Political Notebook


Hosting convention called ‘huge success’

The Democratic Party state convention went off without a hitch in Fort Wayne last weekend – well, almost.

Mayor Tom Henry said he wasn’t all that nervous about serving as chairman of the convention – at least not until his notes were taken.

During the three-hour general session, Henry said someone walked away with his prepared notes.

The mayor had made the mistake of leaving his notes at the lectern and a speaker lumped all the papers together and walked off with the entire pile. This left the mayor with nothing but the convention program to base his comments.

“I had to wing it,” he said. “You talk about nervous.”

Fortunately, Henry’s wife, Cindy, helped track down the mayor’s notes and return them before the afternoon was complete. That might explain why some of the mayor’s introductions seemed so brief.

There also was a smaller crowd than usual, though the crowd was boisterous.

The first convention held outside of Indianapolis took a hit in attendance – 1,400 delegates, which was down from 2,000 in 2010 and 1,700 delegates in 2008.

Lori Wright, from Indianapolis, said while Fort Wayne was a good host city, there are logistical reasons to have the event in the center of the state.

“If I had to drive from Evansville, I wouldn’t be here,” she said.

Evansville is about 300 miles away, or more than a five-hour drive, for instance.

Jennifer Wagner, spokeswoman for the party, said the 1,400-count was taken at 10 a.m. Many folks arrived later for the official 3 p.m. convention start time, but they weren’t counted toward the quorum report.

Wagner also contends location wasn’t an issue. For instance, 79 percent of the delegates from the southern 9th Congressional District attended (thanks in large part to a free bus).

According to Wagner, the primary reason for the drop in attendance is there was no contested election. In 2010, there was a tight secretary of state’s race where many delegates wanted to cast a vote.

“Hosting the convention in Fort Wayne was a huge success by any measure; our delegates had a great time, and the city was a wonderful partner,” she said. “We’ll definitely look at hosting future conventions outside of Indianapolis.”

Apolitical districts

Taking an issue that has spurred lawsuits, consultants and vetoes in the past into something that garners almost no discussion – let alone controversy – can be viewed as a success in itself.

At least that is the way City Councilman John Crawford, R-at large, views his efforts with Councilman Glynn Hines, D-6th, to draw the new council district maps.

The council Tuesday gave unanimous conditional approval to its district maps with no discussion after having briefly talked about them at a previous meeting. Crawford said he and Hines tried to move as few precincts as possible to reach relative population equality among the districts.

In total, only nine precincts – out of hundreds – were switched. The biggest change were four precincts moving from the northern 3rd District to the southern 5th District in the area around the University of Saint Francis.

“It was just simple for everybody,” Crawford said.

The proposed district map and its demographic statistics can be found online at http://www.cityoffortwayne.org/city-council/178-redistricting-.html.

Long campaign

Senate President Pro Tem David Long isn’t taking his re-election for granted.

He formally launched his campaign Wednesday with a reception at his Fort Wayne campaign headquarters.

“We are very fortunate to have David Long representing Fort Wayne as President Pro Tem of the Indiana State Senate,” campaign manager Chris Creighton said. “A true leader, his distinguished record of balanced budgets, fiscal responsibility and common-sense Hoosier values is crucial if we are to keep Indiana moving forward.”

Long has led the Senate as president pro tempore since 2006 and has amassed a sizable war chest – more than $400,000 in cash-on-hand as of April.

He faces Democrat Charles (Tom) Keen in the general election for the Senate District 16 seat. A former naval flight officer, Keen currently is in charge of business development for several communications systems.

Long boasts the passage of key education reforms under his leadership, as well as balanced state budgets and reduced property taxes.

Before he was elected to the Senate in 1996, he served on the Fort Wayne City Council.

Educational advice

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg was in Fort Wayne on Wednesday afternoon to talk with educators about what he would do as governor. But he couldn’t think of too much advice to offer one of the state’s newest leaders in higher education.

When asked about what advice he could offer Gov. Mitch Daniels, who on Thursday was named Purdue University’s next president, Gregg said Daniels has been successful in business and politics so he “would be the last person to give him advice.”

Gregg, who led Vincennes University for two years, would say that the political world is different from academia, especially for the executive. Unlike the governor who can act as the CEO and dictate an agenda, Gregg said the leader of a university has to put a lot more effort into working with others to build consensus.

Speaking before the official announcement, Gregg did joke that if Daniels gets the job, “There’s one less Hoosier I’ve got to find a job for.”

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