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2020 in Indy, round 2—Trump eyes Coats' replacement—the Hudnut Primary
Eight 2020 Democrats will find their way to the Circle City this week.
Days until the 2020 election: 469
Eight 2020 Democrats are descending on Indianapolis this week for the National Urban League convention: Former Vice President Joe Biden; South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg; New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker; Maryland Rep. John Delaney; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar; Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan; California Sen. Kamala Harris; and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
If you’re playing along at home, that’s 14 total presidential candidates who have visited the state in 2019—the majority of the Democratic field.
So, why are so many presidential contenders stopping in the Hoosier state this year? It has far less to do with the state’s 2020 value—at least so far—than it does with these five factors.
1. We’re home turf for one candidate, of course. Buttigieg has used backdrops such as Dyngus Day in South Bend and Indiana University in Bloomington for significant campaign events. He’ll likely continue to do so throughout his candidacy.
2. We’re the sitting vice president’s home state. Indiana is a convenient backdrop to Democratic candidates who want to show a contrast with the current administration. I asked Hoosier Democratic Strategist Heather Sager why YDA chose Indiana last July to host their convention. “When we made the pitch to the national team, we presented it as a statement on national politics: What more powerful statement could we make than to bring the largest gathering of Young Democrats to red state Indiana, and the home of Mike Pence, right before 2020?” Sager told me.
3. We’re a convention city. Events featuring 2020 candidates such as the National Urban League conference and the Young Democrats of America convention happened, in part, because Indianapolis is a convention city.
4. We’re a manufacturing hub. Indiana leads the U.S. in the growth of manufacturing jobs. In June, Sen. Elizabeth Warren made stops in Fort Wayne and Elkhart, blue-collar cities where manufacturing jobs drive the economy. “People in Indiana understand jobs,” Warren said back in June. “They understand how to build an economy that doesn’t just work for the thin slice at the top, but an economy that works for everyone.”
5. Increasingly, presidential primaries are national in scope. Early states such as Iowa and New Hampshire are seeing fewer candidate visits than in the past, while states like Indiana are getting more visits. In 2020, candidates go where there is news to be made. Thanks to social media, that’s not always Des Moines.
Good Tuesday afternoon, and welcome to IMPORTANVTILLE.
WHERE’S VEEP? He’s in Iowa, where he will deliver remarks on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
WHERE’S PETE? He’s headed to Seattle for a grassroots fundraiser.
THE PETE BEAT
Buttigieg traverses four states this week, flying from Washington back to Detroit, from Detroit to California, and from California to Indianapolis. The candidate will speak at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the convention center, followed by Kamala Harris at 10 a.m.—the contrast between those speeches will be fascinating to watch.
Buttigieg made news this morning by blasting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Commission on Unalienable Rights:
In other news:
Buttigieg spent $299,066 on private jet travel during the second quarter.
According to Fox News, “South Bend Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President Harvey Mills told Fox News that he has spoken to five or six officers who are ‘seriously’ considering retiring or resigning because of the administration’s handling of the shooting.”
THE HUDNUT PRIMARY
In the Indianapolis mayor’s race, candidate Joe Hogsett and Jim Merritt are locked in a Hudnut Primary, vying for who rightly deserves the limelight of the late Republican mayor’s historical afterglow.
After Hogsett aired a bipartisan, feel-good campaign ad praising the late mayor, Merritt held a press conference in Hudnut Commons, highlighting Hogsett’s negative campaign against Hudnut in the 1990 Secretary of State race. “I knew Bill Hudnut and called him a friend and mentor. You, Joe Hogsett, are no Bill Hudnut.”
Merritt is right that Hogsett attacked Hudnut mercilessly in the 1990 primary. But Hogsett was also only 34 at the time. And by pushing back on the ad, Merritt forced the ad to get more pickup in local news coverage than it may otherwise have received.
Hogsett's evolution on Hudnut wasn't overnight. Consider this: In 2015, during an appearance on John Krull's No Limits, Hogsett said Hudnut was his favorite mayor. A year later, when Hudnut passed, Hogsett, within minutes of learning so, laid flowers on Hudnut's statue. In January of 2017, Hogsett delivered remarks at his memorial. “I realized I was asked to speak today as, in no small measure, someone who happens to temporarily occupy the same office Mayor Hudnut did for 16 year,” Hogsett said. “But I also stand before you as someone who admired and respected the mayor for more than four decades—as a leader of this community, as an opponent for political office, and as a mentor and friend.”
Merritt is right when he argues that Hogsett hasn’t risen to Hudnut’s level on the landscape of Indy’s towering mayors. But there are some similarities between Hudnut and Hogsett Merritt doesn’t acknowledge. Both approached the mayoralty as a mascot for the city. Both went to seminary.
And both bristled at some of the Republican Party’s more socially conservative policy proposals, such as RFRA and HEA 1337, the state law that banned abortion based on fetal abnormalities—measures that Merritt voted for as a state senator.
I combed through some of Hudnut’s final interviews. Here are some fascinating quotes I found on both of those laws for which Merritt voted:
“It’s to the detriment of the public and the public perception around the country of Indiana,” Hudnut said in one of his last interviews. “Indiana’s reputation as a welcoming state with Hoosier hospitality has suffered a blow from RFRA and now this new abortion law.”
And here’s what he said about HEA 1337:
“It’s unfortunate that the governor and legislature seem wrapped in an ideological cocoon. My goodness—I don’t think you’re put in government in order to force a particular religious viewpoint on people. If a woman believes in the pro-choice thing, she has a right to go her way, just like a pro-life woman has a right to go her way.”
IMPORTANTVILLE TAKE: Merritt has been at his best in the campaign when staking out his own terrain—on Hogsett’s housing program for instance—than when he is chasing Hogsett in the news cycle. In many ways, the race will be decided by who wins the Hudnut Primary: Who will voters see as the most Hudnut-like?
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats is creating an election security division.
Trump met with House Intelligence Republican Devin Nunes to talk about Coats' replacement at ODNI.
Trump nominated Hoosier Lisa W. Hershman, who is married to former State Sen. Brandt Hershman, to be Chief Management Officer of the Department of Defense. Her nomination was sent to the Senate yesterday.
Charlotte Pence is getting married.
“At this point, [Pete Buttigieg] is the Eric Holcomb of presidential candidates. He came from relative obscurity, and now he's skyrocketed to the top of the political scene.”
—Mike O’Brien, former Holcomb campaign manager, executive vice president, 1816, on Indiana Week in Review
Trent Spiner, Politico: Behind Pence’s Air Force Two cancellation: A drug dealer
Vice President Mike Pence was one short plane ride away from shaking hands with an alleged interstate drug dealer.
Pence abruptly canceled his trip to Manchester, N.H., earlier this month but never said why he was pulled from Air Force Two at the last minute.
The vice president’s aides and even President Donald Trump himself kept up the suspense. “You'll know in about two weeks,” Trump told reporters at the time. “There was a very interesting problem that they had in New Hampshire.”
Katie Glueck, New York Times: Iowa and New Hampshire Go First. How Are the Leading Candidates Set Up There?
In New Hampshire, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign is embracing activities like bowling and a potential poetry reading to forge relationships with activists and voters.
In April, Mr. Buttigieg had one employee in New Hampshire, and on May 1, he had four in Iowa. He now has 39 people on staff in New Hampshire. In Iowa, he has more than 50 full-time staff members, as well as 27 paid interns.
Some of his supporters have embraced the term “Pete-up,” — a reference to meet-ups — where attendees are urged to brainstorm about friends and family members who might be interested in learning about Mr. Buttigieg, and to plan ways to connect their networks to the campaign.
The Buttigieg team is also looking for unconventional and even fun ways to build relationships with voters and potential volunteers: There was a bowling event last month in Manchester with his New Hampshire state director (“Feeling in the gutter about the primary? Put a pin in your worries,” the invitation said) and there is now discussion of a poetry event.
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