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Tuesday, October 17, 2017
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Monday, October 16, 2017 10:35 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

1. Rokita raises $450K

Here are your Monday morning power lunch talking points. U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita raised $450,000 in the third quarter and has $2.4 million cash on hand for the Republican U.S. Senate race. That compares to Rep. Luke Messer’s $735,000 haul and an identical $2.4 million in cash. Rokita’s third quarter haul placed him third for the quarter with State Rep. Mike Braun bringing in $1 million, though that included $800,000 from himself. U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly reported $1.3 million raised in the quarter and $4.6 million cash on hand.

2. Holcomb job approval at 62%

Gov. Eric Holcomb job approval stands at 62% in polling for the Indiana House Republican Campaign Committee obtained by Howey Politics Indiana,while his disapproval stands at 21%. The survey of 1,113 likely voters was conducted in September. Holcomb stands at 81% among Republicans. Holcomb’s favorable/unfavorables stand at an identical 62/21% and 79% among Republicans.

3. Trump flagging in Indiana

The same polling for Mark It Red has President Trump’s approval at 47% with 50% disapproving. On the “favorable/unfavorable” question, Trumpstands at 49/49%, but is at 87% favorable with Hoosier Republicans, which explains why Rokita and Messer continue to embrace the embattled president.

4. An extensive New Yorker article on Pence

Jane Mayer authors one of the most extensive profiles on Vice President Mike Pence in this week’s New Yorker edition"The Danger of President Pence: Trump's critics yearn for his exit." But Mike Pence ... poses his own risks.” Much of the early part of the article recounts Pence’s rise from his Democratic Catholic Columbus, Ind., origins to becoming an evangelical conservative Republican. The “risks” in Mayer’s perspective are Pence’s close ties to the Koch Brothers. Breitbart’s Steve Bannon is said to be “alarmed at the prospect of a Pence presidency.” Bannon says, “I’m concerned he’d be a president that the Kochs would own.”  The story quotes or mentions many folks from the Hoosier political universe: South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Jeff Smulyan, Dan Quayle, Ron Klain, Tony Samuel, Rod Ratcliff, Bill Oesterle and State Rep. Ed Clere. Mayer notes that Pence and Trump “are almost comically mismatched,”quoting Bannon as saying, “You end up with an odd pair of throwbacks from fifties casting.” 
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    KOKOMO – Beware,  Indiana legislators! There’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing lurking around, looking for the opportunity to circumvent Republican electoral success. The sheep’s clothing in this case is the benign sounding Special Interim Study Committee on Redistricting. The wolf or wolves here in Indiana are the Democrat Party, Common Cause, League of Women Voters, Hoosier Environmental Council, Citizens Action Coalition, ACLU, NAACP, Indiana Farmers Union, Jobs for Justice and Moral Mondays. Back in the old days, when Democrats held the governor’s office and the Indiana House, there was no incessant drumbeat for redistricting reform coming from the media, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause. The only reason that redistricting reform has become the current cause du jour is that since 2010 Republicans have been giving Democrats a serious thumping all over the country.

    NASHVILLE, Ind. - A national Quinnipiac Poll released this week puts President Trump’s approval/disapproval at 38/56 percent. Voters say 55-43 percent that he is “not fit” to serve as president. A Morning Consult Poll conducted in Indiana on Sept. 26 shows Trump’s approval/disapproval has declined from 55.3/33 percent in January to 49.8/44.9 percent. This comes less than a year after he carried the state by 19 percent. Why, why, why? Let’s review quotes and events from this past week, starting with the hurricane disaster in Puerto Rico.  Three weeks after Category 5 Hurricane Maria made landfall, 16 percent of Puerto Rico's residents have electricity; 63 percent have access to clean drinking water; and 60 percent of wastewater treatment plants are operating, according to FEMA and the Department of Defense. More than 40 percent of bank branches aren’t open and 560 ATMs are functioning for an island with a population of more than 3.4 million. Earlier this month, Vice President Mike Pence visited the embattled island and vowed, “We stand with you and we will be with you every step of the way. We will reach every community and bring aide to every Puerto Rican in need.” But in a Category 5 Tweetstorm Thursday morning, President Trump said, "Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making. We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!” For the record, FEMA spent almost a decade dealing with the fallout of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi after that Category 3 storm made landfall.

    WASHINGTON – The Wall Street Journal recently ranked Purdue University as the fifth-best public school in the nation and the 43rd overall. That’s heady recognition but not enough to attract much attention from Hoosier politicians. In the political world, there are plenty of volatile issues for members of Congress to navigate. They step gingerly into the fray, making sure to emphasize the message of the day that will be most helpful to them. That’s what makes something like Purdue’s ranking an inviting respite. To use an analogy based on Indiana’s favorite sport, it’s a layup for a lawmaker who wants to promote good news about the state. Why not celebrate Purdue’s once again placing highly in the Journal’s ratings? But only one member of the Indiana congressional delegation said anything. Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd CD, tweeted: “Not surprised that Purdue is thriving with @purduemitch at the helm.” Indeed, the WSJ’s ranking is another example of how Purdue is advancing since Daniels took over as president nearly five years ago. One thing Daniels hasn’t been able to change, however, is the fact that Purdue continues to be overshadowed by Indiana University when it comes to adoration from Indiana politerati, despite the fact that Daniels himself came to Purdue from the top of the Hoosier political mountain following his two terms as governor. At this point, I have to make a full disclosure: I’m a Purdue partisan. I’m a proud alum and an annual donor.
    MERRILLVILLE – Every time adults and children are gunned down in a school or theater or music venue, Republicans run and hide behind the 2nd Amendment. It was no different a week ago when 59 were killed and hundreds wounded at a concert in Las Vegas. Is it time for new gun laws? Well, maybe, perhaps in the future, but not now is the response from Republicans. We certainly don’t want to upset the National Rifle Association, Republicans say. Americans have a right to bear arms because, well, the British might be coming. And, the standard Republican argument is that tougher gun laws won’t stop the kind of thing that happened in Las Vegas or Sandy Hook. Something has to be done because 96 people die in America each day because of gun violence. That doesn’t say much about the most powerful country in the world. This is how President Donald Trump put it when dodging the issue of gun reform. “We’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes by,” Trump said.
    INDIANAPOLIS – Last week in this space we reported on the poor performance of Indiana in terms of adding jobs (47th in the nation) and advancing incomes (48th). This week we’ll go down to the county level and see where there are bright spots and where conditions are dismal. The rate of change in the number of jobs is a measure of economic success the press and politicos have identified as important. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reports, from 2005 to 2015, jobs in the nation grew, by 5.9%. Through that recession and recovery, Indiana jobs increased by just 2.3%. Yet 16 Indiana counties surpassed that national rate. Of those 16 counties, four (Bartholomew, Decatur, Sullivan and White) stand out because they also saw average compensation for jobs grow faster than the nation’s 9%. These four are the super stars of a difficult decade.
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  • Horse Race: Donnelly reports $1.3M for quarter; Messer $735k


    INDIANAPOLIS - U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly reported a $1.3 million third quarter on his FEC report and has $4.6 million cash on hand. Donnelly officially kicked off his reelection campaign in August and said that 84% of his donors gave $50 or less. U.S. Rep. Luke Messer reported $735,000 and will have $2.4 million cash on hand.  Messer’s fundraising this quarter was dominated by Hoosier grassroots support. With nearly 1,000 contributions and over 80% of them coming from within Indiana, it's clear Luke Messer has emerged as the choice for conservative Hoosiers. "I'm honored and humbled to have the support of so many Hoosiers from every region of the state," said Messer. This cycle, Messer has raised $2.26 million, outpacing the U.S. Sen. Todd Young who reported $2.16 million at this point in 2015. Additionally, Messer’s third-quarter outpaced Senator Young’s, who ended the quarter with $721,000 raised.

  • Atomic: Trump Iran nix; 1st Amendment threat; Sasse retort
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Trump to decertify the Iran deal: Here are your Thursday power lunch talking points: On the topic of continuing the Iran nuclear deal, Defense Sec. Jim Mattis was asked by Sen. Augus King at a Senate Armed Services Committee, “Do you believe it's in our national security interest at the present time to remain in the JCPOA [Iran nuclear deal]? That's a yes or no question.” Mattis responded, “Yes, senator, I do.” When Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph Dunford was asked about the Iran deal, he said, “Iran is not in material breach of the agreement, and I do believe the agreement to date has delayed the development of a nuclear capability by Iran.” Our British and German allies are on the same page.

  • Atomic! Insults, nukes & hacks; Hall enters; booze mythology
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Insults, nukes and hacks: Here are your hump day power lunch talking points: Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker has sounded the alarms about President Trump recklessly heading into a nuclear war. The President responded with another twitter insult (“Liddle Bob”). NBC reports that after Trump was presented a national security Power Point presentation on July 20 showing the winnowing of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, Trump wanted to return to the days where we had 30,000 nukes, prompting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s “moron” quote. “If he were to increase the numbers, the Russians would match him, and the Chinese” would ramp up their nuclear ambitions, said Joe Cirincione, a nuclear expert and MSNBC contributor. “There hasn’t been a military mission that’s required a nuclear weapon in 71 years.” We also learned that North Korean hackers stole joint U.S.-South Korean war plans that included a leadership decapitation strike. And NK hackers are targeting the U.S. power grid. If none of this inspires confidence, join the many of us who are truly alarmed.
  • Horse Race: Morales posts $207k in 4th CD
    INDIANAPOLIS – Diego Morales prefers to do things the “right way.” He’s been cris-crossing the 4th CD over the past several months, positioning himself to win an open seat Republican nomination. He posted $207,000 on his first FEC report covering the third quarter. He immigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala when he was a senior in high school, speaking no English. “I believe in the rule of law,” Morales explained. “I want to be very compassionate, which is why I am sharing my own story. I came to American the right way, the legal way. I am truly living the American dream.” He was graduated from Silver Creek HS, attained his undergraduate degree from Indiana University, got an MBA at Purdue, campaigned and joined the staff of U.S. Rep. Mike Sodrel, served in the U.S. Army, and ended up on the staffs of Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman and Gov. Mike Pence.
  • Trump's Indiana polling sags to 49/45%

    Howey Politics Indiana

    INDIANAPOLIS - Fewer than nine months into President Donald Trump’s White House tenure, a Morning Consult survey in all 50 states indicates that voters have grown bearish on his performance in office. It shows Trump’s approve/disapprove in Indiana has declined from 55.3/33% in January to 49.8/44.9% in late September. Trump has failed to improve his standing among the public anywhere — including the states he won handily as the Republican nominee during the 2016 presidential election, according to the survey, which was based on interviews of 472,032 registered voters across each state and Washington, D.C., from Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration to Sept. 26. The negative swings in net approval ranged from as high as 30 percentage points in solidly blue Illinois and New York to as low as 11 points in red Louisiana. But in many of the states Trump easily carried last year — such as Tennessee (-23 points), Mississippi (-21 percentage points), Kentucky (-20 points), Kansas (-19 points) and Indiana (-17 points) — voters have soured on the president in 2017.

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  • Rep. Clere doesn't want Pence to replace Trump
    “I’d take Trump every day of the week, and twice on Sunday.” - State Rep. Ed Clere, when asked by the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer if he’d rather see Vice President Mike Pence become president. The New Albany Republican was critical of Gov. Pence’s handling of the Scott County HIV crisis when Pence initially blocked the needle exchange and refused to provide state funding when he did, saying, “It was all part of his pattern of political expediency. He was stridently against it until it became politically expedient to support it. He says he’s ‘pro-life. But people were dying.”
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  • Trump contradicts Pence on Puerto Rican commitment
    Three weeks after Hurricane Maria made landfall, 16% of Puerto Rico's residents have electricity, the Department of Defense said Wednesday; 63% of the island’s residents have access to clean drinking water, and 60% of wastewater treatment plants are operating, according to FEMA. More than 40% of bank branches aren’t open, according to the governor’s office, and 560 ATMs are functioning for an island with a population of more than 3.4 million. Earlier this month, Vice President Mike Pence visited the embattled island and vowed, “We stand with you and we will be with you every step of the way. We will reach every community and bring aide to every Puerto Rican in need.”

    But this morning in a Category 5 Tweetstorm, President Trump said, "Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making … says Sharyl Attkisson. A total lack of accountability say the Governor. Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes. Congress to decide how much to spend. We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!” That doesn’t sound like a “every step of the way/reach every community” commitment. - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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