Buttigieg's staff hits 250—Indiana becomes 2020 epicenter—Trump's racist tweet—Hogsett's new ad

What's happening—and what's next—at the intersection of Indiana politics and business?

By Adam Wren and design by Kris Davidson

IMPORTANTVILLE, indeed. Over the next two weeks, Indianapolis will see the most presidential aspirants come to town since the May 2016 primary. Democratic contenders Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris and Seth Moulton will makes stops in the city for the YDA convention this week and the National Urban League conference next week. By the time the dust settles, the state will have seen seven major Democratic presidential hopefuls visit the state this year.

This week, more than a thousands Democrats will gather in the city to hear from 2020 Buttigieg and Seth Moulton, along with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. On Thursday, Buttigieg addresses the convention at 7 p.m. (Chasten will be across town at a Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall event held at the Indianapolis Professional Firefighters.) On Friday, Rep. Seth Moulton will speak at 11 a.m. Pelosi will speak later that night at 7 p.m.

The event could prove a spark to a generation of young Hoosier Democrats who have seen their party all but laid to waste by a Republican juggernaut that has outflanked them at nearly every step for more than a decade.

But looking around the state, it’s hard not to notice the energy among 20 and 30-year-old Democrats—an energy that didn’t exist five years ago.

Consider this, as reported by my Indianapolis Monthly colleague Matt Gonzales:

According to outgoing Indiana Federation of Young Republicans president Abby Bauer, IFYR boasts 2,290 members throughout 35 county chapters in Indiana. That makes IYD’s 300-person statewide membership look rather paltry by comparison. Yet, despite its smaller size, IYD seems more energized than its Republican rival. For example, digging up information online about the Indiana Federation of Young Republicans is challenging. As of this writing, its website leads to an error page. Its social media presence is stagnant, which may explain why IYD has twice as many followers than IFYR on Facebook and Twitter.

GOP RESPONSE: “I have heard more about the Denver Broncos than I have about the Indiana Young Democrats,” Pete Seat, executive director of strategic communications for the Indiana Republican Party, told Indianapolis Monthly. “I would also say, from our side of the aisle, we have an extremely strong network of College Republican and Young Republican chapters.”

Good morning, and welcome back to IMPORTANTVILLE. I’m back from a much-needed vacation.

FIRST IN IMPORTANTVILLE: Bakari Sellers, the CNN commentator, will join the Young Democrats of America convention as a surrogate for California Sen. Kamala Harris.

WHERE’S VEEP? He unveils Neil Armstrong's spacesuit at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and then joins the president for a cabinet meeting.

WHERE’S PETE? He heads to Kansas City tomorrow to join his fellow vet Jason Kander’s Veterans Community Project. He'll be joined by Kansas City Mayor-elect Quinton Lucas.


Joe Hogsett released his second ad of his Indianapolis mayoral campaign, “Hudnut,” a nod to the city’s longest-serving mayor, the late Bill Hudnut.

“Mayor Joe and Mayor Bill have both always shared the goal of lifting our city up - whether that’s meant building up our downtown skyline like Mayor Bill, or adding tens of thousands of jobs, like Mayor Joe,” said Heather K. Sager, spokesperson for the campaign. “Just like Mayor Bill, Mayor Joe has always been more interested in what we can accomplish together, rather than what side of the aisle you sit on. That message of vision and accomplishment is why we’re proud to launch ‘Hudnut’ today.”

IMPORTANTVILLE TAKE: Hogsett is pursuing a fascinating general election ad strategy this cycle, appealing more to bipartisanship and civic pride than traditional political ad tropes.


Outgoing Rep. Susan Books yesterday became the only Hoosier Republican to speak out against the president’s racist “go back” tweet.

“As Americans, there is more that unites us than divides us,” Brooks wrote in a Facebook post. “The President’s remarks to my colleagues across the aisle are inappropriate and do not reflect American values. ALL of our elected officials need to raise their level of civility in order to address the serious issues facing our country.”

The silence from the rest of the delegation is stunning.

That could change soon, though, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to force members on the record with a vote on the formal resolution condemning the president.

IMPORTANTVILLE TAKE: The Hoosier Republican delegation likely falls into two camps: Those who think the president did nothing wrong, share his views, and think the media is being biased in their coverage of his remarks; and those who know what he tweeted is indefensible but fear the political consequences of speaking out against him. Consider this excerpt from the Indiana GOP's 2018 platform: “We believe that a diversity of cultures, thought and perspectives make our nation strong.”

That sentiment contradicts the content of the president’s tweets.


Buttigieg posted his second quarter FEC filing. He officially out-raised the entire Democratic field. The report revealed that he continues to enjoy support among Hollywood celebs, a fact we’re sure to hear in a Republican attack ad: Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Bacon, Michael J. Fox, Mandy Moore and John Stamos were all among his contributors.

  • Buttigieg raised $24.9 million, spent $8.8 million and has $22.7 million cash on hand.

  • Buttigieg’s campaign now numbers 250 staffers, per CNN. When I first started covering the nascent campaign, there were something like 3.

  • The rundown: “57 people in Iowa, 39 people in New Hampshire, 13 people in Nevada and 26 people in South Carolina.”


  • A Hoosier is now the highest-ranking woman at the Department of Defense. Lisa Hershman is the Deputy Chief Management Officer and Performing the Duties of the Chief Management Officer.

  • Christina Hale, who is running for Indiana’ss Fifth Congressional District, raised $100,000 in the first 100 hours of her candidacy, according to her campaign. That's more than half of what Dee Thornton raised in the entire 2018 cycle ($189,395.49).


Jeremy Peters, New York Times: “Pete Buttigieg's Life in the Closet

The closet that Pete Buttigieg built for himself in the late 1990s and 2000s was a lot like the ones that other gay men of his age and ambition hid inside. He dated women, deepened his voice and furtively looked at MySpace and Friendster profiles of guys who had come out — all while wondering when it might be safe for him to do so too.

Chris Pappas, who was two years ahead of Mr. Buttigieg at Harvard and is now a Democratic congressman from New Hampshire, said he arrived at college “pretty much convinced that I couldn’t have a career or pursue politics as an L.G.B.T. individual.” Jonathan Darman, who was one class ahead of Mr. Buttigieg, remembered how people often reacted to a politician’s coming out then: “It wasn’t a story of love but of acknowledging illicit desire.” And Amit Paley, who graduated in Mr. Buttigieg’s class, recalled that “it was still a time where vocalizing anti-gay sentiments was not only common, but I think pretty accepted.”

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading. Have a good week. For paid subscribers, I’ll be back in your inbox on Thursday.

Mayor Pete to Indianapolis for YDA—LoBianco's Pence book—Macer at Tri-State Cornfield Conference

What's happening—and what's next—at the intersection of Indiana politics and business?

FIRST IN IMPORTANTVILLE: Pete Buttigieg will return to Indianapolis to keynote the Young Democrats of America convention on July 18—his first event here since launching his official campaign in South Bend on April 14.

The booking is a coup for Marion County Young Democrats. They have nabbed the youngest and perhaps most in-demand presidential candidate this cycle. It’s his first visit to Indianapolis since Feb. 24, when he drew a crowd of more than 400 people to Hine Hall on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis for a book tour event.

For Buttigieg, 37, who advocates a message of intergenerational justice, the event is a no brainer. IYD National Committeewoman and South Bend native Arielle Brandy said in a statement:

“We are thrilled to announce that Mayor Pete will join us in July, at the largest gathering of young Democrats in the country. As a young mayor and leading Presidential candidate seeking to represent an unheard generation of voices, Mayor Pete speaks directly to the change happening right now across our country. Mayor Pete has long been a supporter of the Indiana Young Democrats, and our organization is honored to welcome him to the 2019 Young Democrats of America National Convention, for the first time in Indianapolis.”

NEW OVERNIGHT: Buttigieg raises $24.8 million from more than 294,000 donors in the second quarter of 2019. The campaign has $22.6 million cash on hand.

Good Monday morning, and welcome to IMPORTANTVILLE. PROGRAMMING NOTE: With any luck and a few cooperating slow news cycles, I’m going to sneak away for a much-needed vacation later this week. I’ll be back in your inbox on July 15.

WHERE’S VEEP? He lunches with the president today.

WHERE’S PETE? He meets with pastors in South Bend this morning. On Tuesday, he’ll head to Chicago to speak at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition Annual International Convention Business Breakfast. Later this week, he’ll spend July 3-4 in Iowa, making stops in Sioux City and Storm Lake for a 4th of July Parade.


Speaking at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Pence framed 2020 thusly:

Today, Democrats openly advocate an economic system that has impoverished millions around the world and robbed the liberties of generations. That system is socialism.

Earlier this week, we heard leading Democratic candidates for President defend socialism. But I think all of you know it was freedom, not socialism, that gave us the strongest and most prosperous nation in the history of the world.

It was freedom, not socialism, that ended slavery, won two world wars, and stands today as a beacon of hope for all the world! (Applause.)

And so as this debate begins in the next 18 months, we must resolve here to say, as the President said in his State of the Union Address, America will never be a socialist country!


Tom LoBianco’s “PIETY & POWER: Mike Pence and the Taking of the White House” will be the definitive political biography of one of the most secretive vice presidents in history—and it’s already landing in early readers’ hands this week. It’s not on sale until after Labor Day, but what should we expect? Some new details have emerged, according to Erin Reback, Senior Publicity Manager at HarperCollins Publishers.

We’ll learn about:

  • How Pence’s team threatened to leave the ticket if Trump didn’t publicly announce him as his running mate;

  • Pence’s struggles to square his personal opposition to gay marriage with a country that largely supports it;

  • The gay couple that’s been welcomed into Pence’s broader family;

  • How Mitch Daniels boxed Pence out of running for president in 2012; and

  • How Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma got his revenge after Pence stopped him from running for Governor in 2012.


WHAT KARLEE MACER SAID AT THE TRI-STATE CORNFIELD CONFERENCE: “We’re the party that lives in your neighborhood and goes to your schools and churches, and we’re the party that fights for the tools and protections that allow all people to succeed,” remarked Macer in her keynote address. “Whether it’s fighting for affordable health care options, preserving our natural resources and protecting the environment, or advocating for quality education systems; we are the party of common sense policy that lifts up all communities.”


  • Dan Spehler landed interviews with Sen. Mike Braun and Rep. Jim Banks.

  • Rep. Jim Banks said: “I respect Pete. I admire him for our service to our country, but what's becoming more and more clear is that, a question mark on whether or not Pete is the type of leader that can lead our country when he hasn't been the type of leader that can bring people together in South Bend.”

  • Sen. Mike Braun told Spehler that Buttigieg has not been questioned harshly enough "about his own performance in South Bend."


Sherry Slater, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: “Indianapolis rep weighs run for governor

Karlee Macer might be on next year's ballot as a Democratic candidate for Indiana governor.

The state representative, who represents Indianapolis's west side, wouldn't say Saturday as she traveled to the Tri-State Cornfield Conference at the Noble County Fairgrounds in Kendallville.

“I'm not at a place where I'm fully ready to commit,” she said during a phone interview.

Macer might be forgiven for her reluctance to make it official. Her only son got married in May, and her only daughter is getting married Aug. 3 in Chicago. As Macer put it, there's a lot going on in her family this summer.

“I’m on the biggest mom high in my life,” she added.

Even so, the three-term state representative found time to attend the Cornfield Conference as a special guest. Democratic Party organizations in Noble, DeKalb, Kosciusko, Whitley and LaGrange counties hosted the event designed to fire up Democrats before the 2020 elections.

Amy B Wang and Wesley Lowery, The Washington Post: “Buttigieg seeks a relaunch after his candidacy gets mired in fallout from police shooting

More than a week after a police officer fatally shot her son in a dark parking lot, and days after she was photographed being embraced by Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Shirley Newbill had grown weary of hearing what Buttigieg had to say.

“It’s all talk. He’s not doing nothing for me,” Newbill said in an interview Monday. “Everything I say is going in one ear and out the other. He still hasn’t fired the guy who killed my son. . . . I don’t really care about what he has to say anymore.”

It was one of many grievances lodged against Buttigieg in the past two weeks. His return to the city he runs turned into the toughest stretch of his presidential run, as he struggled to contain the fallout from the shooting of a black resident, Eric Logan, by Police Sgt. Ryan O’Neill, who is white.

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading. Did a friend or colleague forward this to you? Click below to subscribe.

Buttigieg Debate Bingo

The South Bend Mayor faces a big test in Miami tonight. Track his performance with this handy bingo card.

By Adam Wren and design by Kris Davidson

Days until the presidential election: 495

On National Bingo Day, welcome to IMPORTANTVILLE Buttigieg Bingo. 

Based on months of tracking Pete Buttigieg on the campaign trail and analyzing transcripts from interviews and his stump speech, I've collected some of his commonly used talking points that he is likely to deploy tonight, as he tries to make a generational contrast with more well-known candidates such as Biden. 

Buttigieg will take the debate stage in Miami tonight alongside nine of his fellow Democrats, marking the first time millions of voters will meet the mayor of Indiana's fourth-largest city. 

Buttigieg will debate self-help author Marianne Williamson, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, California Sen. Kamala Harris, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and California Rep. Eric Swalwell.

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His presence on the stage tonight at the Knight Concert Hall of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is in itself something of a coup. After launching his long-shot bid at a press conference on Jan. 23, the then-little-known mayor took nearly two months to make the debate stage by amassing 65,000 individual donors and registering in early state polls. He officially crossed the required threshold on March 16, after a star turn at a CNN town hall. 

Since then, the mayor has soared in polls: He ranks third or fourth in most polls of early states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. 

According to Morning Consult, Buttigieg's name identification among registered voters nationally has gone from 0% to 69% over the last six months, with 31% of voters still saying they have never heard of him. 

Tonight's debate will also be an opportunity for him to address a roiling policing crisis back home in South Bend after an officer-involved shooting led to the death of a black man by a white police officer. The episode has laid bare a rift between South Bend's largely white police force and the city's minority community. Buttigieg often says he wants to “get Washington to look more like our best-run cities and towns," a phrase that critics are using against him as they evaluate the quality of his police department, one that has declined in diversity during his time in office. 

Buttigieg spent much of last week back in South Bend dealing with the fallout of the shooting, canceling a glitzy L.A. fundraiser that was set to be hosted by fellow Hoosier Ryan Murphy. 

His handling of the crisis has been criticized by political detractors and allies alike. "Those who know him —and I do—could see the anguish etched in his furrowed brow," wrote David Axelrod, the director of the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics and former senior adviser to President Obama, in a CNN column following a tense town hall Buttigieg hosted in South Bend on Sunday afternoon to discuss the issue. "But his answers were delivered in a factual, almost clinical, manner, more in keeping with his prior life as an analyst for McKinsey & Co. than the ministerial role called for by an episode in which a life was lost." 

Buttigieg jetted to Florida on Monday after the town hall, and has been trying to walk a delicate line between minding the store in South Bend while keeping his momentum on the campaign trail. 

Indiana Democratic Party is hosting a watch party at Moe and Johnny's, one of thirteen such watch parties around the state.

QUESTION: Which phrases did I forget that I should’ve included? Leave your suggestion in the comments section below.

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