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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, April 28, 2019 1:00 am

Senate off to get 'blue-plate special' in ending early

BRIAN FRANCISCO and NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

State lawmakers succeeded in wrapping up their 2019 session five days early – but who really won?

The Senate ended earlier than the House almost every day, including by 3 p.m. on Monday. That led House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, to note that the Senate was off to get the “blue-plate special.”

The House also worked later Tuesday night. Despite the Senate cutting out of work early Monday and the House working longer, it was the Senate that adjourned the session first.

“They got a lot of sleep last night,” Bosma quipped, noting his chief of staff came up to him and said, “They're winning!”

Bosma denied that the 2019 session would be his swan song as rumors have swirled that he would resign soon. But when asked whether he was committing to fulfilling his term, he said, “I'm not making any commitments.”

Holcomb holds steady in poll

Roughly half of Hoosier voters approved of Gov. Eric Holcomb in the first quarter of this year, according to recent polling.

Morning Consult released polling results Thursday showing 49% of registered voters in Indiana approved of Holcomb in the first quarter, 22% disapproved and 29% had no opinion. His ratings were unchanged from the fourth quarter of 2018.

Holcomb began his term in 2017 with 54% approval and has hovered around 50% since then in Morning Consult's quarterly surveys. Between 19% and 24% of voters have disapproved of him over that time.

Holcomb was more popular than either of Indiana's U.S. senators in the first quarter. Morning Consult found 40% of Hoosier voters approved of Republican Sen. Mike Braun, who took office in January, while 27% disapproved of him. Republican Sen. Todd Young was approved by 39% of voters and disapproved by 25%.

Morning Consult said it conducted nearly 473,000 surveys with registered voters across the nation from Jan. 1 through March 31. The most popular governor and senator were Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, approved by 73% of Massachusetts voters, and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, approved by 62% of Vermont voters. The least popular were Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, approved by 33% of Kentucky voters, and Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, approved by 33% of New Jersey voters.

Federal fundraising

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks raised about $155,000 in campaign contributions in the first quarter, or about $5,000 less than he did a year earlier in an election year.

Banks, R-3rd, had roughly $122,000 in cash on hand as of March 31, about $310,000 less than a year earlier, according to the campaign finance report he filed recently with the Federal Election Commission.

Banks stands for reelection in his northeast Indiana district in 2020. The Columbia City resident received almost 65% of the vote last year and 70% when first elected to the House in 2016.

Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-2nd, whose district includes parts of Kosciusko County, reported more than $324,000 in first-quarter receipts, including almost $176,000 in contributions and $149,000 in money transferred to her campaign from other political committees, and she had almost $362,000 in available cash. Walorski received nearly 55% of the vote last year to become the first House member from the South Bend-area district to win a fourth straight term since Democrat Tim Roemer in 1996.

Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., who next stands for reelection in 2022, raised $197,000 in the first quarter and had almost $409,000 in available cash, according to his FEC report. Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., who next stands for reelection in 2024, raised nearly $146,000 and had $125,000 in available cash.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at bfrancisco@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. An expanded Political Notebook can be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.