Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Glancing at Primary Winners and Losers

Lots of results to sift through, so I'll be doing that over the next few days here on the blog.

Let's begin at the top of the docket.

In the battle for President of the United States, Bernie Sanders knocked off Hillary Clinton (as I predicted on the JohnnyStir Show).  It's a victory for Sanders that took a lot of money and a lot of effort.  It didn't net him a lot of delegates, and it was pretty clear that tactically, Hillary was looking past Indiana.  She didn't spend much money, and she only made a couple of appearances in the Hoosier State.

On the Republican side, the knockout blow was finally delivered by Donald Trump to Ted Cruz.  The Texas Senator threw everything he could at the New York billionaire, but Trump stood tall.  Cruz dropped out of the race leaving John Kasich as the last candidate standing against Trump.  As Jake Tapper pointed out so astutely on CNN, Kasich trails both Cruz and Marco Rubio in delegates meaning that he's "in fourth place in a two man race."

Cruz's loss was also a loss for Governor Mike Pence.  Indiana's highest executive endorsed Cruz over Trump and then watched him lose big time.  It also appears, according to Keith Clock and an analysis of the Hamilton County numbers that 10,000 voters skipped Pence's name on their GOP ballot.

Also losing big time was Representative Marlin Stutzman.  Fellow Congressman Todd Young dusted the floor with him in the primary for U.S. Senate.  This race was called early.

Incumbent Indiana Senator Pete Miller lost his seat in the Indiana Senate.  The Republican was defeated by fellow GOP member John Crane.  Also going home is State Representative Casey Cox.  Cox authored HB1337 which was Indiana's new controversial abortion bill before it was signed into law by Governor Pence.

Also, in the 8th District Congressional Primary on the Democratic side, David Orentlicher was trailing Ron Drake by just a few hundred votes with 87 percent counted.  The former state representative is making his second run for Congress, and it looks like this one will come down to the wire.

In the 9th Congressional District Tennessee Trey Hollingsworth was successful in purchasing his way to the November Election.  He'll face Democrat Shelli Yoder.

We'll look at more races as the week moves on.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Clinton Deserves Unified Party Behind Her in 2016

Hillary Clinton
If you want to vote for Bernie Sanders, vote for Bernie Sanders. His message is solid, and there’s no doubt he’s had an impact on this political season and perhaps the Democratic Party going forward.

If you’re undecided, I urge you to vote for Hillary Clinton because Bernie Sanders is threatening to be an obstructionist all the way to the convention in Philadelphia.

Listen, you can’t change facts or results. The facts are that Hillary Clinton leads in the popular vote. Hillary Clinton has won more contests. Hillary Clinton has won more pledged delegates, and Hillary Clinton has won the support of more declared superdelegates. That’s not good enough for Bernie.
Bernie wants to overturn these results. He wants to overturn the entire primary season where Hillary Clinton will reach the required number of delegates to clinch the nomination and have a contested convention dividing the Democratic Party and inviting the distinct possibility of a President Donald Trump or President Ted Cruz.  In essence, he wants to upset the apple cart.

As House of Card's Frank Underwood has said, "If you don't like the way the table is set, overturn the table."  That's what Bernie Sanders wants to do, and it's pathetic and sad.

In 2008, Hillary Clinton pushed the election as far as she could. When she lost to President Barack Obama, she accepted the defeat with class and went about the business of uniting the party behind Obama.  That came in June.  If Sanders wants to push this thing to the last primary, he can.  I have no problem with that, but it's not going to change the results of how the majority of Democrats voted.

Actively attempting to overturn the will of the people would seem to be something that Bernie Sanders might be against.

Listen, I love Bernie.  I always have.  He is unabashedly who he is, and there's something to admire about authenticity in politics.  The fact is that this type of rhetoric about overturning the will of the party's voters is beneath him, and it shows a dark and dirty side more commonly associated with other candidates.

I have endorsed Secretary Clinton, and this latest effort by Sanders to overturn the results of five months of elections has further pushed me more into supporting her.

I'm with her, and I hope you will be too.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Too Early to Call Indiana Senate Race Despite Polling

Baron Hill
Todd Young appears to be in the driver's seat to advance to the November election on Tuesday where he will face Baron Hill.

Young leads Marlin Stutzman in recent polling from WTHR and Brian Howey by 12 points.  There still are many who claim to be undecided.  If those undecideds all trend Stutzman's way, he will win, but it's more than likely that Young will get his share, too.

That means in all likelihood that Stutzman goes home and waits two more years for another crowded Senate Primary as the Republicans are sure to challenge Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly.  I would assume someone like Todd Rokita might be interested in that seat, too.  That race, however, is two years into the future.

The same polling showing Young with a huge lead over Stutzman shows him up 18 points over Hill.  That should really concern Baron, but it's still way too early in this one.  I think that number will tighten.  Young's not the sharpest pencil in the box, but he thinks he knows what will beat Hill.  He's done it before.

Hill has a great record against people he's run against before.  He took on Mike Sodrel multiple times for his U.S. House seat.  The voters rewarded him all but once and sent him back to Congress in 2006 and 2008 after he had been defeated in 2004.  Hill will fight Young and take that fight directly to him.

I just hope that the U.S. Senate seat doesn't get lost in the battle between John Gregg, Mike Pence, and Rex Bell and the still-developing Presidential contest. If Donald Trump leads the ticket, that could certainly change things down ticket, I believe, in favor of Democrats.

The polling is likely correct, but don't get too caught up in it this early.  There's a long way to November.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Suicide Leaves Survivors to Pick Up Pieces

The Indianapolis blogosphere continues to reel from the death of Gary Welsh.  Gary's death was an apparent suicide, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal.  At 53, that's far too young to be leaving the world.

It's actually the survivors of suicide that are left to pick up the pieces.

As an educator, I've been trained to recognize the signs of suicide and use the QPR method to try to save a life.  Q stands for question.  P is for perusade, and R is for refer.  There are courses taught on this method.  The biggest thing that you can do for someone when they are contemplating suicide is not to belittle them or not to be afraid to ask them very specific questions.  Ascertain if they have a plan.  Never ever say things like, "You don't want to do that."  Instead, get them to understand that you legitimately care and want to help.  The last step is to refer them to someone that can help.  You're not a licensed therapist (unless you are).  Please don't take anything I've written here either as the Gospel on QPR.  The biggest thing is to let someone know you care.

People contemplating suicide will often reach out for help. They'll do it casually. Just learn to read those signs.  It's still so easy to miss them, too.

Again, I'm no expert, but I've been there. I admit that from time to time in a much different part of my life suicide crossed my mind.  It hasn't done so in years, and I am far too in love with life to take mine now.  There was a time growing up and going through what all young LGBT youth go through inside that I considered it.  I had a great support system, and I made it through the rain.  I never attempted. I was saved by my grandmother.  She encouraged me to write down everything that was bothering me.  She even encouraged me to write down my plans.

My mother attempted suicide about a year and a half before she passed away.  Tired of a life of Parkinson's Disease and arthritis, she decided to take too many pain pills.  After sleeping off the effects, she decided that God had some other purpose for her here.  She never told anyone until a random conversation with one of her caregivers in the assisted living facility.  Needless to say, I was shocked, as we all were.  Mom told me that it was the one thing she thought she could do.  She no longer wanted to e a burden.  Of course, she never was, and I look back over the last few years of my mother's life as a time that I got closer to her than ever.  She was a strong woman.

In some way, we're all survivors of suicide.

You just never know exactly what that person you see or interact with is going through.  If you notice something different about him or her, just ask them if everything is ok.  Be that listening ear.  You might just save a life.

The national suicide prevention helpline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

In Memoriam: Gary Welsh

Attorney and local blogger Gary Welsh has apparently passed away.  That's the sad news on this Sunday afternoon.

Fellow blogger and attorney Paul Ogden reported on his Facebook that the longtime blogger passed away.  He had published nearly daily on his Advance Indiana blog for over 11 years.

To say I went hot and cold on Gary would be the proper way to describe how I felt about the man and his blog.  He and I had a few go arounds in the blogosphere, and I found some of his blog posts, frankly, way out there.  Others, I found in poor taste.  Others were brilliant.

No matter what he posted, I always respected Gary for his commitment to publishing and the sheer volume of work he did as a blogger.

Already this year, Gary had pumped out 316 posts.  In previous years, he topped the thousand post mark easily.  I know first hand how hard it is to create five posts per week.  I don't know how he did it.

His last post was on Friday on the Indiana Presidential Primary, and it included the cryptic, "If I'm not around to see the vote results, my prediction is that Trump wins Indiana with just shy of 50% of the vote, but he will carry every single congressional district and sweep the delegate race--assuming the party-chosen delegates honor their rules-bound commitment to support the winner on the first ballot."

Gary's loss will be felt in the Indy blogosphere because, even if we disagreed, you had to respect when Gary was at his best.  It was when he was taking on his own party and Greg Ballard.  It was when he was holding city government's feet to the fire and exposing the kinds of corruption only deep research and journalism could.  Gary Welsh was a citizen journalist.

I never met him, but I wanted to.  I hope he knew that I did respect him despite our differences of opinion.  I won't get a chance to tell him.

Indy blogging giant Gary Welsh is gone, and there's no one to fill that hole.

The Indianapolis Business Journal is calling Gary's death an "apparent suicide."  Autopsy is planned for Monday.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Democrats Unite Over Dinner to Defeat Republicans in 2016

Much of the talk has been about division and disunity in this 2016 election season so far, but I sat and mingled with Hillary Clinton supporters and Bernie Sanders supporters at the Marion County Democratic Party's 2016 Unity Dinner last night.  No one threw anything at each other.  The barbs were all saved for the opposition at this good ole' fashioned Democratic speechfest held at the Agriculture Horticulture Building at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

Marion County Democratic Party Chair Joel Miller sat the tone noting without mentioning him by name that Donald Trump had spoken twice at the Fairgrounds in the last two weeks.  Miller said, "Tonight, we are going to exorcise the demons brought forth on this place."

He introduced first Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett.  Hogsett threw out his prepared notes claiming that Miller's speech on Democratic values had all he had planned to say.  He then went on to go more in depth about the Democratic Party and its values and what he's trying to do as Mayor.  Hogsett also credited Chairman Miller for leading the party at a time when Democrats hold every Marion County executive office and the majority of the legislative seats as well as the City-County Council majority.

Lake County's Lorenzo Arrendondo, the presumptive Democratic Party candidate for Attorney General, spoke about civic engagement.  He talked about the importance of getting people to the polls and educating young people of the importance in voting.  Arrendondo, who, according to Miller would be the first judge to be the Attorney General, criticized the current Attorney General, Greg Zoeller, for taking cases that were not likely to be sided in Indiana's favor.

That brought Glenda Ritz to the podium.  Ritz said that her effort in 2016 will be grassroots just like it was in 2012.  She noted Governor Mike Pence's many attempts to undermine her authority as the elected Superintendent of Public Instruction.  "I am the head of the only state department that Governor Pence doesn't control, the Department of Education," Ritz said.  She said her constituency was ready to defeat Pence.

Next up was U.S. Senate candidate, Baron Hill.  Hill said that people often ask him about who he would rather run against.  "I don't give a damn who they run against me," said Hill to the cheers of the crowd.  "I am going to stand and fight for Hoosiers."  Hill then went on the attack against Young and Stutzman.  He sliced and diced their ultra conservative votes and records in Congress.  Hill defended his record as a Congressman and mentioned how the policies he voted for and helped pass did things like save General Motors, pay back the loans to the company, and provide health care for millions of Americans and many Hoosiers.

Hill said, "If you'll stand and fight with me, it will be the first time Indiana has had two Democratic Senators since Birch Bayh and Vance Hartke.  IT IS TIME!"  The crowd roared back.  With the rafters wiggling from Hill's speech, the final speaker of the evening stepped to the microphone, John Gregg.

The Sandborn native didn't disappoint.  "I want to serve as your Governor. I'm not interested in being your Governor.  We've got someone who wants to be Governor, who's concerned about the title and the trappings. I want to serve as Governor.  I want to put the needs of the 6.5 million Hoosiers first and I want everyone to feel welcome as we work on those to make a better Indiana.  That's the kind of Governor I want to be.  I am ready to serve as Governor," said Gregg.

Gregg then laid out his plan for retaking the Governor's Office in 2016.  "The polls show we're tied, and I haven't even been on TV, yet.  The polls also say that even Republicans don't like Mike Pence," said Gregg.  He said he would be highlighting the Governor's record and how he's worked against working folks and teachers along with being divisive and ideology driven.

Recalling a story from his youth, Gregg explained how he once climbed the Sandborn water tower and may have handed a can of spray paint to his friend.  He said he wants to climb the State Office Building and change the sign from "Indiana, The State That Works" to "Indiana, The State That Works Despite Mike Pence!"

The former Indiana House Speaker highlighted that Indiana faces a significant drug problem.  He said that drug addiction for non-violent offenders should be treated as mental health issues and not criminal issues, "And when our opponents try to quote scripture, I will tell them 'There but by the grace of God go your or I,'" said Gregg.

"I won't be a Governor who bases his decisions on some rigid ideology. I will base my decisions on competence and inclusion," said Gregg.  He said that his first act would be to draft and sign an executive order protecting LGBT citizens in Indiana as a class from discrimination.  He said that as Governor that he would work to get LGBT Hoosiers added to the non-discrimination clause via the General Assembly.

He also attacked the Governor on Pence's support of the controversial bill that has women and those that support them upset across Indiana, House Enrolled Act 1337.  "If I were Governor, I would not have signed that bill, and I would have vetoed it," said Gregg.  "See this? (pointing to his nose) This is John Gregg's nose, and it's not going to be in your bedroom or your doctor's office or at your dinner table.  Mike Pence's already is, but mine is going to stay right here on my face."

Both Congressman Andre Carson and Senator Joe Donnelly were scheduled to speak but had to remain in Washington on official business.

All-in-all, it was a great night and a fun night.  The chicken was delicious.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

"Tennessee Trey" Puts Hoosierism to Test

I was getting ready for work this morning and brushing my teeth when the latest Trey Hollingsworth ad came on in the next room.

It features a bunch of different people talking about Hollingsworth and singing his praises.  One man says, "He's a real Hoosier."

I just about spit my toothpaste out all over the mirror in laughter.  The thing is that Hollingsworth actually wants you to believe he is a Hoosier.

I won't get into what the original definition of a Hoosier is here because no one really knows where the word came from or what it really meant.  Now, it's come to describe people who are from or that have lived in Indiana.

For me, it's a source of pride.  Even though our state sometimes seems stuck in the 50's, at least politically, I take pride being a Hoosier.  I take pride in my home state, and I enjoy that our politics is not always cut and dry.

One thing Hoosiers can't stand is a phony.  Hoosiers won't stand for someone who tries to be someone or something he or she is not.  For the most point, true Hoosiers can seek these folks out and expunge them from our politics.

The mantle of Hoosier is different than just about any other state name.  Someone from Ohio is, for example, an Ohioan.  You have Michiganians or Michiganders from Michigan.  Alabamans, Floridians, New Jerseyans, and on and on.  You don't call Hoosiers Indianans.  We are Hoosiers.

Trey Hollingsworth is no Hoosier.  He's a Tennessean living in Kentuckiana.  There's nothing wrong with that.  He just shouldn't be telling 9th District Hoosiers he is one of them when he is not.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

It's Trump's Race to Lose on Republican Side

Donald Trump
It's time to face the facts for Republicans.

Donald Trump is your nominee.

I don't know how he did it or why it happened, but Donald Trump is going to be the nominee of a major political party for President of the United States.

Ted Cruz is trying to win Indiana, but I think he's turning off more voters than he's winning, and, like Van Jones mentioned on CNN last night, I have no clue why John Kasich hasn't gotten more traction.

So, as Trump gets ready to speak again at the Fairgrounds, he is in a tremendous position to shut this whole thing down with continued momentum and a win in Indiana.

I don't know if Bob Knight, who will be at tonight's Trump rally, will help him, and I think it's telling that Governor Mike Pence is withholding his endorsement of Trump or Cruz.  I also am not sure that an endorsement from the weak Governor of Indiana is a blessing or a curse given his standing with the voters.

It just seems that after last night's five for five performance that Donald Trump is now more likely than ever to get close to the delegate count he needs or to exceed the delegate count to become the GOP nominee in July in Cleveland.

Cruz and Kasich might as well go home.