The Gun Nut Primary—RV sales slump—Buttigieg to IA & NH

Plus: "Despite some irresponsible rhetoric of many in the mainstream media, the American economy is strong," Vice President Mike Pence told the Detroit Economic Club today.

Days until the 2020 election: 442


Elkhart, Ind., is flashing a warning sign that a recession could be just ahead.

Capital of the country’s recreational-vehicle industry, the northern Indiana city and the surrounding area are watched by economists and investors for early indications of waning consumer demand for luxury items, often the first sign of economic anxiety.

IMPORTANTVILLE TAKE: Look for a parade of Democratic presidential candidates to use Elkhart as a backdrop for coming campaign visits to make a point about what they say is an economy on the brink of recession.

On CNN's State of the Union yesterday, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who governs in Elkhart’s back yard, told Jake Tapper: “There’s a big debate going on right now over whether we're on the cusp of a recession. I think we probably are, but the more important thing is even during an expansion most Americans haven't been able to get ahead. That is a huge problem, and the president has made it abundantly clear that he doesn't care.”

Good Monday afternoon, and welcome to IMPORTANTVILLE.

WHERE’S VEEP? In Detroit to deliver remarks at the Economic Club luncheon.

WHERE’S PETE? Buttigieg is back in South Bend today after a South Carolina swing.


The week ahead so far:

  • Tuesday: Pence chairs the 6th Meeting of the National Space Council. Buttigieg heads to Chicago for a grassroots fundraiser. Rep. Jim Banks joins Republican Whip Steve Scalise for the annual Banks Wagyu BBQ at Joseph Decuis Farm in Columbia City.

  • Wednesday: Buttigieg heads back to Iowa for a NARAL town hall and a Federation of Labor State Convention.

  • Thursday: Indy Politics releases a poll of the Indianapolis Mayor’s race.

  • Friday: Indiana Democrats travel to French Lick for the annual IDEA Convention. Buttigieg begins a two-day swing in New Hampshire.


Here are two soundbites from two different Indiana Republican elected officials on the gun control debate within the last week. See if you can guess who said each one:

Soundbite one:

“This is the moment. When you have two incidents like that in the same weekend, I think conservatives and Republicans lose in the long run if we don’t do something to change the dynamic.”

Soundbite two:

“Democrats seeking to talk about guns instead of criminals in the face of spiraling crime rates is akin to blaming the car and not the driver in a crash.”

Soundbite one sounds like it might come from an urban Republican who knows his party needs to act to not only protect Second Amendment rights, but also to continue to appeal to voters in the suburbs.

Soundbite two sounds like it comes from a rural Republican with a lot of support from the NRA.

What if I told you the reverse is true? ANSWERS: The first soundbite came from Sen Mike Braun. The second came from State Sen. Jim Merritt.

The latter soundbite is giving fodder to Marion Country Democrats, who are assailing Merritt for his stance on guns. On Saturday, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, who rarely gets involved in national issues, joined the nonpartisan Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group focused on advocating for tighter gun control.

IMPORTANTVILLE TAKE: The Hudnut Primary—a month-long contest within a contest to see which candidate was more like the former Indianapolis Mayor Bill Hudnut—has turned into the gun nut primary, in which the Hogsett camp is trying to undercut Merritt’s argument that Hogsett has failed to make the city safer. Their method: Point to his voting record on guns. Whether that gains traction with voters, who at this point are barely paying attention to the race, remains to be seen.


A new and improved Capitol & Washington is back.

The website, created and curated by Trevor Foughty, is the Baseball Reference for Indiana Politics: A database of every Hoosier politician (approximately 9,000 as of 2019), every election result (over 1,300 across more than 80 different years), every office holder and the length of their tenure, plus insightful analysis on the state’s political history.


IN GOP: Congressmen and combat veterans Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), Brian Mast (R-FL) and Jim Baird (R-IN) will be the special guests at the 2019 Team Holcomb Fall Dinner on October 14 at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.


Glenn Thrush, New York Times: “Obama and Biden’s Relationship Looks Rosy. It Wasn’t Always That Simple.”

IMPORTANTVILLE TAKE: The piece provides a good look at why Evan Bay didn’t land a spot as Obama’s veep.

The talk later in the day with Mr. Bayh, who was vacationing at the tony Greenbrier resort in West Virginia with his wife and young children, did not go well. The visitors caught him barefoot, emerging from a shower — and assumed it was an attempt to appear Kennedyesque. In reality, Mr. Bayh was less diffident than disoriented by being thrust into the national spotlight.

Mr. Bayh had another major liability. Mr. Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, had advised Mr. Obama that picking Mr. Bayh would guarantee his Senate seat would flip Republican — which could imperil the new president’s legislative agenda. Mr. Biden’s seat in Democratic Delaware was much safer.

By Shane Goldmacher, K.K. Rebecca Lai and Rachel Shorey, New York Times: “The 5 Days That Defined the 2020 Primary

Back in January, Anthony Mercurio, who leads Mr. Buttigieg’s fund-raising operation, had set up alerts to buzz with every new donation. It was more than manageable. After all, Mr. Buttigieg was the virtually unknown mayor of South Bend, Ind., and had started exploring a run with an email list of only 24,000.

Mr. Buttigieg’s first break came on Valentine’s Day, when he appeared on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” in his signature rolled up white shirt sleeves and blue tie, pitching a new generation of leadership. Donations leapt from less than 100 contributions per day to more than 1,600.

Then came Mr. Buttigieg’s CNN town hall on March 10. Mr. Mercurio’s phone exploded with “so many ActBlue notifications.” He turned them off that night.

Rachel Bitecofer, Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy: “Pete Buttigieg's Only Problem with Black Voters is They Don't Know Who He Is

Low name recognition also inhibits our ability to yield valid insights about how the low name ID candidates are performing among sub-populations in the data. Like net favorability, simply dropping respondents who don’t know the candidates is not a valid work around to this issue. Which is why it is inaccurate to say that Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and to a lesser extent, Kamala Harris, are struggling to attract black voters. Like with voters overall, much of the Democratic field still remains a mystery to black voters, a large portion of whom have yet to tune into the process. And it should be noted that black voters have higher rates of “don’t know/heard of, no opinion” than voters overall. 12% of black Democratic primary voters report “don’t know/heard of, no opinion” for Biden and 14% report the same for Sanders. The lesser known candidates have significant name recognition issues among this subpopulation. Warren is at 37% Kamala Harris 35%, and Pete Buttigieg a whopping 62%! That’s right, just 38% of black Democratic primary voters in Morning Consult’s tracking survey even know who Pete Buttigieg is.


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