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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, August 27, 2017 1:00 am

Messer taps ex-Paul aide to lead team

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

U.S. Rep. Luke Messer has hired a former campaign manager for Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to run his Senate campaign.

Messer, R-6th, announced Thursday that he also has named three co-chairs for his campaign, including the brother of Vice President Mike Pence.

Messer is among six candidates seeking the Republican nomination to oppose Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., in the 2018 Indiana general election.

His campaign operation will be managed by Chasen Bullock, who has been a regional political director for the National Republican Congressional Committee since January after managing Paul's Senate re-election campaign last year and directing Paul's presidential campaign in South Carolina and Iowa in 2015-16. Paul dropped out of the GOP presidential race after finishing fifth in the Iowa caucuses, which started the primary election season, with 4.5 percent of the vote.

Bullock has worked on several other Republican congressional campaigns and for the campaigns of statewide candidates in Missouri and California.

Chosen as Messer's campaign co-chairs were Greg Pence, a Columbus, Indiana, businessman who is the vice president's older brother; former Indiana Republican Party Chairman Jim Kittle; and Jennifer Hallowell, a former executive director of the state GOP.

Pence had been Messer's campaign finance chairman and will be replaced in that job by Doug Rose of Indianapolis.

Hashtag hoopla

Fort Wayne state Sen. Liz Brown last week tweeted a story by the New York Times about New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez's upcoming trial on federal corruption charges and its effect on Democrats.

She included a number of hashtags – including #corruptmenendez, #codefendant and #medicare fraud.

She then tagged @INSenDems – the account for the state Senate Democratic caucus.

That caucus took immediate umbrage to being tied to a federal Democrat's criminal trial in another state.

“Excuse me @LizBrownUS, but was associating @INSenDems with this story an accident or was it intentional? – signed, your #INLegis colleagues.”

Brown responded with a quick apology but a subtle tweak at the same time.

“Oh goodness, good catch! Def @SenateDems not @INSenDems, my apologies! You all voted (with) @INSenateGOP most of time! Lookin forward to Jan.!”

Democrat receives party's endorsement

U.S. House candidate Courtney Tritch announced Thursday that she has been endorsed by Indiana's 3rd Congressional District Democratic Party.

Tritch is among three candidates for the 2018 Democratic nomination for the seat of freshman Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd.

“Her message and experience in economic development speak to those concerned about building a stronger northeast Indiana. She understands that in order to build a vibrant and strong 3rd District, each Hoosier must have effective and responsive Congressional representation,” Bob Holbrook, the Democratic Party's 3rd District chairman, said in a news release issued by Tritch's campaign.

Tritch, who owns a marketing consulting firm, is a former vice president of marketing for the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, an economic development organization.

She said her campaign issues will be economic development, health care, education and clean energy.

Other announced candidates for the Democratic congressional nomination are perennial candidates David Roach and Tommy Schrader, both of Fort Wayne. Schrader won the party's 2016 primary election, defeating a candidate endorsed by the 3rd District Democratic organization.

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