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Shine to face party rival for GOP chairman


– Steve Shine faces a new challenge for chairmanship of the Allen County Republican Party.

Jason Arp, a financial adviser at J. Arp & Co., said he’s challenging Shine in an effort to move the party back to what it stands for.

“I want to return the Republican Party to the ideas of liberty,” Arp said. “I want to hold the party to its bylaws, which state its purpose is to promote small, limited government with a strict adherence to the Constitution and respect for the sanctity of human life.”

Arp is a former treasurer of the tea party group Allen County 9-12 but has said he is no longer involved with the group.

Shine has been party chairman in Allen County for two decades and says the party is stronger than ever.

“We have more Republican elected officials in Allen County than we have had in the last 20 years of my chairmanship,” Shine said. “Financially, we have a comfortable balance in party coffers.”

Arp said the precinct committee people he has talked to say Shine has let the party drift from its conservative roots.

“They say he does a good job fundraising, but promoting ideas – which is the purpose of the local party – no one says the current leadership promotes the ideals of the party within the community.”

Shine said that makes no sense, because the party helped elect Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, to Congress where he has earned a 100 percent rating from the American Conservative Union.

“To argue we’re not doing enough locally rings very hollow,” Shine said. “We do care about principles, but we’re not going to put our principles in place if we don’t win elections.”

Arp’s arguments are especially galling, Shine said, because Arp did not vote in several recent elections – elections when Stutzman was elected and Dan Coats was elected to the Senate. He also criticized the party for failing to win the Fort Wayne mayor’s race, Shine said.

“One who does not vote in either May or November when that office was up for grabs has a lot of gall to then criticize when we lost it,” Shine said. “To me it’s a little disingenuous.”

Arp said he was left with no choice.

“I did not like the slate of candidates available for me to vote on,” Arp said. “I have a ‘Do no harm’ policy – rather than vote on someone I’m not happy with, I’d rather abstain.”

Shine also responded to Arp supporters who have criticized Shine for an incident five years ago, saying it proved he is not committed to the party’s ideals.

When the American Family Association ran an ad saying Christians had an important decision in the 2007 mayor’s race because Democrat Tom Henry had, “repeatedly authored legislation promoting the gay-rights agenda,” Shine blasted the ad and demanded Republican candidate Matt Kelty denounce it.

“As someone whose roots come from a class of people once persecuted for its religious beliefs, it pains me to hear even a hint of intolerance associated with a candidate of an organization I chair,” Shine wrote at the time. “I will not accept intolerance, real or perceived.”

Shine, who is Jewish, said he will never back down from that stance.

“As long as I’m chairman, I will continue to embrace diversity and encourage people with different backgrounds and views to join the party – not to change our principles but to share those principles with everybody,” Shine said.

Precinct committeemen will vote for chairman at 9 a.m. Saturday at the South Side High School Auditorium, 3601 S. Calhoun St.