Discover more from IMPORTANTVILLE
Scoop: Buttigieg's PAC backs IN candidates
Win the Era is endorsing several candidates who are running for statewide and federal office in Indiana.
(Former Mayor of South Bend Pete Buttigieg addresses the virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention, livestreamed online. Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s Win the Era Political Action Committee will back a slate of Hoosier candidates, marking his political action committee’s first endorsements in Indiana.
Win the Era will support Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dr. Woody Myers and lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Linda Lawson, attorney general nominee Jonathan Weinzapfel, and congressional candidates Pat Hackett and Christina Hale in the 2nd and 5th districts, respectively.
Buttigieg, who formed the PAC in April after the end of his presidential campaign, will hold virtual campaign events and email his supporters on behalf of each of the four campaigns in the coming months.
“I’m proud to be supporting fellow Hoosiers who are effective leaders in their communities and have dedicated themselves to public service,” Buttigieg said in a statement. “When elected, each of these leaders will advocate for working families, advance the cause of justice, and make Indiana a more inclusive and prosperous state.”
Buttigieg has said in the past that he hoped his presidential bid would lift down-ballot candidates in his home state. “Obviously, I care a lot about the party doing well,” he said in an interview with Indianapolis Monthly last October. “I think we’ve got a lot of great leaders, including some newer emerging leaders in the party and want to make sure I'm doing my part and using my visibility as a way to support my home state party.”
The endorsements are the latest for the PAC, which has previously endorsed 22 candidates around the country.
Woody Myers: “I’m proud to be supporting Dr. Woody Myers’ history-making candidacy to be the next Governor of Indiana and our state's first Black governor. His intellect, integrity, and passion for helping Hoosiers are so needed in our politics—and his expertise and vast experience will serve us well in the midst of a public health crisis. I'm also looking forward to casting my vote for Linda Lawson for Lieutenant Governor and helping move our state forward.”
Jonathan Weinzapfel: “I’m proud to support Jonathan Weinzapfel to be our state's next Attorney General. Highly respected among Indiana mayors, Jonathan is a lifelong public servant who has spent his career fighting for Indiana families. As Attorney General, Jonathan will help make Indiana a more inclusive and prosperous state, while protecting us from attempts to take health care away from millions of Hoosier families.”
Christina Hale: “Christina Hale is a lifelong Hoosier who has been an effective leader for Indiana working families. Congress needs more single moms like Christina who understand the challenges Hoosiers are going through and can go to Washington to get things done and I'm proud to support her campaign to bring great representation to the 5th Congressional District, a district ready for new leadership.”
Pat Hackett: “I’m ready for Pat Hackett to be my Representative in Congress. Her campaign message of Dignity and Justice for All represents the change we need to better serve South Bend and everyone in Indiana's Second Congressional District. She's spent her entire career serving our community and getting things done with people of every background--and I know she will put that same spirit to work in Congress.”
One of the unanswered questions of Buttigieg’s impressive presidential run was whether his candidacy, which drew more than $100 million and ended with an email list of more than a million, would lift his home state’s beleaguered Democratic party.
Today, an answer to that question took shape: His run could pay dividends for a number of down-ballot candidates.
Good morning, and welcome to IMPORTANTVILLE. Welcome to new subscribers. IMPORTANTVILLE is your indispensable guide to the intersection of Indiana politics and power in the Trump era—and beyond. You may have discovered the newsletter through Substack’s announcement this week that this newsletter is one of ten selected out of a pool of nearly 1,000 applicants nationwide to be part of the company’s Fellowship for Independent Writers. What does this mean for you? It means, quite simply, more IMPORTANTVILLE. In the coming months, you’ll see an expanded and redesigned newsletter.
CAN JOE BIDEN WIN INDIANA?
In 2016, Indiana was first on the board for President Donald Trump. In 2020, that’s looking like more of an uphill battle. Last week, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report moved Indiana from the “Solid Republican” category to “Likely Republican”—a subtle change, sure, but an eyebrow-raising one in the vice president’s home state, where a number of administration officials hail from: CMS Director Seema Verma, HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Surgeon General Jerome Adams, to name just a few. And Nate Silver, Editor-in-Chief of FiveThirtyEight, using a regression technique combining polling, pegs Biden’s margin here at -10.2, with 16 other states more likely to show up on the board first for the president on Election Night.
While the president is still favored to win in the Hoosier state, Democrats here say he is making inroads more than Hillary Clinton in 2016.
The campaign is expected to announce its statewide staff in the coming days. But for now, David Ziemba, the campaign’s unofficial coordinator here, says they’ve distributed more than a thousand yard signs across the state, and have increased weekly phone banking from two to six sessions a week. A number of former Buttigieg volunteers have joined the campaign’s efforts here.
“He’s got a way better shot here than people are giving him credit for,” says Ziemba, a former adviser to former gubernatorial candidate John Gregg in 2016 and Marion County Regional Field Director.
Meanwhile, Indiana Republicans say they’ve had almost 1,000 Hoosiers sign up to volunteer for Trump in just the last two weeks and have thousands signed up this cycle. They say 8,000 Hoosiers have requested yard signs in the last few days alone. Republican volunteers have already made over 1.4 million voter contacts on behalf of Trump and [Gov. Eric] Holcomb. “We’ve got motivated staff and volunteers in all 92 counties,” says Jake Oakman, Indiana GOP Director of Strategic Communications. “Just like four years ago, Indiana will be first on the board for President Trump and Vice President Pence on Election Night.”
THE 2022 U.S. SENATE CHALLENGER POWER LIST
It’s 96 days until Election Day, and 2022 remains many political lifetimes away, but Hoosier Democrats—and Republicans—are already quietly wondering who might challenge increasingly powerful Republican Sen. Todd Young in 2022. Should former Vice President Biden win in November, the race could be a bruising one for a Democrat challenging a Republican in a midterm election.
If President Donald Trump wins re-election, the race will still likely be tough for Hoosier Democrats, the governing party who would be in control. The challenger would also be taking on Young, the current chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, allowing him to develop a national fundraising profile and the chits to match.
Young is also one of the Senate’s more bipartisan legislators, checking in on the Lugar Center’s Bipartisan Index at No. 36. He has voted with President Trump 84.6% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight. He is expected to announce his re-election bid sometime after the election, possibly early next spring. He’s also sitting on a pile of cash: $1.43 million.
In what will be an occasional feature in the newsletter, here is the inaugural IMPORTANTVILLE U.S. Senate Challenger rankings. Names were solicited from a dozen Democratic and Republican sources. Many on this list will pore over election results here in the fall before expending a significant amount of time mulling a bid.
“If [Democrats] can win an office statewide this year, then it will bring more talent to the pool of candidates,” said Liane Groth Hulka, Chair of Congressional District 5 on the Indiana Democratic Party’s State Central Committee. “Right now, no one is going to say they’re interested until we see what the political climate looks like.”
Pete Buttigieg. With an email list of more than a million, a national network of fundraisers, and generational political talent, Buttigieg could be a formidable opponent for Young. Both are foreign policy wonks, and both boast military records. Young and Buttigieg would make for a fascinating match-up on paper. If Biden wins, and Buttigieg lands a spot in the administration, he could build out his résumé. But Buttigieg, reflecting on the 2018 midterm results, once told me that Sen. Joe Donnelly’s loss to Sen. Mike Braun “complicates any path for me in Indiana more than what was already the case.” Challenging Young would be risky for Buttigieg, who has passed on other congressional races and has stated his preference for an executive role. He is not the kind of politician who feels pressure to shop for a race. I would not be surprised to see him heavily recruited; I would be surprised to see him run.
Joe Hogsett. Hogsett likes to tell a story that growing up, he only wanted to be three things: lead singer in a rock band, starting point guard for the Indiana University Hoosiers, and United States Senator. As he tells the story, he tried the first and couldn’t hack it at the second. In 1992, Hogsett battled Dan Coats for the Republican’s U.S. Senate seat. Being mayor, he says, is the most satisfying job he’s had. At the moment, he is facing political headwinds on issues ranging from handling policing reforms and his sometimes controversial approach to the city’s reopening amid the novel coronavirus, having rubbed some business owners the wrong way. Hogsett, a perenially cautious politician, would be unlikely to enter what could be an electoral buzz saw. Perhaps the Indiana Democratic Party’s best fundraiser outside of Pete Buttigieg, he has a warchest of $2 million—but that can’t be used in a federal race. He could be courted by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, but could keep his powder dry for a 2024 gubernatorial bid. Prior to the pandemic, Hogsett was scheduled to headline the Vanderburgh County Democratic Party Spring Spaghetti Dinner on April 2, his first such county fundraising engagement in a decade—a sign he may be exploring a statewide political bid after his mayoral tenure in 2024. That event has been tentatively rescheduled for October. Hogsett hauled in a staggering $300,000 for his inaugural ball earlier this year. Asked whether Hogsett was interested in the race, Deputy Chief of Staff Taylor Schaffer said in a statement: “Right now, Mayor Hogsett is squarely focused on working with his partners Senators Braun and Young to ensure that the next COVID-19 legislative package includes much-needed support for Indianapolis residents impacted by this virus and collaborating with the governor’s office on projects that bring good-paying jobs to Indianapolis neighborhoods—like last week’s announcement with Palmer Trucks on the city’s eastside.”
Christina Hale. Hale is locked in on her bid to flip Indiana’s 5th Congressional District, but she could be a sought after candidate regardless of that race’s outcome. Since announcing her congressional bid last year, the former lieutenant governor candidate has proven herself an able fundraiser. She has also built her own national network of fundraising and support, gaining backing from the Latino Victory Project to Emily’s List to Everytown for Gun Safety. Conventional wisdom holds that if she wins her race, and is drawn out of her district, she could be a viable candidate.
Josh Owens. The former tech exec and the state’s first gay gubernatorial candidate is already getting looks from party officials. “A few people have asked me about it and have asked me to consider it,” Owens said. “I’d say it’s on my radar, but it’s not a focus at the moment. I think there are a few people who would be great candidates for us, and I definitely think it’s a winnable race with the right candidate no matter what happens in the 2020 election. A strong candidate for Senate would really increase our chances of winning and reforming the Secretary of State office.”
J.D. Ford. The Indiana State Senate Democrat, the first openly gay member elected to the Indiana General Assembly, has found ways to raise his profile during his time in office, such as bolstering the state’s vote-by-mail system, after beating the conservative stalwart Mike Delph in 2018. Asked whether he was eyeing a run, Ford told IMPORTANTVILLE: “While my primary focus has been and will continue to be serving my neighbors of District 29 in the state senate, I am not ruling out any opportunity to make a difference for our state. There’s much to be done as we recover and rebuild from this pandemic and I’ll keep working hard for Hoosiers.”
Other names mentioned: Shelli Yoder, Democratic nominee for State Senate District 40, State Rep. Karlee Macer, Liane Groth Hulka.
Who did I miss? Let me know in the comments.
Sam Robert, New York Times: “Joseph Kernan, Vietnam P.O.W. and Indiana Governor Dies at 74”
Joseph Eugene Kernan III, the oldest of nine children, was born on April 8, 1946, in Chicago. After World War II, his father sold auto and restaurant supplies, then, in 1965, helped kick off Upward Bound, a federally funded program to help underserved high school students prepare for college. Mr. Kernan’s mother, Marian (Powers) Kernan, worked as a communications representative, including for the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company, where she handled the Pentagon account.
The family moved to South Bend when Joe was 10. When he went to college, he was able to afford tuition by enrolling in the Reserve Officers Training Corps. He married Maggie McCullough in 1974.
He is survived by his wife, a senior vice president of 1st Source Bank, based in South Bend; his brother, Terry; and his sisters Maureen, Barbara, Madeline, Kelly, Jenny and Susan. Another sister, Mary Pat, died three years ago.
Me, Indianapolis Monthly: “Mr. Right: “Can Mitch Daniels Outsmart COVID-19?”
Seven years into his Purdue tenure, Daniels seems to be the same kind of leader he has always been: brilliant and brusque, driven and demanding of those around him, often certain that he is right. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly. “Don’t be prepared for a lot of compliments,” Mark Lubbers, a longtime friend, would often tell incoming members of the Purdue University president’s former gubernatorial administration. “Your compliment is being here.”
He has transformed himself from a dark-horse presidential contender to a public intellectual. But his passing on the 2012 and 2016 elections still inspires one of the great counterfactual history questions in Indiana politics: What would Mitch Daniels have been like as president, especially amid a pandemic and a second civil rights movement?
Tony Rehagen, Indianapolis Monthly: What’s Next For Indiana’s Coal-Dependent Counties?
When Tim Abrams is up at night, sitting at the kitchen table of his rural Sullivan County home fretting about the future of Indiana’s coal industry, he’s not worried so much about his own job. The 56-year-old was 22 when he landed a position at the coal-fired Merom Generating Station, which, along with the nearby Bear Run Mine and Carlisle Mine, was one of the only high-paying employers in the county of 20,000 people just south of Terre Haute. He has enjoyed a three-decade career in the business. Abrams is concerned because, as president of the County Council, he knows the life-sustaining power coal has given the region, both literally and figuratively through employment. And, like everyone else in the area, he sees the industry dying right before his eyes.
That’s all for today. Thanks for reading.