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Friday, February 27, 2015
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Thursday, February 26, 2015 10:54 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    
RUSHVILLE, Ind. – Seventy-five years ago, this Hoosier town became the epicenter of American Republican politics as presidential nominee Wendell Willkie used his wife’s hometown to headquarter his campaign challenge to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Tuesday night, Gov. Mike Pence returned to the county for its Lincoln Dinner address, vowing that “Indiana will lead the way” in the national conversation in what he envisions to be potentially a post-Obamacare, post-Medicaid era.
    
Citing an emerging era of “less government, less taxes and less regulation,” Pence said that Indiana stands conspicuous because “things are different here in Indiana due to Republican leadership. Rush County played a leading role in electing common sense leadership. Because of common sense leadership over the last 12 years, Indiana is on a roll and Republican leadership has made a difference.” This could have been a typical Lincoln Dinner speech for a governor just past the halfway point of his term. But Pence is poised with the federal waiver for Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 to drive a national conversation, particularly if the U.S. Supreme Court rules against the Obama administration in the King v. Burwell case likely to be determined in June, just weeks after Pence will make a decision for 2016 on whether he will stay the course for a reelection bid in Indiana, or seize the opportunity to run for an open White House.
    
Pence’s Rush County speech could be viewed as a precursor to a sequence of events not unlike Gov. Mitch Daniels’ 2011 flirtation with a presidential race the following year. On Friday night, Pence will deliver the Reagan Dinner address at CPAC in Washington.
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  • By MAUREEN HAYDEN
    INDIANAPOLIS – State Sen. Jean Leising went to a local Farm Bureau breakfast expecting to be quizzed on a complicated tax relief bill for farmers. Instead, the Republican from a rural district was bombarded with questions about why her GOP colleagues appeared dead set on stripping power from the Democratic state schools’ chief, Glenda Ritz. “That’s all they wanted to talk about,” Leising said. A few days later, Leising joined a group of seven Republican senators (out of 40) who voted against a measure to remove Ritz from her high-profile role as chairwoman of the state Board of Education. “I do think the board makeup needs to be dealt with,” Leising said of the politicized and dysfunctional relationship between Ritz and the board, whose members are appointed by the governor. “But the timing is all wrong.” 
  • By CRAIG DUNN
    KOKOMO – As a service to my overworked and underappreciated wife, the other day I volunteered to go to the grocery store to pick up a few items. Normally, my wife and I go to the grocery together and I rarely have the opportunity to turn the visit into a learning experience. However, this visit to the grocery was eye opening. My wife had requested that I pick up toilet tissue. This is not an item that I would normally spend much time ruminating over, just grab it and toss it into the cart. The bigger and fluffier rolls the better!  I can honestly say that I have never considered the price of a roll of toilet paper. I place it high on a list of necessities that render price irrelevant. This trip down the aisle of paper products was different.  Standing in the middle of the aisle was a couple deep in conversation about the relative economy of several brands, quality and quantity. These folks looked like people who needed to make every penny count in their budget. I felt a little embarrassed that I don’t have to labor over unit pricing or always look for a generic alternative. To these people trying to do the math in their heads, the simple purchasing choice of toilet paper was a well-thought-out, necessity-driven exercise. 
  • By RICH JAMES
    MERRILLVILLE – There is one thing that separates Northwest Indiana Republicans from their colleagues in the rest of the state. When it comes to issues dealing with unions in general, the area Republicans tread lightly. While Northwest Indiana Republicans usually don’t win the endorsements of unions, they also don’t want to anger the members of the myriad of unions that populate this corner of the state. And the building and trade unions in Northwest Indiana rarely endorse a Republican over a Democrat, although it does happen. Such was the case with former Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels and the International Union of Operating Engineers. The Operating Engineers endorsed Daniels during each of his campaigns, largely because of his support for the construction of an interstate highway from Evansville to Indianapolis. The Operating Engineers also appreciated Daniels for his Major Moves program that was funded with the lease of the toll road. 
  • By PETE SEAT
    JACKSON, Mich. – Republicans in Jackson, Michigan, are familiar with refurbishing projects. One of them is their claim to fame, Under the Oaks, the park that marks the site of the first Republican Party convention ever held on July 6, 1854. When I first visited the site in June 2013, a boulder shaded beneath a cluster of oak trees to commemorate the event was covered in graffiti, in desperate need of a facelift,  a perfect metaphor for the national Republican Party. Visiting Jackson was the idea of a friend. He suggested the city of 33,000 because of its place in Republican Party history books. When I made that initial trek up there it was nearly 103 years to the day after William Howard Taft became the first and only sitting president to swing through Jackson when he dedicated the plaque affixed to the boulder under the oaks. Locals didn’t much care for discussing Taft’s visit because the most lasting memory was a series of disparaging comments he made regarding the relatively unassuming historical marker.   
       
     
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Gov. Pence on Fox News Sunday
Gov. Mike Pence appears on Fox News Sunday on Feb. 23.
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  • DNC 2014 'autopsy' report seeks to rebuild state parties
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - In 2013, the Republican National Committee issued a 100-page “autopsy” of the presidential race gone awry the prior year, with the Growth and Opportunity Project setting in motion a number of changes heading into the 2016 cycle. Now national Democrats have done the same in preliminary fashion, though the “Democratic Victory Task Force” report is only nine pages and focuses on regaining legislative seats through a rebranding effort. The report notes, “We have suffered devastating losses at all levels of government since 2008 including 69 House seats, 13 Senate seats, 910 state legislative seats, 30 state legislative chambers and 11 governorships. In Indiana, the losses have been even more daunting. Since 2008, the Indiana House has gone from 52-48 Democratic to 71-29 Republican. In the Senate, the Democrats have lost seven seats and face a 40-10 GOP super majority. In the Congressional delegation, the Democratic edge in the House has gone from 5-4 to 7-2 Republican.
     
  • Indiana common wage repeal movement part of a national trend
    By MAUREEN HAYDEN
    CNHI Statehouse Bureau


    INDIANAPOLIS - Republicans leaders are pushing hard on an effort to repeal the state's 80-year-old law that sets workers' wages on government projects with a promise from Gov. Mike Pence that he'll sign the bill should it pass the General Assembly. Driven by a concerted effort from GOP leaders, the House quickly voted this week to place Indiana among a wave of states moving to abandon their prevailing wages. Known here as the common construction wage, the law almost guarantees union-level pay on billions of dollars worth of public projects. Rates are locally set by employer, labor and elected representatives. They vary by community, and can range from $12 an hour for an unskilled painter to $45 for a skilled elevator installer.
     
  • Pence sticks to his 2016 lines on Fox News Sunday
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    NASHVILLE, Ind. - Gov. Mike Pence continued the cat and mouse speculation game on his political future, telling Fox News Sunday that he continues to focus on his current job, but adding that he hoped to have “some voice” in the 2016 presidential race. “In Washington they always say ‘who’s next?’ As governor, I have to say ‘what’s next?’” Pence said, repeating an oft-stated line when it comes to his future. Asked about whether waiting to make a decision in May will allow him to be competitive in a presidential race, Pence responded, “I like to say I’m an A to B, B to C, C to D type of guy: Do what’s in front of you and do it well. Stay focused. We’ll make decisions on our future based on where we see the call to serve.”

     
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  • Baron Hill says he's close to entering gubernatorial race
    “I’m encouraged by what I’m hearing. If I had to make an announcement today, I’d probably be in. That’s where my head is.” - Former congressman Baron Hill on what appears to be a probable Democratic gubernatorial bid. Hill also denied published “rumors” he has been in any decisions with Supt. Glenda Ritz about a lieutenant governor nomination. 



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