Importantville: Buttigieg PAC, Young’s 2020 Map, And Pence In Asia

This week’s rundown of Indiana politics.

Illustration by Kris Davidson

Welcome to Importantville.

FIRST IN IMPORTANTVILLE: Mark Meier—the D.C.-based communications professional and the man behind the @MayorPete4Prez Twitter handle boosting a Pete Buttigieg presidential run—has filed papers to create PETE PAC (Progressives for Equality, Truth and Ethics PAC). Meier, who is not a member of Buttigieg’s inner circle, describes his group as “Americans seeking to encourage Mayor Pete to pursue higher office and lead our country through the challenges of the 21st century, reclaiming our leadership role by emphasizing the values that bind us together, rejecting the politics of divide and conquer.”

Meier began soliciting donations last Thursday.

“The Democratic Party is more than a party of coastal elites,” Meier said in an email. “We’re a party of everyday people. In big cities, small towns, and along the highways and byways that bridge us together, families just want a fair shake of things. Through this PAC, we will continue to share the story of Pete, and come together behind this unique candidate, whose story could only be described as “only in America.” Mayor Pete embodies everything that is great about our country. Not only can he stand up to bullies and autocrats, but will push forward a progressive platform focused on the simple but powerful notion: “What can we do to make people’s lives better?”

WHAT’S NEXT: Buttigieg already has his own PAC—Hitting Home—that backed candidates across the country in November. At present, his committee has about $71,401 cash on hand, per FEC filings. Watch for Buttigieg to make an announcement on whether he’ll pursue re-election as South Bend’s mayor after Thanksgiving. That announcement could be a tea leaf for a presidential campaign. While he could ostensibly pursue both re-election and a 2020 bid, I’m told by people close to Buttigieg that’s an unlikely gambit.

HAPPENING THIS WEEK: The Indiana Chamber hosts its 2019 legislative preview today. Organization Day— the ceremonial start to the Indiana General Assembly’s 2019 session—is tomorrow. Women4Change rallies for redistricting reform tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. on Capitol Ave.

WHERE’S VEEP? Pence is back in D.C. this morning after his international trip. He has lunch with the president at 1:30 p.m. To be a fly on that wall!

  • According to the vice presidential pool report, a Bloomberg reporter asked Pence whether there are people in the White House whom he doesn’t trust.
  • Pence said: “Whatever changes will be made the president will be making those decisions.” He added: “Couldn’t be more proud to serve in this White House.”

ASSESSING TODD YOUNG’S 2020 MAP: As the new chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and the first Hoosier to serve in the position since Richard Lugar, Young will face a tough 2020 map. Josh Kraushaar, with the National Journal, surveys the landscape:

The Senate map in 2018 was historically favorable to Republicans, but Democrats will be going on offense in the coming cycle. There are just 12 Democratic-held seats that will be on the ballot, while 22 Republican senators will be on the defensive. But there’s a catch: Only two of those senators represent states that Hillary Clinton won in 2016, and one of them is Maine’s perennially popular Susan Collins.

Assuming Rick Scott prevails in Florida and Republicans win the runoff in Mississippi, the GOP will start the 116th Congress with 53 Senate seats. And it’s a pretty safe bet that they’ll win back the Alabama seat that Sen. Doug Jones won in the fluky 2017 special election. So for Democrats to win back the majority, they’ll need to pick off at least four Republican seats (five, if President Trump wins a second term). That won’t be an easy task.

For Democrats to win the majority, they need to make inroads in traditionally Republican territory. There are a couple of Republican senators who look vulnerable from the outset: Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Thom Tillis of North Carolina. A seat in Arizona, currently held by appointed Sen. Jon Kyl, should be highly competitive (and could very well feature a comeback from just-defeated Senate candidate Martha McSally). After that, Democrats will need to look at Iowa (Joni Ernst), Maine (Collins), Georgia (David Perdue), and even Texas (John Cornyn) to find a pathway back to the majority.

HATE CRIMES BILL TAKES SHAPE, per AP: “Indiana lawmakers move forward with hate crime bill.

The Journal & Courier reports the bill drafted by Sen. Ron Alting of Lafayette and Sen. Mike Bohacek of Michiana Shores will be considered when the General Assembly convenes in January.

The draft covers bias-motivated crimes based on race, religion, color, sex, gender identity, disability, national origin, ancestry and sexual orientation.

HOOSIER WOMEN RISE TO POWER IN THE STATEHOUSE, per Trevor Foughty in Capitol and Washington: “[A]s women begin their second century of elected service to the state, they do so with continually increasing numbers and influence around the State House.”

But while the number of women serving in the legislature continues to steadily grow, the number of women who have served in legislative leadership posts has been slow to catch up. While four women have served as the nominal presiding officer of the Senate by virtue of being the Lt. Governor (Kathy Davis, Becky Skillman, Sue Ellspermann, and Suzanne Crouch), no woman has ever served as Senate President Pro Tempore or Speaker of the House.

COMING TO TERMS WITH HQ2 LOSS: Mike Langellier, CEO of Techpoint, argues that “Indy should feel the motivating burn of being overlooked by Amazon.

There’s a lot that we don’t know yet about why Amazon passed over Indianapolis for New York City, Virginia, and the surprise addition of Nashville. But let’s not just spin the positives and content ourselves with consolation. Let’s magnify and channel our frustration toward action.

This should be a galvanizing moment for Indianapolis to further the strong collaboration amongst our converged industries, organizations and companies that came together for this bid. Amazon HQ2 is a big thing, but it’s not everything, and it’s not the last opportunity we will have to rally together as a united front. This is an important moment for bold action. Let’s commit to do what it takes to win the next one and the one after that.

Importantville Reads

Zeke Miller, AP: Political ‘veteran’ at age 36 eyed for Trump chief of staff

Nick Ayers could almost be confused for a college fraternity brother as he flashes a broad grin in a selfie taken with Mike Pence just moments after the Indiana governor was named Donald Trump’s running mate.

In fact, the baby-faced campaign strategist in the white undershirt had a pivotal role in Trump’s selection of Pence in 2016. And two years later, Ayers’ bond with Pence is stronger than ever, as are his ties to the president.

A seasoned campaign veteran at age 36, Ayers is emerging as a leading contender to replace White House chief of staff John Kelly, whose departure has long been the subject of speculation.

IMPORTANTVILLE TAKE: A former administration official texts me:

I don’t think it’s a coincidence “John Kelly will soon be replaced by Nick Ayers!!!” rumors are coming out so soon after Pence arrives in Asia. Total speculation on my part, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Ayers was the source of the chatter. He could very well be Trump’s pick. But for Ayers, stoking the rumors is a no-lose play. He can deny interest to the VP, which increases his stock with the VP because he’s perceived as both desired and loyal. And if he gets the job, it prepares folks for that in advance so it’s not as much of a shock.

SHOT: Maggie Haberman and Katie Rogers, The New York Times: Is Mike Pence Loyal? Trump Is Asking, Despite His Recent Endorsement

In recent weeks, with his electoral prospects two years from now much on his mind, Mr. Trump has focused on the person who has most publicly tethered his fortunes to him. In one conversation after another he has asked aides and advisers a pointed question: Is Mike Pence loyal?

Mr. Trump has repeated the question so many times that he has alarmed some of his advisers. The president has not openly suggested dropping Mr. Pence from the ticket and picking another running mate, but the advisers say those kinds of questions usually indicate that he has grown irritated with someone.

CHASER: Quint Forgey, POLITICO: Trump disputes NYT report that he asked aides about Pence’s loyalty

President Donald Trump on Saturday reaffirmed his confidence in Mike Pence, repeatedly slamming a report in the New York Times that asserted Trump has questioned the loyalty of his vice president, while claiming against available evidence that the newspaper had not sought comment before publication.

Lauren Chapman, WFYI: Senate Democrats Outline Their 2019 Legislative Goals

Ahead of the legislative session, Senate Democrats say their initial priorities are teacher pay, medical marijuana, pre-existing condition coverage and hate crimes.

[Indiana] Senate Democrats are pushing for a 5 percent increase for teacher pay over the next two years.

Days to 2020: 716

Days to Mayoral Election: 351

That’s all for today. Thanks for being a subscriber. Have a good week, and a happy Thanksgiving.