FORT WAYNE – With 85 percent of the vote, Allen County Republican Party Chairman Steve Shine held onto the position he has held for the past 20 years.
County precinct committeemen and women and vice committeemen and women gathered at South Side High School on Saturday for the Allen County Republican Party reorganization caucus to cast their secret ballots for their candidate of choice. Incumbent Shine ran against challenger Jason Arp, president and founder of J. Arp & Co., specializing in proprietary research, trading and portfolio management. Of the partys 227 eligible voters, 169 turned out, marking voter turnout at 74 percent.
Support for Shine seemed strong upon entrance at the high school, where many voters accepted Shine fliers and carried them to their seats.
Ive known Steve for years now and just feel like hes the best candidate for it, said Brenda Heisler, an Allen County Republican precinct committeewoman. I like the results I have seen from him.
Precinct committeeman Mark Weaver, who knew Shine when the men were in high school, mirrored Heislers feelings. Weaver said his political leanings were unlike others in the room. He shared displeasure at what Republicans were achieving on a national level and said, To do good, you have to do something, and on a national level, the Republicans arent really doing anything. His displeasure with the party had nothing to do with Shine, he said.
He always answers the phone, and he always helps me, Weaver said. Hes always been there for me, and thats why Im there for him.
After the caucus, Shine said in the next four years he hopes to continue the success his party has seen in the county for the last three years: In 2010, the countys only Democratic official was unseated, leading to an all-Republican county government. In 2011, Republicans gained a 6-3 majority on Fort Waynes City Council. And last year, Republican Martin Carbaugh unseated an incumbent who was thought to be impossible to beat, Win Moses Jr., for the 81st Indiana House District seat.
Shine earned 144 votes to Arps 25. The caucus also filled vice chair, secretary and treasury spots. The three races were uncontested. Candice Fries won re-election as the partys vice chairwoman, Bob Lee won re-election as the partys treasurer, and new face Thomas Rotering was voted secretary after former secretary Jerry Zuber retired.
With Saturdays loss, Arp said he plans to continue meeting with people and growing the party on a grassroots level, encouraging volunteers and filling some vacancies within the party in Allen County.
Im going to try to build the organization that I think needs to be built, he said.
In his acceptance speech, Shine thanked Arp.
Thank you, sir, because you helped focus the spotlight on the great Republican party, he said. Was I irritated? Yes. Was it good for the party? Yes.