Pete's Dyngus Day—Buttigieg vs. Bernie?—Hogsett & Merritt's Q1 hauls
What's happening—and what's next—at the intersection of Indiana politics and bussiness?
SOUTH BEND, Ind.—Inside the West Side Democratic and Civic Club the accordion music was blaring and the beer was flowing, and it wasn’t even 11 a.m. Revelers wore blue t-shirts that featured the White House, and above it read “Take the White House Back!” and “Pete Buttigieg.”
Welcome to Dyngus Day 2019, a sort of St. Patrick’s Day for the Polish community here, and the unofficial start of political season in South Bend. This year was different, though, thanks to the guest of honor: the city’s mayor and arguably the hottest presidential candidate in the 2020 Democratic primary, Pete Buttigieg.
“I got to tell you I’m having a lot of fun sharing this tradition with the national press,” Buttigieg told the room. “There’s some reporters here I met over the last couple of months, and I said make sure you come for Dyngus Day. They say, ‘what’s that?’ and I tell them, ‘you just gotta see it, and then you’ll understand.’ But what’s so great about this tradition is that it’s touched national politics in so many ways, presidential candidates from Bobby Kennedy on through coming through our community, knowing that coming out on the day after Easter to fellowship, to get to know voters one on one, is politics at its finest.”
The last presidential candidate to address a Dyngus Day event was Bobby Kennedy in 1968, when he drew 6,000 people.
Buttigieg’s day began at 5 a.m. in his hometown with the annual signing for the sausages—a tradition in which the mayor signs for hundreds of pounds of kielbasa.
“This is the story of a city that changed its future, changed its trajectory,” Buttigieg told supporters. “And we did it through honesty and we did it through decency. …And of course, the people of South Bend taught me a thing or two the hard way, and that's all right. We grew together. We shaped one another; we shaped this city.”
Afterward, he made his way outside the club, shook a few hands and then slipped into a black Suburban that pulled away as he headed to Manchester, New Hampshire, and an 11 p.m. CNN Town Hall.
BUTTIGIEG TO NBC ON HIS REMARKS SOME HAVE INTERPRETED TO BE A SHOT AT SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: “My point is that people have been motivated to want to blow up the establishment,” Buttigieg told NBC following his Dyngus Day appearance. “And Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump represent radically different ways of doing that.”
WHAT’S NEXT: “Buttigieg plans to expand his presence in Iowa and New Hampshire and hire paid staff in South Carolina, Nevada and California in the coming weeks,” per the Associated Press.
Good Monday evening, and welcome to IMPORTANTVILLE, a newsletter about the intersection of Indiana and national politics. Buttigieg is now in a statistical dead heat with former Vice President Joe Biden, according to a new poll. At the Statehouse today, a flurry of conference committees took place on a range of issues. Lawmakers also put the finishing touches on the Indiana Pacers and Indy Eleven stadium deals.
WHERE’S VEEP? He had no scheduled events today.
BREAKING IN IBJ: Carmel official says Brainard created 'toxic environment'; mayor calls relationship consensual— “Clerk-Treasurer Christine Pauley said Mayor Jim Brainard created a difficult work environment by pushing her to go on trips with him. But the mayor said in a statement that the two briefly dated and the timing of the accusations—just two weeks before the primary—is ‘interesting.’”
FROM IN GOP: “Ahead of tonight's CNN Democrat Presidential Town Halls, national media are beginning to question Pete Buttigieg's failed record as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, including his role at the center of a seven-year controversy surrounding secretly-recorded police tapes. Tonight, will he answer why one of his first actions as a newly-elected mayor was to fire the city's first African American police chief? Or will he address why he cost the city millions of dollars in an effort to continue to hide these recordings from the public?”
As I reported Friday, Democratic Mayor Joe Hogsett finished the first quarter with $3.88 million cash-on-hand, outgunning challenger State Sen. Jim Merritt, who has $223,960 cash on hand.
“From opening our first field offices to putting staff on-the-ground, to recruiting hundreds of volunteers and knocking on thousands of doors, it is clear that this campaign and our grassroots supporters are taking nothing for granted,” said Campaign Spokesperson Heather K. Sager in a statement. “From day one, we have seen our neighborhood-based focus create energy and momentum, with hundreds of working families supporting Mayor Hogsett with their time and their resources. Mayor Hogsett works tirelessly every day to build a city that works for all of Indy’s residents, and we are working equally hard to earn another four more years for this vision.”
“Jim is very pleased with the report,” Merritt spox April Gregory told IBJ. “Most of that money has been unsolicited, and Jim has obviously been very hard working in session right now for his constituents. We’ve only been at it for three months. When session is over, he’ll be campaigning full time and raising money full time.”
“Hoosier Brian Lamb is retiring from C-Span, the cable TV network that he founded back in 1979,” per the Wall Street Journal. “On May 19, he will also end his Sunday night show that he's been hosting for 30 years, he tells Kyle Peterson of the Wall Street Journal. His last interview will be with historian David McCullough. C-Span has become a Washington institution and now has a staff of 260 people and a $60 million annual budget.”
FIRST IN IMPORTANTVILLE: Indiana Young Democrats opened registration for the Young Democrats of America National Convention. Link: yda.org/convention.
Steve Peoples and Hunter Woodall, “Pete Buttigieg scrambles to turn 2020 buzz into momentum”
There are no policy positions on his website. He has virtually no paid presence in the states that matter most. And his campaign manager is a high school friend with no experience in presidential politics.
This is the upstart campaign of Pete Buttigieg , the 37-year-old Indiana mayor who has suddenly become one of the hottest names in the Democrats’ presidential primary season. Yet there is an increasing urgency, inside and outside the campaign, that his moment may pass if he doesn’t take swift action to build a national organization capable of harnessing the energy he’ll need to sustain his surge in the nine months or so before the first votes are cast.
“I get more inquiries on how to reach him or his campaign than anyone else,” New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said, adding that he’s aware of just one part-time Buttigieg staffer in the state to help coordinate the requests.
“This is what it’s like when you’re having your moment,” Buckley said. “Whether he can capitalize — that’s his challenge.”
Amy B. Wang, The Washington Post: “In South Bend, Pete Buttigieg sees a template for improving America”
On a recent weekday in South Bend — before its mayor, Pete Buttigieg, announced he was seeking an audacious promotion — a handful of more mundane occurrences unfolded around the city. People parked their cars downtown and walked into restaurants to eat. Baseball fans streamed into Four Winds Field for Opening Day of the South Bend Cubs’ season.
A decade ago, these would have been considered minor miracles. At its lowest point, downtown South Bend was devoid of traffic, let alone pedestrians or new development, said Peg Dalton, who has owned a diner there since 2001 — “before it was cool” to do so. Now, there were luxury condos going up along the St. Joseph River.
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