South Bend Tribune: Letters: Don’t give up hope, America

Don’t give up, America. We are not as hopelessly divided as we think. The seeds of the defeat of Fred Upton and Jackie Walorski sprouted Tuesday in full germination throughout Michigan and America. And they will in Indiana, too, this November.

You see, the vote totals from last Tuesday clearly show that there is a sizable core of real Republicans who have held onto their personal integrity. Some who are regular Republican voters and who voted for Trump stayed home on Tuesday. They did not dare cross that line because they have watched what has happened to hard-core Trump loyalists in their community who did cross that point of no return.

Some of these moderate Republicans — more than a few — may have even voted for a Democrat.

Either way they decided that the never-Trumpers were right all along.

With their last-second arrival like the U.S. Cavalry to the rescue — just like in the movies — our country may still be saved.

6th Congressional District voters in Michigan should get familiar with Matt Longjohn and Hoosiers in the 2nd Congressional District need to bone up on Mel Hall. They will have good feelings about these candidates and the future of America.

Wayne Falda


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WSBT: Sen. Donnelly says he is looking out for the health of Hoosiers

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but insurance is what pays the bills when you finally go in for a checkup.

Senator Joe Donnelly says he wants to make sure Hoosiers can actually afford that visit.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but insurance is what pays the bills when you finally go in for a checkup.

Senator Joe Donnelly says he wants to make sure Hoosiers can actually afford that visit.

He and Democratic congressional candidates Mel Hall and Don Westerhausen spoke with Hoosiers about their health care stories.

Everyone at the table had something in common — they had struggled with finding quality, affordable insurance.

Jennica Liberatore is a mother of triplets

“They are hysterical,” she says. “They all have very different personalities and it’s kind of funny to see them develop those personalities, because normally siblings aren’t all the same age!”

Liberatore’s triplets are 4 now, and healthy. But when they were born, they arrived three months early.

“It was multiple, multiple millions of dollars that it cost for them to be in the NICU,” she said.

Liberatore says she and her husband were able to pay for that three month stay and more because of the Affordable Care Act, which eliminated annual and lifetime coverage caps.

“After they were home from the hospital they needed physical therapies, they needed extra medication, they needed extra vaccines and things like that.”

Without those caps, Liberatore might have had to file for medical bankruptcy.

“And that affects your housing, your food security, everything because you are in bankruptcy, you don’t have the money to do things.”

Those caps could be back on the table, along with other things.

“There’s an effort right now to sabotage the affordable care act,” said Donnelly. “The administration has filed a lawsuit to try to end coverage for pre-existing conditions.”

Donnelly says he’s fighting to protect the Affordable Care Act.

“That’s my job is to fight for Hoosiers. To fight for our jobs, to fight for our health care, to fight to make sure our families can have a better future, and that’s what this is about.”

WSBT 22 reached out to Donnelly and Hall’s running opponents today — Congressional Candidate Mike Braun and Representative Jackie Walorski.

Braun did not get back to us.

Walorski did send us a statement. She said:

“With rising premiums and fewer options, Hoosier families need more affordable health care and more control over how they pay for it. That’s why I fought to prevent cuts to children’s health insurance, helped pass long-term funding for community health centers, and voted to end Obamacare’s burdensome individual mandate. I’m committed to finding commonsense solutions to empower Hoosier families and help ease the financial burden of health care.”

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Roll Call: Walorski Opponent Drops More than $100,000 On Ad

Rep. Jackie Walorski’s Democratic challenger in Indiana’s 2nd District announced Wednesday an ad buy worth more than $100,000.

Democratic businessman Mel Hall’s latest ad highlights his time as a minister in inner city Detroit.

Hall’s ad cites the Bible verse Luke 12:48, which says “To whom much is given, from him much is expected,” as motivation.

The campaign said Hall’s second ad of the general election would play in South Bend on broadcast and on cable in Chicago.

Last month, the New Democrats’ political arm endorsed Hall and he has poured some of his own money into the race.

Both Walorski and President Donald Trump won the district by more than 23 points in 2016.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales changed the rating of the race from Solid Republican to Likely Republican in May.

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Newsmax: Indiana Dem Spends $100K in Ads Against Rep. Walorski

Democrat Mel Hall, who is challenging GOP Rep. Jackie Walorski in Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District, announced Wednesday an ad buy worth more than $100,000, Roll Call is reporting.

The ad notes Hall’s time as a minister in inner city Detroit and cites the Bible verse Luke 12:48: “To whom much is given, from him much is expected,” as motivation, according to Roll Call.

The ad will be broadcast in South Bend and in Chicago. It is Hall’s second ad buy for the general election.

Walorski and President Donald Trump both won the district in 2016 by more than 23 points.

She is seeking her fourth term after first taking office in 2013, the South Bend Tribune noted.

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South Bend Tribune: Colwell: Why Jackie Walorski changed her position on debates

Readers ask why Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, the Republican incumbent in Indiana’s 2nd District, agreed to three televised debates with Democratic challenger Mel Hall. She refused televised debates with the prior two Democratic challengers and won big each time.

So, why change?

No mystery.

When refusing to debate became more damaging politically than any damage likely to occur in debates, Walorski wisely decided to “welcome the opportunity to discuss the issues that matter most to Hoosier families.”

She declined televised debate in campaigns against the prior two Democratic nominees, Joe Bock in 2014 and Lynn Coleman in 2016, because their challenges were not serious threats. The candidates were serious, of course, and tried hard. But they lacked the resources and organizations to come close.

Incumbents with leads — Democrats as well as Republicans — traditionally are advised by their political consultants to avoid debates that give lesser-known challengers enhanced name recognition and a chance to hammer at some telling issue or silly mistake and perhaps catch up.

Not debating certainly didn’t hurt Walorski last time. She won by a landslide, carrying nine of the 10 counties in the district and coming very close in traditionally Democratic St. Joseph County. Who cared that she didn’t debate? Not many voters, except for those who were not going to vote for her anyway.

This time it’s different.

Hall, though still trailing Walorski significantly in funding and still regarded as the underdog, has an organization in place for a first-class challenge. He proved to be an able campaigner and built momentum and name recognition in winning all the counties in the Democratic primary election.

He began harping in the primary campaign about Walorski not debating and not holding public meetings, claiming she wasn’t in touch with the district.

In challenging for three televised debates, Hall said “accountable leadership” calls for giving voters “the chance to hear directly from us.”

He pointed out that Walorski, back when she was a challenger against then-Rep. Joe Donnelly in 2010, called for “no less than six debates.”

Hall urged supporters to publicize his debate challenge on Facebook and Twitter. They did.

Walorski knew if she refused again to debate that Hall would for the rest of the campaign portray her as afraid and unwilling to let voters see her answering debate questions. And groups seeking to sponsor debates also would be unrelenting in pressure.

This time it could hurt.

So, Walorski quickly accepted the challenge for three televised debates.

Where and when they might be held now is being negotiated. Debate negotiations often are difficult, with disagreements over formats. Who will be on a panel asking questions? Or will there be a panel? Will candidates be able to ask questions of each other? Who will be the moderator? Will there be questions from the audience? Some debate negotiations even have involved differences over where candidates will stand and where cameras will be located.

Who will win?

The reaction probably will be what is found after most political debates. Supporters of Walorski will believe she won. Supporters of Hall will believe he won.

Undecided viewers or ones only leaning one way or the other could be swayed over differences on some issue — the economy, health care, immigration, trade, whether President Donald Trump should be fully supported or restrained.

Democrats who wanted Walorski to debate because of belief that she would self-destruct are likely to be disappointed. She didn’t decline to debate before out of fear of blundering to defeat. In her last televised debate, in 2012, in a close race with Brendan Mullen, she had no blunders, maintained her lead and won.

Walorski wasn’t ducking debates out of some debilitating fear. She didn’t bother with debates because she didn’t have to. Until now.

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USA Today: Nancy Pelosi wants to be House speaker again. Can she overcome opposition in her own party?

Last week, Indiana Democrats Mel Hall and Liz Watson added their names to the growing list of House candidates calling for “new leadership” and promising not to support Nancy Pelosi as Democratic leader if they win.

They’re among more than two dozen Democrats running on such a pledge – casting doubt about Pelosi’s ability to recapture the speaker’s gavel if Democrats win a majority in the House in this fall’s election. In TV ads, social media posts, and media interviews, candidates from Virginia to California are calling for her ouster.

“There is almost complete gridlock in Washington, D.C., when we have folks on one side and folks on the other side who are barely civil with each other. So my call is that we need new leadership,” Hall told USA TODAY.

Watson, likewise, said people in south central Indiana are “looking for a new direction in Washington.”

“That’s why I won’t vote for Nancy Pelosi for speaker,” she told USA TODAY.

But even as that chorus gets louder, Pelosi’s standing might not be as perilous as it seems.

For one thing, she’s a prodigious fundraiser, with many perks at her disposal to dole out to allies. So far this election cycle, Pelosi has raised more than $87 million for her fellow Democrats. Her schedule during Congress’ August break is packed with campaign events and fundraisers from Texas to Boston to Indiana.

“I feel very confident in the support that I have in the House Democratic Caucus, and my focus is on winning this election because so much is at stake,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday when asked about the calls for new leadership.

“I feel very confident in the support that I have in the House Democratic Caucus, and my focus is on winning this election because so much is at stake.”To be sure, the California Democrat has a loyal following among many House Democrats, and no consensus candidate has emerged to challenge her — at least not yet.

“I think Pelosi has done a great job, and she’s taken us to the majority (before),’’ said Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., adding that Pelosi’s fate as a leader will be up to the caucus.

Last week, House Democrats decided to hold their internal leadership elections in December. That will give Pelosi, and any possible challengers, ample time to lobby colleagues and count votes.

If Democrats win a thin majority, Pelosi will not be able to afford many defections, and a nasty leadership struggle could ensue. If Democrats win big, she will have more wiggle room.

“She needs Democrats to win more than a (bare) majority,” said Nathan Gonzales, editor and publisher of Inside Elections.

Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats to retake the House. If they come up short, the race for speaker will unfold in the Republican conference, where dueling campaigns are already underway.

After the 2016 election, Democratic Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan challenged Pelosi in a race for minority leader, and he won 63 votes to her 134 in a secret-ballot internal election. When the vote moved to the House floor, most of the defectors backed Pelosi in the public roll call.

This time could be different, with more Democrats publicly demanding change well ahead of the election. If there are 10 or 20 new members who committed during their campaigns to support someone else, and a dozen incumbents also oppose her, Democrats would have to win more than 40 seats for Pelosi to become speaker, Gonzales estimates.

So far, 27 Democratic candidates have said they will not support Pelosi, according to a tally by Vox and USA TODAY’s reporting.

Of those, only seven are running in districts where neither party has a strong partisan advantage. The rest – including Indiana’s Hall and Watson – are vying to represent GOP-leaning districts.

Of the 27 races, one is rated as a toss-up, according to Gonzales’ analysis, and two favor the Democratic candidates. In the other 24, Republicans are favored to win.

If candidates in the Republican-friendly areas do win, it could be a banner year for Democrats.

As the campaign heats up, it’s no wonder that an increasing number of Democrats are distancing themselves from Pelosi.

Republicans are using the San Francisco Democrat as their favorite boogeyman in this election, running reams of TV ads linking her to local House contenders.

“It’s incredibly effective,” said Corry Bliss, executive director of the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC devoted to protecting the Republican House majority. “Nancy Pelosi is the most unpopular, polarizing politician in American politics.”

“Nancy Pelosi is the most unpopular, polarizing politician in American politics.”

That’s not exactly true, but it’s close. Only 29 percent of the American electorate has a favorable opinion of Pelosi, according to a Gallup Poll conducted in June; the California Democrat’s approval ratings have even sunk among Democrats, according to the Gallup survey.

But other congressional leaders are similarly unpopular. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has the lowest ratings, with 24 percent approval.

Going after Pelosi, however, is a particularly effective way to rile up the Republican base.

“It’s a combination of (her) being the Democratic leader for so long and being from San Francisco, which a lot of Republicans think is so culturally out of touch from where they are,” Gonzales said.

Indiana Rep. Jim Banks – a freshman Republican being challenged by a Democrat who has had surprising fundraising success in his decidedly GOP district – declined Friday to name his preferred candidate in the Republican race for speaker. Banks said he’s focusing on keeping the majority in GOP hands.

“If we don’t, all of this is a moot point, as Nancy Pelosi will become speaker of the House,” Banks told a conservative radio talk show host who responded in horror, “Oh, please!”

One Democrat who agrees with Banks that it’s “nuts” to be talking about the leadership lineup now is Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

“You have to have the House back first,” Richmond said. “We have too much at stake to be worrying about leadership right now.”

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South Bend Tribune: Options might be running out for Honeywell retirees

SOUTH BEND — Retired hourly employees from Honeywell International might be out of options when it comes to the company paying for their health-care coverage starting Aug. 1.

But the union representing the Honeywell retirees said Thursday they plan to continue the fight.

Judge Denise Page Hood of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan ruled Wednesday against the latest case filed by the United Auto Workers on behalf of workers who retired after 2003, according to Bloomberg News.

Several months ago, she ruled that those who retired before 2003 weren’t entitled to lifetime health-care coverage.

The retirees weren’t guaranteed lifetime coverage because the collective bargaining agreements and other documents did not include a promise to provide the coverage, the judge ruled.

The retiree situation, however, is not over, according to local union members, politicians and Honeywell retirees speaking at a news conference Thursday outside the Honeywell facility on Westmoor Street.

“It’s a sad day, how far we have been pushed down,” Tom Zmyslo, chair of the United Auto Workers Local 9 retirees, said. “It’s really hard, especially for a lot of the workers up in age that have no way of navigating how to go out and buy insurance in this economy today.”

Speakers decried Honeywell’s “broken promises,” saying that while contract language may be in its favor related to the retiree health insurance issue, the workers who built the business should be treated better.

“The workers of Honeywell … gave their heart and soul to this company. They kept up their end of the bargain. They, too, made a promise,” said Mel Hall, Democratic candidate for the 2nd District Congressional seat held by Republican U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski. “They promised they would show up. They promised to deliver and they were held accountable for what they got done every day… and promises were broken. That’s not what we do in Indiana.”

For the past two years, Honeywell has been involved in a series of lawsuits by retirees from various facilities across the country challenging these cuts.

Retirees went to South Bend City Council on Monday asking for help in the battle for health-care coverage.

“This is not over,” Hall said. “This is not the funeral today. This can change. We stand with workers. We stand for justice. We stand for keeping your promises. That’s what we do in America. That’s what we do in Indiana. That’s what we do in the Second District and in South Bend. We will keep on fighting and we will win.

Honeywell issued a prepared statement on the ruling, saying the judge reaffirmed the company’s position. It also restated that it provided health coverage for the two years the case made its way through the courts.

“As a result of the District Court ruling, Honeywell could have terminated the retirees’ health care coverage immediately, but decided instead to provide retirees with four months’ advance notice so they could investigate and enroll in alternative coverage,” the statement said.

Honeywell also claimed in its the “vast majority” of retirees have comparable or better coverage available to them at a lower cost through private insurance policies outside of Honeywell.

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ABC57: Future of moderates in the Democratic Party

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — there’s a growing call from lawmakers on the left for new leadership in the party.

Will your vote push the party closer or further away from the center?

“Ii think they deserve the kind of leadership that will work across the aisle and get something done,” said Mel Hall, Indiana’s 2nd District Democratic Congressional candidate.

That was Hall’s vote of no confidence for longtime congressional leader Nancy Pelosi from a newcomer running for Indiana’s second district seat.

But how will Hall’s announcement impact his prospects within the party?

“All I think about are the people of the 2nd district,” he said. “I know people across the country have to do what they have to do but my sole focus is to be the very best representative that the folks of the 2nd district can have.”

So could centrist politicians make a comeback?

“Joe Donnelly is a classic test case,” said Rick Klein, ABC News political director. “If there’s a future for moderate democrats, it’s because of people like Joe Donnelly winning reelection in Indiana. Also, senators who are up in places like Missouri, West Virginia, Montana, and North Dakota– these are the places democrats need to be competitive if they’re truly going to be a national party.”

Donnelly was ranked the 4th most bipartisan senator last year by the Lugar Center.

“Sen. Donnelly doesn’t really have the luxury of saying I’m going to be the most liberal or whatever label you want to attach to it because he lives in a pragmatic state and he represents very pragmatic people and i think that’s the approach he has to take,” said Jason Critchlow, St. Joseph County Democrats chair.

But is that an approach other democrats will take after November?

“I think that’s what voters are looking for that these days,” said Critchlow. “They feel congress is broken and they’re looking for elected officials to actually get something accomplished and not just talk about things.”

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Statement on Honeywell’s Broken Promises

At a press conference held today in front of Honeywell Aerospace, Mel Hall joined UAW Local 9 retirees, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, State Representative Joe Taylor, and local labor leaders to call on Honeywell to keep their promises.

“In Indiana, we keep our promises. These are hardworking Hoosiers who dedicated their life to this company. A company that promised them the health care they earned, and now they need to keep that promise,” said Hall.

“Jackie Walorski has accepted tens of thousands of dollars from Honeywell to fund her campaigns. She’s a career politician who has gone Washington, and left hardworking Hoosier families behind.”

Mel Hall Announces He Will Not Support Nancy Pelosi For Leadership in Congress

Calls for New Leadership to Fix a Broken Washington

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Today, 2nd District Democratic Congressional Candidate Mel Hall announced that he will not support Rep. Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House or for Minority Leader in the next Congress.

“I do not currently support and will not support Nancy Pelosi for leadership in the next Congress,” said Hall. “Washington is broken – and career politicians in both parties are to blame.”

“People are working hard in the 2nd District, but Congress isn’t working for them,” Hall continued. “And, in my experience on the farm, as a minister, and in business, when something isn’t working you fix it.”

“Electing new leadership – in both parties – is an important step in getting Congress to work for the people who elected them instead of simply helping themselves,” Hall concluded. “Finally, Hoosiers in northern Indiana need a representative in Congress who will be a problem solver and serve as an independent voice.”

This announcement follows Hall’s first TV ad of the general election campaign, in which he pledged to use his Hoosier values to fix Washington. He rejects corporate PAC and lobbyist contributions, will not take advantage of any congressional perk, and will only serve three terms in Congress. Hall is a new kind of candidate, committed to fixing Washington with the Hoosier common sense he learned on the farm, in his church, and while leading a business.