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Wednesday, March 20, 2019
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Tuesday, March 19, 2019 10:46 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. Holcomb and silent hate

Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: Gov. Eric Holcomb raised some eyebrows when he did a Q&A with GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer during the Madison County Republican Lincoln Dinner Saturday and spent more time talking about First Dog Henry than the languishing hate crimes bill. Holcomb had promised to be “vocal” pushing SB12, which lacks the demographic list he deems necessary. Holcomb may be relying on back channel talks with Speaker Brian Bosma as opposed to fully employing his bully pulpit, though time is running out. SB12 isn't expected to get a committee hearing in the House until next week, and there's an April 9 deadline looming for bills to advance or die. 

Bosma said late last week, “We’re having conversations about what takes us off the list and what doesn’t take us off the list as well, so it would be unfortunate to go through a painful discussion and painful votes, probably, and still be at the same place next session. So, we’re trying to see what can happen.” Key point: The “next session” will be in 2020, an election year. Holcomb doesn't have an obvious opponent lining up, but Bosma might be facing a rematch from Poonam Gill.

2. Democrats and milk cartons

Gov. Holcomb may not be feeling the political heat. We’re hearing that dairy companies are preparing some of those “Have you seen me?” milk cartons that feature missing people, in this case a 2020 Democratic gubernatorial candidate. It’s 14 months before the May 2020 primary and there doesn’t appear to be a single Democrat preparing for a bid, let alone raising the $20,000 or so a day needed for a credible run. One Democratic insider told HPI  last month the party may opt for a “placeholder candidate” and focus on taking out Attorney General Curtis Hill. Paging Ralph Spelbring, a gadfly candidate from Elkhart who has run in just about every Indiana congressional district. We're also hearing Tommy Schrader from Fort Wayne might be available.

3. One percent Pete

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg will appear on MSNBC's Morning Joe  Wednesday. He is expected to talk about his support for abolishing the Electoral College. It will come a day after a second state poll had the mayor at 1%, in this case the Emerson College Wisconsin Poll, which had Sen. Bernie Sanders holding a strong lead with 39% of the vote, followed by Joe Biden at 24%, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 14%. The good news for mayor Pete? He’s only 5% behind  moneybags Beto O’Rourke, who came in at 6%.

4. Indiana’s bipartisan senators

The Lugar Center Bipartisan Index is out and Indiana's senators in 2018 were the most bipartisan in the nation. The combination of Todd Young and Joe Donnellyrates as the highest Bipartisan Index pair in the Senate from any State. Young ranked 7th, Donnelly ranked 4th. No other state comes close. Maine has Susan Collins at #1 but Angus King is #28. West Virginia has Shelley Moore Capito at #3 but Joe Manchin is #25th. Of course, Donnelly was defeated last November by Mike Braun, and it's far too early to rate his bipartisanship. In the House, things are mostly predictable with Republican Rep. Susan Brooks at the top and Democrat Rep. Andre Carson at the bottom of the Indiana delegation.

5. Lugar rates the preezies

The scores of the nine Democratic presidential candidates who served in Congress in the 115th are included in the Lugar Bipartisan IndexRep. John Delaney leads the pack. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has the best score among senators by far. Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Beto O'Rourke also have good scores (and are almost identical). The other five Senators rank low, though Elizabeth Warren ranks quite a bit higher than the other four. Bernie Sanders comes in dead last at 100th for the second straight Congress. Sen. Kamala Harris is at 95th, Cory Booker is at 88th, Kirsten Gillibrand is at 84th, and Warren is at 69th. 

Still no word on services for the late U.S. Sen. Birch BayhWe'll keep you posted when we hear something. It's The Atomic! 
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    INDIANAPOLIS - In the week since his death, much has been written about Birch Bayh's time in the U.S. Senate, and his place in the pantheon of American history. Rightfully so, as Bayh's impact rivals that of any Hoosier to serve in our nation's capital in any capacity. But before going to Washington, he was a farm boy from Vigo County serving Hoosiers in Indianapolis over four terms as a state representative. None of the obituaries give his time at the Statehouse more than a passing mention, and only then because he served for a term as the Speaker of the House. I suspect this is for a few reasons. First, for most Hoosiers, the Indiana General Assembly has never been as visible as its federal counterpart. This was particularly true for the era when Bayh served, as the legislature met for barely more than two months every other year. Second, this lack of visibility and interest means there is little widely available material on the Indiana General Assembly prior to the last decade or so. Researching the goings on in our legislative bodies requires access to newspaper archives and session journals, which can typically only be found at a library. And third, none of Bayh's state legislative work product compares to authoring Constitutional amendments or Title IX. While Bayh's time writing state law in the 1950's gave little hint of the historical impact to come once he started writing federal law in the 1960's, what does emerge is the beginnings of his legacy as one of the most brilliant and naturally gifted politicians our state has ever seen.

    GNAW BONE, Ind. – Eight years ago, Hoosier Republicans gathered for their annual spring dinner and heard an endearing speech from First Lady Cheri Daniels, who talked about her love for the Indiana State Fair ranging from hand milking cows to flipping pancakes. It was a prelude to a potential presidential run by then-Gov. Mitch Daniels, whose political career was one of distinct decorum. He never ran a negative TV ad, nor did he vilify his opponents. Several weeks later, the Daniels family decided against a White House bid (who could blame them?), a decision that if you line up a chain of hypotheticals (the governor could have won the GOP nomination, could have defeated President Obama, could have tackled historic entitlement reform) might have clipped the atmosphere that produced President Donald Trump and the coarsened political environment we stew in today. Thus, we summon Monty Python’s Flying Circus and John Cleese’s famous catch-phrase: And now for something completely different. That would be Monday night's Republican Spring Dinner, 2019 version. It featured two of President Trump’s ultimate insiders: Corey Lewandowski and Dave Bossie.
    KOKOMO – You can massage your message in caucus all you want, but it will never change the fact that the real reason that the list of proposed hate crimes was stripped out of Senate Bill 12 was because one of those hate crimes enumerated was against the LGBTQ community.  Many in the fundamentalist Christian community in Indiana believe passionately that any recognition of the existence of the LGBTQ community is tantamount to governmental acceptance of a lifestyle that they find to be abhorrent, unnatural and against the commandments of the Holy Bible. In addition, these people believe this is just another sinister piece of legislation that will continue to chip away at their cherished beliefs and ultimately be used to impair their religious freedoms. How do I know this? I read their views on a daily basis. Over the last few years, I have built a tidy sum of Facebook friends who represent a fairly wide spread of political beliefs. Many of the people who I consider to be close friends share the belief that SB12, which originally contained a list of groups protected by the legislation, will be turned against the community of Biblically faithful. Yes, these are the same people who had a conniption fit over the RFRA legislation. I respect their views, but I certainly don’t agree with them.

    MERRILLVILLE — Talk about strange bedfellows. The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus and Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb are in lockstep on a bias crime bill. The Democratic legislators have joined Holcomb in his quest to have the Indiana House restore a list of protected classes to a bias crime bill. Such a bill would give victims substantially more standing in court. The bill would protect all Hoosiers regardless of race, religion, sex, gender identity, disability, national origin, ancestry, age or sexual orientation. Those classes were in the bill until a private meeting of Republican senators took them out and made the legislation rather generic. Let there be no doubt that what the senators wanted out of the bill was the term “sexual orientation.” It all brings me back to when Mike Pence was governor of Indiana and desperately fought the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community.
    MARTINSVILLE – “Round and round it goes, where it stops, nobody knows” is a line from the “Major Bowes Original Amateur Hour.”  Kris Kristofferson sings a mighty fine song about not knowing where she stops. Sometimes not knowing where it stops is OK. But for law and policy, not so much! Our Spidey Sense should be tingling as the Indiana General Assembly works on its second-half pass. Other than knowing sine die will happen, who knows what we will have when the lawmakers stop? We do not know what the final version of a bill will be. Which of the shiny object bills will go to the governor? What will the consequences be if those bills are signed into law? “Shiny object” is a label for a bill that seems to accomplish something that sounds good to the public but either does nothing, costs more than it’s worth, or is detrimental in some way no one considered. For example, Senate Bill 36 is a shiny object bill that passed with a vote of 40 yeas and 9 nays to create an Indiana felony registry.  
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  • Buttigieg tells Fox News 'all signs' point to candidacy

    Howey Politics Indiana

    South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg signaled a full-fledged presidential campaign is in the works during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. "Now we’re seeing all of those things, but because I’m not highly famous and I’m not personally wealthy, it takes a little bit to get the organization in place for a launch," Buttigieg told host Chris Wallace. "All of the signs are pointing in the right direction and when we do come out it’s going to be a big one. There's something happening right now that calls for something completely different than what we’ve been seeing. Generationally different, regionally different, somebody with a different life story and a different background." He told HPI last month a campaign kickoff would likely come in April in South Bend. His appearance comes a day after he announced he had crossed the 65,000 donor threshold that will qualify him for the Democratic presidential debates that begin in June. "We are building a community that believes in this bold vision for the future, and there are tens of thousands of people (76,025 to be exact) around the country who invested because they believe a midwestern, millennial, war veteran, mayoral voice should be a part of the conversation," he said on Saturday.

  • Atomic! Trump's 'support'; Bayh on 25th; Banks, Buttigieg on Sunday
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Trump's chilling interview: Here are your Ides of March power lunch talking points for the week: This is chillingPresident Trump told Breitbart News, "I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of Bikers for Trump. I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad. But the left plays it cuter and tougher.” What "certain point" is our president talking about? These comments come after the president's former attorney/fixer, the convicted felon Michael Cohen, hinted at an American coup d'etat in his testimony before the House Oversight Committee. “Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.” Whew.

  • Sen. Birch Bayh used political capital on policy for the ages

    INDIANAPOLIS - There were two compelling aspects of U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh. He was a liberal senator representing a conservative state, and yet he took audacious policy stances at odds with a broad swath of his constituency that would have doomed most other politicians. In essence, this was a public servant willing to use all of his political capital to achieve compelling and enduring policy goals. Birch Bayh was a statesman. He crafted the most amendments (two, precisely) to the U.S. Constitution since the Founding Fathers created the Bill of Rights nearly two centuries before. Inspired by his wife, Marvella, he championed women's equality through the failed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and access to collegiate sports funding through his Title IX provisions included in the 1972 Education Act.

  • Atomic! Birch Bayh & Senate lions; Donnelly's job; Trump woes
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Bayh and Senate lions

    Here are your bomb cyclone power lunch talking points: The latter half of the 20th Century found Indiana producing a number of lions in the Senate, with Birch Bayh upsetting U.S. Sen. Homer Capehart in 1962, Sen. Richard Lugar entering in 1977, the future vice president Dan Quayle defeating Bayh in 1980 and then Dan Coats, a future national intelligence director in 1988. Bayh stands out in this group for several reasons: He authored two of the 27 U.S. Constitution amendments. He was the driving force behind Title IX, which opened collegiate athletes to women. Bayh never won an election by more than 5%, but he showed political courage by parting with President Johnson on the Vietnam War, and he thwarted two of President Nixon's U.S. Supreme Court nominees.  Reaction to Bayh's death at age 91 in Washington is bringing tributes. Former House Speaker John Gregg honored Bayh, a former speaker himself, saying, "Sen. Birch Bayh was a true statesman whose legislative legacy is unmatched in modern history. America is stronger and more inclusive because of Birch Bayh. We send our love to the Bayh family and thank them for sharing him with us." 
  • Atomic! Young with Trump; Hate crime peril; Cyclone bomb!
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Young, Braun to back Trump on emergency: Here are your hump day power lunch talking points: Both U.S. Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun are siding with President Trump on Thursday's vote on his emergency declaration for the border law. The resolution against the emergency is expected to pass with at least four Republicans defecting, Trump will veto and an override will fail. Then the attorneys will find a windfall when the whole thing ends up in court. The fascinating thing is how many Republican senators are willing to give up the power of the purse to Trump. The big arm twister here was Vice President Pence, who lobbied Young and won his vote with an offer for Trump to sign legislation reining in his power to declare future emergencies. So Trump wins this one, and such legislation would prevent future presidents, though House passage on that would be impossible. Young said on Tuesday, “After weeks of careful study and discussion, I have decided to vote to preserve President Trump’s national emergency declaration. It is clear that the President’s declaration adheres to decades-old statutes and procedures laid out in federal law, and there is no question that a national crisis exists at our southern border."
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  • Gov. Holcomb talks about redistricting reform
    “I want to see more evidence of where our legislative districts are gerrymandered. How is it that Republicans have 89% of the county commissioners and the GOP has a majority of county sheriffs, a majority of statewide elective offices. Those are not gerrymandered.” - Gov. Eric Holcomb, when asked by the Anderson Herald-Bulletin's Ken de la Bastide if he would support an independent redistricting commission. Holcomb added, “This has long been the jurisdiction of the legislature. I’m very open-minded if we can make the system truly fair. I want to see that proposal.” 
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  • Huston's advice to Trump is to dump Pence, add Haley to the ticket

    Vice President Mike Pence once headed the Indiana Policy Review think tank. On Friday night, members heard a former aide to President Nixon suggested President Trump should replace him on the 2020 ticket with former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley.

    "My political advice to the president would be that he replace Pence with Nikki Haley," said Indianapolis attorney Tom Huston. "I don't think Pence adds anything to the ticket. He's already said that Pence is going to be on the ticket. Now let me say, I don't like Nikki Haley. But I do think she would bring something to the ticket that would be valuable to him to win reelection." Huston headed the Young Americans for Freedom, a group of young conservatives, before joining the Nixon administration as a speechwriter, then became a special projects aide and forged the controversial "Huston Plan" designed to confront domestic terrorism during the Vietnam War era. Huston was the featured speaker about the state of modern American conservatism.

    President Trump publicly asked Pence to stay on the ticket right after the 2018 election, but media reports had him questioning Pence's loyalty and what he would bring to the reelection bid. Some believe Nikki Haley, the former United Nations Ambassador and South Carolina governor, could help Trump attract female voters. - Brian A. Howey, publisher

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