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Wednesday, February 10, 2016
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Gov. Pence announces the transition from Lt. Gov. Ellspermann to Eric Holcomb at a Statehouse news conference. (HPI Photo by Brian A. Howey)
Gov. Pence announces the transition from Lt. Gov. Ellspermann to Eric Holcomb at a Statehouse news conference. (HPI Photo by Brian A. Howey)
Tuesday, February 09, 2016 1:49 PM

By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS - The Pence administration in transition presented a united front Tuesday as Gov. Mike Pence announced Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann will resign. He will elevate former U.S. Senate candidate Eric Holcomb to the post. The three dispelled speculation of discord, as Pence was effusive in his praise for Ellspermann. “Our current lieutenant governor has done a phenomenal job serving Indiana,” Pence said.

Then Pence pivoted, saying, “Eric Holcomb has the character and experience to serve as lieutenant governor.” He cited Holcomb’s role as Republican Party chairman, deputy chief of staff to Gov. Mitch Daniels and U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, as well as his service in the U.S. Navy. “He is a man of faith, humility, integrity and optimism. It just takes a few minutes of talking with him to know this is true. He has a heart for public service.”

Pence said he offered the job to Holcomb just prior to Sunday’s Super Bowl. Holcomb said he pulled off the road while campaigning for the U.S. Senate race near Burlington, Ind., and accepted. “We talked for days, not months,” Holcomb said. Holcomb withdrew his candidacy mid-day Monday, setting off speculation that he was about to succeed Ellspermann.

John Gregg, the presumed Democratic nominee seeking a rematch with Pence, reacted with campaign spokesman Jeff Harris saying. ”This is a direct reflection of the governor’s judgment and priorities. Mike Pence is shoving aside an accomplished businesswoman, who hasn’t always agreed with his radical ideology, in favor of a longtime political operative who will be in lock-step with him."

The timing of Ellspermann’s resignation will be determined by discussions with House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President David Long. The General Assembly will have to confirm Holcomb’s nomination, but it could come yet this month. The General Assembly session ends on March 14.

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  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    WEST LAFAYETTE – Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders may be early precursors of an upheaval over the American horizon. The United States has experienced seismic events that profoundly changed the nation about every 80 years, ranging from the American Revolution, to the Civil War, to the Great Depression and World War II, which ended 71 years ago. These candidates could be acolytes for a coming cataclysm. Just hours before the Iowa caucuses, I spent more than an hour with Purdue President Mitch Daniels at his Hovde Hall office. Daniels could have been on the Republican ballot that night if not for a fateful family decision in May, 2011, not to pursue presidential politics. He’s been on record as believing he could have won the 2012 Republican nomination, but doesn’t believe he could have defeated President Obama (I beg to differ). And he believes he would have had little chance in today’s middle-finger mood in Republican politics.
        
  • BY: MARK SOUDER
    FORT WAYNE – Iowa eliminates, it does not nominate. The same can be said for New Hampshire. Neither is typical of much of anything about America, especially the diversity. But they do function as a form of baseball’s spring training. The players can be examined in close detail, with the starters separating from the others. With Republicans Huckabee and Paul already dropping out, the clearing of the deck has begun. Iowa offered many insights of what is likely to come on the Republican side. On the Democrat side, we Republicans can only cheer on Bernie to a point, hoping for chaos and forcing Clinton even further out of the mainstream while we try to sort things out. The big loser in Iowa was clearly Donald Trump. He was seriously wounded but far from eliminated. He was the man who believed in polls, who sold himself as the “winner.” Trump was at 37% and the clear leader in all polls, but received 24% and squeaked into second place. The first post-Iowa poll shows Trump at 38%. If he again declines in New Hampshire, especially below 25%, his campaign will be in serious trouble.
  • By RICH JAMES
    MERRILLVILLE – East Chicago Councilman Robert Battle has city and county Democrats wondering how they can get out of the mess they are in. Battle is sitting in jail as he awaits trial on drug and homicide charges. And, all the while, he is pulling in a cool $42,356 a year for his services as a city councilman. But if you are one of his constituents, it probably is pretty tough to reach Battle with a complaint or suggestion. That’s just how the penal system works. There is outrage in some quarters because Battle is allowed to serve as a councilman and because he is drawing a salary while in jail. Because the law says one is innocent until proven guilty, local Democrats aren’t sure what to do about Battle.The one thing they agree on is that as long as Battle is an incarcerated councilman, he is an embarrassment to East Chicago and Lake County as a whole. Lake County Sheriff John Buncich, who doubles as county Democratic chairman, wants something done with Battle, at least on a temporary basis.
  • By SHAW FRIEDMAN
    LaPORTE – Under the theory that even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then or that a  broken clock is right twice a day, the Koch Brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity got it right for once; there’s no need to raise taxes in Indiana to fund roads.  Yes, we need to “prioritize existing funds better” as AFP urges, but we better also stop the loss of needed tax revenues by  putting a moratorium on further tax cuts scheduled in corporate, bank and individual income taxes. We also better look at a fairer distribution of highway and road dollars, as currently there’s a massive disparity between regions. The LaPorte County Commissioners released data in 2015 showing that the affluent suburbs around Indianapolis that make up the Greenfield INDOT district received $1.7 billion more in funds for state highways, interstates and roads over the past 10 years than the INDOT district in Northwest Indiana received. That’s how we end up with gold-plated highways like the Keystone Parkway in Hamilton County while roads and bridges are crumbling across Northwest Indiana.
  • By MORTON J. MARCUS
    INDIANAPOLIS – The circus is entertaining once more at the Statehouse. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, the Indiana General Assembly is in session. Once again, you can see the stars of the show attempt to make daring public policy, swallow the fire of tax increases, and walk the tightrope of discrimination. Off to the side are the brave few battling the beasts of ignorance, indifference, and stupidity. Let’s resist the temptation to shine a light where so much darkness dwells. Instead, we retreat to the Garden of Data where, despite some weeds, the air is clean and invigorating. Imagine if our legislature stopped for a moment to sniff this delicate statistic from the American Community Survey (ACS) of 2014: About a third of all Hoosiers work outside their county of residence.
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  • Holcomb withdraws U.S. Senate candidacy
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - The Republican Indiana U.S. Senate race is down to two candidates as Eric Holcomb filed paperwork with the Indiana Secretary of State’s office withdrawing his candidacy. Holcomb filed his withdrawal less than a half hour before the noon Monday deadline. Holcomb and his campaign have not released a statement. It leaves a two-man race between U.S. Reps. Marlin Stutzman and Todd Young. Holcomb, the former Indiana Republican Party chairman, lagged behind the two congressmen in money. In the final 2015 FEC filings, Holcomb had only $280,203 cash on hand after reporting $60,096 for the fourth quarter and $508,218 for the cycle. In contrast, Young had $2.6 million in the bank and Stutzman had $1.1 million. Both Stutzman and Young are running TV ad campaigns, something that Holcomb could not do, even though he had the support of Bill Oesterle, who formed a political action committee to back moderate Republican candidates.

  • Stutzman, Rubio win 6th CD GOP straw polls
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    RUSHVILLE - Some 54 6th CD precinct officials participated in a straw poll Saturday morning with Sen. Marco Rubio winning the presidential poll, and U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman winning the U.S. Senate poll. Rubio received 22 votes (41.5%), Donald Trump 13 (24.5%), and Sen. Ted Cruz 11 (20.7%). Ben Carson, Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina each received 2 votes (3.8%), Jeb Bush 1 vote (1.9%), while Ohio Gov. John Kasich received no votes. In the U.S. Senate race, Stutzman had 22 votes (40.7%), U.S. Rep. Todd Young 17 (31.5%) and Eric 15 votes with 27.8%).

  • Horse Race: Education issues could drive 14 House, 4 Senate challenges
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Fourteen Indiana House and four Senate incumbents are facing primary challengers, including State Rep. Donna Schaibley who is opposed by Tea Party activist Greg Fettig. In other moves just prior to today’s noon primary filing deadline, in the 9th CD, Republican Jim Pfaff dropped out of that race and endorsed Attorney General Greg Zoeller, opting to run for the open HD65. Asked if there is a movement afoot in all of the House challenges, Mike Gentry of Mark It Red, and a former head of the House Republican Campaign Committee who is now a key consultant to that group, told HPI that he was just beginning to go over the challengers. “I think this may be more education issue related,” Gentry said.

  • Former Gov. Edgar Whitcomb, World War II hero, dies at age 98

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Former Indiana Gov. Edgar Whitcomb, a World War II hero, died on Thursday afternoon at age 98, surrounded by his family. Whitcomb was Indiana’s 43rd governor, serving from 1969 to 1973. He had also served as Indiana secretary of state.
    Gov. Mike Pence, in officially announcing Whitcomb’s death, said, “Gov. Ed Whitcomb was a great man whose life of courage, service and adventure inspired generations of Hoosiers and he will be deeply missed. Gov. Whitcomb was a treasure to our state and I mark his passing with a sense of personal loss as will thousands of Hoosiers whose lives were touched by this remarkable leader. Ed Whitcomb’s zest for life was evident in each of his 98 years.”

  • HPI Analysis: Civil rights demise consequences unclear

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence has delivered for Monica Boyer. Heading into a tough reelection bid, his social conservative base is more secure now that SB344, the LGBT civil rights expansion, is dead. But this episode underscored the narrative, even within his base, that he is a weak, indecisive “Chance the Gardner” governor. His fate with moderates and independent voters is undecided. There appears to be little fear of political retribution and this won’t happen unless there is the kind of political assault that took Sen. Steve Johnson out in 2002, Senate Finance Chairman Larry Borst in 2004 and Senate President Pro Tem Robert Garton in 2006. Those were all challenges waged against moderates from the right. There appears to be little fear of political retribution and this won’t happen unless there is the kind of political assault that took Sen. Steve Johnson out in 2002, Senate Finance Chairman Larry Borst in 2004 and Senate President Pro Tem Robert Garton in 2006. Those were all challenges waged against moderates from the right.

        

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  • Democrats say Young lacks signatures to qualify for Senate ballot
    "Todd Young has clearly met the requirements to be listed on the ballot. Our campaign submitted more than enough ballot petition signatures in each congressional district. Further, clerks in all 92 counties verified the validity of those signatures. At this point, any attempt to disenfranchise voters would be unfortunate, underhanded, and ultimately unsuccessful." - Trevor Foughty, campaign manager for U.S. Rep. Todd Young, reacting to a Politico Pro report that he submitted only 498 valid signatures in the 1st CD after multiple counts. Indiana Democratic Chairman John Zody said, "The IDP is formally challenging Young's petitions because it is imperative that every candidate seeking office in Indiana is determined to be eligible - and it appears Todd Young may not be eligible." If Young doesn’t qualify, U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman will receive the Republican nomination.
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HPI Video Feed
Mike Harkness seeks HD73 GOP nomination
Paoli Council President Tom Harkness will challenge State Rep. Steve Davisson in the HD73 primary. Here is his campaign video.

SNL: Bern Your Enthusiasm
Sen. Bernie Sanders joins Larry David on Saturday Night Live.

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State of the State

What grade would you give Gov. Mike Pence's State of the State address on Jan. 12, 2016?


 

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