Friday, April 29, 2016

Governor Pence Stands Up for Conservativism and the Reagan Revolution, Endorses Ted Cruz

Indiana Governor Mike Pence announced today at noon that he is endorsing Ted Cruz for President.

Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN)
Kudos to Governor Pence for standing up for Senator Cruz and against those within the GOP who want to destroy the conservative movement that became the Reagan Revolution in 1980.The nomination of liberal New York businessman Donald Trump, a man who has been a Democrat most of his life and gave large contributions to liberals like Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, would be a disaster for conservatives and the Republican party. Trump has embraced universal health care paid for by the "government," has advocated for the highest tax increase in history, has said he is "very pro choice" (even going so far as supporting partial birth abortion), said he wants to continue funding Planned Parenthood, and has advocated for more gun control and less free speech for Americans.  (Of course, he has flipped on many of those positions...depending on when you're talking to him.)

That list doesn't even begin to touch upon Trump's personal flaws - his serial womanizing, his penchant for getting involved in scams (google "Trump University" and the "empty jewelry box"), his bullying and threats against people who don't support him, his bigotry, his sexism, his mocking of people who are disabled. Oh, and let's not forget, Trump's obviously limited intellect and his complete lack of understanding and respect for the Constitution and the limits that document places on the Office of the Presidency. As one observer noted, Trump is the caricature of what the Democrats think when they look at the Republican Party.

Pence at times has - rightly - been criticized as too willing to give in on conservative principles to embrace positions seen as more moderate.   Whether it be Pence's support of allowing local governments to impose higher taxes, "Common Core lite," corporate welfare, and his reluctance to defend religious freedom when attacked, conservatives have a legitimate gripe against the Governor.  But on the occasion when it counted most, who to endorse for President, Pence did not take the easy way out by shying away from an endorsement (which would have been understandable given the contentious re-election battle he faces) or jumping on the Trump populism bandwagon, he announced his endorsement for the most consistent conservative in the race, Ted Cruz. 

Thank you Governor Pence.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Analysis Shows Trump Will Change Color of Electoral Map...By Turning Red States Blue

The notion spouted by many supporters of Donald Trump is that his appeal to independents will change the color of the map, turning many Democratic-leaning states into Republican electoral college pickups.  An extensive analysis of state head-to-head polls show that instead of blue states red, Trump, if he is the nominee, is more likely to turn red states blue.

According to Real Clear Politics, head-to-head Trump v. Clinton polls have been done in 2016 in 20
Donald Trump
states.  Of those 20 states, Romney's 2012 performance beats Trump's poll numbers in 13 of them.  Of the seven states where Trump outperforms Romney, six were won by President Obama in 2012.  But the margins only suggest he might flip one of them - Minnesota.  In that state, Trump trails Clinton in the RCP average of polls by 2.3%.  Romney lost Minnesota by 17.69%.

The other states which Obama won but Trump outperforms Clinton are Connecticut, Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey and New York.  Trump still though polls behind in all those states by margins of 9.5%, 5%, 8.6% and 21.2%. He's unlikely to win any of them in a general election contest.

So while the polling suggests Trump might win Minnesota's 10 electoral votes, the analysis shows his unpopularity is more likely to put formerly Republican states into play.   Astonishingly Trump trails Clinton in a Utah head-to-head poll by 2%, a state Romney won in 2012 with 48.04% of the vote.  But lest one think that was an aberration due to Utah's Mormon leanings, Trump only leads Clinton by 2% in Texas, a state Romney won by 15.79%  Then you have North Carolina, a state that Romney narrowly won by 2.04% in 2012.  In head-to-head polling, Trump loses the state to Clinton by 2%.  And let's not forget Arizona a state Romney won by 9.06% in 2012. Trump loses it to Clinton by 3.5%.  Wait another one.  Trump only leads Clinton by 3% in Mississippi, a state Romney won by 11.5% of the vote.

(Note:  Although Indiana hasn't had Trump v. Clinton head-to-head polling done, you can bet the Hoosier state will be competitive for the Democrats if Trump is the Republican presidential candidate.)

Further, a Trump candidacy is likely to make several toss-up or leaning Democratic states that Romney lost in 2012, even more Democratic. Examples include Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Below is a table of the states where Trump underperforms Romney's 2012 numbers.

State                T v. C Poll       2012 Winner       2012 Margin
Arizona -3.5 Romney 9.06
California -29.7 Obama 23.12
Florida -2.2 Obama 0.88
Illinois -21.5 Obama 16.87
Maryland -34.6 Obama 26.07
Massachusetts -36 Obama 22.9
Mississippi 3 Romney 11.5
Missouri 7 Romney 9.38
New Hampshire -10.2 Obama 5.58
Ohio -4 Obama 2.98
Pennsylvania -7.4 Obama 5.38
Texas 2 Romney 15.79
Utah -2 Romney 48.04
Virginia -13 Obama 3.88
Wisconsin -10.7 Obama 6.94
North Carolina -2 Romney 2.04

The effect of Trump turning red states blue could have a devastating effect on the GOP's efforts to hold onto the House and Senate.  While a Ted Cruz might not win any more electoral votes than Mitt Romney did, you can bet his candidacy would at least help the Republicans hold onto states they had in 2012 and give the GOP a fighting shot to hold onto both the House and Senate.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Ted Cruz to Announce at Indianapolis Rally that Carly Fiorina Will Be His Running Mate

The day after several crushing, albeit expected, defeats for Ted Cruz in several Eastern state primaries, attention turns to Indiana's pivotal May 3rd primary.  With that change in direction comes the news that Ted Cruz has selected Hewlett-Packard executive and former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina to be his running mate.

During the campaign, Fiorina was widely praised as the best debater.  (Trump was routinely rated as
Carly Fiorina
the worst.)  She came across as extremely knowledgeable on the issues and articulate in presenting her position on those issues. Where Fiorina's campaign failed was in execution between the candidate's TV appearances.

With that announcement, Ted Cruz hits a home run.  The move is brilliant in so many ways. 

First it comes at a perfect time. Cruz needs to change the narrative after Trump's blowout blue state primary wins out East.  Cruz could have killed the story by releasing it before Tuesday's round of primaries.  But he wisely waited until afterward...when the focus turned to Indiana, the state in which Cruz desperately needs to get his groove back.

Second, Fiorina brings a burst of energy to a campaign that had begun to lag in enthusiasm.

Third, just as Fiorina was at her best in going after Hillary Clinton, she will play the perfect foil to Donald Trump.  Fiorina is considerably brighter than Trump, much more knowledgeable about the issues, and would destroy Trump in any sort of intellectual exchange.   She is at her best when on attack which she will no doubt be called to do so against Trump.

Fourth, the Fiorina selection exploits Trump's weakness with women.  As one political analyst noted, while it is debatable whether Trump is a racist, there is positively no doubt Donald Trump is a sexist. He judges the value of women based on their looks and infamously noted that he found Fiorina's face to be unappealing.  I'm sure that Fiorina will remind Hoosier women of Trump's comment.

Fifth, Fiorina can help out Cruz in California, a state he must do better in if he is going to deny Trump a first round nomination.   Fiorina ran for Senate in California in 2010. While Fiorina did not win (not surprising since she is a Republican running in one of the most liberal states in the union) she no doubt has considerable GOP contacts and support remaining in that state.  Cruz will desperately need those contracts and support given that his campaign is lagging in Califorina, a state the Texas Senator must do well in if Trump is going to be denied a first round victory.

Cruz is far from getting momentum back.  But his selection of Fiorina is certainly a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ted Cruz Rally Set for Tonight in Knightstown

Courageous conservatives across Indiana will be joining Ted for a rally tomorrow night at Hoosier Gym in Knightstown.  You can RSVP at the link below.

---TUESDAY, APRIL 26---

Rally with Ted Cruz

TIME: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

VENUE: Hoosier Gym

ADDRESS: 355 North Washington, Knightstown, IN 46148

Monday, April 25, 2016

Cruz, Kasich Finally Get It, Agree to Divvy up Efforts in Three States

Yesterday Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich announced that they have reached an agreement where Kasich will not campaign in Indiana (57 delegates) and in return Cruz will not campaign in New Mexico (24 delegates) and Oregon (28 delegates).  

Governor John Kasich (R-Ohio)
Three polls have been released in the last few days showing Trump with only a slight lead over Cruz, at and within the margin of error.  As Cruz normally outperforms his poll numbers while Trump underperforms on a regular basis, the campaign is essentially a dead heat.  Kasich was clearly draining off anti-Trump vote in Indiana and this move may well be enough to allow Cruz to capture the state.

There has been no polling this year in Oregon.  A mid-February poll in New Mexico showed Cruz with a one point (25-24) lead over Trump and Kasich trailing with 4%.  But several candidates have dropped out since then and the race has changed. 

I'm not sure Cruz didn't have a shot at winning both states.   A press release by the Kasich campaign says that New Mexico and Oregon are "structurally similar to the Northeast politically where Gov. Kasich is performing well."  But Kasich is not performing well in the Northeast.  In those Northeastern states where Cruz is not competitive and Kasich is supposed to be the primary competition to Trump, the Ohio Governor is wholly failing to perform.  Kasich was trounced in New York and, according, the polls, about to be beaten badly in several Northeastern states that have their primaries tomorrow.

Of course, the Trump people immediately cited the deal as evidence there is an "Establishment conspiracy" to stop the New York businessman from getting the nomination.  Of course, anything that isn't pro-Trump is pro-Establishment to Trumpites.  Could it may instead be that many of us in the Republican Party don't want a completely unqualified liberal , the most hated candidate in the history of polling, to be our presidential nominee?

The deal shows that the Cruz and Kasich campaigns realize they need to work together to stop the disaster for the GOP that would be a Trump nomination.  My only question is what took them so long to figure this out.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Evangelicals Hold Key to Cruz Winning Indiana

The Fox News and WRTV/Howey polls released on Friday show Donald Trump's lead over Texas Senator Ted Cruz in Indiana at or within the margin of error.    A closer look reveals where Cruz is falling short in the Hoosier state and hints at a roadmap as to how he can make up that ground.

According to the Fox Poll, Hoosier white evangelicals split their support 41-39 in favor of Cruz.  In Wisconsin, where Cruz won a double figure victory, Fox News exit polls showed Cruz winning this demographic group 55-33.   If Cruz can get a similar level of support among evangelicals, he will win
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
the state and most of the congressional districts in Indiana.

The Fox poll confirms what I've witnessed on Facebook and other social media.  I have a number of evangelical and pro-life friends.  Many post their views on abortion, religious freedom, same sex marriage, etc., only to be followed with indications of support for Trump.  The other day, one listed as one of his reasons for being for Trump was that he would fight to defund Planned Parenthood and appoint pro-life judges.   Seriously?  Trump has praised Planned Parenthood and said he wants the funding to continue.  He has talked about negotiating with the Democrats on judicial appointments.  Pre-candidate Trump talked about being "very pro choice" and that he supports partial birth abortion.  (Will some reporter please ask Trump what caused his view on abortion to change so dramatically?)  Recently, he has suggested that the Republican Party should change (weaken?) its platform on abortion.

On a personal front, Trump has been married three times and is a serial philanderer, which he is very proud of, by the way. (He has said sleeping with beautiful women is one of the perks of being wealthy.)  He owns casinos, several of which have strip clubs inside.  The man is ethically challenged on so many fronts, as witnessed by Trump University and the often overlooked empty jewelry box scam he was involved in during the 1980s.

There is no doubt about Cruz's roadmap for success in Indiana.  He has to aggressively go after evangelical voters by highlighting Trump's utter lack of interest, if not disdain, when it comes to causes near and dear to the heart of evangelicals.  Right now they are either 1) uninformed about Trump's views; or 2) they simply do not care.   For those of us who hope Republicans nominate a real conservative, let's hope it is the latter.

Outrage Over Harriet Tubman Replacing Andrew Jackson on $20 is Misplaced

The outrage over slavery abolitionist Harriet Tubman replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 is off the mark.  Wikipedia provides this account of Tubman's life:
Born a slave in Dorchester County, Maryland, Tubman was beaten and whipped by her various masters as a child. Early in life, she suffered a traumatic head wound when an irate slave owner threw a heavy metal weight intending to hit another slave and hit her instead. The injury caused dizziness, pain, and spells of hypersomnia, which occurred
Harriet Tubman
throughout her life. She was a devout Christian and experienced strange visions and vivid dreams, which she ascribed to premonitions from God.
In 1849, Tubman escaped to Philadelphia, then immediately returned to Maryland to rescue her family. Slowly, one group at a time, she brought relatives with her out of the state, and eventually guided dozens of other slaves to freedom. Traveling by night and in extreme secrecy, Tubman (or "Moses", as she was called) "never lost a passenger". Her actions made slave owners anxious and angry, and they posted rewards for her capture. After the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was passed, she helped guide fugitives farther north into British North America, and helped newly freed slaves find work.
When the Civil War began, Tubman worked for the Union Army, first as a cook and nurse, and then as an armed scout and spy. The first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, she guided the raid at Combahee Ferry, which liberated more than 700 slaves...
Is replacing Jackson with Tubman a bow to political correctness?  No doubt.  But that doesn't mean it is also a bad idea.  Tubman deserves to be honored.
I have long believed that you have to judge people according to the standards of the time in which they lived.  Even by that standard, however, slave-owning Jackson falls short.  While no doubt a transformative President, Jackson also forcibly relocated Native Americans in what became known as the "Trail of Tears."  Some ten thousand died from exposure, disease and starvation en route.  Nonetheless, the change in the $20 should be about honoring Tubman, not punishing Jackson via 20-20 historical hindsight.  Our stamps often change to honor various Americans. Why shouldn't our money do so occasionally as well?  The notion that the images displayed on our money should never change is a 20th Century phenomenon that needs to change.
I have no problem with Tubman on the new $20s.  I do though have a problem with the announcement of changes to the other bills in which Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew plans a more blended approach.  The NY Times reports:
While Hamilton would remain on the $10, and Abraham Lincoln on the $5, images of women would be added to the back of both — in keeping with Mr. Lew’s intent “to bring to life” the national monuments depicted there.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Polls Show Trump With Narrow Lead over Cruz in Indiana

Two polls released today show how close the race for the Republican nomination is in the Hoosier state.  A poll by WRTV/Howey Politics shows Donald Trump leading the race with 37%. Texas Senator Ted Cruz finished second at 31% and Ohio Governor John Kasich trailed with 22%.  A Fox
Donald Trump
News survey reported similar results: Trump 41%, Cruz 33% and Kasich 16%.

Trump's leads in both polls are at or inside the margin of error.  Previous results show Trump usually underperforms his poll numbers while Cruz outperforms his. There are exceptions though, most recently New York. 

In the Fox News poll, men heavily favored Trump over Cruz 44% to 33%, but women favored Trump by only 3%.  Although the Fox poll has Trump up by 8 points in likely Republican primary voters, when the poll narrows that group to self-identified Republicans Trump's lead shrinks to 3 points.  That suggests that Indiana's open primary system which permits Democrats to vote in the Republican primary could aid Trump.

Indiana has 57 delegates at stake, 30 are awarded to the statewide winner.  The remaining 27 are apportioned three for the winner of each congressional district.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Trump's New York Rout Increases Importance of Indiana's Primary

Yesterday, New York businessman Donald Trump routed his opponents with a sweeping victory in the Empire State, winning New York with 60.5% of the vote.  Ohio Governor John Kasich finished with 25.1% and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who earlier had complained that Trump had "New York values" finished last with 14.5% of the vote.  Trump received 89 of the 92 delegates awarded in the contest.

That Trump would win New York was never in doubt. The size of the victory though was in question
Donald Trump
and was very important as clearing the 50% hurdle not only statewide but in New York's 27 congressional districts, resulted in a shutout of delegates for the person in second place.

New York represents one of the few states in which Trump has outperformed his poll number.  Trump went into the primary with a Real Clear Politics polling average of 53.1%.  Kasich and Cruz seemed to sense they wouldn't succeed in New York and began focusing their attention on other states.

The Trump train's success is expecting to continue in its tour of Eastern blue states.  In a week, Republican voters in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware go to the polls.  Trump is favored to win all five states.  Cruz, who is second in the delegate tally, will struggle to finish second in those states.  Cruz's one saving grace in those states is proportionality rules that my limit the delegates that Trump collects.

Then comes Indiana.  The Cruz forces are depending on the Hoosier state to be a gateway to success to the western states that follow Indiana's May 3rd primary.  Indiana awards 57 delegates, 30 to the statewide winner and three each to the winner in Indiana's 9 congressional districts.

The importance of Indiana just increased last night.  While Cruz is expected to do much better out west in states like Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota Oregon, Washington, and even California, Indiana is critical to righting his delegate ship after a likely east coast sweep of states by Trump.  Further, given the fact that Indiana eschews proportionality in favor of a plurality wins all delegate system, the state is a rich prize.  If Trump wins Indiana, then those Indiana GOP delegates, who most likely would favor Kasich on a second ballot, will be bound to vote for the New York businessman for the first round.  With a big win in Indiana, Trump will upend the current consensus among political analysts that the GOP is heading for a contested convention in Cleveland.

In a few days, I'll make my Indiana predictions, looking in particular at the state's congressional districts.  A hint on ascertaining what Indiana is likely to do depends on distinguishing congressional districts as being dominated by Reagan (Former) Democrats, Traditional Conservatives and Moderate Republicans. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Fracking Leads to Dramatic Decline in Carbon Emissions

Real Clear Politics today has an interesting article titled "How Fracking Has Reduced Greenhouse Gases."  It's likely to make my liberal friends squirm as they've been conditioned to believe that any energy source, with the exception of renewables like wind and solar, must be bad for the environment.  The RCP article reports though reports good news about fracking that should, but won't, make liberals and their environmentalist nut job friends, happy:
The U.S. Department of Energy published data last week with some amazing revelations -- so amazing that most Americans will find them hard to believe. As a nation, the United States reduced its carbon emissions by 2 percent from last year. Over the past 14 years, our carbon emissions are down more than 10 percent. On a per-unit-of-GDP basis,
U.S. carbon emissions are down by closer to 20 percent.   
Even more stunning: We've reduced our carbon emissions more than virtually any other nation in the world, including most of Europe. 
...
The primary reason carbon emissions are falling is because of hydraulic fracturing -- or fracking.    
Some readers now are probably thinking I've been drinking or have lost my mind. Fracking technology for shale oil and gas drilling is supposed to be evil. Some states have outlawed it. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have come out against it in recent weeks. Schoolchildren have been bombarded with green propaganda about all the catastrophic consequences of fracking.
They are mostly lies. Fracking is simply a new way to get at America's vast storehouse of tens of trillions of dollars worth of shale oil and gas that lies beneath us, coast to coast -- from California to upstate New York. Fracking produces massive amounts of natural gas, and, as a consequence, natural gas prices have fallen in the past decade from above $8 per million BTUs to closer to $2 this year -- a 75 percent reduction -- due to the spike in domestic supplies.
This free fall in prices means that America is using far more natural gas for heating and electricity and much less coal. Here is how the International Energy Agency put it: "In the United States, (carbon) emissions declined by 2 percent, as a large switch from coal to natural gas use in electricity generation took place."
...
So here is the real story in a flash: Thanks to fracking and horizontal drilling technologies, we are producing more natural gas than ever before. Natural gas is a wonder fuel: It is cheap. It is abundant. America has more of it than anyone else -- enough to last several hundred years. And it is clean-burning. Even Nancy Pelosi inadvertently admitted this several years ago before someone had to whisper in her ear that, um, natural gas is a fossil fuel.
Meanwhile, the left has declared war on a technology that has done more to reduce carbon emissions and real pollution emissions than all the green programs ever invented. Maybe the reason is that they aren't so much against pollution as they are against progress.
Yep.  For many on my friends on the left, the anti-fracking and man-is-causing-dangerous-global-warming-that-will-doom-the-planet arguments are not arguments about science, but rather about trying to stop progress.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Unofficial Trump Operative Wants Trump Delegates to Take Loyalty Oaths

Roger Stone, a veteran political operative who aggressively supports Donald Trump, albeit does not hold an official role with the campaign, penned a piece on Breitbart.com this week in which he indicates Trump delegates at the Cleveland Republican National Convention will be required to sign a loyalty pledge to support the New York businessman:
The big steal happens even if Donald Trump hits the magic 1237! In the meantime, the Cruz forces seek to chisel delegates from Trump in states where he won primaries, which we see happening in Louisiana, Arkansas, and elsewhere — plus Colorado, where no primary or caucus took place.
The fix is in. The same insiders who have nearly destroyed the Republican Party are at it again, plotting in a backroom deal to block Donald Trump’s nomination as the GOP candidate for president. Trump has played by the rules and he’s winning big, fair and square. This lobbyist-led plot was concocted by the donor class and others who have
Roger Stone
bought and paid for the allegiance of the dishonest brokers of the Republican Party.
...
We at Stop the Steal, the grassroots uprising, and March on Cleveland will ask every Trump delegate to the Republican convention to sign a pledge that “they will remain committed to vote for the winner of the primary or caucus as chosen by the voters (Donald J. Trump )” through the entire balloting process. In other words, respect the will of the voters.
This will be a voluntary pledge. The voters will know whom they can trust — and who will play along with the insiders’ attempt to steal the nomination from Donald Trump. The media will know too. Then these “Trojan Horses” can explain why our votes don’t matter.
Well, of course, it will be voluntary...because such promises are legally unenforceable.  Stone continues to be surprisingly clueless on how to woo delegates.  Making them sign "loyalty pledges" will likely tick off a lot of delegates who might otherwise be inclined to support Trump throughout the process.  Previously Stone had indicated they will give out the room numbers of delegates who will not support Trump despite the vote in their states. Politico reports:
"We’re going to have protests, demonstrations. We will disclose the hotels and the room numbers of those delegates who are directly involved in the steal," Stone said Monday in a discussion with Stefan Molyneux on Freedomain Radio, as he alleged that Trump's opponents planned to deny the democratic will of Republican primary voters.
"If you’re from Pennsylvania, we’ll tell you who the culprits are. We urge you to visit their hotel and find them. You have a right to discuss this, if you voted in the Pennsylvania primary, for example, and your votes are being disallowed," Stone said.
Yes, because we know the best way to persuade delegates to support Trump is to threaten them.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Commissioner Candidate Takes on Hamilton County's Pay-to-Play Political Establishment

Below are two press releases by Bill Smythe, candidate for Hamilton County Commissioner:


NEWS RELEASE

April 11, 2016                                Contact: Bill Smythe
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                   


SMYTHE ASKS HAMILTON COUNTY VOTERS TO CONSIDER CANDIDATES' MOTIVATIONS FOR RUNNING FOR OFFICE

FISHERS, Indiana - Fishers businessman Bill Smythe today asked Hamilton County voters to take a good look at their options in the County Commissioner's race and consider why each candidate is running for office. Smythe, owner and operator of a local restaurant and bar for over two decades,
Bill Smythe
believes the motivations are obvious, and that the answer will swing the election his way.

Smythe offered, "I got in this race because I was tired of, and concerned by, the network of cronies and insiders that have come to dominate Hamilton County politics”.

Smythe adds, “Without transparency, too many of our tax dollars are obligated to projects that are decided before the public really gets a chance to understand or voice an opinion on the project.”

The contrast is stark. Smythe's opponent, also standing for election for the first time, has spent the past three years raising over $170,000 from vendors who do business or want to do business with Hamilton County, and works as a salesman for a company that bids on multi-million dollar projects with county governments throughout the state. This opponent has recently been implicated in a so-called "pay-to-play" scandal. South Bend media initially reported that Smythe's opponent, salesman Mark Heirbrandt, emailed a county official from whom his company is seeking a multi-million dollar contract and volunteered to help her raise $100,000-$120,000 for her campaign saying he "can provide some assistance" and that he "spoke to several vendors that feel they can help you."

While some media outlets have questioned whether the county prosecutor should look into the matter, Smythe noted, "Legality is an awfully low bar to set for our public officials. Hamilton County voters should expect more. At a minimum, they should expect a commissioner who puts taxpayers first, and who is not in the business of soliciting fat contracts from county governments while also soliciting hundreds of thousand dollars from other contractors."

Smythe filed to run in February, rolling out the slogan "Voters of Vendors." Now Hamilton County voters can see clearly what he meant.



NEWS RELEASE

April 7, 2016

Hamilton County Commissioner Candidate Bill Smythe has been Campaigning Against Pay-to-Play Schemes Like the South Bend Scandal Involving Commissioner Heirbrandt

FISHERS, Indiana - Amid reports out of South Bend that have hit central Indiana media outlets questioning whether Hamilton County Commissioner Mark Heirbrandt was leveraging campaign contributions to a St. Joseph County Commissioner in return for a contract for Heirbrandt's employer, Fishers businessman Bill Smythe again is asking, "How much money is enough?" Smythe added, "This scandal demonstrates precisely why I got into this race in the first place."

Smythe, who has owned and operated Claude & Annie's at 141st Street and State Route 37 since the early 2000s, has promised to place "voters over vendors" in his campaign against Heirbrandt, who is also running for the first time after being elected to fill a vacancy at a caucus run by former Hamilton County chairman Pete Emigh.

Smythe has an uphill battle. Heirbrandt's most recent campaign report showed over $170,000.00 raised primarily from construction companies and other companies doing business with the county, money already being used to run television ads on Indianapolis outlets in his campaign for a local county office.

C:\Users\Jeff\Downloads\IMG_0566.PNG

"I have confidence in the voters of Hamilton County," commented Smythe. "I believe on May 3, Hamilton County Republicans will reject crony capitalism in favor of a businessman who will listen to voters, and who will consider the benefits the people will receive from County contractors, as opposed to the benefits the contractors will receive from the people."

Bill Smythe is a long time Fishers resident and businessman with a history of standing up to government overreach and successfully fighting tax increases. He got into this race promising clear lines of communication as projects are planned, not just when they are announced, transparency in county spending, fighting the heroin epidemic in Hamilton County, and placing voters over vendors.

-30-

Thursday, April 7, 2016

New York Delegate Allocation Rules Sharply Limit Scope of a Trump Victory in the Empire State

Next up on the GOP presidential calendar is the New York primary to be held on Tuesday, April 19th.  The Real Clear Politics average of polls has New York resident Donald Trump leading the state with 53.0% support followed by Ohio Governor John Kasich with 22.0% and Texas Senator Ted Cruz in third at 18.6%.

Donald Trump
With a total of 95 delegates, the state should give Trump the opportunity to score a possible knock out victory on his way to securing the necessary 1237 delegates for a first round victory at the convention.  But the way the state awards delegates sharply limits the possibility Trump will win an overwhelming number of delegates in the Empire State.

Most states that award delegates for a statewide victory and victories within the state's congressional districts, tend to award the delegates roughly evenly. New York is different.  The winner of the New York primary gets only 14 delegates.  Trump will undoubtedly win those.  The rest of the 81 delegates are awarded by congressional district. That's where any thought of a Trump sweep of the New York delegates goes South.

New York has 27 congressional districts.  Each have three delegates to award.  Two go to the winner of the district, the other delegate goes to the second place candidate in the district.  A 50/20 rule also applies.  If the winner of the congressional district gets more than 50% he gets all three delegates. If the second place finisher gets less than 20%, the winner of the district gets all three delegates.  Of course, since there are only three candidates competing, any time Trump falls below 50%, the second place candidate would have to have more than 20%.

Even if Trump makes it to 50% statewide, there will inevitably be some districts for which he doesn't hit the 50% threshold. 

I will do a scenario to illustrate..  Let's give Trump New York and say he wins 22 of the 27 districts with 10 of those by 50% or more to sweep those districts delegates.  Let's assume he finishes at least second in the ones he doesn't win.   Here is the math:

Trump:  14 + 30 + 24 + 5 = 73
Non-Trump Candidates:   22

It's a big win, no doubt, but the fact New York is not a statewide winner-take-all state means, in the example above, that the non-Trump candidates receive 22 delegates that Trump would have otherwise received, i.e. a 44 delegate swing.

Undoubtedly Cruz and Kasich have figured this out and are fighting in the individual congressional districts.  Meanwhile Trump seems to be concentrating on the big population centers, including New York City.  Today, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani announced he will support Trump.  That will help Trump in New York City, but it would not seem to boost him much in the more rural and more conservative New York districts where the more liberal former mayor of New York City is not as popular.

Hamilton County Commissioner's Emails Suggest Pay-to-Play Accepted Local Government Practice

During this year's legislative session, the Indiana Senate passed a bill that would have prohibited contractors from making political donations to government officials who were deciding the contractors' bids for work.  It, unfortunately, died in the Indiana House.  Developments this week show why such legislation is much needed.

Hamilton County Commissioner Mark Heirbrandt is a senior account executive for Indianapolis-based renewable energy firm Ameresco Inc.  His company is bidding on a green energy project in St. Joseph County.  In an email exchange with St. Joseph Commissioner Deb Fleming, Heirbrandt discussed the merits of his company while at the same time raising the possibility of
Hamilton Count Commissioner
Mark Heirbrandt
helping Fleming out with her campaign.  The Indianapolis Business Journal reports:
According to the information released by Democrats, Heirbrandt sent an email to Fleming in January about the green energy project his company was bidding on and included comments about her campaign.
Fleming is chairwoman of the committee that was formed to evaluate the proposals for the project.
On Jan. 9, Heirbrandt  said in an email to her that he met with other local elected officials to discuss the project but wanted to follow up with her because they had not had a chance to talk.
In the same email, he said he heard she may have opposition in the upcoming election and offered to provide assistance.
“Anything you can do to help is greatly appreciated,” Fleming replied Jan. 10.
On Jan. 17, Heirbrandt emailed her again to discuss fundraising opportunities and said he spoke with vendors about her. He asked her how much her campaign might cost and whether she’d be in a contested race in the primary or the general election.
“There are several vendors that are willing to help you put something together,” Heirbrandt wrote. “It will just need to be planned.”
Fleming responded that her ideal campaign would require at least $100,000 to $120,000 to cover the costs of mailers, TV and radio ads, and billboards.
Heirbrandt told her that several vendors should be able to help and that he’d talk to her soon about it.
The next email in the chain is from Heirbrandt on March 21, asking about the status of the decision to select a proposal for the energy project. No company has been selected yet.
Heirbrandt wants people to believe that his raising the possibility of funding Fleming's campaign at the very same time he was discussing the merits of Ameresco's pending bid would be viewed as two separate, unrelated matters.  In short, Heirbrandt thinks the public is really stupid.  Of course, Fleming would have assumed the two were related as would anyone with an ounce of common sense.

Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana picks up on another, possibly more important, point.  In the email, Heirbrandt suggests he could line up other vendors to support Fleming's campaign.  The only way he would have that sort of leverage is for vendors to be concerned they might lose contracts in Hamilton County if they didn't do Heirbrandt a favor by donating money to help out Fleming.  Welch concludes his article on the subject:
The bigger picture of course is whether Heirbrandt was in a position to direct other vendors to contribute to Fleming's campaign by leveraging his position as a Hamilton Co. Commissioner. That is the implication to be made from his e-mail exchanges suggesting he could help her raise money from other vendors. Why would other vendors be listening to his suggestions on campaign contributions unless it was a way of currying favor with him in his capacity as a county commissioner with contract decision-making authority? It's just an exercise in futility to discuss, though, since "pay to play" has been permissible activity by both federal and state prosecutors in Indiana, even if there's a long list of public officials who've been sent to prison for doing the same thing in neighboring Illinois. The fact that two public officials would so cavalierly discuss campaign contributions and a government contract in the same e-mail demonstrates just how bad things have gotten in the Hoosier state.
Pay-to-play politics is the worst at the local level.  In a county bereft of two party competition, Hamilton County government is consumed with the practice. That county's politicians are all too willing to hand over taxpayer money to government contractors in order to reap the rewards of  large campaign contributions and cushy private sector jobs and contracts in return.  But even in counties that do have some level of party competition, counties like St. Joseph and Marion, the practice thrives.

The time has long passed for the legislature to put a halt to local pay-to-play politics.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Cruz Easily Defeats Trump in Wisconsin; Sanders Continues His String of Wins Over Hillary Clinton

Ted Cruz won a big victory in the Wisconsin GOP primary last night, defeating Donald Trump 48.2% to 37.1%.  Ohio Governor John Kasich finished third with 14.1%

In winning, the Texas Senator won 6 of 8 congressional districts and 36 of the state's delegates.  Trump, who won two Wisconsin congressional districts, received 6 delegates.   After the aberration
Sen. Ted Cruz
of Arizona, Cruz returned to his practice of outperforming his polls by securing a 13 point victory.   Recent Wisconsin polls had Cruz winning by no more than 10 points, and most were single digits.   The most recent Wisconsin poll, by the sometimes ridiculed polling outfit the American Research Group (ARG), actually showed Trump defeating Cruz in Wisconsin by 10 points.

The Cruz victory increases substantially the possibility that Trump will not arrive at the national convention in Cleveland with the requisite 1237 delegates required to secure a first ballot victory.  Meanwhile Cruz is maneuvering behind the scenes to ensure that, even in states Trump won, those delegates actually support him.  Thus, when if the convention goes to a second ballot those delegates will be unbound and free to vote for Cruz instead of Trump.

Meanwhile on the Democratic side, Sanders won Wisconsin 56.6% to Hillary Clinton's 43.1%. This makes six state contests that Sanders has won in a row.   The win though highlights Sanders' challenge in catching Clinton in the delegate race.  Despite the solid victory, Sanders won only 47 of the state's 83 Democratic delegates.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Kasich's Baffling Delegate Strategy

I am not one of those who does not believe Ohio Governor John Kasich has a "path to victory." His chance to win is through a brokered GOP convention the odds of which increased substantially with Trump's campaign stumbles this past week. But part of the Kasich strategy would seem to be making sure Donald Trump does not win a first ballot victory at the convention by arriving with 1237 delegates.

Ohio Governor John Kasich
In that regard Wisconsin's 42 delegates, divvied up by a majority-take-all statewide and by congressional districts, is critically important.  According to the historically most reliable Wisconsin poll, that conducted by the Marquette Law School, Texas Senator Ted Cruz has 40% support, Trump 30% and Kasich 19%. Trump might win a congressional district or two, but Cruz is on a path to cruise to a victory in Tuesday's primary, winning almost all the almost all the state's delegates, and to also help out Kasich for his only chance...a brokered convention.

So what does Kasich do? He attacks Cruz. His Super PAC recently began running a "Lyin Ted" ad in Wisconsin. The ad starts out with the line "Many just call him Lyin' Ted." The ad which shows a growing Cruz nose, targets the Texas Senator for his claim that he is best positioned to beat Hillary Clinton and his campaign's dissemination of rumors that Ben Carson was dropping out before the Iowa caucuses. The ad concludes "If Ted Cruz's mouth is moving, he's lying,"

So much for Kasich being above political mudslinging. But what I find shocking is the horrible strategy behind the ad. In a three way race, those kind of attacks always benefit the third party not involved in the attack, i.e. Trump. The attacker and the candidate being attacked both have their negatives driven up; what the attacker hopes is that the candidate targeted will have his negatives driven up even more. Then you have the fact that Kasich has very limited funds and he's spending those funds in Wisconsin where he has little chance of victory?


Kasich is, however, positioned to help Trump defeat Cruz. Either the strategists who run his Super PAC are 1) clueless abut political strategy; or 2) deliberately trying to help Trump win a first ballot victory, perhaps in exchange for a VP spot on the ticket. It's hard for me to believe the latter so I'll go with the former, i.e. that Kasich's political operatives are just plain dumb.

Trump Flips on Abortion Yet Again, Now He Supports the Current (Abortion on Demand) Law

During a 1999 interview, Donald Trump famously said he was "very pro-choice" and that he even supported partial birth abortion, a procedure that even many ardent abortion rights supporters find repugnant and want banned.  Despite his staunch views on the subject, Trump would go on to later claim he became pro life, conveniently just before deciding to run for President as a Republican.

I have long wished for a reporter to simply ask Trump what caused him to switch his views from
Donald Trump
being so ardently pro-choice that he supported partial birth abortion to being pro life.  That's a huge leap.  So what motivated the switch? Of course, we do know, Trump was perfectly aware that being pro-choice was a disqualifier for a Republican seeking the Presidency.  So he changed his stance. Even Trump, however, knew he couldn't say that political expediency was the motivating factor. So he'd have to come up with another reason on the fly and I'm betting he would have bungled the answer revealing himself to be a phony on the abortion issue.

My question did not even have to be asked though for Trump to be exposed as a pro life fraud.  In response to a question from MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Trump on Wednesday said he not only wanted abortion banned (except for rape, incest and life of the mother), he wanted the women who sought illegal abortions to be criminally prosecuted, a position that no pro life organization anywhere takes.  Trump had clearly not read the pro life script.  Within hours, Trump had flipped releasing a statement saying that he only wanted the abortion providers prosecuted, not the women who chose the illegal abortion.

Well, guess what?  Two days later Trump flipped again.  In an interview with Face the Nation's John Dickerson, Trump now declares that "the laws [on abortion] are set.  And I think we have to leave it that way."  Translation...Trump supports Roe v. Wade, i.e. abortion on demand.

So many of my pro life friends fell for Trump's fake conversion on the abortion issue.  Now that that conversion has been exposed as a fraud, will they finally get off the Trump train?

Friday, April 1, 2016

Analysis Suggests Clinton Would Defeat Trump in an Electoral College Landslide

The argument for Donald Trump as nominee is that he would skew the political equation, bringing Democrats into the fold while putting into play states that have previously consistently gone for the Democrats.  I have never bought this analysis.  While Trump does attract some Democrats and independents, that is more than offset by the number of Democrats, independents and even Republicans who will never vote for Donald J. Trump under any circumstance.  Recent polls have
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
shown the depth of the anti-Trump mood of the general electorate

Of course, we don't have a national presidential election.  Rather the race for the presidency is decided by 51 separate contests held in the states and the District of Columbia  The fight is over the selection of electors in each state, the total of which is equal to the number of Senators and Representatives each state has.  (D.C. also has three electors via constitutional amendment.) The Founders didn't trust democracy and thought average people might be too inflamed by the passions of the moment to exercise the best judgment on who should be President.  Instead Electors chosen by the people would be the sort of enlightened folks who would exercise the best judgment about  which candidate should be President.  Very quickly though the Electoral College became a rubber-stamp of the popular vote within the states.  The Electoral College never became the deliberative body (each state's delegation was to meet and debate their choice after the popular election) that the Founders expected.

But the Electoral College remains and it is the only thing that counts.  In May of last year, University of Virginia political scientist Larry J. Sabato in May of 2015 put together an electoral college map that looked like this:



This week Sabato released an updated Electoral College map presuming a Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump matchup.  As he did with the May 2015 map, Sabato used each state’s electoral history, developing demographics, and current polling data to make his projection.  The result shows that Clinton would beat Trump in an Electoral College landslide.


Sabato also provides a helpful table showing the movement of the states in the new analysis:


According to Sabato, Cruz would be the better general election candidate than Trump, holding some Republican states while possibly turning some Democratic-leaning states into toss-ups. But Sabato notes that even Cruz is a far weaker general election candidate than other candidates.  Reardless of the outcome of the nomination fight, Sabato says the GOP will remain divided by the bruising nomination fight:
Most important of all, the national Republican Party appears certain to remain deeply divided, whether Trump or Cruz is the nominee. If the prize is taken from Trump via convention maneuvering when he has by far the most delegates and is reasonably close to a majority (1,237 delegates), a sizable percentage of Trump voters could defect to a third-party ticket or sit out the election. If Trump wins the Republican crown, we would also expect a considerable chunk of GOP voters to go elsewhere on the ballot, or go fishing entirely on Election Day. 
Thus, it could be the nightmare scenario for the party of Lincoln: Heads you lose, tails you lose.
The irony is that Hillary Clinton is a beatable candidate. She has unique vulnerabilities, many a product of being shopworn after a quarter-century of public controversies. Other Republican candidates, had they been the party standard-bearer (such as John Kasich or Marco Rubio), might well have started as the frontrunner. But Rubio is long gone, and Kasich is far behind Trump and Cruz — with no credible pathway to the nomination that we’ve heard. If either is selected as the vice presidential nominee, it will not fundamentally change the election picture. VP candidates almost never do.
The events of these past two weeks might well signify the beginning of the end of Donald Trump as GOP nominee.  He's likely to lose Wisconsin, perhaps badly,and other states such as Indiana, leaving the New York businessman short of the 1237 delegates he needs for the nomination. If Trump is short on the first ballot, he is very unlikely to make up the difference on the second ballot as many of the delegates obligated to vote for Trump on the first ballot due to his winning their states' contests are not actual Trump supporters.  I also do not think it is a given that second place Cruz then wins the nomination on the second ballot though.  The nomination could be thrown open to a complete outsider.  I've long argued that former Texas Governor Rick Perry, a staunch conservative with a record of accomplishment would have been the best nominee  Perry, is certainly never been considered pro-Establishment and he could have bridged the gap between the two camps.

Regardless, it appears that a Trump nomination might not only hand the White House to the Democrats...again, but it might be so lopsided that it gives the Democrats control of the Senate and House.  That makes it imperative at the very least that the Republicans put an acceptable candidate at the top of the ticket.

Monday, March 28, 2016

For the First Time Most Democrats Are Feeling the Bern

The coverage about the Democratic delegate race overlooks a very important development last week. For the first time during the 2016 campaign cycle a poll showed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders leading former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The poll by Bloomberg has Sanders at 49% and Clinton at 48%.  While that's well within the margin
Sen. Bernie Sanders
of error, in June of 2015, polls showed Clinton as much as 60% ahead of Sanders. It's been quite a rally by Sanders.

Clinton leads Sanders 1243-975 in pledged delegates. That is a margin that could be bridged especially in light of recent Sanders' momentum, as evidenced by landslide victories in five recent state caucuses.  However, Clinton's commanding 469-29 lead in superdelegates makes it virtually impossible for Sanders to win.  While the superdelegates could switch their allegiences, I think that is unlikely to happen. 

For the record, I don't buy the Clinton talking point that she will be a better general election candidate than Sanders. Clinton's negatives are extraordinarily high (exceeded only by Republican Donald Trump) and every poll shows Sanders, not Clinton, the stronger candidate against the GOP in the fall.

Friday, March 25, 2016

April Contests in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania Loom Large for Republican Presidential Candidates

Next up for Republicans is the Wisconsin GOP primary which awards its 42 delegates to whichever candidate wins each of its 8 congressional district and statewide.
Presently Donald Trump is about 500 delegates short of the delegates he needs for a first ballot victory.  Another way of looking at it is Trump can only lose about 272 more delegates to fall below the necessary 1237 required for a first round win at this summer's GOP national convention to be held in Cleveland this Summer..  If Trump falls short, then he probably loses the nomination.  Second place Senator Ted Cruz's organization has actively worked behind the scenes to put his people in place as delegates regardless of the state's outcome.  As a result, those delegates, once unbound if there is a second round of voting at the convention, are likely to favor Cruz over Trump.

There has been limited polling done in Wisconsin.  However, Emerson College filled that gap releasing a poll on Wednesday with Cruz leading Trump 36% to 35% and Ohio Governor John Kasich running third at 19%. The poll also revealed that Kasich voters had a more favorable view of Cruz than Trump and, thus, his presence in the race, at least in Wisconsin, are a drag on Cruz's support.

The contrary may be happening in Pennsylvania, another key state coming up on April 26th.  Polling there shows Trump leading Kasich 33% to 30% while Cruz trails with 20%. That state is critical to Trump's quest for 1237 because it awards 71 delegates, including 3 for who wins each of its 18 congressional districts.  Those 54 Pennsylvania delegates representing the districts are unbound, even on the first round of voting.  Thus, even if Trump "wins" the delegates on election night, those delegates don't have to support him at the convention on the first ballot.   Yes, you heard that right.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

As Transportation Revolution Dawns Indianapolis Needs to Put Brakes on Mass Transit Plans

A couple years ago, the Indiana legislature authorized Indianapolis and adjoining counties to hold a referendum to increase local taxes to pay for a massive new mass transit system. Now, as Indianapolis leaders are preparing to move forward with the referendum. a new transportation era, indeed a revolution, is appearing on the horizon.  Indianapolis needs to put the brake on the referendum until we're sure which direction the revolution will take us.

How people will move from one place to another, particularly in an urban environment, will change rapidly over the next decade. The first salvo in the revolution was the explosion in the popularity of
Driverless Bus Used in Greece
Uber, the system by which people can use smartphones to book travel in private automobiles.  Next came the rapid development of driverless cars, an innovation which has been in the works for awhile but made possible by today's GPS technology. Several companies plan to introduce driverless cars to the consumer by 2020 and some may well beat that deadline.

We are quickly moving toward a future in which private car ownership, especially in cities, will be a thing of the past.  A BBC report from a few days ago describes:
Your current car (unless you’re a Domino’s delivery guy) is only in motion about 5 per cent of the time, on average. It is, however, depreciating in value 100 per cent of the time, which makes it a pretty bad investment. Personal ownership (with its insurance, maintenance and other hassles) will cease to make sense as autonomous vehicles reach saturation. You’ll be either paying by the mile (a la future-Uber) or subscribing on a monthly basis. You’ll pay based on the trim package of your robot ride, but also based on demand and congestion, and as soon as your car drops you off, it will disappear into the fleet....
That change will dramatically reduce if not eliminate completely the need for on-street parking.  On that score the BBC article points that out:
Autonomous cars don’t need to park near their drivers — who, incidentally, will be dropped off right at the door of their destination — so parking garages can be under a new city park, or an infill housing complex, or way out in the ‘burbs. And even if they remain where they are, garages will be much smaller, or hold a lot more cars, since autonomous vehicles can pack themselves more tightly....
A little more than five years ago, the City of Indianapolis entered into a 50 year contract with Dallas-based ACS for the privatization of its parking meters.  Of course, the contract obligates the City to pay ACS even if the meters are no longer needed.  That contract was an abysmal deal before the era of the driverless car.  Twenty years from now it will be looked upon as colossal mistake.

That transportation is about to experience dramatic changes is why Indianapolis should not repeat the ACS parking contract mistake.  Engaging in a large-scale built out of a system costing up to a billion dollars, and entering into the inevitable long-term contracts with vendors, removes the flexibility a city needs to respond to the rapidly changing transportation environment. It could well be that public transportation will remain important, though inevitably that will involve driverless, and most likely much smaller, vehicles. Indianapolis' plan to build out its mass transit system by buying large, heavy buses that carry 40-50 passengers may well not be the future. Instead it might be better to go with airport shuttle-sized, driverless buses such as the one seen above.

The fact is nobody knows what the future might bring.  Why not wait a few more years until we know where the new technology is going to lead us?