Tuesday, May 24, 2016

3rd District Mess Leaves Democrats Scrambling

Indiana's 3rd CD
For the past few weeks, I've been trying to slowly tie up some loose ends from the May Primary.  I've been looking at the nine Congressional races.  

District 3 could be the most dysfunctional.  In the middle of dysfunction lies opportunity.

Let's begin with what happened on Election Day because that's where the fun begins.  Fun is clearly in the eye of the beholder, though.

In District 3, Democrats went to the polls and elected Tommy Schrader as their candidate for Congress.
Schrader was not the party’s choice. In fact, he wasn’t even close to being the party’s choice. For a long time, he’s been an apparent thorn in the party’s side. This time, he has the last laugh. 

A perennial candidate, Schrader has an interesting background. In 2011, he actually won the Democratic Party’s primary nomination for an at-large City Council seat in Fort Wayne. Back then, he ended up getting thrown off the ballot because he admitted that he registered to vote in Wisconsin and had been living there for some 90 days prior to the primary.

Well, he moved back to Indiana permanently, and he’s now the Democrat’s candidate for Congress in the open seat 3rd District. Currently, Schrader is living out of a motel room. He told WANE that he campaigned for Congress by carrying a yard sign around a Fort Wayne strip mall. 

To be honest, Schrader sounds like he could use a hand up.  He says he suffers from a mental illness and struggles to make ends meet because of his smoking and drinking habits.  He is not running from his vices, and there's something to be said about someone who fills out the right paper work to get their name on the ballot.
He’s pro-life, favors a higher minimum wage ($10.10/hr), and says he supports ENDA. Apparently, he also is backing Donald Trump.

It’s anyone’s guess as to why the voters selected his name out of the three running, especially with his well-known history and background as a candidate. Perhaps it was because people had heard of him.  In a three way race, it’s exactly what can happen when two candidates split the vote and a third wins. Businessman Todd Nightenhelser had been the party’s recommended candidate. He was second with 32 percent to Schrader’s 38 percent. John Roberson, a Vietnam veteran, took in 31 percent of the vote.

Not surprisingly, the Democratic establishment in the 3rd District is not backing Schrader’s run. They all but endorsed his Republican opponent, Jim Banks, a State Senator, in congratulating him on his election. I’m told prominent Libertarian Pepper Snyder will be joining the race as a third candidate. It’s a big opportunity here for the Libertarians.

It’s going to be interesting to watch this campaign develop over the summer.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Rokita Manages to Become Even More Unpopular

Rep. Todd Rokita
Photo from schoolnutrition.org
Todd Rokita is one piece of work.

While I give him credit for being a more responsive legislator than his predecessor, noted possible lettuce smoker, Steve Buyer, Rokita has made a career out of saying and doing unpopular things.

First, he was one of the guiding lights behind Indiana's voter ID bill as Secretary of State.  Then, upon getting to Congress, he insulted people like my mother who depended on Medicare and Social Security to survive.  Now, he's trying to make it harder for kids to eat free lunch at school.  If he's launching his 2018 Senate campaign, this is hardly the way to do it.  I even have his slogan, "Vote for the guy who wants to attack kids and old people!"

This gift wraps an issue for educator John Dale, the Democrat running against Rokita.  I would be using this extremely unpopular proposed bill as an issue at every campaign stop.

The thing is, children need to eat to learn.  That's an easy study.  Students who have their basic needs met learn better.  In the near 20 years I've been teaching, I've seen schools go from offering free lunch to only a few students to offering free meals three times a day for kids.  This is the only food some kids will get each day.

I'm sure Dale has seen it, too.  Dale teaches at Western Boone High School, and he has for years.  He provides a great choice for voters in the 4th Congressional District.

It would be great to see someone teach Rokita a lesson.  Why not have it be an educator like Dale?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Dana Black Represents Real Change in House District 88 Battle with Bosma

Dana Black
Last night, I had the honor of co-hosting (with JD Ford, Rick Sutton, and Bobby Owens) a fundraiser for House District 88 candidate, Dana Black.

District 88 encompasses much of the Northeastside of Indianapolis and parts of Hamilton and Hancock Counties.  The current lead weight in the seat is longtime representative and Speaker of the House, Brian Bosma.

Bosma has spent 30 years of his adult life in the Indiana General Assembly.  He's spent much of the last few years as Speaker, and, as Black points out, he has been doing a bad job representing all of Indiana and all Hoosiers.

Black, an IT professional, said, "My wife and I wrote a check just last month to pay for a government that makes our lives more difficult.  That's not right!"

When elected, Black says that she will work toward a more inclusive Indiana.  She also passionately speaks about the need to teach things like computer coding in our schools as a way to spur economic growth to all communities...even the ones that are often neglected by our legislature.

"I'm running because I want to give people in this district a choice.  This district needs a new voice," Black said.

I really can't do her justice with this short blog post.  I'll just say that I don't host many fundraisers because I am a blogger, but I met Dana for the first time on the campaign trail when I was running for City-County Council.  Something was different about her.  I saw it again a few weeks ago when she brought the Decatur Township Democrats to a standing ovation after she talked.  Dana connects with her heart and her passion is palpable for service and these critical issues.

On any issue from RFRA to HJR-3 to the current controversy with women's reproductive rights, Dana is on the right side of the issue from my perspective, but lots of people are.  Dana just has an authenticity that doesn't come along very often in politics, and I am so glad that we met and that I can call her my friend.

Brian Bosma has no idea who he's up against.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Blog Update: Day Job Reduces Blogging Time for Next Few Weeks

Posting will be a bit sporadic over the next few weeks as the day job takes up the majority of my time.

For those of you that don't know, I'm a public educator.  As the end of the semester and school year approaches, it sometimes necessitates a slowdown here at blog central.

Don't worry, things will pick back up again in June.  Until then, don't hold me to a daily post or at least don't expect something long and drawn out.  Thanks for understanding and for your readership!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Carson Continues Serving

Congressman Andre Carson
Indiana’s 7th District Congressman André Carson easily outdistanced his opponents in the primary two weeks ago. For guys like Pete Visclosky and Andre Carson, the only question about his reelection hopes is they get 60 percent of the vote?

Carson is the heavy favorite to win over Libertarian Drew Thompson and Republican Cat Ping, but what I like about Carson is that he never takes the seat for granted. You can bet Carson’s campaign will be out and walking and in support of him and other candidates down the ballot.

That’s what makes Carson special beyond the work he does in Congress for his constituents.

What amazes me is how little credit Carson gets for winning his seat. When it comes to Democrats, we are like herding cats. In 2007, when Julia Carson passed, it became clear that she wanted André to follow in her footsteps. 

In the caucus to choose a candidate for the special election, Carson easily won the nomination on the first ballot over well-known Democrats like Mike Rodman, Carolene Mays, and David Orentlicher among others. He defeated Jon Elrod to become a Congressman. Then, Carson defeated Woody Myers, Orenticher and Mays in the Primary election in May of 2008. He won his first full term in 2008, and he’s bucked some trends in tough elections for Democrats in 2010 and 2014. Carson also has consistently been at or above the baseline for the 7th District by percentage of the vote.

On the Republican side, it’s been tough to get anyone to run against him. Elrod was perhaps the best opponent. Gabrielle Campo, Marvin Scott, Carlos May, and Cat Ping have struggled to find traction. Ping nearly defeated May in 2012 and won the right to face Carson in 2014 and 2016.
She faces an uphill climb in 2016. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Ellspermann Expected to be Appointed President of Ivy Tech

(Optional Music While You Read)

Indiana's own House of Cards episode has come to a end.

On Wednesday, former Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann is expected to be appointed the new President of Ivy Tech Community College.  The board that appoints her to that position was put in place by Governor Mike Pence.

By the way, I'm not disputing the appointment.  I think Ellspermann is a very bright and talented individual who is well-suited to lead Ivy Tech.  It's just amazing how the machinations of the political machine work sometimes.

Ellspermann, you will remember, was Lieutenant Governor of Indiana under Pence for most of his first term, but there was trouble at the oasis.  A rumored ideological rift between the #1 and #2 executives in Indiana Government was very well circulated.  Rumors began to surface that Pence was ready to dump Ellspermann off the ticket.

With the Ivy Tech job opening, it gave Ellspermann a nice and soft landing spot.  Cue the resignation and the interest in the job.  Ellspermann became the first sitting Lieutenant Governor in years to be nudged off the ticket.  Loyal Republican insider Eric Holcomb jumped aboard the USS Pence Administration to fill the Lieutenant Governor seat vacated by Ellspermann giving him his own soft landing spot from his losing bid for U.S. Senate.

For everything to work out, Ellspermann had to get that Ivy Tech job.  What a shocker, she did!

Move those deck chairs, Mike.

Pence Wrong Again

Governor Mike Pence
Mike Pence is so wrong.

I’m sure you aren’t surprised that I would write those four words, but I think he’s even more wrong than normal.

Pence said that the federal government has no place in telling states what to do when it comes to discriminating against transgender Americans. Of course, it doesn’t break down in those terms exactly. This is all disguised as the current transgender bathroom controversy about whether people can use the facilities of the gender they identify with or the gender on their birth certificate.

The Governor apparently believes the residents of Indiana should decide where transgender people use the bathroom. 

That would mean that you or I could have more of a voice about where a transgender Hoosier uses the restroom than that individual. 

Sorry Governor Pence. It’s for that reason alone that the federal government should completely have the right to step in to protect the rights of the minority.  We don't put those rights on the ballot or up for majority rule. 

Governor Pence isn’t positioning himself as the late Alabama Governor George Wallace here by standing in the outhouse door as Wallace stood in the school house door to try to stop the desegregation of the University of Alabama in the 50’s, but he is close. Plus, Governor Pence is such a fan of home rule that he overrides local municipalities’ rights to govern themselves with strokes of his pen. He’s done so on local government structure, gun control, and even RFRA. 

Instead of telling us what he really believes, Pence turns tail and hides behind state’s rights. We all know Pence’s true colors on LGBT issues.

President Barack Obama saw a problem where the civil rights of what should be a protected class needed protection, and he took a step to do it. In my view, that’s exactly what the federal government exists for.

Can we stop with this bathroom banter? Let transgender Americans be Americans.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Et Tu, Joe?

Donnelly and Hill
photo from Baron Hill's Facebook
The past couple of weeks, I've been trying to get Hoosiers and Hoosier Democrats to pay attention to Indiana's critical race for U.S. Senate between Baron Hill and Todd Young.

Today, I was shocked to receive an e-mail from Senator Joe Donnelly trying to raise money for the Missouri U.S. Senate Race.

“Jason Kander, the Democratic candidate in Missouri -- the state many Democrats see as their best shot at expanding the map.”
-- Politico, May 4, 2016 
Jon --
We’re seeing new opportunities to win back the U.S. Senate this November, and I want to tell you about one of the most exciting races this year: Jason Kander in Missouri. 
A year ago, everyone thought Jason’s race was a long-shot, but last quarter he outraised his Republican opponent and Missouri’s Senate race is being called the “sleeping giant” of 2016. With that growing attention and momentum, there has been an onslaught of outside spending from right-wing groups determined to stop this seat from flipping to a Democrat. 
That’s why I’m writing you. Jason needs help from grassroots supporters like you to raise $5,000 by midnight. 

The e-mail goes on and discusses who Jason Kander is and what he plans to do.  The Missouri U.S. Senate race IS definitely very important, but the appearance here is not good.  Yes, I do get politics.

On the stump, Hill always points out that if he's elected in the fall that it will be the first time since Vance Hartke and Birch Bayh shared the U.S. Senate seats in Indiana that the state was represented by two Democrats in the Upper House of Congress.

This isn't helpful, Joe.

Young Cruisin' for an Upset in 2016

Baron Hill
Congressman Todd Young is clearly overconfident.

He doesn't think he's going to even have to break a sweat in the upcoming General Election fight against Baron Hill.  You can tell by his social media postings.

Young's campaign posted on Facebook the IndyStar's Tim Swarens's opinion from a Fox 59 IN Focus piece that Hill was the "loser of the week" in Indiana politics saying that even Democrats had written off his race against Young.

Obviously Swarens hasn't been reading my blog.  I don't believe one can write off any race for the Republicans with one Donald J. Trump and one Michael Pence at the top of the ticket.  It's a weak 1-2 punch for the Indiana GOP.  It's also an anti-incumbent audience out here, and Baron Hill has a strong record of votes that he can point to as well.  He wasn't part of the obstruction in Congress for the past five or six years like Young has.

Trump is a gift that may keep giving down the ballot.  At the Decatur Township Democratic Club meeting last Monday night, Hill cited a poll that he said was done for a campaign, and he said the poll shows that neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump are too popular in Indiana.  He said the poll does show a tight election with Hillary Clinton coming out on top.  Of course, he didn't cite the poll by name or the methodology of it, but there are polls out there showing that with Trump as the GOP nominee that it could drag down Republican fortunes in reliable GOP states in the South and elsewhere.

Hill said his fundraising had gone up since Trump became the nominee and that his campaign was going to hook Donald Trump like an anchor to the SS Todd Young.

One way or another, Young should know Hill isn't intimidated by those that have defeated him before in the past.  Mike Sodrel found out exactly how dangerous Hill can be in rematches.  Young shouldn't doubt him.

He would also be wise not to take Republican-leaning punditry opinions and posting them on social media as the Gospel.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Hill Set to Battle Young

Baron Hill
I've been holding on to this one for a couple of days.

Baron Hill spoke in Indianapolis at the Decatur Township Democratic Club on Monday, and he gave a strong defense of his own record in the House and pledged to go after Todd Young as they battle to fill the seat about to open when Dan Coats retires in January.

Hill said Republicans often rail against three programs that actually have helped Americans and propped up the economy: the automotive industry bailout, the stimulus, and Obamacare.

"Remember cash for clunkers? These were programs that saved our economy and made a difference for families across our country," said Hill.  "I don't think Republicans remember just how serious things were eight years ago.  Democrats and President Obama took action."

He noted that Todd Young and Donald Trump want to return us to the economic systems and times that got us in trouble in the first place.  Young also can expect to have to answer for anything controversial Trump has to say.  "If he doesn't denounce anything controversial Trump might say, you can bet that I'm going to wrap him around it," Hill said.

Hill said Trump at the top of the ticket makes this a very different race.  "We have three Supreme Court Justices that are going to be in their 80's over the next few years.  Senate control is going to be key.  There has to be a backstop to Trump just in case."

Senate control could come down to this seat in Indiana, and it sounds like Hill is ready to fight hard to be the next great Democratic Senator from Indiana.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Governor Air Campaigns Start Early

We are barely a week out from the May primary election, and we're already seeing the ad war begin on television between gubernatorial candidates John Gregg and incumbent Mike Pence.

Governor Mike Pence touts his record in his first ad.  He ignores the more controversial parts of his record such as RFRA and his education policy and instead goes for the wallet touting Indiana's economy and job growth.  It's a perceived strength for him, and this ad is a somewhat veiled attempt at the "Morning in America" feel of Ronald Reagan's famous 1984 ad.

Democratic opponent John Gregg attacks the GOP's record in Indiana by going after that perceived economic strength in his first ad.  Gregg seems to question how strong that economy really is as Indiana's wages and take home pay continue to lag behind other states.  Gregg also strikes a bi-partisan tone in this spot.  It's a strong first effort.

If you think Mike Pence doesn't think he's in trouble, you're wrong.  There's no way he'd be launching an ad this early if he thought everything was secure.  This IS going to be a race to watch in 2016.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Don't Laugh: Trump Could Win in November

Donald Trump
Donald Trump could win in November. 

Last year at this time, the suggestion of a Trump Presidential run brought chuckles and guffaws. It was a foregone conclusion that we’d be selecting between a Clinton and a Bush this cycle—Hillary and Jeb.

Certainly Donald Trump would never come close to sniffing the White House…let alone the nomination.

Along the way, it became apparent that Donald Trump's campaign was not a joke, but it was impossible for him to win the nomination.  At some point, Republicans would wake up and realize what was going on as the field cleared.  Trump would lose this thing along the way somewhere and another candidate would emerge.

Eventually, Trump had it.  He had won it.  The nomination is his.

Here we are some six months before Election Day. How do you feel now? Nervous?

A litany of articles has come out in recent days about Donald Trump and his supposed unpopularity among the electorate. I’ve read people laughing again at the thought of a Trump Presidency. I’ve seen polling numbers that have him way behind Bernie Sanders and way behind Hillary Clinton.

I've also seen battleground polling showing Trump at or equal to Sanders and Clinton in states like Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  It's getting scary.

Let us make no mistake.  It may seem far fetched or unbelievable.  It may seem improbable or impossible.  It may seem like it will never happen, but Donald Trump could win in November.  He could be President.

Democrats...we can't let that happen.  We just can't.  That feeling in the pit of your stomach that you have when you think about Donald Trump leading our great nation is unsettling.  Remember that. Don’t forget it.  Donald Trump must be defeated. 

Donald Trump could win in November.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Council Passes Percent for Art Proposal

"Percent for art" is waiting to become law in Indianapolis after failing to get former Mayor Greg Ballard's signature in previous years.

The percent for art program again passed the City-County Council and will now go to Mayor Joe Hogsett's desk or his signature.  It is expected that Hogsett will sign the proposal.

The percent for art program would take project proposals that use tax increment financing or "TIF" funds and have the developer of those projects use their own funds to create public art.  The amount to spend would be equal to one percent of the TIF received.  If a company elects not to include art, it would pay into a fund that would make public art projects possible. 

This is a big step forward for the City of Indianapolis, and it passed in a bipartisan manner.  Here's to hoping that Mayor Hogsett makes this community-improving proposal an ordinance.

Council Renames Part of St. Joseph Street to Honor Amos Brown

Amos Brown Holding Court
Photo Courtesy of AM1310, The Light
Last night, the City-County Council got one really right.

Amid all the other business of a busy Council evening was a proposal to rename the 100 block of East St. Joseph Street after the legendary broadcaster Amos Brown.

The proposal passed the Council.  So now, the street his longtime employer, Radio One, is on is named after Brown.  It's a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated himself and his life to the City of Indianapolis.

In the months since Amos has passed, it's been a much different Indianapolis.  I can think of three or four times that I've caught myself thinking, "If only Amos were still around, such and such would be the topic of his radio show today."

I had a conversation with someone just the other day talking about certain things going on in education that Brown would be having a field day with in only the way he knew how.

I am very honored to have been a guest on his program a few weeks before he died, and I am still struck by what was his ability to multi-task.  As he interviewed me and other City-County Council candidates, Brown guided the interview.  His aim was getting out the information so that people could make an informed choice with their votes on Election Day.  He also was reading e-mails about the breaking news of the day which was Governor Mike Pence's plan to fix Indiana's crumbling infrastructure.

This move by the Council celebrates Brown's legacy as an Indianapolis legend, but it also makes sure that people will remember him for decades, not that we could ever forget him.

When I was on his program, at he end of the show, the candidates were all directed to give information about where we could be contacted.  The bumper music was rolling to go out.  Being a radio guy myself, I knew that this meant I needed to be quick.  So, I simply gave my website.

Brown said, "He's the broadcast guy, so he knew he needed to be quick."

It was just a small moment at the end of the show, but I took it as quite the compliment that Amos Brown recognized me as a "broadcast guy."

I'll never forget that.  Now, we'll never forget Amos Brown, thanks to Amos Brown Way.  Good job Council!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Trump Nominates Clone for VEEP

In a stunning move, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump named himself his running mate today in front of a stunned audience in New York.

Trump said he will be creating a clone of himself and that the clone will serve as Vice President of the United States if he is elected President in November.

Immediately, constitutional scholars cried foul since the Constitution states that the President and the Vice President must live in different states.  Trump said his clone will live in Chicago at the Trump Tower and work from there, "I think you'll find my clone is very very capable of running this country.  He's a very very smart guy in many many ways."

As for the legal questions, Trump says there's nothing to worry about, "I have many many people looking at his, and I think I'm on very very solid ground, legally. These people are the best legal minds, let me tell you. They are very very smart people."

Trump said he considered several people including former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight, "I mean, how fun would that be? Bobby Knight as my number two?  I mean, Putin would think about walking away from that table.  He might get a chair thrown at his head or get put in a choke hold, let me tell you."

As far as the fine details, Trump says the clone will be an exact replica of himself right down to his "huge hands" and that there won't be any problems anywhere else, "If you know what I mean," Trump said.

Trump continued, "My clone will be the best Vice Presidential nominee ever. I can't think of anyone I'm more excited about running with than myself. I'm very very excited in very very many many ways. I think that me and myself will do a great job."

Reached for comment on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton said that the prospect of not one Trump but two spells double trouble for America. She said that she would be naming her running mate closer to the Democratic convention in July.

Bernie Sanders had no comment other than to saying he will be continuing his campaign on to November regardless of what happens at the Democratic convention, "We will be the nominee of the Democratic Party even if we have to pretend we are."

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Congressional Races Set Across Indiana in Eight of Nine Districts

Political junkies love the days after an election.

For the most part, the lights of the media go away and we political types can really dive deep into the results.

The Congressional races are now set.

In District 1, incumbent Pete Visclosky won the Democratic nomination over his challenger, Willie Brown. It’s the first time in years that Visclosky has had a primary opponent, and his strong 80 percent showing proves he’s still the choice of Democrats even after 32 years of representation. So far, no Republican challenger has been named for Visclosky. Libertarians will run Donna Dunn again against Visclosky.

District 2’s Jackie Walorski dipped slightly under 70 percent in defeating her primary challenger, Jeff Petermann. This is still a very solid victory for the incumbent who is bidding for her third term in Congress. Retired South Bend PD officer Lynn Coleman outdistanced his opponent to earn the nomination for the Democrats.

With Marlin Stutzman’s failed attempt to move to the Senate, the Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District will get some long-awaited new representation. The open seat still leans heavily Republican, and Indiana Senator Jim Banks prevailed in a crowded primary to claim the nomination for the GOP. Perennial candidate Tommy Schrader won the Democratic nomination. Schrader's campaign, as I found out, is worth a blog post later this week.

No surprise that Todd Rokita has won his party’s nomination for the 4th Congressional District. Rokita, like Walorski, dipped slightly under 70 percent in defeating his primary opponent, Kevin Grant. Will this be the last primary House race for Rokita? He figures to be one of the Republicans that will take a hard look at running against Joe Donnelly for Senate in 2018, and, frankly, he would be a strong opponent. Teacher John Dale is the Democratic nominee for a second-straight cycle. Like Professor David Sanders before him, Dale is a strong candidate in a tough district for Democrats. Steven Mayoras will carry the Libertarian banner into this race.

In the 5th Congressional District, Susan Brooks defeated two opponents with 70 percent of the vote. The now two-term incumbent will battle veterinarian Angela Demaree in the fall. Demaree won the Democratic nomination easily over Allen Davidson with nearly 75 percent of the vote. Brooks is another potential 2018 GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Luke Messer demolished his opposition for the Republican nomination. The man who took Mike Pence’s seat in Congress in 2012 is looking for a third term. To win it, he will have to defeat pastor Barry Welsh of Rushville and Rich Turvey, the Libertarian nominee. Messer seems happy to have carved himself out a quiet little niche in Congress. He certainly isn’t heard much.
I’ll do a special piece on Indy’s 7th Congressional District. In short, Lt. Col. Cat Ping (US Army, Ret.) is reporting for duty again as the GOP nominee against Congressman André Carson. Libertarian Drew Thompson is in the race as well.

In the “Bloody 8th” District, Congressman Larry Bucshon won the GOP nomination easily. On the Democratic side, it’s a bit of a mess. Former State Representative and attorney Ron Drake is shown as 61 votes ahead of former State Representative David Orentlicher. It’s no surprise that the 8th District would bring such a showdown. The race is still too close to call. Thoughtful Libertarian candidate and formidable debater Andrew Horning is also on the ballot. 

“Tennessee Trey” Hollingsworth was probably singing about Rocky Top last night in celebration of his victory over the likes of State Senators Erin Houchin and Brent Waltz and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller. Hollingworth, some say, flat out bought the seat with a campaign loan and money from a shadowy super PAC. It’s up to Democrat Shelli Yoder to try to keep Hollingsworth out of Congress along with Libertarian Russell Brooksbank.

Now, it's off to November.

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.