Holcomb's milestone—Buttigieg's IA weekend—Debate in IMPORTANTVILLE

Hupfer: "It’s a reflection of the relationships that Gov. Holcomb has built over the last 15-20 years around the state with grassroots activists."

FIRST IN IMPORTANTVILLE: Gov. Eric Holcomb will announce at the 2019 Team Holcomb Fall Dinner tonight that he has amassed more than 9,000 signatures as of Oct. 1 to get on the ballot in 2020, months before the January 8 deadline—about twice the number he needs to qualify. The feat—likely the fastest ever a Hoosier candidate has accumulated such signatures—is a testament to the strength of the incumbent Republican’s ground game.

“It’s been a priority,” Indiana GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer told me in an interview Friday. “From the date that we announced at the Hoosier Gym, we were collecting on-site that day. Our goal all along was to get it accomplished by Oct. 1 so that we could turn our ground forces loose across the state in mayoral races, which is what we're now doing. I think it’s just a reflection of a couple of things: On a personal note, it’s a reflection of the relationships that Gov. Holcomb has built over the last 15-20 years around the state with grassroots activists, with friends who are extremely excited about what he’s done as governor....the second piece is the general strength of the Republican Party in this state.”

HAPPENING TONIGHT: Congressmen and combat veterans Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) and Rep. Jim Baird (R-IN) will headline the Republican dinner at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis.

THE PETE BEAT

DES MOINES—Around 700 people gathered behind Theodore Roosevelt High School in Iowa on a chilly Saturday night to hear Pete Buttigieg deliver his stump speech and answer their questions in a town hall format.

In his remarks, Buttigieg seemed to telegraph another yeomanlike debate performance free of gimmicks tomorrow night in Westerville, Ohio.

“The way it looks on TV,” Buttigieg said, “you’d think it was just all about the ups and downs and the numbers and who got the best zinger off on the debate stage and who had the best lines on cable and in the committee room but you would almost forget that what matters in politics—the reason we care about elections—is that the big decisions they make in those big white buildings in Washington filter into our everyday lives. They are a part of whether our lives go well, or go poorly. They come into our homes, our paychecks, our marriages.”

Since I last checked in on Buttigieg’s Iowa campaign in August, the campaign has ramped up substantially: He now has the largest operation of any 2020 candidate there, including 20 field offices and a staff that’s hovering around 130.

On Saturday and Sunday, hundreds of volunteers at 70 spots around the state knocked on doors for Buttigieg.

“We’re building an organization to win in February because this is a now or never moment for our country,” Brendan McPhillips, the campaign’s Iowa state director, said in a statement.

On Saturday night, after Buttigieg spoke, supporters swarmed a Pete Mobile—what appeared to be a retrofitted ice cream truck that passed out shirts and buttons—and staffers asked them to sign cards committing to caucus for Buttigieg.

“Iowa is critical,” Buttigieg told me during the gaggle afterward. “We’re investing, of course, in several early states, but one of the reasons I’m proud to have the most extensive operation in the state is because we’re going to need it. Look, Iowa is the place to settle the question of who can win an election.”

The investment seems to be paying dividends: RealClear Politics' Iowa Democratic Presidential Caucus polling average now has Buttigieg at 12%, polling four points behind Bernie Sanders and nearly seven points ahead of Kamala Harris.

In other Buttigieg news:

  • Buttigieg sidled up to the right of former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, saying that “stripping churches of tax-exempt status over LGBTQ rights “is just going to deepen the divisions that we're already experiencing—at a moment when we're actually seeing more and more people...moving in the right direction on LGBTQ rights.” (H/T D.J. Judd).

  • Ahead of Tuesday night’s debate, Buttigieg rolled out more Ohio endorsements: Joe Schiavoni, Former Democratic State Senate Leader; Casey Weinstein, State Representative (OH-37); James Celebrezze, retired Ohio Supreme Court Justice; Ken Harbaugh, Navy veteran and former Congressional Candidate; Greg Landsman, Cincinnati City Council; Sean Fennell, Newark City Councilmember; Nick Komives, Toledo City Councilmember; David Donofrio, Board of Education Member, South-Western City Schools.

Good morning, and welcome to IMPORTANTVILLE. Thanks to the nearly 150 of you who came out to the first IMPORTANTVILLE LIVE events last week. We’ll do more if you want them.

WHERE’S VEEP? He has no public events.

WHERE’S PETE? In Ohio ahead of tomorrow night’s debate.

AROUND IMPORTANTVILLE

  • Notre Dame will be holding the first general election presidential debate on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. IMPORTANTVILLE subscribers know that South Bend is the place that President Trump officially dubbed as IMPORTANTVILLE while campaigning in the city leading up to Indiana’s May 2016 primary. That could prove prescient.

  • In addition to Holcomb’s signatures, the Indiana GOP now have the signatures required to get Trump on the ballot next May.

  • FOX 59’s Dan Spehler sits down with Rep. Jim Banks to talk impeachment on IN Focus. Listen to the podcast here.

  • “I’m gonna read all of the documents (and) listen to whatever witnesses there may be should I be called to do so, but right now it's an inquiry,” Sen. Todd Young told me on impeachment last week at IMPORTANTVILLE LIVE.

  • The Hogsett for Indianapolis campaign hasn’t polled the field recently, a sign they don’t think the fundamentals of the race have changed.

IMPORTANTVILLE READS

Indianapolis Monthly, Exclusive: Pete Buttigieg Is Prepping To Go The Distance In Indiana

An autumn wind whipped between buildings in South Bend on Thursday night, as hundreds of supporters gathered for a Pete for America South Bend office opening, where Pete Buttigieg showed up in a homecoming appearance that marked a new season his campaign.

Fresh off raising $19.1 million dollars this quarter, Buttigieg this week put a new focus on his Indiana operation, hiring a state director and appealing to South Bend supporters to travel to Iowa and make calls on his behalf in the coming months. “It’s very likely that the nomination contest will still be pretty intense and undecided when the primary happens here in Indiana,” Buttigieg said in a gaggle with reporters after the event.

Before he opened his office Thursday, he called Indianapolis Monthly from Las Vegas, where he was about to participate in the March For Our Lives forum on gun policy. In the exclusive interview, Buttigieg talked about the impeachment inquiry, batted down rumors he would run for governor in Indiana, and explained why Indiana might play an outsized role in the nominating contested next year.

Wren: Given the impeachment inquiry, there’s a scenario in which you may run against Vice President Mike Pence. What would that matchup look like for you?

Buttigieg: Well, obviously he would be a very different figure than the current president, but has also been part of the same divisiveness and harmful enterprise that I think he will need to answer for in the event that he does become president. I think the contrasts are clear: If anything, the policy contrasts will become even clearer, because he is such an ideologically far-right figure where the president is I think less driven by ideology and more by a certain kind of personal style. But the better we’re doing it, communicating our message, the easier it will be to understand and support no matter who it is we’re running against.

By Reid J. Epstein and Gus Wezerek, New York Times: “Which 2020 Candidates Have the Ground Game Lead in Early Primary States

Ms. Warren and Mr. Buttigieg have broken away from the Democratic pack with the most field offices overall in the four early states, and they are making an expensive bet that organizational strength on the ground will catapult them to crucial top finishes in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses. Their ground games give them more workspaces for organizers and volunteers. More organizers lead to more in-person contact with potential supporters in every nook and cranny of a state.

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading and subscribing.

Buttigieg vs. Pence—Young on the record tonight—Hogsett's new ad

Plus: Join me tonight for IMPORTANTVILLE LIVE.

Days until Indiana’s municipal elections: 28

Days until the Iowa caucuses: 118

Days until the 2020 election: 392

FIRST IN IMPORTANTVILLE: At an Indianapolis fundraiser Friday hosted by TWG Development LLC’s Joe Whitsett, Pete Buttigieg raised more than $100,000 before his Greater Indianapolis NAACP speech. It was his first fundraiser here this year.

As impeachment talk roils the nation and President Trump gets bipartisan blowback for his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Northern Syria, I’ll sit down with Sen. Todd Young at a particularly newsy moment for a wide-ranging interview tonight at 7 p.m. at Emmis Communications. We’ll trace his path in politics, and get his take on 2020 elections and probably talk about his love of soccer and how his mile time landed him a job with the late-Sen. Richard Lugar. We’ll also ask him what it was like to sit down with Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman on a recent trip to the Middle East.

Young has at times broke with the president on foreign policy, including the Saudi-led U.S. war in Yemen.

“It offends my sensibilities—and I know it offends the sensibilities of all Americans – that there are countries in this day and age that are using food as a weapon of war,” Young told USA TODAY last October. “And it further offends my sensibilities … that the United States has partnered with these countries."

In addition, we’ll have Christina Hale, the former Democratic lieutenant governor nominee who is campaigning for her party's nomination in the 5th Congressional District. Her interview starts at 6:30 p.m.

The event starts at 6 p.m.

Get your tickets here. Use the code TENOFF for a $10 discount.

Good Tuesday morning, and welcome to IMPORTANTVILLE. Thanks to everyone who came out to BBQ & POLITICS Sunday night featuring Ron Klain. Among other insider-y anecdotes, Klain shared the phone call he had with President Obama in the motorcade after his disastrous first debate in Denver in 2012. Klain was tasked with telling the president how poorly he did, and you could’ve heard a pin drop in the room as he recounted it.

WHERE’S PENCE? He has lunch with the president at 1 p.m. Later, at 4:30 p.m., he joins the president in the Oval to present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Edwin Meese.

WHERE’S PETE? He’s been on mayor duty back in South Bend.

THE PETE BEAT

  • Buttigieg announced a plan Monday to curb the cost of prescription drugs that he says would reduce the out-of-pocket spending for seniors by 50 percent in four years.

  • Buttigieg launched a paid statewide, 30-second digital ad to run in Iowa called “Light the Way.”

AROUND IMPORTANTVILLE

  • Steve Braun, the brother of U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, suspended his bid for the 5th Congressional District yesterday due to health reasons.

  • Democratic State Sen. Eddie Melton will announce his gubernatorial bid tonight in Gary, and will travel to Indianapolis tomorrow for interviews. He’ll be joined Tuesday night by Republican State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick.

  • NPR’s public editor wrote a column disputing facts shared by Rep. Jim Banks in a live interview last week about the congressional impeachment inquiry.

  • Democrat Rep. André Carson declined to implicate Vice President Mike Pence in the Ukraine scandal, calling him a “patriotic guy” in an interview with Dan Spehler and our friends at Fox 59'S IN Focus.

MAJOR MOVES

Happy birthday to Deputy Chief of Staff for Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett Taylor Schaffer.

IMPORTANTVILLE READS

Molly Martin, Gazette Mail: “Charleston should heed lessons on managing hep C, HIV

When was the last time you walked into your doctor’s office and asked to see a police officer? It sounds ridiculous, of course, until you really think about how Charleston attempted to solve its intravenous drug use problem.

This week, the Charleston Gazette-Mail’s Amelia Ferrell Knisely reported that, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, “a new case of hepatitis C was reported nearly every eight hours in Kanawha County [in 2018].” This rate of infection is a five-year high for the county. The rate accelerated after the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department shut down its public syringe exchange in March 2018 in response to new rules set by the then-mayor and Charleston Police Department.

And I’m sure former mayor Danny Jones and others at the center of the shutdown felt a great deal of pressure to police addict behavior — to uphold “good values” and “clean up the city.” But there’s a certain Indiana native who made a political career out of talking values, and he learned the hard way that people suffer when you send a cop to do a doctor’s job.

Joey Fox, Medium: “Lessons From Indiana HIV Outbreak Aren't What You've Been Told

This week, Molly Martin, the Indiana director of the New America think tank in Indianapolis, penned a column for her native Charleston, West Virginia, newspaper, on increasing rates of HIV and Hepatitis-C that followed the closure of a local syringe exchange program.

She points to the alleged failures of Indiana in addressing similar issues, specifically and gratuitously taking aim at former Governor Mike Pence.

As the legislative director for the Indiana State Department of Health during the HIV outbreak in Austin, Indiana, I spent most of my time working on policy in Indianapolis, but I saw Austin firsthand and the heroic response of the community, with the support of the state. I’m writing on my own behalf and not as a spokesperson for the response or my former employer.

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading and subscribing. Have a good week.

Scoop: Buttigieg hires Indiana state director

Arielle Brandy, a South Bend native and Hoosier Women Forward alum, will lead the candidate's Indiana 2020 operations.

Days until Indiana’s 2020 primary: 215

Days until Indiana’s municipal election: 33

FIRST IN IMPORTANTVILLE: Pete Buttigieg’s campaign has hired Arielle Brandy as his Indiana state director.

Brandy—the former regional field director in 2016 for the Indiana Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign for John Gregg for Governor, Evan Bayh for U.S Senate and Lynn Coleman for Congress—is the Democratic board member of voter registration for St. Joseph County.

The South Bend native is also the political action chair of the South Bend Branch of the NAACP, and a member of the inaugural class of Hoosier Women Forward, the Democratic leadership training program.

Brandy will work out of the campaign’s South Bend headquarters.

Brandy’s hiring is a signal Buttigieg plans to still be in the race through next May when the Hoosier state holds its primary.

Good Thursday morning, and welcome to IMPORTANTVILLE. There are still tickets available for my Half Liter BBQ event this Sunday with Ron Klain, the former chief of staff to two vice presidents and a longtime debate prep guru for every Democratic nominee since 2004. He’ll take us inside what presidential debate prep is like, talk about 2020, and share his unique path from growing up in Indianapolis to becoming a Washington wise man and Ebola Czar. See you at 5 p.m. before the Colts game. TICKETS here—cost of the ticket includes a drink.

WHERE’S PENCE? He’s in Scottsdale for a Southwest Hispanic Leaders roundtable discussion in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. Later, he heads to Tucson to deliver remarks on the United-States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

WHERE’S PETE? He’ll open up a new campaign office in South Bend, a sign he still plans to be in the race by Indiana’s May 2020 primary.

MERRITT’S AD BUY DROPS MORE THAN $60,000 IN ONE WEEK

Just weeks out from Indianapolis mayoral election, Republican State Sen. Jim Merritt is poised to go dark on television by Friday, according to media buying data.

According to data obtained by IMPORTANTVILLE, Merritt spent less than $75,000 last week and less than $9,000 this week—a dramatic 88% drop.

Democratic Mayor Joe Hogsett has spent about $2 million on television since July.

Asked whether the campaign was struggling with fundraising to air ads, Whitley Yates, spokesperson for the Merritt campaign, told IMPORTANTVILLE:

The Merritt for Indy campaign is in a strong financial position and continues to gain strength. We have a plan and strategy and you will see more media buying in the future.

IMPORTANTVILLE READS

By Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Ashley Parker, The Washington Post: “Trump involved Pence in attempts to pressure Ukraine’s leader, officials say

President Trump repeatedly involved Vice President Pence in efforts to exert pressure on the leader of Ukraine at a time when the president was using other channels to solicit information that he hoped would be damaging to a Democratic rival, current and former U.S. officials said.

Trump instructed Pence not to attend the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in May — an event White House officials had pushed to put on the vice president’s calendar — when Ukraine’s new leader was seeking recognition and support from Washington, the officials said.

Months later, the president used Pence to tell Zelensky that U.S. aid was still being withheld while demanding more aggressive action on corruption, officials said. At that time — following Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelenksy — the Ukrainians probably understood action on corruption to include the investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Reid Wilson, The Hill: Transcript of Pete Buttigieg's exclusive interview with The Hill

The Hill: I can't help but see a contrast between you and your fellow Hoosier, Vice President Mike Pence. What do you make of the central role religion has played in his role in public life?

Buttigieg: The strange thing, of course, is that during the Clinton years he seemed very committed to the idea that the personal behavior, including the personal sexual conduct of the president, really mattered for public purposes. And now he's persuaded himself that Donald Trump is fit to be not only the political but the moral leader of the American people. There are any number of explanations for how he went through that conversion. I'm guessing the answer is politics.

Join me next Tuesday, Oct. 8 for the IMPORTANTVILLE Politics & Pints event featuring live interviews with U.S. Sen. Todd Young and Democratic congressional candidate Christina Hale talking about the 2020 election cycle, news of the day, and Indiana’s increasing influence in national politics. We’ll be in the Emmis lobby on Monument Circle at 6 p.m.

Get your tickets here. Use the code TENOFF for a $10 discount.

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading.

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