Elections & Politics

Elle Moxley / indianapublicmedia.org/stateimpact

In politics, as in life, there are good days and bad ones.

As of late, nobody knows this better than gubernatorial candidate and current State Superintendent Glenda Ritz.

Following allegations last week that Ritz’s campaign may have violated some election finance laws, the candidate and her team are now in clean up mode – but progress has been slow.

To make matters more complicated, Ritz lags far behind her opponents in campaign funding.

Doug Waldron / https://www.flickr.com/photos/dougww/625434149

Indianapolis officials predict some of the country’s most notable politicians will likely make stops in the city next June as it hosts the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Visit Indy and Mayor Greg Ballard announced Tuesday that the Circle City had won the rights to the conference. Ballard says the conference is often a popular stop on the presidential campaign trail.

Payne Horning / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Only one sitting Indiana governor has lost a reelection bid since the state amended its constitution in 1972 allowing governors to serve consecutive terms. Some believe Governor Mike Pence could be the second.

One of those people is Kevin Warren, an Indianapolis realtor. He said he had never considered himself politically active, but that changed after Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act this spring.

Lauren Clark / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is making his first bid for federal office, announcing Monday he will join a crowded field seeking to replace Ninth District Congressman Todd Young.

Zoeller says as Attorney General he’s repeatedly battled what he sees as overreach by the federal government, defending Indiana’s right to make its own decisions on everything from EPA regulations to the Affordable Care Act. 

The southern Indiana native says he’s running for Congress to continue that battle.

Indiana Farm Bureau

About a month after he announced his plans to retire as President of the Indiana Farm Bureau, it seems Don Villwock may not be out of agriculture politics just yet.

Villwock, who’s led the Indiana chapter for 14 years, says he’d planned to return to his family farm in Knox County, but was encouraged by a number of southern Farm Bureau leaders to try to succeed Bob Stallman as president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Villwock will run against the presidents of the Oregon, Arizona and Georgia Farm Bureaus and says he thinks it’s a win-win proposition.

Indiana Senate Republicans

Congressman Todd Young's (R-9th) announcement he‘ll run for the Senate creates a second open U.S. House race in Indiana next year. Senator Erin Houchin (R-Salem) says she‘s considering a bid for Young‘s seat. She was U.S. Senator Dan Coats‘ regional director before running for office herself last year, and was Ninth District Republican Party chair when Young wrested the seat away from Democrat Baron Hill.

Houchin says she doesn‘t have a timeline in mind for a decision, but says constituents have been encouraging her to make the race.

Indiana Public Broadcasting

Congressman Todd Young (R-9th) Sunday confirmed widespread speculation, joining what’s now a crowded Republican primary for U.S. Senator Dan Coats’ seat. 

There had been expectations circling for weeks that Young, a two-term congressman and former Marine, would join the race to replace Dan Coats.  Those expectations were boosted by recent fundraising numbers showing a one million dollar haul last quarter for the Bloomington attorney. 

City of Frankfort

While Indianapolis pastor Charles Harrison ponders a third-party bid for mayor, independents in other cities are already off and running. Independents have launched mayoral bids in at least 15 cities.

In Tipton, Southport and Butler, independents are the only challengers to Republican mayors. Former Tipton Mayor Dan Delph was a Democrat when he won the job in 2007, but has voted in Republican primaries since losing in the Democratic primary in 2011, forcing him to mount his comeback bid as an independent.  

K. Latham / https://www.flickr.com/photos/programwitch/

Pro-LGBT groups say they’re going to organize a voter registration drive as part of their push to obtain civil rights protections for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

Ninety-seven days after Indiana’s religious freedom bill was signed into law, the controversial measure known as RFRA took effect Wednesday.

Pro-LGBT activist Rick Sutton says some of its negative impact was undone through a legislative “fix” back in April.

Office of the Governor

As Gov. Mike Pence announced his re-election bid Thursday, the governor struck back at his critics while acknowledging some blame for the religious freedom bill controversy — and Pence says he’s ready for a fight.

The last few months of Mike Pence’s term have been marked by controversy and criticism, from the proposed state-run news service to his handling of the religious freedom bill.

And state Democratic Party Chair John Zody says Pence’s actions have left the Hoosier middle class angry.

courtesy Randy Strasser For Mayor

When the state’s Stellar Communities program started four years ago, it was with an eye to injecting money into communities looking for an economic lift.

But in economics, as in politics, there are differing views on how money is best targeted for a municipality’s needs. This year, in the first election cycle since the program started, several mayors of cities with Stellar grants are leaving office.

Marc Nozell / https://www.flickr.com/photos/marcn/459271450

The next Democratic presidential nominee could be the oldest in the party’s history. Democrats have only nominated one non-incumbent over 60 since 1880, but frontrunner Hillary Clinton turns 68 this year  and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) turns 74 in September. 

Both candidates would set the record for the party’s oldest nominee, and Sanders would be the oldest first-term nominee in U.S. history.

Kyle Stokes / http://indianapublicmedia.org/stateimpact/

Education is expected to be a major part of the governor’s race in 2016 with State Superintendent Glenda Ritz entering the race.

But Ritz says she plans to address a wide range of issues -- not just those relating to schools and education policy.

StateImpact Indiana’s Rachel Morello explains how Ritz’s role as an educator will likely play into the race as her campaign gets off the ground.

courtesy U.S. Congress

Three weeks after the Senate fought its way to approval of fast-track trade authority, the bill is in an even tougher battle in the House.

The House could vote as early as this week on the bill allowing the White House to send the Trans-Pacific Partnership to Congress for an up-or-down vote, without amendments. The deal has scrambled Washington‘s usual divisions, with most Republicans backing President Obama, and Democrats leading the effort to defeat the bill.

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

There's still only one House member running to replace Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) next year -- at least for now.

Congressman Todd Rokita (R-4th) sent an e-mail Wednesday indicating he will not challenge former state Republican chairman Eric Holcomb and Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-3rd) for the GOP nomination next year.

"While I am prepared to serve statewide again," the former Secretary of State writes, "If the question is ‘where can we do the most good for Indiana?’," Rokita feels the answer for him is still in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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