Pence's 2024 strategy—Buttigieg vs. GOP—Mitch Daniels' commencement speech
Plus: A never-before-published Greg Garrison interview excerpt.
As the dust settles on Indiana’s May primary and as candidates begin rolling out their general election campaigns, one thing is clear: Hoosier women emerged as the big winners.
On the Republican side, Jennifer-Ruth Green won a decisive victory in a seat national Republicans are excited to target in the fall. Indiana’s 1st Congressional District has moved hard in the GOP’s direction in the last three cycles and looks to be genuinely competitive for the first time in a century. Meanwhile, in the 9th Congressional District, Erin Houchin is almost certainly headed to Congress six years after placing second to Trey Hollingsworth, who is eyeing a run for governor.
One inside baseball note: Anne Hathaway, the Indiana political consultant who also serves as executive director of the Lugar Series—a group whose mission is to train, support, and elect Republican women—worked against Lugar Series alum Erin Houchin in the 9th. According to an email obtained by IMPORTANTVILLE sent by Barry Jackson, the former senior adviser to former President George W. Bush, Hathaway backed Stu Barnes-Israel, working as a strategist for his campaign. It’s a move that angered some alumni of the program.
Hathway did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Good afternoon, and welcome back to IMPORTANTVILLE after a brief hiatus.
I’ve been acclimating to my new job as a national political correspondent at POLITICO, the publication where I earned my first national clip seven years ago last month. I’ll be covering the 2022 midterms and the 2024 presidential race from my Midwestern perch here in Indianapolis.
Thank you to all of you who supported my work at Insider and continue to support my work here. You’ll not notice a change to the newsletter, except for an increased metabolism as we get closer to November.
Have a scoop on Indiana politics? Smash the reply button to this newsletter.
WHERE’S PETE? Per U.S. Department of Transportation: “Today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will deliver remarks from Berlin to mark the 75th anniversary of the Marshall Plan, and the 50th anniversary of the German Marshall Fund. The Secretary’s remarks are scheduled for 12pm ET. A livestream can be accessed through the event’s website HERE.”
WHERE’S PENCE? Per the Detroit News: “Former Vice President Mike Pence will return to Michigan on Tuesday in hopes of boosting a petition effort to establish tax credits and a scholarship program that could help students attend private schools… .Also, on Tuesday, Pence will participate in a fundraiser in Oakland County to benefit U.S. House candidate Tom Barrett, a Republican state senator from Charlotte who's challenging U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly. Their race is expected to be a competitive contest with national implications.”
NEW FOR POLITICO FROM ME—HOW MIKE PENCE CLIMBED BACK INTO THE 2024 RACE:
Since POLITICO reported on the Supreme Court’s draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, Pence has moved to channel a newly simpatico GOP base. He is finding purposeful ways to contrast with Trump on issues ranging from highlighting his own decadeslong record of anti-abortion advocacy to calling for a muscular response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Next week, he’ll cross Trump by holding a rally with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on the eve of his GOP primary, a direct challenge to Trump’s endorsement of Kemp challenger David Perdue.
And he’s embraced familiar terrain on the culture wars, launching his own so-called freedom agenda ahead of the midterms, focusing on issues like parental choice in the classroom. Long before Republicans like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warred with Disney, Pence was attacking the entertainment company as far back as 1999 in an op-ed criticizing the film “Mulan.”
“The issue set feels like it could be coming to him a little bit because he’s good on the culture war stuff,” said David Kochel, a veteran Iowa Republican strategist who said he heard positive reviews of Pence’s April visit to the state
GREG GARRISON ADMITS ALTERCATION ‘BEGAN AND ENDED IN A MATTER OF MINUTES’
Republican nominee for Hamilton County Prosecutor Greg Garrison—who is running as a tough on crime candidate—has never agreed to talk about an alleged altercation in which he assaulted a man who had a Mike “Pence Must Go” sign in 2015. At least in published interviews.
Here’s the never before published interview excerpt:
IM: What’s been your favorite highlight of your radio career?
GG: The friendship with Mike [PENCE]. Our families are close. Long after he’s done, and hopefully after I’m still pushing around here, if he ever gets home, I’ll know we’ll get to have more time to visit.
IM: All of which brings up that now-infamous altercation between a person driving your BMW SUV and the owner of a “Pence Must Go!” yard sign back in 2015, not long after the RFRA debacle. [The driver of the BMW apparently punched the owner of the sign. Garrison has never commented on his involvement.] Want to set the record straight on what happened?
IM: Why not?
GG: Non-story. We never started, we’re not going to do it now. There’s nothing to say.
IM: Do you think that friendship you have with Pence, that you took umbrage with those signs?
GG: Can’t comment on it.
IM: Why not?
GG: Never did. Not going to.
IM: But don’t you want to set the record straight?
GG: No record to set.
IM: Why not?
GG: No record out there. Some people tried to make one but there’s no record to tell.
IM: It wasn’t you?
GG: I said I’m not going to comment on it. You’re a good journalist. You got about two more tries here, because you’re working at it hard.
IM: I think it was an interesting moment. You clearly have such an affinity for the Vice President, and loyalty like that runs deep. There’s something almost charming about that friendship. It’s the story of a friend taking personal those signs that popped up across the city, right?
GG: Then, when he became a presidential candidate, they said that Pence and Trump must go.
IM: Pence really got the last laugh on those signs, didn’t he? They wanted him to go, but perhaps not to Washington, D.C.
GG: Yeah. As you say, “last laugh.” He ended up a couple steps higher. We’ll see what it does to him. His weight is looking good. He doesn’t look like he’s been beaten to death. Although his hair is still white now.
IM: You said I had two tries left to get an answer. I’ve one more. Was there some sort of settlement in that Pence Must Go sign altercation?
GG: No. That began and ended in a matter of minutes. That’s the truth.
IM: So, it did happen. It was you?
GG: I told you I wasn’t going to comment on it.
IM: You just did. You said, “It started in a couple of minutes and it was over just like that.”
GG: Yep. That’s all you’re going to get.
FOR YOUR RADAR
The Indiana GOP will host its Spring Dinner with Kelly Craft, the 30th U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, on June 9 at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis.
Rep. Andre Carson talks about the first Congressional hearing on UFOs in 50 years.
Sen. Todd Young is a big fan of Biden’s Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. "She's thoughtful. She's pragmatic. She's solution-oriented, and she's collaborative,” he told me in my new profile of Raimondo. "It's unfortunate that the president seems to be more responsive to the advice and the agenda-setting of more progressive members of his inner circle than folks like Gina Raimondo.”
Buttigieg is headlining Minnesota's state party’s annual fundraising dinner next month. Will Indiana Democrats nab him for their Hoosier Hospitality Dinner or retreat to French Lick later this year?
Buttigieg is also taking a sharper tack against Republicans ahead of the midterms.
Rep. Jim Banks is angling for Republican House Conference Chair, per Punchbowl News.
But there will be people who want to take away your “you.” There always have been. The pharaohs, monarchs, and warlords of old, to whom other people were mere tools, to be used and discarded. In recent times, the proponents of all the “isms” that viewed people as helpless ciphers in some predetermined historical trend, or valueless instruments of an all-powerful state. In the worst cases, some people were grouped together and treated as sub-human, not deserving to exist at all.
These days, your individuality is challenged by some who seek to slap a label on you, to lump you into one category or another, and to assert that whatever you are, your choices have little to do with it. What matters is not what you think or do, they claim, but what group they have assigned you to. You’re a prisoner of your genes, or of circumstance, or of some societal forces against which you are defenseless.
Such views may be cloaked in caring, sympathetic terms, but they are deeply disrespectful of those they affect to be supporting. They are a denial of your personal dignity, and ability, and will power. Someone attempting to herd you into a group is someone with an agenda, and your personal wellbeing is not its main purpose.
That’s all for today.