Political Notebook


2 business groups shun endorsements

Endorsements are coming fast and furious as the May 6 primary election nears. Farmers, abortion-rights opponents, law enforcement and other organizations are weighing in.

But voters in Allen County won’t hear from two major business groups.

Vince Buchanan, executive director of the Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana, said that as a matter of policy, the group has never endorsed a candidate for election.

“As the Regional Chamber formed, the leadership of the organization felt that it was important to defer endorsements to local Chambers of Commerce across the region to allow local communities the best opportunity to select their own representation,” he said in a statement.

“We respect our partner Chambers in the region and encourage them to be active politically. We believe that their endorsements are reflective of local decision makers and that the Regional Chamber should not offer complementary or competing endorsements.”

Greater Fort Wayne Inc. – formed with the merger of the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce and the Fort Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance – doesn’t offer endorsements due to its nonprofit status

But the Greater Fort Wayne Business Political Action Committee is an organization directed by its own board. BizPAC supports elected officials or candidates who are advocates for limited government, free enterprise and a pro-business, pro-economic growth environment in the Greater Fort Wayne area.

Ben Eisbart, co-chairman of BizPAC, said it has not historically endorsed in a primary.

That means a number of hotly contested Allen County Republican primary races won’t be vetted by the business community. This includes the open Senate District 15 seat with four solid GOP options and several Indiana House races.

“We want to let the system bring them through the primary process,” Eisbart said. “Then when we are down to one on one side and one on another we can maximize our time and focus.”


Pete Seat, who has been a spokesman for President George W. Bush, Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., and the Indiana Republican Party, will have a signing party Wednesday in Fort Wayne for his book “The War on Millennials.”

The party will be from 5 to 7 p.m. at Wunderkammer Co., 3402 Fairfield Ave. There will be refreshments and conversation about the state of millennials, according to a news release.

Seat’s book “gives voice to an all-too-quiet generation of young people,” the news release said. “From massive national debt to unsustainable entitlement programs and souring international relations, Millennials are set to inherit an increasingly raw deal.”

Seat works for Hathaway Strategies, an Indianapolis public relations agency. He has appeared on Fox News and MSNBC programs and has written columns for Politico, the Indianapolis Star and other media.

Pond’s highway

U.S. 24 will be designated the Phyllis J. Pond Memorial Highway from U.S. 30 east of New Haven to the Indiana-Ohio state line, Indiana Department of Transportation officials announced Tuesday. The unveiling will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Orchid Reception Hall, 11508 Lincoln Highway East, in New Haven. INDOT will display one of two signs bearing the new name at the event; the other sign will have been placed earlier that day.

During the 2014 General Assembly, a concurrent resolution was passed to name an 11-mile portion of the new U.S. 24 after Pond, who died in September. Pond had been a strong advocate for the now-completed U.S. 24 Fort to Port Highway project.

“This is such a fitting memorial for Rep. Pond,” said Bob Alderman, INDOT LaPorte district deputy commissioner and former legislator. “She always demonstrated great passion for the U.S. 24 Fort to Port project and the enhanced safety it provided for her constituents and the traveling public.”

During the event, the resolution will be presented to Pond’s husband, George Pond.

Phyllis Pond was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1978 and served for 35 years, making her the longest-serving female representative in state history. She also taught kindergarten in New Haven for 37 years.

Treasonous tweet

A pro-business group is accusing a GOP House candidate of treason in a new House District 22 mailer.

Curt Nisly is challenging Rep. Rebecca Kubacki, R-Syracuse, in the Republican primary. Kubacki seeks her third term in the district, which covers parts of Kosciusko and Elkhart counties.

Indiana Business for Responsive Government – the political action committee of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce – recently sent the mailer.

It focused on a tweet Nisly sent in November 2012 about “peacefully” granting the state of Indiana to withdraw from the United States and create its own government.

One side of the mailer defines treason, and the other accuses Nisly of a “shocking betrayal.”

“Shouldn’t we be electing people who want to lead us to greatness – instead of giving up and walking away from America?”

Shortly after President Barack Obama won re-election, citizens around the country started petitions on the White House website seeking secession. Nisly’s tweet referenced the Indiana petition.

But Nisly’s committee chairwoman, Pam Galloway, said he wasn’t advocating secession – just posting an informational link. She also said he doesn’t remember whether he signed the petition.

“Rep. Kubacki is getting desperate,” Galloway said. “We are going to focus on going door to door and talking to voters.”

Nisly has criticized Kubacki’s voting record, including opposing a constitutional ban on gay marriage this year and requiring some church-run child-care centers to abide by basic rules and regulations.

It isn’t the first time the Indiana Chamber of Commerce has come to Kubacki’s aid.

In the final days of her 2010 race, the PAC poured more than $40,000 into her campaign, which she used for last-minute TV commercials, to knock off then-incumbent Rep. Bill Ruppel.

Legislative training

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., recently announced the creation of the Wayne Townsend and Frank J. Anderson Legislative Programs. The programs will give college students and recent graduates the opportunity to work with Donnelly’s legislative staff in his Washington office.

Townsend, a farmer from the Hartford City area, was a member of the Indiana legislature for 23 years, the Democratic Party’s nominee for governor in 1984 and a member of the Purdue University board of trustees. Anderson was a U.S. marshal for southern Indiana and Marion County sheriff from 2003 to 2011.

Information and applications are available at www.donnelly.senate.gov/help/legislativeprograms.

Dan Stockman of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

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