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Monday, November 20, 2017
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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! Who follows Pelath? Pentagon jaw droppers
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Pelath’s bomshell: Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: Legislators are returning to the capital and all of a sudden a routine organization day takes on some drama with House Minority Leader Scott Pelath’s Sunday bombshell that he was stepping aside from the position and not seeking reelection in 2018. It comes at an absolutely critical time as Democrats are facing two “must-win” election cycles to claw out of their super minority status prior to the 2021 redistricting. If they can’t make significant inroads in a potential 2018 anti-Trump wave year, they may be a super minority party for the next decade. State Rep. Linda Lawson sounded the alarms, telling NWI Times’ reporter Dan Carden, "Scott has been our leader and he's got a good name with labor and other contributors, so it would be great if he stuck around until (next) November. I pleaded with him and it didn't do any good, so we have to move on from that. It's not just raising money, it's dealing with staff issues, it's dealing with the legislators themselves and their personal issues and their concerns, it's traveling all over the state and it's keeping your own life in order. It's multifaceted and it's huge."
  • HPI Analysis: Pelath exit comes at critical time for Democrats
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Sunday’s bombshell that House Minority Leader Scott Pelath would step down from that post and not seek reelection next year comes at an absolutely critical time for General Assembly Democrats. They face two "must win" election cycles in an attempt to erase Republican super majorities in the House and Senate and then the redistricting process in 2021. With a potential anti-Trump wave poised for 2018, Pelath was seen as a critical player in this comeback. But this weekend, Pelath was consumed by family issues with a new baby son and his mother Becky in declining health after suffering a stroke. “He told me he was strongly considering it on Saturday,” said former LaPorte County Democratic chairman Shaw Friedman. “He confirmed it to me this morning. He has served with extraordinary dedication and commitment, but it is understandably difficult with a new young son and his mother’s declining health and that was becoming a real problem for him. The fatigue and travel for this job are extraordinary.”

  • HPI Analysis: Following our Hoosier mayors
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – The contrast between the inertia in Washington and what’s being accomplished in cities across Indiana is striking.  Traveling throughout the state this past year, I found fascinating pockets of innovation and growth from the new parks and amphitheaters forged by Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., and Joe Stahura of Whiting, the creation of new city centers in Mayor Jim Brainard’s Carmel, Scott Fadness in Fishers and Andy Cook in Westfield. Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight and Fort Wayne’s Tom Henry have evolved and renewed their downtowns with stadiums and the type of amenities that attract a younger workforce. Mayor Lloyd Winnecke is transforming downtown Evansville with a $380 million transfusion bringing a new convention hotel, one of the state’s first land-based casinos, several new businesses, and a medical education and research facility. These are Republican mayors leading Democratic majority cities, and vise versa.

  • Atomic! Pervnado! Messer calls for heads; tax reform & deficits

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Gnaw Bone, Ind.

    1. The ‘Pervnado’ keeps twisting: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: The “Pervnado” as the New York Post headline writers are calling it, is claiming more and more victims, from Harvey Weinstein, to Louis C.K., to Presidents Clinton and Bush41 and now U.S. Sen. Al Franken. It has men and women in the political realm going through their minds to review any potentially ribald past behavior. It prompted U.S. Rep. Luke Messer to tell Fox News, “I think both Roy Moore and Al Franken should both step down. The (Franken) photo was inappropriate. It should be investigated. Whatever his recollection, that picture is a picture.” Messer said that “Roy Moore should step aside. That would be the best thing for the state of Alabama and our country.” And, yes, the Franken picture is a doozy. As Stuart Smalley might say, “You’re not smart enough, you’re not good enough and, doggone it, senator, people really don’t like you.” 

  • Horse Race: The politics of cold beer
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS –  Indiana legislative Democrats are wandering the desert, gripped in super minority status, and presumably thirsty. Could cold beer be part of their answer for electoral redemption? Late last week, the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers and the Indiana Retail Council cut a deal in an attempt to ward off broader sale of cold beer in an issue almost certain to surface in the 2018 General Assembly. It’s one we’ve been predicting for a couple of months now. The trade-off is Sunday sales in exchange for cold beer to remain only in liquor stores and craft breweries.
  • HPI Interview: Sen. Young latest Hoosier to arrive to tumult
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – Freshman Indiana senators have had their share of initial tumult after joining the world’s most exclusive club, and U.S. Sen. Todd Young is no exception. U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh came off an election during the Cuban Missile Crisis din 1962 to his first year with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, setting him on a path to draft the 25th Amendment a year later. Young’s not facing an impeachment trial of a sitting U.S. president, as U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh did when he arrived to his seat in 1999 with President Bill Clinton, even though the term is surfacing in topical news and TV ads these days. Three months after Sen. Dan Quayle took the oath in 1981, President Ronald Reagan was nearly assassinated, with Quayle helping to pass his historic tax cuts several months later.




  • Atomic: Moore & Young; Trump nuke authority; Lugar & loose nukes
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Indiana senators call for Moore to go away: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: It took a long, excruciating weekend, but U.S. Sen. Todd Young denounced Republican Alabama Senate nominee Roy Moore late Monday afternoon, coming after a fifth woman accused Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager and he was a 30-something prosecutor. "After giving Roy Moore ample time to unequivocally deny the disturbing allegations against him, those allegations remain far more persuasive than the denials,” Young said in a statement. “Roy Moore should immediately drop out of the race. The appearance of grossly reprehensible behavior disqualifies him from service in the United States Senate. If he does not step aside, we need to act to protect the integrity of the Senate.” U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly said Moore “should withdraw from the election. The facts surrounding what happened in Alabama are pretty clear and I think that would be the best thing to do.”

  • Battle lines brew over Sunday sales, cold beer
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    NASHVILLE, Ind. - A deal over Sunday alcohol sales was reached between the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers and the Indiana Retail Council in an attempt to ward off broader sale of cold beer in an issue almost certain to surface in the 2018 General Assembly. “The package liquor store industry along with our friends at the Indiana Retail Council are committed to working directly with legislators to successfully draft and pass meaningful and impactful public policy that will allow Hoosiers to purchase alcohol for carryout on Sundays for the first time since Prohibition,” said Jon Sinder, chairman of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers and CEO of Crown Liquors. But Scot Imus of the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association called the deal “backroom gamesmanship,” saying, “How credible can these groups be when just six months ago each made opposite claims?” Imus is representing Ricker’s, which ignited the debate when it exploited an 80-year-old loophole to serve cold beer in convenience stores in Columbus and Sheridan earlier this year. The General Assembly moved last spring to quash the loophole, with CEO Jay Ricker saying that lawmakers were picking winners and losers in commerce.
  • Atomic: Pence taxed; Moore fiasco; heroin murder; Trey targeted

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Gnaw Bone, Ind.

    1. Mike, we’ve heard this before: Here are your final power lunch talking points, compiled here are the new Gnaw Bone Coffee house: Vice President Mike Pence was in Plainfield Thursday pushing tax reform, though unclear whether it was the House or Senate package. “We’ve got real momentum,” Pence said at TKO Graphix as Sen. Todd Young and Gov. Eric Holcomb looked on. “I know we’re going to be able to count on Sen. Todd Young. But Indiana also needs to be able to count on Sen. Joe Donnelly to vote for tax relief.” Donnelly responded, saying, “I will carefully review the Senate proposal released today and continue to engage with my colleagues and the White House on behalf of Hoosiers as the Senate works on tax reform."

  • Horse Race: Virginia 'tsunami' will test Hoosier GOP
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – Even though Hoosier Republicans were late coming to the Donald Trump phenomenon, arriving only after he won the 2016 Indiana presidential primary with 53% of the vote and selected Mike Pence for the ticket, it’s been fascinating to watch most of the rank and file buy into the president’s populism. It’s been profane, nativist, unorganized, ineffective, unprofessional, undisciplined and harrowing, which is vastly different from the days of Govs. Bowen, Orr and Daniels, as well as Sens. Lugar and Coats and Mayor Hudnut, who were more of the internationalist mode. All had distinct conservative bonafides, but conducted themselves with moderation. President Trump gets the benefit of the doubt here in Indiana because of the loyalty to Vice President Pence, who remains an extremely powerful figure here.
  • Gov. Holcomb will focus on his agenda in 2018
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – Fresh off new statistics showing record job creation in the state with 54 days left in the year, Gov. Eric Holcomb vowed to keep his focus during the upcoming General Assembly session on his “five pillars” of jobs, workforce development, revamping education curriculum, tackling the opioid crisis, and providing good service. While he didn’t bat away controversial issues surrounding cold beer, Sunday alcohol sales, medicinal marijuana and liberalized gun-carry laws, he tamped down any expectations that he might put his big thumb on those scales and shift the prognosis for change. Holcomb told the press that none of those items “is on my agenda.” As for marijuana, Holcomb said, “The FDA is the organization that approves drugs in this country. We’re not there in this state. At this time, I’m trying to get drugs off the street, not add more. I would say to those folks, to decriminalize or legalize marijuana … they need to talk to the FDA first.” 

  • Atomic! Gov's job focus; booze 'not on my agenda'; Dem wave

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis 
     
    1. Holcomb legislative focus on jobs, opioids: Here are your hump day power lunch talking points: With the prospects of Amazon’s HQ2 on the horizon, Gov. Eric Holcomb said he will pursue legislation creating “high-wage, high-demand jobs” as he unveiled his legislative agenda at the Statehouse this morning. “With nearly 29,000 new jobs announced this year and one million expected over the next decade, we must act now to ensure Hoosiers have the skills they need to secure good jobs and succeed in our growing economy,” Holcomb said while flanked by Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and Commerce Sec. Jim Schellinger. “In 2018 I will remain sharply focused on building our workforce and other key issues that affect Hoosiers most, jobs, economic growth, health, infrastructure and government service.” It came as Schellinger announced a new record with 54 days left in 2017, of 28,846 new jobs, coming on 270 deals with $6.7 billion in investment and an average wage of 27.83. “I am so eager to roll up my sleeves and get to work on this,” Holcomb said of tackling the state’s worker shortage. “When we were in India this past week, we heard that no one is getting this right. I said, ‘Not yet, but look what we’re going to do.’” 

  • Atomic: Trump's loose lips; Korea deala; surge counties wither
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Trump reveals position of nuke sub . . . again: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: President Trump made what Foreign Policy Magazine called an “unusual announcement” that the U.S. has a nuclear submarine positioned off the Korean peninsula. “You know we sent three of the largest aircraft carriers in the world, and they're right now positioned. We have a nuclear submarine also positioned. We have many things happening that we hope, we hope – in fact, I'll go a step further, we hope to God we never have to use.” 

  • Atomic! Braun on TV, radio; Gov's agenda; Indy columnist sought
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Braun first Senate candidate on TV: Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: Last week the HPI Horse Race speculated that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Braun might have to spend in the $5 million range to win a primary against U.S. Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer. Beginning Tuesday (and right now at the HPI Video Feed), Braun will launch statewide radio and broadcast TV ads detailing his roots. The “Jasper” ads focus on Braun’s credentials as a successful businessman and conservative outsider, pledging to use the lessons he gained from a career in business to “get Washington moving again.”The radio ad also highlights that Braun attended Harvard Business School, but turned down a career on Wall Street to return to his hometown of Jasper to raise a family and start a business.

  • Horse Race: Gauging the 2018 mid-term one year out
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – This is the proverbial “one year out” from the consequential 2018 mid-term election. Indiana will feature one of the marquee U.S. Senate races that will likely be impacted by the controversies surrounding President Trump and he will be a complete wild card in this cycle, just as he was in 2016. Should scandal, war and an inability to move any kind of impactful legislation through a mostly inert Congress, the prospects are there for a Democratic wave election. But Trump has exhibited a certain layer of Teflon and we watched what was supposed to be a tsunami election favoring the Democrats in 2016 go in reverse, which sparked the biggest upset in U.S. presidential history and pulled Gov. Eric Holcomb into office. At this writing, HPI sees U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly as a nominal favorite and while he leads U.S. Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer in cash on hand – $4.6 million to $2.4 million each for the Republicans – this edge won’t matter much because of all the outside super PAC money that is already flowing in at a historic pace and will continue to do so.

  • HPI Interview: Lt. Gov. Crouch's sprawling daily grind
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    NASHVILLE, Ind. – The Daily Grind in downtown was bustling even though the prime coffee drinkin’ hours had long passed. Into this mix of hill folk and tourists last Friday walked Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, alone, without entourage. She is a product of local government, having served as Vanderburgh County auditor and commissioner, eight years in the Indiana House and then appointed by Gov. Mike Pence as state auditor. And, much like her current boss, Gov. Eric Holcomb, she was plucked out of a certain degree of Statehouse obscurity to form a gubernatorial ticket a year ago last July, then won an epic 100-day campaign into power. Her portfolio is sprawling, presiding over the Indiana Senate while in session, heading up the Departments of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and heading up the state’s terrorism task force. When she joined the Brown County Broadband Task Force to celebrate its Internet expansion, she looked at State Sen. Eric Koch and quipped, “I want to share with you all the one thing I enjoy the most, which is being president of the Senate. As a former representative for eight years it is gratifying to be finally in charge of these senators.”

  • Atomic! Manafort indicted; Trump tweets; Banks reacts
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis
     
    1. Manafort, 2 others indicted: Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: With the indictment of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort this morning, all eyes were on Twitter and cable news. We saw Manafort with his attorney turn himself into the FBI’s Washington field office this morning. Former Manafort business partner Rick Gates was also indicted. Manafort faces 12 counts of “conspiracy against the United States,” making false statements as well as money-laundering charges. And then just minutes ago, CNN reported that former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopolous "pleads guilty for making false statements to FBI." 

  • Horse Race: CD fields continue to grow
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – Congressional fields continued to grow in the 2nd and 4th CDs this past week. In the 4th, State Rep. Jim Baird, R-Greencastle, joins Steve Braun, Diego Morales and Jared Thomas in the Republican primary. “There is a tremendous need for a common sense approach to fix the broken system in Washington. We need new leaders in Washington who will stand up for West Central Indiana and actually get things done for the American people,” Baird said on Thursday. “I want every American to have the opportunity to enjoy success, prosperity and freedom. A limited government approach, rooted in constitutional principles, will be what preserves the American dream for the next generation of this wonderful country. I look forward to listening to the concerns of my fellow citizens in District 4 and the opportunity to win grassroots support throughout West Central Indiana.” 
  • Atomic! President Cuban? No opioid funds; Cruz JFK dump
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. A Hoosier president?: Final talking points for your Friday power lunch: We’ve never had an IU Hoosier as president of the United States. Wendell Willkie (a mogul Democrat turned Republican) won the 1940 nomination but lost to FDR in a landslide. Now we have two potential Hoosiers, with Vice President Mike Pence a heartbeat away and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban giving it a “10, maybe 11%” chance he’ll challenge Trump in 2020. He’s an independent but might run as a Republican. He tells the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd, “Look, there are people who are saying we don’t need another business person, but it’s about what you do with it, what you learn, what you can contribute and what value you can add. I’d want to come in with proof of an agenda, ‘Here’s a health care solution and I’ve already paid my own money to have it scored.” 

  • HPI Analysis: What if Mitch had run (and won) in 2012?
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    NASHVILLE, Ind. – We all know the red letter dates in American history: July 2, 1776, with the Declaration of Independence; July 3-4, 1863, and Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg; Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor; Nov. 22, 1963, the assassination of President Kennedy; and Sept. 11, 2001, a date that needs no description. In the context of President Trump, top ally Steve Bannon’s looming civil war within the Republican Party, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker’s stunning pronouncement that Trump is “debasing” the American dream, and an array of polls that put his approval in the mid-30th percentile, here’s another red letter date most folks haven’t thought about: May 21, 2011. Huh? Say what? Yes, May 21, 2011, the day we discovered that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels would not become president of the United States. He wouldn’t even try. He’d become a president, at Purdue University.
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  • Speaker Bosma backs Sunday alcohol sales
    “I’m anxiously awaiting the commission’s findings on all of those issues. Last year we enacted that legislation and I don’t want to make pronouncements to try and set the agenda. I have long been a proponent of Sunday sales. There is no good reason for us to not allow that in some fashion. Actually I enjoy a cold beer every once in awhile and did so yesterday when I was cleaning out my garage.” - House Speaker Brian Bosma, asked about Sunday alcohol sales and wider distribution of cold beer at Monday’s Indiana Chamber Legislative Preview luncheon. As for cold beer, Bosma said, “I’m smart enough to buy it at a package store Monday through Saturday.” 
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  • The slitherly slope and redemption
    Here are some thoughts on the “Pervnado” that is sweeping Hollywood, Capitol Hill, newsrooms and statehouses, though things at the Indiana Statehouse have been quiet.

    Does it make a difference when a decades-old allegation comes up that the perpetrator apologizes? Particularly if there’s no specific evidence? We’ve watched Kevin Spacey, Sen. Al Franken and comedian Louis C.K. seek some measure of atonement for their inappropriate behavior, while Republican Alabama U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore, who has been accused of pedophilia, has not and remains defiant? Ditto for comedian Bill Cosby.

    As any crisis communicator will tell you, coming clean and being contrite is the better long term strategy even if one takes big losses in the short-term. And Americans have a penchant for redemption, as past controversial figures ranging from Muhammad Ali, Jane Fonda, Kobe Bryant to Barney Frank and even Presidents Clinton and Nixon eventually were restored some degree of trust and popularity.

    Is it inconsistent for U.S. Rep. Luke Messer to call for the resignation of Sen. Franken for one ribald photo and an inappropriate and slithery pass a radio personality Leanne Tweeden, while President Trump escapes a similar assessment despite a dozen or so similar complaints and the Billy Bush “Access Hollywood” tape?

    Just asking, as we watch many powerful figures tumble down the slithery slope.  - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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