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Monday, August 21, 2017
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U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly enters the Walter Reuther UAW Hall in Anderson where he kicked off his 2018 reelection bid Monday morning. He is on a six-day campaign tour that will end next weekend in French Lick. (HPI Photo by Brian A. Howey)
U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly enters the Walter Reuther UAW Hall in Anderson where he kicked off his 2018 reelection bid Monday morning. He is on a six-day campaign tour that will end next weekend in French Lick. (HPI Photo by Brian A. Howey)
Monday, August 21, 2017 12:22 PM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY

ANDERSON - U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly kicked off his reelection bid with a mix of “Hoosier common sense” along with a theme of “working together,” citing a local bridge project, trying to stem the tide of military suicides, the opioid epidemic, the 2009 auto rescue and even Obamacare.

“Back during the toughest of times, I was a congressman right next door, over in Kokomo,” Donnelly said before a packed Walter Reuther UAW Hall. “We had transmission plants and we went from over 5,000 people to less than 100 that were working there at the time. They said it couldn’t be done. It probably wasn’t politically popular in other parts of the state. It’s never been about what’s popular and what’s not popular. It’s about the people who make lives better.”

“And when we stood together they said, ‘Joe, how is this going to work? How can we ever come back? And I said, ‘What you’re asking me is am I willing to bet on Hoosier workers? Am I willing to bet on my friends at the UAW? Am I willing to bet we can make the best cars and the best production in the world,” Donnelly said. “I’ll take that bet every single time and there are over 7,000 people working in those transmission plants just down the road.

“You know what we never did?” Donnelly asked. “We never complained. We hitched up our pants and went to work. That’s the Hoosier way. Trying to make sure we stay together. That’s how things are done in Indiana.”

His campaign comes as the Cook Political Report moved the Indiana Senate race from "Leans Democrat" into “tossup,” though Howey Politics Indiana rates the race as “Leans Democrat.” It comes as more than $5 million has already spilled into the race that many believe will cost a combined $100 million by November 2018. But Hoosier Republicans face a donnybrook of a primary with U.S. Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita involved in a mudslinging match with the field of five potentially including Attorney General Curtis Hill. Gallup polling in Indiana during July has showed President Trumps approval/disapprove at 47/48% just nine months after he carried the state with a 20% plurality.
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  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    NASHVILLE, Ind. - We had been the Hoosier State. The Crossroads of America, heart of the corn belt and the center of the basketball universe. Three years ago, we became something sinister. It was “Indiana: The Methamphetamine State!” The statistics were appalling. According to the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, between 2013 and 2015 Indiana had dismantled 4,477 meth labs, and rescued 1,104 children living in meth lab environments. Over the corresponding time period, Indiana had seen a 32 percent increase in homicides, 26 percent increase in abuse and neglect reports to the Department of Child Services, a 90 percent increase in misdemeanor theft.  The collateral damage was appalling. In addition to the abused kids, first responders like cops, firefighters and code enforcers suffered chemical injuries in meth labs. Mayors were seeing dozens of homes and hotel rooms contaminated by the insidious chemical taint that comes with clandestine meth production. There was inertia at the Statehouse as governors and legislative leaders were slow to move, some fearing the wrath and political contributions from the home health consumer products industry. There were others, like prosecutors Dustin Houchin of Washington County, Mike Steiner of Martin County, Jeffrey Arnold in Delaware County and Vanderburgh County’s Nick Hermann, Columbia City Mayor Ryan Daniel, Kendallville Police Chief Rob Wiley and a several legislators - most notably State Rep. Ben Smaltz of Auburn, State Sen. Randy Head of Logansport and House Speaker Brian Bosma - who had had enough.

  • By MARK SCHOEFF JR.
    WASHINGTON – Business leaders may be abandoning President Donald J. Trump in the wake of his reaction to last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Va., but the two leading candidates in the Indiana Republican Senate primary race are sticking with him. While CEOs exited White House advisory councils after Trump on Tuesday reaffirmed his stance that there “was blame on both sides” of a demonstration by white nationalists and a counter protest that led to one death and several injuries, Reps. Luke Messer, 6th CD, and Todd Rokita, 4th CD, avoided contradicting Trump. “Hate, bigotry and racism are un-American and unacceptable,” Messer said in an email statement. “I denounce these groups in the strongest terms. To me, much of the criticism surrounding the president was unfair. President Trump denounced the violence and racism displayed in Charlottesville, and I have denounced it, too.” Like Trump, Rokita cast a wide net of blame. “Rep. Rokita believes Americans need to come together to reject all hate groups that encourage domestic terrorism and violence,” Tim Edson, a Rokita campaign spokesman, wrote in an email.
  • By CHRISTINA HALE
    INDIANAPOLIS – Several years ago I was attending a meeting of Asia-Pacific community leaders in Melaka, Malaysia. People had gathered there from all over the region, including South Korea and Guam, but also Taiwan, and even Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Australia, Tahiti and a number of other countries. Together, we witnessed the reporting on the tsunami that hit Japan, including the terrifying images of coastal cities completely devastated, homes, personal property and loved ones sucked out to sea, never to be heard from again. And if that was not enough, the struggle of the nuclear meltdown of Fukushima, all while our friends and colleagues from Japan could only watch the reports with us, unable to communicate with family back home. The kinship that these people from all over the region felt for one another was palpable and as heartwarming as it could be under the circumstances and uncertainty. People understood that they all faced that common enemy, Mother Nature, and that she could wreak havoc any place, any time, and that many of these nations were particularly vulnerable. Today, there may be a run on Ambien in the Pacific Rim. This escalation of rhetoric and posturing regarding North Korean aggression is unprecedented, and our regional military exposure is more vulnerable than in the past 30 or more years. President Trump’s toughguy talk to Pyonyang sounds awfully similar to his colleague from the Philippines, President Dutarte, and what the Asia Times describes as his “shock and awe diplomacy.”
  • By JACK COLWELL
    SOUTH BEND – While today I defend Republican Congressman Luke Messer, it’s about one very misguided type of attack. So, don’t interpret it as favoring Messer over Todd Rokita, the other Republican congressman seeking the party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate. Either would be a formidable opponent for Sen. Joe Donnelly, the Democrat who seeks reelection in 2018. Neither would be another Richard Mourdock, the nutty Republican nominee Donnelly defeated to win a first term. A Mourdock type could slip between Messer and Rokita to win in the Republican primary, and there are far-out prospects seeking to do so. But chances are that Donnelly won’t be that fortunate a second time. Now, to defending Messer in one area where he has been attacked in an unfair, but potentially damaging, way. Messer is criticized for relocating his family – wife and three kids – to suburban Washington after election to Congress in 2012. Good for him. Good for his family. Good for Congress.
  • By RICH JAMES
    MERRILLVILLE – Are Donald Trump and Mike Pence peas in a pod, or is the vice president ready to fly from the nest. Pence, who is one of the biggest defenders of the president, stayed true on Monday after critics ripped Trump for saying there was fault to be found on both sides of the Charlottesville, Va., demonstration last weekend. So defensive of Trump was Pence that he attacked the media, much like the president has done since taking office. “The media is more concerned in attacking Trump than criticizing the violence itself,” Pence said. Besides defending the president, Pence added that there “will be more unity in America” under Trump’s presidency. All that is fairly standard for Pence, who one day would like to be president. And if Pence is going to succeed Trump, he will need the president’s political base to do so. Perhaps that’s why we haven’t heard from Pence since Monday. Pence, even though he is traveling, hasn’t said a word about Trump’s Tuesday tirade about what happened in Virginia. 
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  • HPI Interview: Messer kicks off with story on quitters
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    MORRISTOWN – All good campaigns begin with the candidate’s story and U.S. Rep. Luke Messer dovetailed what happened in the U.S. Senate this summer with one of his personal upbringing. Speaking Saturday near Morristown, the 48-year-old Messer said, “It’s time for some straight talk. The United States Senate, just a couple weeks ago, quit on us. It is not OK to promise for seven years you will repeal Obamacare and replace it with it something better, and then just work on a few days, fail, shrug and walk away. My mother taught me I’m not allowed to quit and I will never quit on you.” Then came his story: He was raised in Greensburg by a single mom who worked at the Delta Faucet plant. At age eight, he joined the school football team and then came the first practice.
  • HPI Analysis: Trump impacts on U.S. Senate race
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    MORRISTOWN – Some 800 people gathered on a bucolic, peaceful Indiana farm near here Saturday afternoon as U.S. Rep. Luke Messer officially kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign. Some 600 miles away, the scene couldn’t have been more different. Charlottesville, Va., was the scene of an alt right rally that lurched into violence with counter protesters, with a white supremacist from Ohio driving his car into a crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. By late that afternoon, President Trump landed squarely into the controversy, blaming people “from both sides” for the violence.
     As Trump thrust himself into Hoosier politics in 2016, ultimately aligning with Gov. Mike Pence and their emphatic Election Day wave pulling Eric Holcomb and Todd Young into office, to think that a similar impact isn’t in store for the 2018 Senate race is to embrace naiviety. Trump’s Saturday statement was in contrast to four tweets by Messer and U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, who are now engaged in the second member v. member Republican Senate primary in the past two cycles. “We cannot allow hate and bitterness to prevail. #Charlottesville,” Messer said. “On a day where we enjoyed the love and friendship of so many in Morristown, it is hard to fathom the scene in #Charlottesville.”
        
  • Horse Race: Hall explores 2nd CD as Arnold won't run
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - With the decision of State Sen. Jim Arnold (D-LaPorte) not to seek the 2nd CD, reliable sources tell HPI say that another potentially contender has emerged who is “seriously considering” a run against Rep. Jackie Walorski,  former South Bend businessman Mel Hall. Hall is best known for having grown a small, upstart South Bend firm – Press Ganey – that surveyed patient and employee satisfaction at hospitals, into a national powerhouse that ultimately claimed half the 5,000 hospitals in the country as clients. In 2014, Hall (pictured)moved to Nashville Tennessee to serve as CEO of Specialty Care, a provider of various clinical services, with over 1,800 employees under his supervision.  The prospect of a Democratic expert on health care issues matching up against an ardent supporter of ACA repeal will likely excite Democrats who are hungry for a credible candidate to face Walorski.
  • Indiana prosecutors call for for tougher drug sentences
    By PATRICIA A. BALDWIN

    INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Drug Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement Task Force has released a plan for dealing with the state’s opiate epidemic. Laudably, the plan proposes increased prevention and treatment efforts. However, the plan lacks meaningful enforcement proposals, without which the prospects of controlling the epidemic through prevention and treatment are impossible. Drugs like opiates are classified as controlled substances by the federal government. These drugs are controlled because they are dangerous if not delivered properly. There are effectively two delivery systems for controlled substances in Indiana,  the legitimate medical industry and the illicit drug industry. The legitimate medical industry is highly regulated and provides several important functions regarding controlled substances. Pharmaceutical companies test and develop drugs, and are overseen by federal regulators to ensure efficacy and purity of the substances. Highly trained medical professionals evaluate patients, make diagnoses and prescribe medications. Pharmacies help screen for drug interactions, and guarantee purity and dosage. Patients are monitored with an end goal of restoring health.
     
  • Indiana meth lab busts decline 58% after new law

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - A little over a year after SEA80 took effect, Indiana methamphetamine lab busts have declined 58% compared to the same time period a year ago. Indiana State Police reports 254 meth lab busts occurred from January through June, representing a 58 percent drop from the 605 incidents during the same period in 2016. In addition, the number of children removed from meth lab environments went down nearly 68 percent from 108 to 35 cases. During the last six months of 2016, meth labs declined by 38%, going from 1,452 in 2015 and 943 in 2016.
    “Because of the hard work of law enforcement and pharmacy staff in combination with statewide meth reforms, Indiana has seen a significant drop in meth lab busts,” State Rep. Ben Smaltz said. “Since taking office, one of my top priorities has been to curb meth production in Indiana while working to reduce the number of Hoosier children exposed to meth labs to zero. As these numbers continue to go down year after year, I’m confident that we are on our way toward achieving those goals.”

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  • Hupfer reminds Sen. Sanders of Indiana jobs success
    “Bernie Sanders is picking the wrong state to mess with. Indiana’s unemployment rate is at historic lows and 95,000 job openings are waiting to be filled. We are the most manufacturing intensive state in the nation, ranked 2nd for the cost of doing business and first for quality government, just to name a few of our national rankings. With all due respect Senator Sanders, take your message somewhere else. Good Republican common sense is working here in Indiana.” - Indiana Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer, on U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders scheduled 4 p.m. Monday “Midwest Pickup Tour” rally on Monument Circle in Indianapolis.
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  • Presidents Bush 41, 43 denounce racism
    Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush released a joint statement on Wednesday, denouncing racism, anti-Semitism and hatred after the events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia. “America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms. As we pray for Charlottesville, we are reminded of the fundamental truths recorded by that city’s most prominent citizen in the Declaration of Independence: we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights. We know these truths to be everlasting because we have seen the decency and greatness of our country.” The statement came a day after President Trump backtracked on a Monday statement where he denounced alt right groups, saying the there were “fine people” in the KKK, neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups. The Bush statement did not mention President Trump. - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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