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Tuesday, November 13, 2018
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The 2016 Democratic ticket and Sen. Donnelly rally in South Bend, including gubernatorial nominee John Gregg, lieutenant governor nominee Christina Hale, Evan Bayh and South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg. (HPI Photo)
The 2016 Democratic ticket and Sen. Donnelly rally in South Bend, including gubernatorial nominee John Gregg, lieutenant governor nominee Christina Hale, Evan Bayh and South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg. (HPI Photo)
Monday, November 12, 2018 8:34 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS – It was October 1984 and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wayne Townsend dropped by the Elkhart Truth editorial board to make his pitch for his challenge to Gov. Robert Orr. Along for the ride was a young, handsome Evan Bayh. Fellow reporter Phil Schermerhorn looked at Bayh and asked, “Evan, what are you running for?” The rest is history.

After managing his father’s losing U.S. Senate race in 1980, Bayh got his law degree from the University of Virginia, then he and IU classmate Joe Hogsett systematically plotted a takeover of the Indiana Democratic Party. The senator’s son would win the 1986 secretary of state race, defeat Sen. Frank O’Bannon and then place him on the ticket for a 1988 gubernatorial run, defeat Lt. Gov. John Mutz for governor, and that commenced a four-cycle, Second Floor winning streak that would finally end at the brainpan of one Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. 16 years later.

Today, with the defeat of U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly and tiny Democratic gains against the GOP super-majorities in the Indiana General Assembly, the party is abjectly irrelevant. Mike Braun’s upset has rendered Indiana a one-party state.

Unlike 1984, when Evan Bayh was the savvy young heir-apparent, there is no such dominating figure on the horizon. His twin sons, Beau and Nick, have just mustered into the Marine Corps and Army from Indiana, so it would be at least three cycles before they would have a chance to move back, trade their Pacer and ISU t-shirts worn during the father’s final (and losing) 2016 Senate campaign to establish residency, find a trade and build a political base.

Back in the Democratic desert days of the 1980s, there were ambitious Sens. Townsend and O’Bannon. Today, there is none. In the House, there is ousted Minority Leader Terry Goodin, the only Democrat representing a rural district. And, really, no one else who has hinted at running for governor.

Democratic State Chairman John Zody intends to stay on, even though he has won very little in two cycles and it’s been three cycles since a Democrat won statewide. The party picked up three House seats and one in the Senate, but Republicans retain super majorities (67-33 in the House, 40-10 in the Senate). “I will stay here as long as I feel like I can make a positive impact on that. This job is not about me; this is about moving the party forward,” Zody said. It will be interesting to learn how Democrats define “forward” in a party that holds only two federal seats and remains in a super minority swamp at the Statehouse, with no constitutional offices. 

House Democrats jettisoned Goodin Wednesday less than a year after taking the helm from Scott Pelath, selected State Rep. Phil GiaQuinta. “I am pleased that our caucus was able to pick up seats in Tuesday’s election, but I feel that we can do more to ensure that all Hoosiers are given a voice in their state government,” he said.
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  • BY: MARK SOUDER
    FORT WAYNE – The U.S. Senate election in Indiana was perceived to be a pivotal showdown for control of that body. It was supposed to be another test of the Republican-lite strategy employed by Evan Bayh to carry Indiana, a method he conceived after watching his father fall in an upset to Dan Quayle in 1980.  What is hard to remember, even for those who remember that there were two Bayhs, is that the time span from 1980 until now is the same amount of time between Truman’s transition to Eisenhower and 1980. Things change, even in Indiana. Since Evan Bayh was crushed by Todd Young in 2016, the question lingered: Would Joe Donnelly become the new Evan Bayh?
  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    INDIANAPOLIS – President Trump conducted a sprawling 90 minute presser Wednesday afternoon, basking his his victories, even though he lost the House. “The election’s over,” Trump said. “Now everybody is in love.” Well, everyone except CNN’s Jim Acosta and NBC’s Peter Alexander who the president assailed and then revoked the former’s credentials. President Trump talked of a “a beautiful bipartisan-type situation” as i Nancy Pelosi was the new Kim Jong-Un. “Now we have a much easier path because the Democrats will come to us with a plan for infrastructure, a plan for health care, a plan for whatever they’re looking at, and we’ll negotiate,” Trump said, adding, “From a dealmaking standpoint, we are all much better off the way it turned out” than if the GOP House majority had held. When pressed on potential Democratic House investigations, Trump suggested that if those were to pop up, he would respond with a “warlike posture.” Asked if there were any cabinet shakeups in the works with Attorney General Jeff Sessions sitting on a speculation bubble, Trump deflected. Less than two hours later, Trump tweeted: We are pleased to announce that Matthew G. Whitaker, Chief of Staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice, will become our new Acting Attorney General of the United States. He will serve our Country well....”
  • By JOSHUA CLAYBOURN
    EVANSVILLE – If you wondered what it felt like at the exhaustive conclusion of a First World War offensive, having moved just six inches closer to Berlin at the cost of four months and tens of thousands dead, Tuesday’s election results probably felt somewhat like that. The key differences are of course that no one is dead, we live in relative comfort, the war actually did end, and you will never make it to Berlin. Following the highly anticipated 2018 midterms, neither Republicans nor Democrats perceive much incentive to adjust their approach, victory and defeat having been almost perfectly apportioned to validate the most powerful forces within any institution, those militating toward the status quo. On the one hand, Hoosier Republicans managed to hold onto their congressional seats and kept their super majorities in the state legislature, despite some of the strongest challenges from Democrats in years. Meanwhile the national GOP took small gains in favorable Senate races (including Indiana with Senator-elect Mike Braun) and fended off high-profile governor challenges.
  • By CRAIG DUNN
    INDIANAPOLIS – As much as I’d like to hear just one more Mike Braun or Joe Donnelly attack ad, a part of me is relieved that it is all over. The election results are in and Hoosiers soundly repudiated Donnelly and will send political newcomer, Mike Braun, to Washington, D.C. This serves to realign the political stars and return Indiana to its solid Red State status. Prior to this U.S. Senate election, I felt very comfortable that Braun would win. My official prediction was a 3% plus win for Braun. My reason for this confidence was that after serving as Indiana senator for six years, Donnelly rarely showed up in excess of 43% in the pre-election polls. My general rule for incumbent politicians is that if you can’t get to 48% in the polls before the election, don’t count on the undecideds breaking your way. Did you really believe that after months and months of expensive political ads that 9% of the voters were truly undecided? I didn’t. People lie to pollsters; it is a fact of life. My general rule is that 60% of undecideds tend to break for the challenger.
  • By MORTON J. MARCUS
    INDIANAPOLIS – The joy of the Internet is serendipity, the act of finding something of interest you were not looking for. It is the same joy we find in the public library or a book store wandering the stacks. Recently, I found a list of the “Prettiest Towns in Every State”, presumably published by Architectural Digest. Since it was on the Internet, I could not be sure it was published by AD, a magazine that describes itself as “the international design authority.” My suspicions were raised when I read that the prettiest town in Indiana was … wait for it… Porter in Porter County of Northwest Indiana. Porter is OK and popular with those who like the ribs and ambiance at Wagner’s. But prettiest town in Indiana? Not by a long shot. Yet, this got me thinking about the long battle for clean air and water in Northwest Indiana, which led me to dwell on the battle over climate change.
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  • Atomic! Legislative leaders set; Dems reboot; IN pot island
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

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

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

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

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


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

    1. The death of political polling:  A couple of Rexisms  are in order here when it comes to President Trump’s sway in this state: 1.) “I don’t have to slam my hand in the car door twiceto learn that it hurts”; and (we’re paraphrasing here) 2.) “Being chairman of the party of the governor and one that doesn’t is the difference between shit and ice cream.” So in the Hoosier State, we cannot discount the impact of Trump/Pence, and the GOP has vastly more money. Braun ended up with a money lead over Donnelly. Democrats have put most of their money in Joe Donnelly. President Trump is back in Fort Wayne tonight for a final pitch. It’s designed to stoke up the base; it could motivate the Dem vote, but 2016 is fresh in our mindsSo we can’t base our final INSen forecasts on polling. A lot of it is follow the money and gut. Nate Silver’sFiveThirtyEight gives Sen. Joe Donnelly a 70.8% chance of winning this morning, down from 80% last week, but up from 68% last week. But what kind of cred does he have, given his DUI-style dialogue on his own forecasting model this past weekend? He might as well quoted HPI  (i.e. “Anything can happen.”) We view the Senate race as a tossup.  We’re watching heavy turnout in Indy, but also across red Indiana. Mike Braun was in a tossup race in the primary, and won going away, by 10%. If we had to put a money bet on it, Braun pulls it out.
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  • Holcomb reacts to Amazon HQ2 miss
    “I am proud of Indiana’s efforts to pursue Amazon’s second headquarters. Our economic development teams worked with all the key partners to quickly and creatively put together an outstanding proposal and coordinated our efforts with leaders in northwest, central and southeast Indiana. Responding to this bid showed the world that Indiana has become a global destination for business and a thriving community for tech. We’ll continue to work with Hoosier communities and companies like Amazon, with their more than 9,000 Hoosier employees, to take Indiana to the Next Level and ensure we are the very best place to live, work and play.” - Gov. Eric Holcomb, reacting to news that Amazon will place its split HQ2 in New York and Washington suburbs. Indianapolis was one of 20 finalists.
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  • Marijuana and the 56% proposition (even in Indiana)

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

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

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