Hogsett for '24?—Buttigieg's debate night—Mitchell's big fundraiser

Plus: The latest fundraising data in Indiana.

By Adam Wren and design by Kris Davidson

Days until the Iowa caucuses: 20

Days until the New Hampshire primary: 28

Inside the Indiana Roof Ballroom Saturday evening, a question hung in the air over the second inaugural ball for Mayor Joe Hogsett.

After IU Athletic Director Fred Glass, Rep. Andre Carson, and Steph Hogsett roasted the second-term mayor, he used his prepared remarks to roast his roasters, acknowledging that question.

“Many have asked why I continue raising money after so recently winning an election,” the mayor said. “‘What are you running for, Joe?,’” they ask. “My response: ‘That’s my question.’”

So, what exactly, is Joe running for?

Joe Hogsett—who hauled in a staggering $300,00 for his inaugural ball—is positioning himself to be Indiana's governor in 2024.

Consider this: When the Democratic gubernatorial campaigns of tech exec Josh Owens and Dr. Woody Myers file their fundraising reports, they are both likely to trail Hogsett’s cash on hand figure. It’s possible Hogsett’s cash on hand—likely to surpass $1 million—eclipses Myers’ and Owens’ war chests combined. In fact, much is made of Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s $7 million campaign haul in 2019. But Hogsett managed to raise $6 million for a mayor’s race. At the end of 2015, former Gov. Mike Pence had raised $6.7 million for a gubernatorial race.

And then there’s Hogsett’s record: Hogsett is an Indiana Democrat who has actually won an election recently. That’s not to mention that he’s largely avoided controversial social issues, a key trait Hoosiers seem to like in their governors. He’s balanced budgets with a split council. He defeated Unigov.

IMPORTANTVILLE TAKE: Watch Hogsett’s political activity ramp-up outside of Marion County on the county Democratic JJ circuit.

Good Tuesday morning, and welcome to IMPORTANTVILLE. It's a busy day in Hoosier politics. Gov. Eric Holcomb delivers his fourth State of the State Address tonight to a joint session of the Indiana General Assembly in the House of Representatives chamber. The address is expected to be less than 30 minutes. Democrat gubernatorial candidate Myers will be responding to Holcomb's address. No word on fellow gubernatorial contender Josh Owens’ plans.

And at 9 p.m., presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg will take part in his most consequential debate yet ahead of the Iowa caucuses. He takes the stage at Drake University tonight for the Des Moines Register/CNN debate.

Buttigieg will need to prevent the Warren-Sanders feud from sucking the oxygen out of the room, and potentially contrast himself with Biden, Warren, and Sanders. Buttigieg is the only candidate in the field so far who has successfully gone after other candidates without diminishing his standing. Can he do that again tonight?

THE PETE BEAT

  • The African American mayor of Waterloo, Quentin Hart, endorsed Buttigieg this morning. Waterloo has the highest percentage of black residents in Iowa. “Pete is running to bring the same transformative approach he brought to his city to our country—and I’m proud to stand alongside him in that effort,” Hart said in that statement. Hart’s endorsement is a significant get.

  • Actress and singer Mandy Moore stumped for Buttigieg in Ames last night. Great Hall in Iowa State University’s Memorial Union. “I’m so inspired by him,” Moore told The Des Moines Register’s Barbara Rodriguez. “I feel like he is such a hopeful candidate ... no way I could sort of sit on the sidelines anymore. This is such a consequential election, period.”

FOCUS ON THE FIFTH

A trio of notable GOP women will host a fundraiser for Republican 5th congressional district reporter Kelly Mitchell—Ice Miller partner Lawren Mills, President and CEO of Hoosiers for Quality Education Betsy Wiley, and Indiana Energy Association’s Mindy Westrick Brown— on Jan. 28 at the Storefront Theatre in Indianapolis.

AROUND IMPORTANTVILLE

  • President Trump will host a Keep America Great Rally on an. 30 at 8 p.m. at The Knapp Center at Drake University in Des Moines. 

  • HD 88 Republican Leah McGrath, the former Fishers deputy mayor, raised $48,000 from 91 contributors in 2019.

  • Operation Desert Storm veteran Scott Baldwin announced Monday that he is running in the Republican primary for State Senate representing District 20, the seat held by Victoria Spartz. Spartz announced last week she was suspending her re-election campaign to explore the possibility of running for the 5th Congressional District. Baldwin rolled out endorsements from Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen and Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness, among others.

IMPORTANTVILLE READS

Jeff Parrott, South Bend Tribune: “Black Lives Matter plans to keep 'bird dogging' Pete Buttigieg at campaign events

Black Lives Matter South Bend activists say they plan to keep following former mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg to his campaign events, distributing written materials and disrupting his speeches, either by raising money and traveling themselves or enlisting the help of other BLM chapters.

James Briggs, Indy Star: “Vop Osili is positioning himself to be Indianapolis' next mayor

Osili has a rising profile, as well as the capital to pursue his own agenda. If all goes well for him during the next four years, then Osili will be in position to make history as Indianapolis’ first black mayor.

Maeve Reston and Kate Sullivan, CNN: “Volatile Democratic race comes to Iowa for final debate before caucuses

More than a dozen interviews with likely caucus goers over the past two days underscored that indecision with many telling CNN they are still deciding among three to four candidates, including some who did not make the cut for the debate stage. Tuesday's matchup at Drake University also comes at a time when the candidates are beginning to jab their rivals more forcefully -- injecting a new air of unpredictability into the contest.

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