Political Notebook

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GOP wastes no time poking Henry speech

Despite his best efforts, Mayor Tom Henry’s State of the City speech quickly turned political.

Henry said he has not yet announced his re-election plans so he could keep politics out of his annual address.

But local Republicans didn’t see it in the same light.

Allen County Republican Chairman Steve Shine issued a statement hours after Henry had finished his speech, saying the city is ready for someone more fiscally conservative.

It cited the area’s loss of 1,412 jobs late last year and Henry’s willingness to sign contracts just under the threshold for City Council approval.

“More transparency is needed in government,” Shine said. “We can do better.”

While rebuttals are common to President Obama’s State of the Union speech, they are fairly rare locally. It is no surprise Shine would send such a statement during an election year when he has been silent previously.

Republican mayoral hopeful Paula Hughes also sent a statement bashing the mayor’s speech minutes after it concluded for featuring “more out of control spending from city government.”

Neither Shine nor Hughes attended the mayor’s speech, while other Republican mayoral candidates, Liz Brown and Eric Doden, did attend and clapped courteously. Hughes did attend Henry’s 2010 speech.

Stunning quip

Members of the Indiana House are used to fiery language from Rep. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend.

But he surprised even the most hardened last week when he said on the House floor that Indiana teachers have been “Mitch-slapped” by Gov. Mitch Daniels’ aggressive education reform agenda.

Numerous members’ heads snapped to attention with looks of shock.

The phrase first showed up Jan. 12 after the governor’s State of the State address. It was the headline of a newsletter called the “Hoosier Report Card” that was e-mailed around by the Education Action Group Foundation.

According to the group’s website, it is a national non-partisan, non-profit organization headquartered in Michigan with the goal of promoting “sensible education reform and exposing those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.”

Morris appreciative

New Rep. Bob Morris, R-Fort Wayne, twice in two weeks has sent out prepared statements commending Hoosiers for a job well done.

First he commended Indiana Department of Transportation workers for keeping the roads safe and clear after a big snow.

“As I was driving home yesterday from the Statehouse to Ft. Wayne, I was very impressed by how easy my commute was and that is due to the hard work of the INDOT snow team,” Morris’ statement said. “I know it has been a lot of long nights and early mornings, and I want them to know they are appreciated.”

Then last week he sent out a release commending Fort Wayne teachers. It came after a contentious town hall meeting at IPFW with House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis.

“I was encouraged to see all the teachers who showed up at the town hall. I appreciated them taking the time to come,” Morris said. “I know being a teacher can be a tough job, both my parents were teachers and I saw the commitment it takes. I want teachers to know they are appreciated and their dedication is not going unnoticed.”

Pence had fans

Ten days before he announced he would not be a candidate for president in 2012, Rep. Mike Pence, R-6th, was being urged to run by a group called America’s President Committee.

A leader of that effort, Ralph Benko, who was deputy counsel to President Ronald Reagan, said Friday he believes Pence will stay in the national spotlight as a congressman or candidate for governor.

“They’re all rock stars,” Benko said about governors in general. “There are a lot of venues to get exposure as a governor.”

He said he’d still like to see Pence run for national office in 2012.

“I think the enthusiasm he inspires among conservatives would make him a wonderful selection for vice president by the nominee” in 2012, Benko said.

Pence will be the keynote speaker at the Allen County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 26 at Ceruti’s, 6601 Innovation Blvd., Fort Wayne. A reception is planned for Pence before the dinner.

Taking their time

During the 2007 city election, Republican mayoral hopefuls wasted no time in filing for office.

In fact, after County Commissioner Nelson Peters leaked he would be filing early on the first day, Matt Kelty made sure to get there even earlier.

There has been no such race to file this year as all three prominent GOP mayoral candidates have yet to officially file for office. Jan. 19 was the first day major party candidates could file. There is no real benefit to when you file – it has no effect on ballot placement – and candidates may be waiting in the hopes of getting a fresh media hit when filing. They have until Feb. 18 to do so.

The only two candidates who have filed are long-shot candidates Republican Fred Osheski and Democrat Frederick Steinke.

On the Democrat side, Mayor Tom Henry is following his previous script of waiting. He announced his candidacy in 2007 just two days before the deadline.

Journal Gazette Washington Editor Brian Francisco contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook via e-mail, contact Benjamin Lanka at blanka@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. To discuss this entry of Political Notebook or others, go to the Political Notebook topic of “The Board” at www.journalgazette.net.

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