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Monday, April 27, 2015
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Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eric Holcomb shows his Indiana map with notations of support from Republican officials and backers around the state. (HPI Photo by Brian A. Howey)
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eric Holcomb shows his Indiana map with notations of support from Republican officials and backers around the state. (HPI Photo by Brian A. Howey)
Monday, April 27, 2015 10:50 AM

By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS - Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eric Holcomb has a pretty simple early campaign strategy: As other Hoosier officeholders mull, he is traveling across the state like a dervish, lining up as much support as he can before anyone else can announce. On Monday morning, the former Republican state chairman announced the backing of 18 chairs and Republican Central Committee members, 11 mayors and 10 legislators. He also released a list of individual supporters that reads like a who’s who from the Daniels administration days.

Holcomb is the only announced candidate, and since his campaign kickoff on March 26, he has attended more than a dozen Lincoln dinners, pie auctions and other Republican events. He is using his contacts when he served as Gov. Mitch Daniels reelection campaign manager in 2008, his time as the governor’s deputy chief of staff, and his two years as state chairman to line up early support. The goal is to dissuade other potential candidates from even entering the race. Holcomb is attempting to exploit his statewide ties, while his potential opponents represent smaller slivers of the state in congressional districts and state Senate seats.

Thus far, U.S. Reps. Susan Brooks and Jackie Walorski have announced 2016 reelection bids while U.S. Reps. Marlin Stutzman and Todd Young are researching campaigns. Stutzman is expected to make an announcement of his 2016 plans on May 9. Young has told Howey Politics Indiana that he is “preparing” for a Senate bid, but has not made a final decision, saying that he has some time to decide. House Speaker Brian Bosma of Indianapolis, State Sens. Mike Delph of Carmel and Jim Merritt of Indianapolis are also Senate campaign options open, but aren’t expected to publicly address the race until after the Indiana General Assembly concludes its business on Wednesday.

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  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence has a plethora of political and policy problems to deal with, but a Republican gubernatorial primary isn’t likely to be one of them. Since the fallout of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the spinning rumor mill has centered on outgoing Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard as potential primary challengers to the embattled governor. But cross tabulations in the April 12-14 Howey Politics Indiana Poll reveal that a legitimate primary challenge to Pence would likely be a fool’s errand. Among Republicans overall, 74 percent approve of Gov. Pence’s job performance compared to 17 percent who disapprove. Among Republican men, it stands at 84/10 percent and among Republican women, it is at 70/16 percent. Certainly, an incumbent governor would rather see those numbers in the 90th percentile, but with three-quarters backing his job performance, that is hardly enough to sustain a legitimate primary challenge.
     
  • By CRAIG DUNN
    KOKOMO –  With age comes understanding, so they say. With the passing of time we all should be just a little wiser every day. And so it should be when it comes to government and politics. Here we are staring the 2016 United States Senate race in the face and I wonder if we will use our accumulated wisdom in selecting our next Republican Senate candidate. I sure hope so. In my opinion it is vitally important for our next Republican Senate candidate to be able to master four critical skills. First, a successful Senate candidate will need to be able to run an effective statewide campaign. By statewide, I mean statewide, as in from Mount Vernon to Lawrenceberg, Angola to Hammond, and all points in between. The successful candidate will gain critical insight on Indiana’s unique time zones and the Hoosiers who inhabit them. Running a statewide campaign sounds like fun until you ponder the reality of a Lincoln Day dinner in Lake County on a Monday evening followed by shaking hands the next morning at a breakfast in Morgan County. You put a lot of ugly miles on both your vehicle and your body. 
  • By RICH JAMES
    MERRILLVILLE – When Donna Harris was elected a week ago to replace her late husband, Earl Harris, in the Indiana House of Representatives, it certainly didn’t break any new ground. In fact, for wives to replace their husbands in elected office has been a tradition in Lake County for several decades. Rep. Earl Harris, an East Chicago Democrat, spent 33 years in the House before passing away last month. Precinct committeemen elected Donna Harris over Byron “Duke” Florence to replace her late husband. It’s always pretty much been a sentimental kind thing, whether the office being filled is on the local or state level. Whether Donna Harris was the most qualified for the job doesn’t really matter. The people wanted Earl’s wife to replace him. So, she will serve this year and next year and likely won’t run for a full term. 
  • By MICHAEL HICKS
    MUNCIE –  Indiana has just passed legislation that would eliminate the prevailing wage’for public construction projects. Indiana passed what is known as a “little” Davis-Bacon Act in 1935. That act today requires that any non-roadway project involving more than $350,000 in public funds would require a five-person committee to set wages for contract workers. This committee consists of representatives from local business, labor, contractors, government and taxpayers. Indiana’s new legislation eliminates this rule so wages are no longer part of the bidding process for public works projects. Proponents of the measure point to large cost savings to public infrastructure, while opponents argue it will hurt local construction companies and workers. Given a great deal of good research on the matter, it might be wise to see what recent studies conclude on these issues. From my reading of the available research, several recurring themes emerge. First, the passage of this law will have little or no impact on skilled workers. 
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South Bend Mayor Buttigieg's First TV Ad
Democrat South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg's first TV ad in his primary race against City Councilman Henry Davis Jr.
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  • Pence legislative agenda still mostly intact
    By MATTHEW BUTLER
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – After the crossover point in late February, Howey Politics Indiana wrote the two unforeseen “wild cards” of the General Assembly session were repeal of the common wage and emergency steps to shorten this spring’s ISTEP. Both had Gov. Mike Pence’s vocal support and the latter was spurred by his calls for action in the guise of two high-profile press conferences.They can be chalked up as administration victories as ISTEP is shortened and the common wage repeal now awaits his signature despite a close vote on the senate floor. Starting in late March and early April there would emerge two far more serious wild cards and place the Pence Administration under national scrutiny: The HIV epidemic emanating out of Scott County and the fallout over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
     
  • 'Dark store' legislation could cost locals millions
    By MATTHEW BUTLER

    INDIANAPOLIS – A new precedent is poised to drastically alter how Indiana big-box retail stores are assessed for property taxes. If left unaddressed this legislative session, local government entities fear it could lead to a flurry of tax appeals, refunds going back years, and cost an estimated $120 million statewide in lost annual revenue. As the sine die approaches, a Wednesday conference committee for SB436 failed to resolve differing language on the matter. The issue stems from a December ruling in which the big-box retail chain of Meijer appealed the assessed value of one of its Indianapolis stores.
     
  • HPI Poll: Hoosier attiudes toward marijuana shift, leaders don't
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – When it comes to whether Indiana will reform it’s marijuana laws, don’t hold that bong hit too long in hopes that it will happen any time soon. The Howey Politics Indiana Poll found ample support to do that. On the question: 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana use in some form. In Indiana, it’s not legal for any use. Which of the following do you support? The results broke down: 24%, legalize marijuana for recreational and medicinal use; 31%, legalize marijuana for medicinal use only; 13%, decriminalize marijuana possession of any amount to be a fine as opposed to jail time; 28%, keep Indiana laws the way they are; 4%, don’t know. One way to read it is that 68% favor some type of marijuana law reform, and 28% favor the status quo with 4% undecided.

     
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  • No Hoosier pizza for you, President Obama
    "Those Joe Biden shoulder massages are like magic. You should try one. [Pause.] Oh, you have? We've gotten so close, in some places in Indiana, they won't serve us pizza anymore." - President Obama, at Saturday night’s White House Correspondents Dinner.

     



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Straight ticket voting

Should the Indiana General Assembly pass and Gov. Pence sign legislation ending straight-ticket balloting?


 

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