Thursday, June 30, 2016

Masson's Right...It's About Who Will Govern Best

In the blogosphere, there are few bloggers that I respect more than Doug Masson.  He as well as Sheila Kennedy always write posts worth reading.

He's been at it a long time, and he always finds a way to be the adult in the room even when he disagrees with you.

I read Abdul-Hakim Shabazz's Indy Politics post on John Gregg's state-paid insurance, and I decied to respond by pointing out that Mike Pence's Congressional record (for which he will qualify for a pension, by the way) was less than stellar compared to the $1.97 million in salary he took for his 12 years in Congress.

Granted, it was a big of a reach, and I wrote it to be a bit absurd but to also remind folks about Pence's work in the legislature.  

Anyway, enter Doug Masson.  Masson read both of our posts and wrote an excellent post that kind of took both of us to task without really taking us to task.  You can read the entire blog post here, and I hope you do.  It's worth your time.

Masson points out that Gregg's insurance cost nor Pence's Congressional salary should mean much in the grand scheme of things.  As Masson put it, "Neither ought to be a huge factor in a voter’s decision — the voter should be deciding which person would do a better job governing the state."

That's a way to refocus this whole kerfuffle.  Voters have to pick through all of these noisy voices out here to decide which candidate has the best vision for the state.  Last time around, no matter how I dislike it, 49.6 percent of Hoosier voters thought that was Mike Pence.  

Polling shows that Pence and Gregg are close again this time around.  I'm more convinced than ever that this year it's John Gregg.  From his plans and thoughts on education to jobs to equality to bipartisanship, Governor John Gregg needs to be hired in November and inaugurated in January, but that's my opinion.  I think many agree with me.  You can tell that Mike Pence is gravely concerned as are his allies.  It almost feels like John Gregg is the incumbent the way he's being attacked.  

It's your mind to make up, and I hope that you'll cut through all the claims and blubber and make the right decision with your vote for you.  This is just the start of the campaign, and it's going to get a lot nastier.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Reminder: Pence Took $1.97 million in Salary; Sponsored No Enacted Legislation in Congress

Governor Mike Pence
My friend Abdul-Hakim Shabazz published a report on his Indy Politics website yesterday that stated the Democratic nominee for Governor John Gregg has received $200,000 in health care from the state of Indiana through a pension plan enacted while he was Speaker of the House.

The plan has since been dropped by the General Assembly, but Gregg is apparently one of two dozen or so former legislators that continues to draw from the fund.  The others were not named.

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette published an article on essentially the same topic.  It will be up to the voters to determine if this makes a difference because you can bet the Republican Governors Association is coming off the top rope with this one in their next negative ad.

Gregg's campaign essentially says what I say telling the Journal Gazette that this was an insurance plan available at the time Gregg left the House.  It was passed in a bi-partisan manner, and he took it.

I'd just like to point this out.

Mike Pence went to Congress in 2001.  Below are his salary amounts (without any possible extras for his benefits or his leadership roles).

2001 $145,100
2002 $150,000
2003 $154,700
2004 $158,100
2005 $162,100
2006 $165,700
2007 $165,700
2008 $169,300
2009 $174,000
2010 $174,000
2011 $174,000
2012 $174,000
Total: $1,966,700

Number of bills Mike Pence sponsored, 2001-2012: 63
Number of bills Mike Pence sponsored that were passed into law: 0

Now, I'm not saying he didn't do anything in Congress.  I'm sure Pence did constituent services and other things to earn some of that money.  He may have even worked hard.  I'm just saying...0 for 63 on a $1.97 million investment.  Pence also missed over five percent of the votes.  According to GovTrack, that's "much higher" than the median of 2.6 percent over the lifetime of a representative,

Combined with Pence's abysmal record as Governor and penchant for pushing the wrong issues, it kind of puts John Gregg's insurance issue in perspective.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

In Memoriam: Pat Summitt (1952-2016)

Coach Pat Summitt
Photo from Twitter
Besides failing health, I think one of the toughest thing about getting older is watching those around you go away.  It's watching family, friends, and heroes grow older and then have to say goodbye.

It is, however, a part of life.  No one makes it out alive.

One of my personal heroes, Pat Summitt, passed away today at the age of 64.

Five years ago, Pat was a fearsome competitor stalking the sidelines at the University of Tennessee as the head women's basketball coach.  Then, the unthinkable happened.  One of the toughest minds ever made, in my opinion, was invaded by early-onset dementia.  Alzheimer's.

Coach Summitt stayed on for one more year leading her team to the NCAA Elite Eight.  She retired at the end of that season with an amazing record of 1,098 wins and only 208 losses.  Coach Summitt won eight National Championships and was inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.  I could list her accolades for hours here.  Possibly most impressive is her 100 percent graduation rate, especially in this day and age of college sports.

No one did more for women's college basketball to bring the sport where it is today than Summitt.

Probably her most dogged and determined fight, though, has been the way she has fought Alzheimer's.  She did it with her head held high and without hiding.  Her fight was public, and she showed that you can still make a difference no matter the odds.  As she was fond of saying, "It is what it is so make it what it will be."

I used to hate that quote, "It is what it is."  Summitt's addition to that quote changes the meaning entirely.  It puts you in the equation.  We can't stop what happens to us, but we can make something out of it.  She certainly did her entire life.

Pat was a great coach, a devoted mother, and a fierce competitor.  As a teacher, I'm not sure there was anyone better in college sports.

It's really hard to believe, but Pat Summitt is gone at 64.  Too soon.  My condolences to her family, her son, Tyler, and her many friends.

Let's cure Alzheimer's Disease.

RGA Drops Mint on Pence

A few weeks ago, a poll came out that showed Governor Mike Pence with a four point lead over John Gregg in the race for Governor of Indiana, 49-45 with five percent undecided.

The poll came out shortly before the Indiana Primary Election, and it was sponsored by WTHR and Indiana political analyst Brian Howey.

The polling news was followed by the revelation that John Gregg had outraised Governor Pence in campaign contributions.  It's another indicator that things aren't so hunky dory for the state's highest executive.

Yesterday afternoon, Matt Tully tweeted out another chilling fact for Mr. Pence in the Governor's race.

That's right, the Republican Governors Association has jumped into this race in a big way. I don't get the feeling that the money drop by the RGA has changed this race in any great way.  They've largely wasted this money on repeating negative attacks from 2012 in an effort to define John Gregg.

Still, Pence hasn't had to spend his own cash, which is nice.  Gregg, with no comparative support as of yet, has been spending his own campaign's money to try to fight off the attacks.  It's going to take a lot more cash to get to November.

I'm really interested to see what the next poll shows in this race.  My feeling is that it's going to be close all the way to November.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Buzzfeed Takes on Mass Shootings

Please watch this video from Eugene Yang and Buzzfeed.  It's truly worth your time.  When it's over, demand action.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Proud To Be Me; Be Proud To Be You

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month as most of you know by now, and today marks the one-year anniversary of marriage equality in the United States.  It was one year ago that the Supreme Court stated that gay people could not be discriminated against based on who we love.

Just last week, President Obama celebrated the Stonewall Inn in New York City by naming it a National Monument.  It is the first national monument of its kind dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community's struggle for civil rights.

That fight for my community continues, by the way.  Nothing ended one year ago, but neither did life as we know it.  The sun came up on June 27, and we've passed the one year mark without the apocalypse happening.

In the spirit of the internet's own "Proud to Be" campaign which started on YouTube and has spread to many other types of media, I thought I'd take this moment to stand up and show my pride.

This is not an activity that I've always felt comfortable doing.  As I've written before on this blog, I've always known I was different than other people.  I just didn't know exactly what that meant.

I was always a little taller and a little bigger than most of my classmates.  I was always a little more awkward, and it took me until I got to high school to realize who I was.  It took me until my senior year of college to admit it, and it took me several more years to feel comfortable in the world.

Now, I'm very comfortable with the man I've become, and I look back and wouldn't change a thing.  Sure, I wish my parents were still alive, and I miss other family members who have passed.  The thing is that I have great friends and wonderful family now.  Those friends know who I am and accept me for who I am.

"If You Don't Know Me By Now..."

My cards went on the table many years ago, and that began the process of fully becoming the person that I have become.  The pressure of being outed or being exposed as gay has gone away.  Now, it's become a part of who I am, but it doesn't define who I am.

Truth is that cliche about standing up and being proud is so true.  It's because we our proud to be who we are that others come to understand us.  The last thing we should do is hide away.  When we hide, we let those that would oppress win.  It's a lot tougher to oppress someone when they look you in the eye or when they work with you or when they teach your kids or when they are your doctor or maybe even one day, your President.  Who knows?

We have to be proud of who we are.  We also have to understand that we're all in this together.  Pride without empathy is dangerous.  We've seen how destructive that can be.  Yes, I'm a proud gay man, but I understand that you may be different from me.  That's okay.  It's also what makes our country great.  I'm not the first to say it, but I'm proud of our great American tapestry.  I'm proud of being one small part of the many pieces that make up our country.

Warts and all, I'm proud of my country.  I'm proud to be an American.  I'm proud to be a resident of the world.  I'm proud we are living here at the same time.  Think about that.  We could have been born at any time, but we're here, together, right now.  Amazing isn't it.

Take stock of who you are, and be proud to be that person.  When you get to that point, life is truly amazing.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Some Notes for John Gregg's Campaign

John Gregg and Christina Hale
Photo from Gregg for Governor
on Facebook
So far the John Gregg campaign for Governor hasn't stepped wrong in 2016.

The former speaker is on message, on track, and maybe on the way from Sandborn to the Governor's Mansion in November.

I think Gregg has done a nice job reintroducing himself to the voters as well as raising money.  He needs to continue hitting voters with his bio because of all the things he's done in public and private life.  He has many different kinds of experiences that make him a very good candidate for Governor of Indiana.

If I were sitting in the campaign war room, there are three ads that I might shoot and put in my back pocket for later.

First of all, Mike Pence and his cronies at the Republican Governor's Association continue to hammer Gregg by exaggerating parts of his record as speaker of the house and associating him with the failed energy company, Enron.  I think Gregg has hit back nicely, but it might be good to have a "let's talk about it" kind of ad.  John is good at slamming the door on his opponents, and this might be a good way to shine a light on his problem and show how completely weak the attacks are.

The second ad I would shoot and file away for later is an ad that shines a spotlight on the bright light of Christina Hale.  Like Vi Simpson was in 2012, Hale is an amazing choice as a running mate.  Highlighting her personal story as well as her professional accomplishments would show voters what a tremendous asset she will be as Lieutenant Governor.

Finally, a third ad I would shoot would go for the jugular.  It would attack Pence's weaknesses.

I would have Gregg directly address his evolution on same-sex marriage, but I'd also incorporate Pence's penchant for wanting to come between a woman and her right to have domain over her own body as well as attacking Pence on RFRA.  You would have to be careful of the tone of the ad, but I would again make this a very personally-driven ad with Gregg on camera.  I think he can connect with the hearts of voters.

Again, these are just suggestions.  I know Gregg has smart people like Tim Henderson driving his campaign, so I can imagine we'll see some good stuff as the summer season continues to march toward fall and November.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Johnson, Weld Get Their Close-up

CNN gave the Libertarian Party a huge boost last night by highlighting its ticket in a town hall forum.

It wasn't letting the two former governors in the debates, but it was a big step by a major network for the party that will or will come closest to having 50-state ballot access.

You probably know by now that former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson leads the ticket.  He selected former Massachusetts Governor William Weld as his running mate.

Johnson is running for President of the United States for a second time. Along with Judge James Gray, Johnson, a former Republican, scored 1,275,821 votes or nearly one percent of the total vote back in 2012.  That was good enough to finish third.

This time around, he's polling in double digits in some polls and is even polling higher than Hillary Clinton among independents in some as well.  Personally, I think it's too early to declare anything nationally, but it has to be an encouraging sign for the Libertarians.

While Johnson, who describes himself as a social liberal and a fiscal conservative, has an impressive background, his best asset might be the man he chose as his running mate.

William Weld's bio reads as one of the most interesting men in politics.  The two-term Governor of Massachusetts served in many capacities within the Republican Party.  He resigned as Governor to become Ambassador to Mexico under Bill Clinton, but he fell victim to the late Jesse Helms who blocked his nomination in the U.S. Senate.  That's a badge of honor to be opposed by Jesse Helms.

Weld moved to New York and ran for Governor of that state, but he lost the nomination to John Faso who then lost the General Election to Eliott Spitzer in 2006.  Before his political career, Weld was a successful attorney and federal prosecutor.  He also served as an Assistant Attorney General under President Reagan.  Weld has been an author of fictional novels, an actor, and now a Vice Presidential nominee.

If I'm being honest, I thought Johnson gave a so-so performance in the town hall.  He's a bit awkward, but he does have an endearing quality about him.  I think he's more than capable of serving as President.  Johnson indicated that he and Weld would be more of a matched set than a President and Vice President.  Johnson repeatedly deferred to Weld, who seemed much more at ease, during the forum.

While I believe Hillary Clinton is still the best and most presidential candidate in the race, Johnson and Weld make a very good team, and it's easy to see why Libertarians are excited about the two.  They far exceed the prospects of a President Donald Trump Administration.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

DeLaney Proposes Tightening Gun Laws, Reporting of Gun Crimes

Ed DeLaney
With the inaction in Washington, State Representative Ed DeLaney spoke out on Tuesday challenging Republicans to make a choice between making Indiana safer or appealing to their base on guns.

The veteran legislator said that he will introduce gun control measures at the state level such as background checks, the banning of military-style weaponry and high capacity clips when he General Assembly session begins in January.  He also said that he will push for changes that make it mandatory for local level agencies to notify the Indiana State Police of crimes committed with a gun instead of the current system which leaves it up to the local level officials.

DeLaney also said that the state needs to beef up its probation department with more funding and resources to help keep up with those it watches and to help it communicate better with state agencies.

Citing the recent case of James Wesley Howell, the Indiana man who traveled to California in a car loaded with weapons and explosive material, DeLaney said Indiana's current gun laws just aren't enough and that his proposed updates will help keep Hoosiers safer.

It's an uphill climb in gun-crazed Indiana which has some of the most lax gun laws in the nation.  Local communities are even prohibited in many ways from enacting gun control ordinances by Indiana Code.

Tony Katz, WIBC's Morning News host tweeted out a response to DeLaney oddly linking the legislator's news conference with the then-breaking story of a young Brownsburg man who has been attempting to join ISIS.

Talk about mixing issues!!

Apparently, Katz forgets that the First Amendment allows DeLaney to criticize the Second in the U.S. Constitution.  He also seems to not realize that DeLaney has stood up and continues to stand up for his beliefs despite an attack that nearly cost the legislator his life.

Ed's as tough as they come, and he has a history of getting things done.  We'll see if the GOP's ledership moves an inch on these proposed bills in an election year.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Donnelly Looks Beyond Partisanship, Votes for Common Sense Gun Control

Senator Joe Donnelly
In the wake of the four votes on gun control that failed in the United States Senate, there were number of memes that came out on Facebook and across the internet shaming those Senators that voted to kick the can down the road.

On a couple of those memes, Joe Donnelly, Indiana's Democratic Senator, was listed as siding with the wrong side of the ledger from the perspective of gun control advocates.  The memes are wrong.

Truth is that the only Senator to look beyond partisanship and to vote with gun control advocates on all four pieces of legislation was Joe Donnelly.

As the Indiana Democratic Party put it:

"Democrat Joe Donnelly of Indiana was the only member of the U.S. Senate to vote Monday in favor of all four proposals aimed at curtailing gun sales to terrorism suspects. 
None of the measures,– two from each political party,– received the 60 votes required to advance in the 100-member Senate. 
Donnelly voted in favor of Democratic amendments to ban gun sales to anyone on federal terrorism watch lists and to require criminal background checks on people trying to buy guns at gun shows and on the internet. 
He also supported Republican amendments to delay for 72 hours the purchase of guns by anyone who has been on a federal terrorism watch list and to improve federal databases maintained by the National Criminal Instant Background Check System."
Please correct the record if you see someone trying to smear Donnelly.  It's a shame that once again our Senate, as a body, failed to look beyond partisan politics and partisanship.  We're left without common sense gun control again.

Don't blame Joe Donnelly.

Were there some things in the Republican bills that were unpalatable to Democrats?  Absolutely.  Still, the way you get things done in politics is compromise.  Some gun control is better than status quo.  Our broken Senate is on display here.  Partisanship leads to the status quo.

"It's amazing what can be accomplished if you do not care who gets the credit," said Harry S Truman. Maybe someday our legislature will adopt this mantra again someday.  For now, it's sadly caught up in that "gimme credit" trap.

RGA Continues Negative Exaggerated Attacks on Gregg

The Republican Governors Association launched another attack ad against John Gregg a few days back.

There's really nothing new in this ad, and that means that they haven't found a new means to attack John Gregg since 2012.  These are really empty attacks as well Gregg can easily sidestep them and even pivot back to an attack on Mike Pence.

So far, it's John Gregg that's keeping on the issues.  We haven't really seen him mix it up on the airwaves.  Still, the RGA ads are paid for with money that Mike Pence doesn't have to worry about while the Gregg campaign's answer is costing $600,000 per week according to the candidate himself.

His latest ad is an answer to the GOP hit pieces.  He keeps it above board and even has a former Republican State Representative, Katherine Willing, sing his praises.

I don't ever recall a general election battle for the Governor's race beginning this early with both candidates on the air.  In 2012, Pence was up with his ads months before Gregg was  Pence was up in May with his spots. Gregg didn't get on the air until August.

Despite his slow start, Gregg excelled in the debates and as a closer.  Pence awkward and robotic whereas Gregg's folksy nature is very warm and genuine.  Polling again shows this race is right where it left off on election night 2012.

It will be interesting to see what trick plays are in the playbook for both campaigns coming these next four-plus months.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Democratic Convention Leaves Convention Goers Fired Up; Celebrates Diversity, Unity

Christina Hale and John Gregg
Photo from Gregg for Governor on Facebook
I attended my sixth Indiana Democratic Party Convention this weekend, and I came away from it feeling fired up and ready to go.

Conventions are pretty familiar to me now.  They are typically organized in a similar fashion.  You check in, mingle for a bit, then go to your Congressional District Caucus Meeting.  In that meeting, you elect the delegates to the National Democratic Convention as well as listen to speeches from candidates and other folks.  The 7th District affair went smoothly.

During the lunch break, I had a chance to people watch.  With a women's gospel music convention, Indy PopCon, and 2,150 Democrats in the Convention Center, there was plenty to see.  Many Democrats went across Maryland and Washington Streets to the Rally Against Hate.

The festivities resumed about 1:30 pm in the individual constituency group meeting.  For the last few conventions, I've attended the Indiana Stonewall Democrats constituency meeting, but there were groups for a variety of constituencies.  The ISD group focuses in on the LGBTQ community.  It gives the candidates a chance to speak to the individual groups that make up the big tent of the Democratic Party.

After an hour break, the main session of the convention convened.  This is always one of my favorite parts of the day.  You never know what's going to happen when you get 2,150 or so Democrats in one room.  It can be like herding cats.

John Zody, the Indiana Democratic Party Chair, did a great job navigating a tricky set of circumstances.  Some delegates reportedly loyal to Bernie Sanders wanted the resolutions passed by the resolutions committee read in full on the floor of the convention.  When that motion failed, the Sanders supporters made a new motion to read the titles of the resolutions that were defeated by the resolutions committee.  After a close vote, Zody had the committee read the four resolution titles that were defeated.  One of the resolutions that failed would have removed the superdelegates from being eligible to vote in Philadelphia.

Sanders won Indiana, but many of the Hoosier superdelegates have committed to vote for Hillary Clinton effectively equalizing out the delegate count for the presumptive nominee.  Superdelegates have been a part of the party's national convention since 1984.

Other than earlier a scene where Sanders supporters waved signs in the face of Hillary Clinton's new Indiana campaign director, there were no major outbursts or stoppages of the convention, and things moved along swiftly.  Other state conventions have been interrupted or have devolved into chaos.  Indiana's did not.

There wasn't much mention of Hillary Clinton at all in the main session.  Congressman Andre Carson mentioned her, but he also reached out to the Bernie Sanders supporters crediting the Vermont Senator for his run and for moving the discussion to the left.  He brought the floor to its feet.

Also speaking were U.S. Senate candidate Baron Hill, Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, Attorney General nominee Judge Lorenzo Arredondo, and Lieutenant Governor nominee Christina Hale.

John Gregg left the convention floor standing and cheering wildly.  The man from Sandborn deftly attacked Mike Pence while touting his own plans for the office in a spectacular speech with many applause lines.  One of the biggest was when Gregg said his administration would be based on "competence, common sense, and inclusion."

"But unlike what we see today, a Gregg/Hale Administration will be lean, clean, but not mean,"said Gregg.

The entire convention had a theme of unity.  LGBTQ Hoosiers were right at the center.  Mayor Pete Buttigieg was the Permanent Chairman of the Convention.  Dana Black, a candidate for the Indiana House of Representatives was a Sergeant-at-Arms and also gave a very moving tribute to the young men and women killed in the Pulse Orlando mass shooting last week.

Republicans met on the day before that mass shooting and voted to write discrimination into theri party's state platform.

Democrats have nominated a tremendous ticket.  This time around I feel very good about John Gregg's chances.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Personal Prerogative: Stay Proud

On Saturday morning, I was given the opportunity to host Indiana Talks coverage of the Cadillac Barbie IN Pride Parade. I didn't really know that I'd also be emceeing the event.

From the corner of Alabama and Mass Ave, I sat for nearly two hours watching the parade go by and describing the action to the listeners and those gathered to watch the event unfold.  I was struck by the amazing display of diversity in not only the parade but the crowd.

I was tired, so I spent most of the rest of Saturday recharging.  I went to bed around 11:30 pm feeling good about society, and I felt very proud of my city.  I felt a sense of PRIDE that I had never felt before.  This was me stepping WAY outside of the closet for the first time.  It's as comfortable as I've ever felt in my own skin.

I woke up around 7:30 am Sunday morning and fired up the computer to see when the IndyCar race would begin on Sunday afternoon after the rainout on Saturday night.  That's when I came across the reports of a mass shooting in Orlando at a nightclub.

As we all know by now, a gunman burst into the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando and snuffed out the lives of at least 50 as I write this.  More fight for their lives in the hospital.


It was such a juxtaposition for me.  The outpouring of love I saw at Indy Pride on Saturday and the account of hate we were all forced to deal with on Sunday.  The two opposite emotions that are so often tied together on display within hours of each other.

If you are not LGBTQ, it's hard for me to explain what that's like.  What I can say is that there are places that you go that you let your proverbial hair down and feel free to be whoever it is you really are.  Some of us don't get that luxury.  All-in-all, I'm pretty lucky.  I haven't always been, though.  There was time that I was afraid in my own skin of who I was.  One of the only places I could feel normal and accepted were clubs.

Now, I'm not a clubkid, and I don't want to give you that impression.  There was a time, though, that I'd go to a club quite often to kick back, relax, and enjoy being myself or with my significant other.  No one stared or looked when I held hands, and it is a free feeling that's hard to explain.  Some have called it a "sanctuary" or safe place.  Indeed, it was.

Well, that sanctuary was attacked by a hate-filled man.  While there is time to grieve and time to pray for the recovery of those who survived, there's also a time to make sure no other hate-filled men or women can do this sort of thing again.

That's going to take some heavy lifting in Congress, and I don't want to be political today.  I'll just say that the time to act on common sense gun control reform is now.

Truth is that just like so many tragedies that we've heard about that there are harrowing stories of survival and people banding together to save others in the Pulse Nightclub.  I'm sure by the time you read this there might be even more information out there.

We are going to make it through this as a country.  Let's wrap our hands and arms around those that need us.  Continue to be vigilant but not fearful.  Most of all, stay proud.

Friday, June 10, 2016

McQuillen Faces Tough Task to Rebuild Once Powerful Marion County GOP

Mike McQuillen
The Marion County Republican Party has turned to an elected official to begin the task of making the Marion County GOP great again.

Mike McQuillen, a City-County Councillor and leader of the GOP Council Caucus, was named the party chair.  McQuillen was elected to the Council in 2007 and was part of the Republican majority that took the Council over from 2008-2012.  When the Democrats retook the Council, McQuillen stepped in as Minority Leader, and he has served in that role since then.

McQuillen is a level-headed Republican, and I like him very much.  He is a student of politics and collects and peddles political memorabilia.  He trends, as he Marion County Republican Party should, a little bit more moderate than the statewide GOP.

He has a great task ahead.  The Marion County GOP was once one of the envies of the Republican National Committee.  Indianapolis was, until the late 1990's, a major city that had seen YEARS or GOP rule.  That came with a strong Republican machine that controlled most aspects of city, township, and county government.

Little-by-little, Democrats chipped away at the GOP majorities in Marion County.  When Bart Peterson became the first Democratic Mayor of Indianapolis in over 30 years, he ushered in a Democratic majority on the City-County Council for the first time since UniGov was the law of the land.  Republicans briefly returned to power for two terms with Ballard as mayor and the City-County Council majority for four of the eight years of Ballard's term.

Democrats also took the Marion County offices over the years.  Before you knew it, the entire City-County Building's blue exterior matched its interior.

I don't know where to tell McQuillen to start over, but Jennifer Ping wasn't in office long enough to do much before state law forced her out.  This is going to be an entire rebuild.  The GOP first probably needs to shore up what they have and then try to expand out from there.

I think it's a tough job.  Republicans increasingly have settled around Indianapolis rather than in it, but maybe an effort to pull some new folks from the suburbs to the city might have an effect for the Marion County Republicans.  I think he's fighting a losing battle, and it's only going to be tougher as he continues to work on the Council while trying to build a party.

Nevertheless, McQuillen is a smart and effective leader, and the Republicans could not have done much better from their bench.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Ping Fails Basic Congressional Test

Cat Ping
Photo from Facebook
Seventh District Republican Congressional nominee Cat Ping took to Facebook a few days ago to argue against the passage of a Congressional Resolution condemning hate crimes against Muslim Americans.

The rambling Facebook post shows among other things that Ping doesn't understand what is in the resolution.  She apparently believes that it's a bill.  Bills and resolutions are not the same thing.

A resolution is just Congress taking a position on something.  There are resolutions passed on tons of things.  Again, they are just essentially expressing the majority opinion of Congress.  A bill is actually something that become a law.

So, when Ping says this particular resolution is a bill that provides extra protections for Muslims and Muslim-Americans, she's incorrect.  It's just Congress taking a position against a religious minority being targeted for hate crimes.  I guess she must be opposed to that seemingly non-controversial position.  Congressman Andre Carson clearly is a supporter.

Ping even points out that Carson and Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota are both supporting the resolution.  They are the only two Members of Congress who are Muslim.

If you want to read Ping's diatribe, you can find it on her Facebook page. She made the post on May 24.  It is entitled "Attention: A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing is still a WOLF".

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Clinton's Moment is A Moment for all Women

My mother, however, told me that she would be voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016 because she thought it was time for a female President.

If you know how much my parents hated the Clintons in the 90's, this bit of information would surprise you.  Both my parents were lifelong Republicans.

Last night, as Hillary Clinton formally celebrated becoming the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee for President, I thought about my mother and what she told me. My mom had no idea that Hillary would run for President for certain, and she passed away on Christmas Day in 2014.

I was born in 1975.  For me, women have always been able to vote, but it hasn't been all that long ago that they were not.  In fact, when both of my grandmothers were born in 1910 and 1913, neither of their mothers were able to go to the polls and cast their ballots.  That's just two generations into my past.

It's just remarkable how fast society can change.  It makes it likely that someday in the no-so-distant future that we could see a LGBT candidate for President of the United States.

For now, that will have to wait.  Tonight is about Eleanor Roosevelt.  Tonight is about Shirley Chisholm.  Tonight is about Geraldine Ferraro.  Tonight is about all the great female political leaders our nation has seen.

In some way, tonight is about my mother.  Hillary Clinton carries her hopes and dreams for a female President on to the General Election.

Hillary Clinton now takes her place in history, and this chapter continues to be written.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Pence Via the RGA Goes Negative on June 6

Make a note of it, Mike Pence has gone negative on John Gregg on June 6...five months before Election Day.

Of course, it's not Pence directly, it's the Republican Governor's Association.  They are so concerned about Pence's unstable positioning that they are running this massively negative ad against Gregg.

Gregg's campaign had a response ready to go (and it includes a Republican former representative calling him a fiscal conservative).

The Governor's race is heating up, and it hasn't even hit 90 yet on the thermostat.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Clinton Clinches Presumptive Nominee Designation

The Associated Press has announced that Hillary Clinton has hit the magic number to clinch the Democratic Party's nomination with pledged and superdelegates.

She is now the presumptive nominee.

This is no different than any of the previous election cycles with superdelegates involved.  When one candidate hits the number, they become known as the presumptive nominee.

I'm sure this unexpected announcement will take some time to sink in, and there's no telling as to how this will effect the final major round of primaries tomorrow.

Regardless, as I stated this morning, it's over.  Hillary Clinton is the nominee of the Democratic Party.

Chatting with Sanders...Via My Blog

Senator Bernie Sanders
Senator Sanders, let's sit down for a moment.

First of all, thank you for running.  I mean that sincerely.  You have brought attention and light to issues the Democratic Party and others pushed aside for years.  By shining a light on those issues, you and your supporters can now make sure that action occurs over the next four to eight years of the next President's term.  You should be very proud of your run as you started from nothing and pushed this all the way to the end.

This, however, is the end.  You lost fair and square.  Hillary Clinton did not cheat to beat you, and many questions could be raised about states you won in, too.  The Democratic Primary process is not perfect and perhaps it does favor the candidate with the most money and the most power.  That's our broken political system, in general.  It's a place where someone like "Tennessee Trey" Hollingsworth and his big bank roll can come in and buy the nomination for a U.S. House seat.  I'm not saying that it's right, but that is the system that we have.

You should be even more proud that you pushed it this far in that system.  You have a place in changing this system.

That being said, this race has really been over for months.  Sure, you've won your share of states and contests, but the delegate count for Secretary Clinton has continued to climb, too.  When Clinton has fought hard in a state, she's either won or kept it close enough that the delegate counts have been split.  She's going to win New Jersey by a wide margin if the polling is correct, and, while you might win in California, it's not going to be the kind of big margin you need to close the delegate gap.  With superdelegates, Hillary should close the deal.

Yes, those superdelegates that you and your supporters have railed against.  These are now the people you need to change their votes to support you.  Recently, though, you've given these superdelegates no reason to change those votes.  In fact, your rhetoric has become more divisive.  It's driving a wedge in the Democratic Party, and that's dangerous given the opponent on the other side.

I believe once Hillary Clinton is the nominee, and that is what's going to happen here, the damage will repair itself.  That still depends on you.  Like I said, you have a role to play here.  You can prevent your supporters from "berning" the whole place down or understanding the dangers of supporting the Republican nominee.

Senator Sanders, I respect you.  I admire you.  I hope that you continue to be involved, but I hope you quickly realize that this race is over after Tuesday and it's time to move on to November with Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

In Memoriam, Muhammad Ali, 1942-2016

Photo by Andreas Meier, Reuters
That look...the same one that stopped boxers in their tracks.  It was always there.

Even as Parkinson's Disease robbed him of his body, the passion and fire that burned within never left.  One look at those eyes, and you knew that the boxer never stopped punching.

Muhammad Ali mercifully is done suffering the scourges of Parkinson's Disease.  He's now gone at 74.

We were the greater on this world because he was here.  While his opening act as one of the world's most famous people and athletes perhaps helped define two decades of sport, it was the last 30 years that truly proved the mettle of the champ.  Faced with a fight he could likely never win against Parkinson's, Ali kept fighting.  He kept showing up in the public eye, and he kept living.

Through his fight, money, and I mean millions of dollars of it, has been raised.  Research has been done.  Lives have been made better.  Ali continued to fight to raise money for Parkinson's research, and that helped my mother's life be better as she too suffered from the disease.

Larger than life for most of his adult life, Muhammad Ali went from people refusing to recognize his name change from Cassius Clay to a man the President of the United States mourned today in a moving tribute.

I can't eulogize Ali any more than anyone else or than those who truly knew him, but I want to thank the Champ for understanding that being famous comes with the ability to make a difference.

If you visit the Muhammad Ali Center on the banks of the Ohio River in Downtown Louisville, you'll find a very honest portrayal of Ali's life.  Your paradigms will be challenged.  You will learn something you didn't know.  One thing you'll quickly understand is that there was no one like Muhammad Ali.

My condolences to his family, friends, and fans and to the world.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Gregg Ad Touts Crossover Credentials

The latest ad from John Gregg...

As you might expect, the Gregg ad plays it right down the middle.  It talks about his crossover appeal to Republicans and even features David Yount, a former State Representative from Columbus, Mike Pence's home town.

It's a solid ad.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

"Tennessee Trey" Hollingsworth Has Reason for Concern in Indiana 9th

Internal campaign polls are like things said by Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade. You take them for what they are worth.
Trey Hollingsworth

With that said, Shelli Yoder’s campaign has released an internal poll showing that the 9th District race for Congress between her and “Tennessee” Trey Hollingsworth is tied. 

The poll of 401 likely voters by the Garin Hart Yang Research Group shows a dead heat, 41 percent to 41 percent, race between Yoder and Hollingsworth with a large number of undecided voters and a margin of error or +/- 5 percentage points. 

Shelli Yoder
 Now, this is just one poll, and it's an internal poll.  If another poll confirms this one or even shows a competitive margin, it could mean this seat (rated safe Republican) is one the Republicans will have to worry about trying to keep in the fall.

That would be a downer for the GOP.  If they have to spend some money helping the already rich Hollingsworth hold a safe seat for the Republican Party, then Yoder has done a good job.  She could change that from good to great by actually sending Trey Hollingsworth back to Tennessee with a loss.

She could do it.

Yoder is a strong candidate.  She's run before and knows the district well.  Hollingsworth doesn't, and it's not like this at least a portion of this area hasn’t been represented by a Democrat in the recent past. This is, however, a different 9th District than it was when Baron Hill was Congressman.

It would be nice to force Republicans to spend some money on a safe seat they thought they’d have no chance of losing. If this race stays close, Democrats will be happy to make the R’s play defense. I guess that’s what happens when you nominate a carpetbagger for Congress.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Gregg Further Strengthens Position with Pick of Hale as Lt. Governor Candidate

Rep. Christina Hale
The only thing bad so far about John Gregg's pick of Representative Christina Hale as a running mate was the timing of the announcement.

Gregg's announcement was drowned out in the news cycle by last week's somewhat stunning news that the 100th Indianapolis 500 was a complete sellout and would be broadcast in the Indianapolis media market for the first time since Johnnie Parsons won the rain-shortened 1950 race.  Other than that, Gregg and Hale have been full steam ahead, and Democrats seem happy with the choice of the Indy legislator as the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor.

After all, you won't find many legislators who are as widely respected and beloved by all constituencies of the party as Hale.  For months, she has been on Gregg's reported radar, and her selection came as very little surprise to political insiders.

Hale is tough.  She's been a leading voice in the legislature since she took her oath of office on women's issues.  Her outspokenness has drawn respect from both sides of the aisle, and she's gotten things done.  Hale's been a strong advocate for women who have been victims of sexual or domestic violence.  She's also been a strong opponent of human trafficking and a vociferous ally of the LGBTQ community.

Add in that Hale, who comes from Latino roots, knows how to win close races and appeal to Republicans, and you have a partner for Gregg that seems perfect.  It's exactly what he wants to do and an exact foil for the Pence Administration that has spent much of its time figuring out how to divide constituency groups.

The 350,000 attendees of the Indianapolis 500 saw an airplane trailing the message, "Pence must go," and it's becoming a rallying cry for those on both sides of the aisle that want to see Governor Mike Pence leave the Governor's mansion in January.  Pence seems oblivious and caught flat-footed by the close polling results and keeps trying to run a traditional "look at my record" campaign.  It's not about Pence's record, though.  It's about Mike Pence.  Hoosiers just don't like him, and they want an alternative.

With Christina Hale as his running mate, John Gregg becomes an even more formidable foe for Mike Pence and Eric Holcomb.  The polls are showing this race will come down to the wire.