Political Notebook

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Lugar gathers endorsements, too

Whose endorsement is worth more to a campaign – a mayor’s or a county party chairman’s?

We can look for a possible answer as state Treasurer Richard Mourdock seeks to unseat Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind.

When announcing his Senate campaign in February, Mourdock released a list of 68 Republican Party county chairmen in Indiana who have endorsed him for the 2012 GOP primary election.

Last week, Lugar’s campaign announced he has been endorsed by 24 Republican mayors in Indiana, six former mayors and three mayoral candidates in this year’s election.

Among Mourdock’s supporters are six county GOP chairmen in northeast Indiana – those in Adams, DeKalb, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Wells and Whitley counties.

None of the mayors endorsing Lugar is from northeast Indiana. The closest are in Mishawaka, Marion and Portland. The highest-profile names on Lugar’s list are two former mayors of Indianapolis: William Hudnut and Steve Goldsmith.

Meanwhile, Mourdock last week won the backing of Erick Erickson, a blogger for the conservative website RedState. Erickson accused Lugar of “fighting against conservatives,” while Mourdock has been “fighting for conservatives.”

That prompted Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Daniel Parker to issue this statement in a fundraising appeal: “This primary is going to divide Indiana Republicans in a painful way. Good thing we don’t have that problem.”

Parker said the state party had donated $10,000 to the Senate campaign of Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-2nd, and was calling for donors to collectively match that amount.

Didier challenged

The Democrats will feature candidates in every Fort Wayne City Council race after appointing Christian Nagel as their nominee for the 3rd District seat. The IPFW graduate is a lifelong resident of Fort Wayne and currently works as a senior technical manager at ACM Engineering and Environmental Services.

Nagel, 32, did not select an easy race for his first foray into politics, as he will try to unseat popular incumbent Tom Didier, R-3rd.

Nagel said he isn’t concerned about the difficult challenge, but he hopes to offer residents new ideas.

“I basically want to make Fort Wayne a better place for myself and neighbors,” he said, noting his neighbors were the ones who broached the idea of running for office.

Nagel’s appointment means the party has filled all its city election vacancies.

Local Republican Chairman Steve Shine said his party will not be running a candidate in the predominantly Democratic 6th District against Councilman Glynn Hines.

In addition, residents will see the names of seven candidates who are running for three at-large council seats. Alexander Avery was nominated by the Libertarian Party. Tuesday is the last day for political parties to fill ballot vacancies.

Woodburn changes

Woodburn residents can expect more contested races this fall, including the third straight battle between Democratic Mayor Dick Hoeppner and Republican Bill Meadows.

The Allen County Republican Party made a series of changes to its Woodburn ballot last week, including appointing Meadows to run for mayor under its banner.

Try to follow along.

Meadows lost to Hoeppner by a single vote in 2003 but fell more convincingly in 2007 – a loss Meadows at the time said might have been caused by voters’ concern by voting for him and his wife, Lesa, who won the clerk-treasurer’s position.

Voters will not have that conflict this year as Lesa Meadows will resign her position as clerk-treasurer, effective July 15. A short letter to the Allen County Election Board states she is resigning for health reasons. She took office in 2006 to fill the remainder of Bill Basting’s term when he resigned in the midst of a state accounting investigation.

Republicans replaced Lesa Meadows – in her seat and on the ballot – with Holly Sarrazine, who had won the nomination to be the party’s at-large council candidate this fall. She has resigned that position, which was filled by Mike Voirol, who lost a race by one vote to be the party’s candidate for a district council race.

Illinois jokes abound

Gov. Mitch Daniels commented on an ethically challenged duo last week – convicted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White.

“I guess it means I better quit telling Illinois jokes,” he said about Blagojevich’s convictions for trying to sell or trade President Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat.

Then, after teasing about an Illinois governor’s wing at the federal prison in Terre Haute, he got a little more serious.

“It’s a sad thing, but it’s important that justice be served. We cannot have conduct of that kind in high office,” Daniels said. “It undermines the public’s confidence in things you do. It’s a sad thing when anything subtracts from public faith and confidence.”

He also called the Indiana Recount Commission’s unanimous vote in favor of White impressive.

White escaped losing his office in an administrative hearing but still faces seven criminal felony counts.

“It doesn’t remove of course the continued uncertainty and cloud over the office,” Daniels said. “I think we all want to see this cleared up so any progress in the process is a good thing I guess.”

Seeking attention

Remember when Democratic presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton were frequent visitors to Indiana ahead of the state’s 2008 primary election?

Republicans want in on that kind of action before the 2012 primary.

State GOP Chairman Eric Holcomb said last week he has invited the nine candidates seeking the Republican nomination for president to visit Indiana to discuss the nation’s deficit spending and debt.

He said in a written statement that he had invited the candidates to come to state GOP headquarters in Indianapolis at their convenience to talk with elected officials, supporters and prospective donors.

“A competitive nominating process increases the chances that Indiana may play a pivotal role in determining our Republican Party nominee, just like the role Indiana Democrats played in 2008,” Holcomb said.

Offices moved

The Allen County Election Board and Board of Voter Registration moved last week to a new temporary home in the former county highway and building department building on the corner of Superior and Calhoun streets.

The offices moved out of the City-County Building to allow crews to renovate that structure, which is to house the city and county police departments. To find the temporary election board office, residents must traverse a narrow hallway that looks more like it leads to a boiler room or storage closet than the election board.

At least the actual office is fairly spacious for employees to work.

The temporary office will also serve as an early voting site this fall, but Beth Dlug, elections director, said the county will have early voting sites across the county to help curb the need for people to vote at her office. She said a decision has not been made on where her permanent office will be located after the renovations, but she hopes to be moved in before the start of the 2012 presidential election year.

Journal Gazette Washington Editor Brian Francisco contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook by 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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