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Thursday, May 28, 2015
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Thursday, May 28, 2015 9:33 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    
INDIANAPOLIS – A fortnight ago, our analysis of the evolving Indiana gubernatorial race hinged on the decisions of three key players, Gov. Mike Pence, as well as Democrat Supt. Glenda Ritz and House Minority Leader Scott Pelath. As things stand today, Gov. Pence has confirmed a reelection bid telling Howey Politics Indiana on Wednesday he is prepared to defend his first term record. Ritz is headed in that direction with an announcement coming next week, and Pelath has ruled out a run, saying that a Democratic primary “free-for-all” would damage the party’s prospects for the general election, but is open for a spot on the ticket.
    
Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., reliable sources tell HPI, is still pondering either a gubernatorial or U.S. Senate bid after an impressive mayoral primary victory earlier this month. One source described McDermott as “preparing to take soundings from around the state” on a potential candidacy.
    
In the May 14 edition of Howey Politics Indiana, we reported that Ritz was “finding a wide array of encouragement to challenge Pence. The school of thought here – pun intended – is that Ritz is the perfect candidate to accentuate the deep education divisions that exist, and exploit them to bring out a coalition of teachers, educators, their wider families and friends, and the hundreds of thousands of moms out there who have lived with ISTEP glitches while adults feud on the State Board of Education.”
    
Informed and reliable Ritz associates acknowledged an announcement is forthcoming next week, saying a decision has been made, and that the superintendent has been calling supporters. Asked if the decision is to challenge Gov. Pence, the source told HPI, “You laid out a logical scenario in your column, and Supt. Ritz is a logical person.”
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  • By CRAIG DUNN
    KOKOMO – It is probably not the best of ideas to allow the people to vote in a referendum on basic human rights. Our founding fathers were pretty specific about our rights being derived from God and not from man. After all, would a vote of our nation confirming slavery have changed the basic iniquity of the institution or altered the rights of any man to be free regardless of color? Would a vote by the people against allowing women the right to vote have legitimatized denying universal suffrage? The law may or may not be changed by a referendum of the people, but human rights can never be changed by a vote. Fundamental rights live whether or not they are codified. In the United States, change comes slowly. Our legislative bodies move at a glacial pace when it comes to social change. More often than not, the courts write social law through judicial review and leave it to state and national legislatures to play catch up. Our founding fathers were pretty clever with that element of our United States Constitution. It might seem awfully easy to just put the issue of basic human rights on the ballot and let the people speak. 
  • By SHAW FRIEDMAN
    LaPORTE – Once it was different growing up in Indiana.  Mainstream Republicans, while they were never close to the teachers’ unions, tended to understand that the success of public schools was critically tied in to our state’s success. Whether it was a Richard Lugar who first got involved with Indianapolis public schools or Doc Bowen and then Bob Orr with his “A+” commitment to funding K-12, there was a broad, bipartisan consensus around supporting public schools. Toss in revered Republican lawmakers like State Sen. Virginia Blankenbaker from Indianapolis or the late Phyllis Pond from the Fort Wayne area, you could count on mainstream Republican support for funding our public schools. Not any more. Hard to believe that our current governor proposed only $200 million in new school money,  with nearly all of it directed at corporate-run charter schools as well as the state’s private school voucher program at the expense of traditional public schools. The governor’s budget guru back in January, Chris Atkins, was quoted  as saying the governor’s office was most concerned that some “high quality charter operators,” translated big bucks education corporations, “are not willing to look at investing here because of our charter financing system.”  Huh?  When did we have to start worrying about some out-of-state for-profit education firms needing subsidies?  
  • By MORTON J. MARCUS
    INDIANAPOLIS – A few weeks ago some Hoosiers were worried about the image of our state because of the ill-advised, ineptly named Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Gov. Pence was so worried he decided to spend $750,000 with some opportunistic, out-of-state firm for Righteous Image Restoration Advertising (RIRA). It did not seem to me that our image was seriously compromised by the RFRA’s passage or the virtually meaningless “fix” applied after a massive public outcry. Our reputation was already well established as being backward-looking and ignorant. RFRA only confirmed what most Americans who thought of Indiana already believed. Little noticed at the time was the Pence turn-about when the largest-ever outbreak of HIV hit the state. Long an ideological opponent of needle- and syringe-exchange programs, the governor authorized such an effort for Scott County alone. The rest of the state would remain in the dark ages.  
  • By RICH JAMES
    MERRILLVILLE – When it comes to being an advocate for regionalism, Northwest Indiana needs a few more Karen Freeman-Wilsons. Just this week, the Gary mayor urged the city council to have the city join 11 other Lake County communities in committing a portion of their economic development income tax to the extension of the South Shore line to Dyer. The mayor wants the council to approve Gary’s commitment of 7.5 percent of its income tax, or about $300,000 annually over the next 30 years, to help fund the $571 million extension.  Although the South Shore extension won’t have a direct impact on her city, Freeman-Wilson said it is all about regionalism, which she called the future of Northwest Indiana. The mayor acknowledged the commuter rail extension might provide employment for the underemployed or unemployed, including residents of Gary. Retiring city Councilman Roy Pratt, who long has been a visionary, backed the mayor, saying, “We have to look at the big picture.” 
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Stutzman Senate Bid Announcement
U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman's Republican U.S. Senate campaign announcement in Roanoke on May 9.
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  • INSen: Rep. Young venturing to Lincoln Dinners outside 9th CD
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY  
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – U.S. Rep. Todd Young is beginning to venture outside of his 9th CD for Lincoln dinners, another indicator that the Bloomington Republican will opt into the 2016 U.S. Senate race. Young appeared at the Jennings County event on Tuesday evening and will be attending others in Blackford, Howard and Gibson counties in the coming weeks, as well as the June 18 Indiana Republican state spring dinner. Since Young is sitting on a $1.4 million war chest, his potential entry without a definitive pronouncement of candidacy is impacting the field. Another prospective entrant is House Speaker Brian Bosma, who spent the first four months of the year immersed in the long General Assembly session, much of May on vacation, and is now settling into the business of his Kroger Gardis law firm. Informed and reliable sources close to the Speaker tell Howey Politics there is no deadline for a decision, particularly with Rep. Young’s candidacy unresolved.
     
  • Sen. Liz Brown kicks off Republican 3rd CD campaign
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - State Sen. Liz Brown officially ignited her 3rd CD campaign in Fort Wayne Wednesday night, joining a field that includes State Sen. Jim Banks and former Wisconsin legislator Pam Galloway. Brown said she will file for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman because there is a need in Washington more than ever for people “who are not afraid to speak out in order to affirm that our constitutional democratic principles and our faith are not broken or wavering.” Stutzman is seeking the U.S. Senate seat that Republican Dan Coats is retiring from. “I entered into public service after years of volunteer work, because I knew that at a local level and then at the state level, that we could lay a better foundation, a stronger foundation, so that our children and grandchildren could continue the self-made successes of our grandparents,” Brown told supporters.
        
     
  • Lugar Center study reveals a very partisan Indiana delegation
    By MARK SCHOEFF JR.

    WASHINGTON - Most of the Indiana congressional delegation does not work much with the opposing party when introducing or supporting legislation, according to a study by former Hoosier Sen. Richard Lugar. On Tuesday, the Lugar Center and the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy launched the Bipartisan Index, which measures how often lawmakers attract members from the other side of the aisle when they write bills and how often they cross the aisle to co-sponsor measures. There weren't too many bipartisan legislators in the Hoosier delegation in the most recent Congress. The only House member who scored above a "0" was Rep. Susan Brooks (R-5th CD), with a 0.83598. The other House members ranged from Rep. Larry Bucshon's (R-8th CD) -0.24571 to Rep. Luke Messer's (R-6th CD) -1.48456. Rep. Pete Viscloskey, D-1st CD, was not included in the index because he sponsored fewer than three qualifying bills. U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman ranked 365 with a score of -1.00515. Rankings for the delegation included U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks at 23, Larry Bucshon at 186, Todd Young at 193, Jackie Walorski at 210, André Carson at 307, Todd Rokita at 333, Stutzman at 365 and Luke Messer at 416. In the other chamber, Indiana fared much better. Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly achieved a score of 1.459805 to rank third among all senators in the most recent Congress. His counterpart, Republican Sen. Dan Coats, came in near the bottom at 87, with a score of -1.05653.
     
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  • Sen. Brown joins 3rd CD GOP field
    “Today we are at a juncture in our government in Washington, D.C. where we need people, more than ever, who are not afraid to speak out.” - State Sen. Liz Brown, kicking off her Republican 3rd CD campaign Wednesday to replace U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman. Brown joins State Sen. Jim Banks and Pam Galloway in the GOP field. See HPI coverage below. 



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