COVID-19 is winning in Indiana. The pandemic will become a fact of life, moving forward, with half the Hoosier population taking the free, easily obtained mitigation that the vaccine offers, as well as a willingness to mask up to protect friends, family and community. The other half, in a self-declarative pursuit of “individual freedom,” is willing to risk health, lives and in-person learning in schools to do whatever it is they desire. Indiana’s leading public officeholders have acquiesced to this COVID-19 victory. Hoosier public health officials from Indianapolis to Spencer to Evansville have stated their cases and are now preparing to deal with sprawling consequences like exhausted doctors and nurses, and scores of unvaccinated school girls and boys facing exposure. The state announced more than 5,000 infections at Indiana schools on Monday.

  • Horse Race: GOP sets redistricting schedule
    Howey Politics Indiana

    INDIANAPOLIS  – House and Senate Republicans laid out the redistricting schedule on Monday, with proposed congressional and General Assembly House maps to be posted online Sept. 14 at iga.in.gov. House Committee on Elections and Apportionment Chairman Tim Wesco (R-Osceola), is expected to host a public meeting of the committee to gather feedback from the public on the initial drafts of the U.S. House of Representatives and Indiana House of Representatives maps Sept. 16 in the House Chamber of the Statehouse in Indianapolis.  The committee is expected to meet again at 10 a.m. on Sept. 20 for an amend-and-vote-only meeting.
  • With top Indiana health officials describing pandemic's 'darkest hour,' Holcomb is MIA
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - With Indiana’s top health officials describing the state as entering its “darkest hour of the pandemic,” a sharp rise in pediatric COVID-19 cases, inconsistent school infection reporting and a flood of hospitalizations in the next month, one thing was missing at Friday's press conference. Gov. Eric Holcomb. It has been 150 days since Holcomb appeared at a pandemic press conference, back in the days when he was describing the pandemic in "light at the end of the tunnel" terms.

  • Atomic! Afghan terror alpha omega; 6K more IN pandemic deaths forecast; Sen. Kruse to retire; Banks and Pelosi feud
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Afghan terror alpha & omega: The U.S. mission in Afghanistan is ending the way it began in 2001 … with a terror attack. The complex attack at the Abbey Gate at the Kabul airport and a nearby hotel frequented by contractors killed 13 American soldiers and more than 100 Afghans. It came after President Biden and multi-national intel sources had expressed high anxiety about such an attack in the proceeding days. Maryville College Assistant Prof. Aaron Astor: "It's hard to comprehend the bravery of the US Marines who gave their lives in Kabul today. They were told days ago that they'd be targeted by ISIS-K bombers. They knew that. And, yet, they went ahead and did their duty, processing evacuations and winding down this terrible war." Despite the attack, 12,500 people were evacuated on Thursday, with the Pentagon saying more than 105,000 have been airlifted out, including more than 300 Americans in the past 24 hours. President Biden: "The lives we lost today were lives given in the service of liberty, the service of security, the service of others, in the service of America. We will not be deterred by terrorists. We will not let them stop our mission. Know this, we will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay. We will respond with force and precision, at our time, at the place we choose and at the moment of our choosing."

  • HPI Analysis: The Afghan blame game
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    CHICAGO – The current blame game riveting Washington these days falls into the “Who lost Afghanistan?” folder. A week ago, the brunt of this fell on President Biden as optics of doomed Afghans running and latching on to a C-17 cargo plane rolling toward takeoff took on metaphoric proportions. The truth is that in this “graveyard of empires,” the final analysis is complicated, spanning four Republican and Democratic presidencies, with no tidy answers. President Biden passed the Truman test when he said a week ago, “I am president of the United States of America and the buck stops with me.” He added, “Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to have been nation-building. If anything, the developments of the past week reinforce that ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision. American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.”
  • HPI Interview: Mayor McDermott takes aim at Sen. Young; says DC 'corrupted' incumbent
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – In June 2020, five-term Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., did something that John Brademas, Phil Sharp, Mike Pence and Dick Lugar did, suffering a defeat in his first congressional race. His 1st CD Democratic primary loss to U.S. Rep. Frank J. Mrvan in the pandemic-delayed election by about 2,800 votes, despite raising more than $150,000 more than the winner, threw McDermott for a loop. “I went through a crisis, the process of grieving,” McDermott told HPI on Monday morning. “I was mad and I was in denial. Then there was acceptance. I did the whole thing. I went out and bought two cars.” He said that suffering that defeat was ultimately for the best. “It was good for me at the end of the day,” McDermott said. “I’m really in a good place.” That “good place” now has McDermott preparing to challenge U.S. Sen. Todd Young in 2022. McDermott filed his FEC paperwork last week, then headed to the Indiana Democratic Editorial Association convention in French Lick. It’s a path similar to Lugar’s, who lost his first Senate race to Birch Bayh in 1974, only to come back two years later to defeat U.S. Sen. Vance Hartke.
  • Horse Race: Gov's under radar gala; Dems at French Lick
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – Gov. Eric Holcomb’s two successful runs for governor have come in strange, strange circumstances. His first 2016 nomination came after Gov. Mike Pence resigned from the ticket to run for vice president. His reelection bid came during a pandemic. His inauguration last January came with only a tiny crowd in the gallery while attendees wore masks. So who could blame Holcomb for wanting to stage his second “Black Tie & Boots” gala, even if it came during the dog days of August? Holcomb did, but under muted circumstances. Other than the announcement in late July that there would be such an event, the gala was under the radar. A concert scheduled for earlier in the week was cancelled. There were few social media postings from the event which appeared to be moderately attended. 
  • The Atomic! Indiana's COVID capacity; Carroll urges youth vax; Holcomb tabs Health Commission; Daniels on risk & certainty
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Watching Indiana COVID capacity: With health systems throughout the Deep South in crisis mode; with Texas stockpiling refrigerated trucks to bolster morgues, we’re keeping a close eye on the pandemic’s fourth surge in Indiana. Steve Garbacz of KPC Media reports that since Jan. 1, Indiana has recorded 285,248 new cases of COVID-19 as of Friday, including 6,740 breakthrough cases (one of the latest being Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry, who is experiencing mild symptoms). That means of all cases this year, just 2.4% have occurred in vaccinated Hoosiers, as compared to 97.6% in unvaccinated Hoosiers. The Indiana Hospital Association reports a 288% increase in hospitalizations since July 4, which is approaching 50% of last November’s peak. While there were 2,770 new COVID cases reported Tuesday and hospitalizations rose above 1,500, there were still ICU beds available (28.6% with 18% ICU beds occupied by COVID patients), and 74.5% of ventilators are on standby. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports that the state reported 1,452 students – plus 80 teachers and 18 staff members – have received positive COVID test results. Indiana University Chief Health Officer Dr. Aaron Carroll urged in an article in The Atlantic: "Because Delta is so much more infectious, children seem to be getting sick in larger numbers. Pediatric wards are more crowded, especially in areas of low vaccination, and there’s renewed concern that schools could become centers for outbreaks this fall. True, all these arguments could be made to get more adults vaccinated, reducing the risk to the young as well as the old, but efforts to do that have stalled across the country. In light of this reality, vaccinating kids would still slow down community transmission. And that’s a bigger reason to immunize children—to protect those who cannot protect themselves."

  • Atomic! Kabul falls! We saw it coming; Biden's horrible optics; U.S. military's SNAFU and insanity; After 7,252 days ...
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Class of '74 saw it coming: There was a reason many of my fellow high school students in the Class of 1974 (including Evan Bayh and Joe Hogsett) did not go into the military. We spent our junior high and prep years watching the on-going fiasco in Vietnam on the nightly network news. We had draft cards. Our older brothers, uncles and friends went off to battle and came home with harrowing stories. When Saigon fell in April 1975, no one was surprised; we saw it coming for years. After 58,000 American military deaths, tens of thousands U.S. soldiers maimed, millions of Vietnamese killed, the general consensus was that the U.S. military, intel services right up through Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, weren't being forthright about U.S. prospects. Books like Stanley Karnow's ("Vietnam: A History") and Neil Sheehan ("A Bright and Shining Lie") exposed the awful truth: From the highest rungs of U.S. government, they knew Vietnam was unwinnable ... from the beginning.

  • Atomic! Chisox Hollywood ending in 'Field of Dreams' game; Indiana Census dump; Trustees of the corn
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Home runs in the corn

    Fffptzz. That's what a home run sounds like disappearing into a row of corn. Baseball purists heard that sound eight times when the Chicago White Sox played the New York Yankees on the "Field of Dreams" in Dyersville, Iowa Thursday night. This “Field of Dreams” game was, indeed, a renewal of the American spirit. It began with Hoosier Lance Lynn (he grew up in an Avon trailer park surrounded by cornfields) as the White Sox starting pitcher. That shortstop Tim Anderson won it on a Hollywood-scripted 9th-inning homer was the icing for White Sox fans (Shoeless Joe Jackson had the first Sox walk-off against the Yankees on July 20, 1919). Actor Kevin Costner greeted Sox and Yankee players emerging from the Iowa cornfield, finally asking, “Is this heaven?” No, it was Iowa, the fans shouted. It was a surreal experience, and it an amazing juxtaposition between MLB'd current urban core and baseball’s rural American roots. Anderson won the 9-8 game with a ninth inning two-run walk-off homer just after Yankees Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton homered in the bottom of the eighth to take an 8-7 lead. “Coming here playing in the middle of corn, who would have thought of that. Who knew that I would be able to walk it off here too, as well,” Anderson told Fox Sports’ Tom Verducci after the game. “We made history tonight.” The stagecraft of this game, with Sox and Yankee players emerging from the rows of corn in the outfield sent chills up millions of spines. The night was perfect. The Iowa fans sounded in the early innings as if they were in church, but the dramatic events that began with Jose Abreau's first inning home run, soon to be followed by a three-run blast by Eloy Jimenez brought a more raucous response. Costner introduced Chicago as the “first place” White Sox; he called their opponents “the mighty Yankees.” With the Sox 20 games over .500, this game and its Hollywood ending have them poised to repeat their 2005 World Series title, which is the only one they own after the 1919 Black Sox scandal that inspired this movie, this game, this dream.
  • HPI Analysis: Phase I of redistricting concludes; Census dump today; hearings in September
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – The first phase of the 2021 reapportionment process concluded Wednesday afternoon with a heavily attended public hearing in the House chambers. It was the ninth hearing scheduled by the House and Senate majority caucuses. The second phase begins today when the U.S. Census Bureau releases the critical data needed for the maps to the state. House Elections Committee Chairman Timothy Wesco said that the process will begin in the House with HB 1581 and 1582 as the vehicle bills. “We plan to reconvene in September,” Wesco said. “We will have hearings in both the House and Senate. There will be public input on the maps. Members of the public can draw and submit their own maps.”

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  • Sen. Young won't vote to raise debt limit
    “Defaulting on our debts will start a spiral of economic turmoil. If Democrats had treated Republicans as a governing partner I might feel differently. Instead, they’ve treated us as an obstacle." U.S. Sen. Todd Young, announcing Wednesday he will vote against raising the limit.
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