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Indiana's Super Junesday
Voters are voting. Buckle up for a late night.
Welcome to a strange Election Day in Indiana: Polls are open amid a pandemic and unprecedented protests that have gripped Indianapolis and the nation after the death of George Floyd in police custody. Indiana is one of seven states plus the District of Columbia where votes will be cast.
It’s difficult to believe, but just three months ago, Indiana was positioned to be a decisive state in a free-for-all Democratic presidential primary. Now, with a primary delayed by a month due to the novel coronavirus, and former Vice President Joe Biden positioned as the presumptive nominee, Indiana will do little more than potentially give him the number of delegates he needs to formally clinch his party’s nomination.
Meanwhile, former Sen. Joe Donnelly held a virtual fundraiser for Biden last night that raised $500,000. “We’ve never needed you more than we need you today, sir,” Donnelly said in remarks. “And there’s so much on your shoulders. But we know how strong you are.” Per the pool report:
Mr. Biden was asked by Mr. Donnelly about how he would plan for future pandemics if elected president. Mr. Donnelly noted that Ron Klain, an Indiana native and Mr. Biden’s former chief of staff, had led the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola outbreak.
“As a matter of fact, coincidentally, literally five minutes before I walked into this makeshift studio, I was on the phone with Ron Klain,” Mr. Biden said. He said the president had ignored the warnings of public health officials and refused to prepare the nation for Covid-19.
...members of Congress from Indiana were joining, including Reps. Andre Carson and Pete Visclosky along with former Rep. Jill Long Thompson. Mr. Donnelly also noted support for the event from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, and Bose McKinney and McKenna LLP, an Indiana-based law firm. (Mr. Donnelly is a partner with Akin Gump).
In response, GOP Regional Communications Director Chris Walker released this statement, which gave me flashbacks to Indiana's 2018 Senate Race:
"Today, ‘Sleepin Joe’ Donnelly is trying to help ‘Sleepy Joe’ Biden’s failing campaign, but it’s not going to matter. Hoosiers know very well that Joe Donnelly profited off of his family business by outsourcing Indiana jobs to Mexico, while he was also hypocritically condemning outsourcing at the same time. Whether ‘Sleepin Joe,’ ‘Mexico Joe,’ or ‘Sleepy Joe,’ the outcome is the same, an election loss for the Joe’s in November.”
Down the ballot, Indiana’s most-closely-watched primaries will be the 1st and 5th Congressional District primaries, where outgoing Democrat Rep. Pete Visclosky and Republican Rep. Susan Brooks will be replaced by one of 40 candidates vying for their parties’ respective nods. In the 1st, near Chicago in the northwestern part of the state, anything could happen, though Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott is seen as a favorite. Here’s POLITICO’s Morning Score on the race:
But a lot of money has quietly flowed into the district, and McDermott has pretty significantly outraised everyone else. A super PAC called Democratic Progress has dropped over $500,000 backing McDermott. It was created earlier this year and appears to be entirely funded by Unite America, a Colorado-based super PAC that was founded by Charles Wheelan and counts Kathryn Murdoch and former Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) among its board members. With Honor, which supports veterans of both parties running for office, also backs McDermott.
In the 5th, which stretches north from suburban Indianapolis but also includes swaths of farmland, top tier Republican candidates include Republican State Sen. Victoria Spartz, nurse Beth Henderson, State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell, former Marion County prosecutor Carl Brizzi, and former worship leader Micah Beckwith. The conservative Washington, D.C.-based Club for Growth has spent $520,403 so far backing Spartz, who is favored by pundits.
This is a seat Democrats see as a flip-able. Donnelly won the district in the state’s 2018 Senate race, narrowly besting Sen. Mike Braun. It will be one of the most closely watched House races nationwide.
As of yesterday, 41,399 Republican ballots had been cast in the race—turnout is likely low. Low turnout could conceivably favor a candidate with grassroots support such as Beckwith. It may also favor Mitchell, who has dedicated much of her time to a sophisticated absentee ballot operation. Another storyline tonight: Braun also has political capital on the line. He endorsed Henderson early on.
On the Democratic side, Christina Hale has raised more than $1 million and will be a formidable competitor for any Republican who emerges.
We’ll have updates throughout the night for paid subscribers on all the races.
Good afternoon, and welcome to IMPORTANTVILLE. President Trump highlighted a number of Hoosier candidates in their primaries today:
WHERE’S VEEP? He joined the president for the signing of an executive order on international religious freedom at 12:15. He then meets with HHS Secretary Alex Azar at 4 p.m.
Indiana’s delayed and revamped primary election is about to conclude with the final votes being cast.
The coronavirus outbreak prompted state officials to push back the primary by four weeks and encourage mail-in voting. However, health concerns have morphed into worries about possibly thousands of uncounted ballots and lines Tuesday at in-person polling places as some counties slashed their number of voting sites.
Voting results might not be finalized Tuesday night in some counties as election workers across the state face counting more than 10 times the number of mail-in ballots than they received in the 2016 primary.
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