Monday, October 17, 2016

Where is Evan Bayh?

It was only a few months ago that Evan Bayh entered the race for Indiana's US Senate seat, taking on the Republican nominee Todd Young. It instantly made the race competitive and sent shock waves across the nation. Since then, Bayh's several point advantage has nearly disappeared.

Bayh's campaign has been dogged by attacks on his residency (his neighbors claim to not have seen him), and his choice of gigs after he left the Senate in 2010. Besides claiming that him being a lobbyist isn't "true", he really hasn't had a good answer in response to these attacks.

Anyone who has been on any type of social media has likely seen several dedicated Twitter feeds, Facebook accounts, and YouTube videos tearing into Evan Bayh, often contrasting with the Evan Bayh of yesteryear with the Evan Bayh of today. Here is what my Facebook search looks like when I type the word "Bayh" into it:

This can be repeated for pretty much any social media. In some instances, the negative Bayh pages or accounts are placed before Evan Bayh's official campaign account.

Which brings me to my main question: Where is Evan Bayh?

In a recent Wish-TV article, Bayh appeared at a campaign event. Wish-TV described the appearance as "rare".

A quick glance of Evan Bayh's Facebook page shows no real events being held in the handful of days left before the election. His campaign's website doesn't mention any either. The "Meet Evan Bayh" section doesn't lead you to events, so it really doesn't live up to its name.

Some may say that Evan Bayh can run against Republican POTUS nominee Donald Trump and win, But I'd argue Indiana polls show Trump consistently on top and no major GOP candidate or elected official in the state of Indiana has reversed their endorsement of Trump.

Evan Bayh may still win this election. But it won't be because of the actions of his campaign.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Why #PenceMustGo Still Matters in Indiana

Image: Gary Varvel of IndyStar.
As I went to sleep last night, there were rumors saying that the VP pick for Pence was not finalized. However, various sources today an offer was made, and Pence accepted. The official announcement, set for 11 AM today, has been postponed due to the latest terrorist attach in Nice, France. But even though it isn't official, I still would like to talk about the impact of Governor Pence leaving the race.

There are all types of names being floated around to possibly replace Pence on the ballot as the GOP gubernatorial nominee. They are essentially a Who's Who in Indiana politics with a mishmash from practically every level, with interested applicants ranging from former Mayor's all the way up to Indiana's US House reps, and everything in between. Rumors are flying that GOP Party Chairman US Senate candidate Lieutenant Governor Eric Holcomb has secured the necessary votes on the Republican committee that would be in charge of appointing someone to replace Pence on the ballot.

And that leads us to address the #PenceMustGo movement.

The #PenceMustGo movement has always been a loose coalition of disaffected Republicans and active Democratic or liberal supporters looking to get Governor Pence out of the Governor's Mansion. However, it has failed to really settle on a single strategy on getting Pence out. 

At first, it seemed like Governor Pence might face a primary challenge from within the GOP. Former Angie's List CEO Bill Oesterle threatened to fund that hypothetical candidate, But that failed to materialize and Pence ran uncontested in the May 2016 primary. Oesterle did start a PAC called Enterprise Republicans, but it really isn't independent of the Republican Party and they really haven't done much besides a half-assed attempt at making the State GOP platform less horrible. They even staffed the Marion County Republican Party's booth at Indy Pride this year.

For those Republicans in the #PenceMustGo movement, Pence departing from the gubernatorial race seems to have solved their problems. Many of them are declaring "victory". A handful are saying there are certain people they still wouldn't vote for (the socially conservative House Speaker Brian Bosma is usually on that list), but they're almost giddy about Holcomb as a candidate.

To me, that doesn't really solve anything.

As someone who voted for former Governor Mitch Daniels (twice), I've learned that to become the Republican Governor of Indiana, you either have to be a social conservative, or a social conservative who hides it well.

Daniels was thrown to the wolves by social conservatives for his supposed "truce" on social issues (his precise quote, in context, was a truce on campaigning on social issues; it didn't address legislating and governing) but in my analyses, he is every much as conservative as Mike Pence. Daniels signed legislation defunding Planned Parenthood and enacted other restrictions and regulations on abortion rights. He repeatedly supported so-called "traditional" marriage (including support of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage).

To me, this is an attempt by the Indiana Republican Party to slap a new coat of paint on the same policies that they have repeatedly pushed upon Indiana. They think that if they put up what is essentially a blank slate with Holcomb, they can distance themselves from Pence, who despite the advantages of incumbency was still within the margin of error against his Democratic opponent. 

This is on top of what the Republican Party of Donald Trump and Mike Pence now stand for: Judging people based on their ethnicity and their looks, demonizing minorities, and building figurative and literal walls throughout our country and society.

I honestly am not content with this outcome. Pence, and whoever wants to run on his accomplishments, still must go. And I will do what I can to help make sure that happens.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Party of Donald Trump and Mike Pence

Image: Via ABC News.
BREAKING: As I was composing this blog post, Brian Howey is reporting that no offer has been made and that all the VP contenders have been summoned to meet with Donald Trump. Governor Pence must withdraw his name by noon Friday, or his name will stay on the ballot unless he dies or moves out of state. Pence faces the decision to stay in the Veepstakes and withdraw his name from the Governor's race, or stay in the Governor's race and withdraw from the Veepstakes.

Original post below:

Pretty much the entire political world knows by now that presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump has picked Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his Vice Presidential nominee. However, some of the Trump Supporting Media (TSM) are saying a VP pick has not been finalized. It will be kind of hilarious if Trump has Mike Pence come all the way out to the North East only to be told "Hey Mike, can you get Newt's luggage for me?"

But I want to address what this actually means in terms of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, and what this means for the Republican Party.

I know some #NeverTrump-ers read this blog. They're friends of mine, or we interact on social media. I think many of you have been in denial for a while now. When I told a fellow blogger who has largely been supportive of Governor Pence and critical of Donald Trump, he responded with:

  • "It isn't official, is it?" (denial)
  • and "waiting for the words out of Deadbeat Donald's mouth" (anger)

He knocked out two of the five stages of grief in the span of two minutes. He only has bargaining, depression, and acceptance to go. By the time you read these words, he might've gotten to all five stages.

Like it or not, the Republican Party is the party of Donald Trump. And Governor Pence doesn't just "fully support" Donald Trump. He believes in Donald Trump so much, that he is going to join Donald Trump as his running mate.

So now that we're here, let's talk about what the Republican Party has become by embracing Donald Trump.

The Republican Party has become a party where people are judged not by their accomplishments or their words, but by their skin color and heritage. Trump is being sued by former Trump University students, a scam barely disguised as a set of seminar course. The judge presiding over the rulings was born in East Chicago, Indiana. But Trump repeatedly told CNN's Jake Tapper that the judge is "Mexican" and that Trump can't get a fair trial in front of the judge because "we're building a wall between here and Mexico". Much of the TSM tried to rush out other allegations against the judge, but Trump didn't mention those in the initial interview.

The Republican Party has become a party where women are judged not by their accomplishments, but by their physical attributes. Among other quotes, Trump singled out former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina in an interview saying "Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?"

I'd go on further, but frankly, if I had to list every negative attribute of Trump, this blog post would never end.

Tomorrow, we'll talk about the implications of Governor Pence leaving the 2012 election, and why it really shouldn't matter electorally, but it probably will.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Worst Enemy for Pence Re-Election: The Man in the Mirror

This is a counterpoint to Ogden On Politics column on "The Pence Re-Election Dilemma: "What About Donald?". Paul believes that Governor Mike Pence (R) and his re-election campaign have a challenge with presumptive Republican POTUS nominee Donald Trump.

Paul believes that Donald Trump is beloved by the Republican base, particularly those who describe themselves as Tea Party. On that, we agree. Donald Trump has become successful with Republicans in spite of a lot of establishment forces against him. His voters in primaries often crossed economic, social, political (moderate and conservative), and (to what extent they exist in Republican primaries and caucuses) racial lines. I would say that Donald Trump is also attractive to a part of the Republican base that many don't like to bring up. Within Indiana, a lot of those "Lugar Republicans" have convinced themselves that Donald Trump has just been lying about the xenophobia and racism throughout the primary, and that may well be true since he told The New York Times in an off the record interview that "Everything is negotiable." If Pence does have try to distance himself from Trump (which I don't think is guaranteed), that could cause some extreme backlash against a Tea Party and evangelical base that perceives Pence to have betrayed them even though he's practically done their bidding over the past four years.

But I'd like to point out that Indiana is still, ultimately, a Republican state. Any election that happens state-wide will favor Republicans. The poll sponsored by Enterprise Republicans shows this.

General election match ups right now are as follows:
POTUS: Trump 40%-Clinton 31%-
US Senate: Young 36%-Hill 22%
Gov: Pence 40%-Gregg 36%

The numbers within the poll are even worse. A full third strongly disapprove of his job performance. And a plurality of undecided voters 42% disapprove as well. Some of those undecides are likely those Doughnut County Lugar Republicans  who will gladly vote GOP the whole way but for one reason or another aren't ready to back Governor Pence.

In fact, in the doughnut counties, Pence only has a 48% approval rating. Six in ten of independents and nearly as many women under 45 are looking for a new Governor.

More than once, I've heard that Governor Pence couldn't muster 50% of the vote in 2012 because of US Senate candidate Richard Mourdock and his comments on rape. That didn't explain why other Republicans further up or down the ballot didn't suffer the same fate. And this year, Mourdock isn't on the ballot.

Anecdotal, but I've talked to a lot of hard core Republicans. Many of these Republicans will engage in mild birtherism and use words like "Killary" to describe presumptive Democratic POTUS nominee Hillary Clinton. And more than a few of these Republicans, particularly women, are hesitant to support Governor Pence.

So what's the explanation for Pence's numbers being under water?

I'd suggest the Governor look in the mirror and the policies he's championed while in office.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Trumped Up Election Predictions

Election predictions are a dime a dozen, and by the time this is actually posted on Tuesday, may be worth even less than that. Regardless, here are my predictions:

United States POTUS:

On the Democratic side, I can't say anyone will be surprised when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wins Indiana's primary on Tuesday. Senator Bernie Sanders has done a lot of events in Indiana, so I suspect it will be closer than the polls predicted. But Clinton has a lot of ties to the Democratic establishment, and a lot (not all) of Indiana Democrats are loyal to the Clintons. So I'm going with Hillary Clinton with a 53-54% of the vote.

Over with the GOP, I don't think there's any doubt that Donald J Trump will walk away with the vast majority of Indiana delegates on Tuesday. One of the amazing things about the Trump campaign is that, in states where Trump wins, he wins across several demographics. So I don't think a state with a lot of evangelicals, or a state with a lot of college degrees, is necessarily going to hurt Trump as it has in some other primaries or caucuses. Notice that most of Trump's events have been in the urban areas of Indiana (Indianapolis, Carmel, South Bend, Terre Haute, Evansville). Those areas are spread out throughout the state that I think it'll be difficult for a Senator Ted Cruz to even win a single Congressional district. I think Trump will get 59% of the vote statewide and easily carry all Congressional districts.

US Senate (GOP)

The handful of Todd Young ads I've heard have largely been positive. All of the PAC and campaign ads I've seen and heard from Congressman Marlin Stutzman have been negative in tone. I think the limited polling done in this race is within the ballpark of the internal polls the Stutzman campaign is looking at. I don't think this race will be close at all. I'm giving Young a 60-40% edge.

US Congress (District 9) (GOP)

This is an all out brawl between State Senator Erin Houchins and Tennessee Indiana businessman Trey Hollingsworth. Several other candidates, including Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, are in this race as well but seem to be gaining little traction. There have been no real public polling done on a district level, but the cynic in me is giving the edge to Hollingsworth with 45% of the vote with Houchings coming in at 25%.

Tomorrow, I hope to share with you some insight on the winners and losers.

RIP Gary Welsh

Gary Welsh, author of the Indiana based blog Advance Indiana, died over this past weekend according to The Indianapolis Star.

Before I sat down to write this post, I reflected a long time on Gary Welsh, the man, and Gary Welsh, the public persona.

More than a few people think the handful of Indianapolis (and honestly, not much more if you expand to Indiana) bloggers are closely connected. In truth, most of us know of each other in passing. A few bloggers are also attorneys and may have some professional overlap due to their day jobs. But in reality, some of us have never met. Others may only run into each other at public events.

Gary and I did meet, mostly on the Civil Discourse Now podcast. Gary was often a panelist we relied on if someone we scheduled canceled, or if we needed someone at the last minute. In one show, we had Gary on the panel and our guest was a fortune teller. While much of the panel and production crew were skeptical but respectful towards our guest, Gary really seemed to take the fortune to heart. I wouldn't call Gary religious, but he did seem to have some type of faith. It might be a faith or spirituality that was only known and made sense to him, but I think he had it.

Gary's blog was one of the most prolific Indiana based blogs, and perhaps the longest running. More than just a repository for his personal opinions, he often planted seeds that mainstream media could then turn into stories. More than a few times, he broke news himself. Much of Indiana media and Indiana politicos checked Advance Indiana regularly, even if they didn't want to admit it.

Paired with the passing of WTLC-AM's Amos Brown, the loss of Gary Welsh is a loss for Indiana's political scene. Many times, these two men were the critical voices. Some times, they were the voices critical even people on their "side" (Amos was a Democratic pundit, Gary a Republican) wanted them to shut up. But that often didn't happen. More than a loss of critical voices, both men had institutional knowledge that will be incredibly difficult to replicate.

Jon Easter at Indy Democrat also wrote an excellent piece on suicide prevention.

If there are any comments, please be respectful. I typically do not censor for content. But due to the death being so recent, I want to be respectful to the friends and family that may inadvertently stumble upon this blog.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

I'm a delegate...(to the State Dem Convention)

Apparently not enough people filed in my state delegate district so I won by default.

This will be the first time I've ever attended one of these things and even though none of the state-wide offices on the Democratic side are contested, I still am kind of excited. I really feel like this is where I belong if I want to help change the state of Indiana in a positive way.