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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, October 20, 2019 1:00 am

Holcomb reelection reaches milestone

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Gov. Eric Holcomb has already collected enough petition signatures to earn his place on the May 2020 Republican ballot. 

But that doesn't mean all Hoosiers are on board. 

Kyle Hupfer, campaign manager for Holcomb, said the signatures were collected in rapid time – proving the governor's infrastructure is ready for re-election. 

He did concede, though, that official records of when campaigns cross the required threshold aren't kept.

To make a gubernatorial primary ballot in Indiana, candidates are required to collect 500 signatures from registered voters in each of Indiana's nine congressional districts, for a total of at least 4,500 signatures across the state. These signatures must be turned into county clerk of circuit courts across Indiana between Jan. 8 and Feb. 4, 2020, and the local clerks must certify the signatures as valid.

Many Hoosiers are on the fence when it comes to Holcomb, though.

Results of quarterly state-by-state polling by Morning Consult show 26% of registered voters in Indiana don't know whether they approve or disapprove of Holcomb three years into his first term. That is the second-highest percentage among the nation's 50 governors.

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody attributed Holcomb's middling poll numbers to his do-nothing approach.

“With legislative supermajorities and in a state the president won by 19 points, Eric Holcomb appears content to just keep the seat warm,” Zody said.  

More poll findings

In the third-quarter Morning Consult survey, 51% of voters said they approve of Gov. Eric Holcomb and 23% disapprove of the Republican governor. The highest approval rating among governors was 73% for Massachusetts Republican Charlie Baker, and the lowest rating was 34% for Kentucky Republican Matt Bevin.

Morning Consult said 33% of Hoosier voters told the pollster they don't know whether they approve or disapprove of Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., tied with the second-highest rate among the 100 U.S. senators. Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., tied for seventh highest at 29%.

Morning Consult reported that 44% of voters approve of Braun and 42% approve of Young, while 27% disapprove of Braun and 25% disapprove of Young. The highest senator approval rating was 65% for Vermont independent Bernie Sanders, and the lowest was 33% for North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis.

The polling firm said it surveyed nearly 534,000 registered voters nationwide between July 1 and Sept. 30.

Holcomb stands for re-election next year; Young, in 2022; and Braun, in 2024.

Brown, O'Day honored

Allen County Commissioner Therese Brown has been named the recipient of the 2019 Arthur R. Himsel Award, the highest honor given by the Association of Indiana Counties.

Himsel helped form the nonprofit association as a Hendricks County commissioner in the late 1950s and for many years was Indiana's representative on the board of directors for the National Association of Counties. The award is given yearly to an elected county official “who has served the interests of county government through involvement with the AIC,” the organization said in a news release.

Brown, a Republican, has been Allen County auditor, clerk and commissioner. She has been a longtime board member of the Association of Indiana Counties and was its president in 2012. Brown also has been a member of the Indiana Commission of Courts and the Indiana Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. Locally, she has been a member of the Allen County Plan Commission, the Downtown Improvement District and the Mayors and Commissioners Caucus of Northeast Indiana.

County Assessor Stacey O'Day received this year's Outstanding County Assessor Award from the association. The award recognized her contributions made to county government throughout her years of public service.

O'Day is serving her fourth term as county assessor. She is a certified level III assessor-appraiser. O'Day has served more than a decade as the local assessor and for several years in various leadership positions for the Indiana County Assessors' Association, helping to craft legislative policies and advocate for best practices in each of these positions.

O'Day received the 2009 Indiana County Assessor of the Year award. She has served as legislative chair for the Indiana County Assessor Association since 2008. She is the current president of the Association of Indiana Counties. Along with lobbying the General Assembly on behalf of counties, the association serves as a liaison among county, state and federal agencies, and provides technical assistance and training to county officials and employees.

City's link to Sondland

Fort Wayne has a commercial connection to the congressional impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, testified Thursday behind closed doors that he disagreed with Trump's directive that government envoys work with the president's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on policy affecting Ukraine, The Associated Press reported. 

The AP noted that Sondland “is a hand-picked political appointee of the president who contributed $1 million to Trump's inaugural committee.”

Sondland is founder of Portland, Oregon-based Provenance Hotels, a chain that is building a 124-room hotel at Main and Harrison streets in downtown Fort Wayne, across the intersection from the Allen County Republican Party's headquarters. Sondland quit as the top executive of Provenance Hotels when he became an ambassador in 2018.

The chain's Fort Wayne hotel had been scheduled to open in fall 2020. That is the timeframe when Trump will stand for re-election – if he survives the impeachment process regarding his asking the Ukrainian president to investigate a potential election rival, former vice president Joe Biden.

Issues discussion

The Libertarian Party of Allen County will discuss “City Issues Prior to Election Day” at its Wednesday meeting. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at Liberty Diner, 2929 Goshen Road, Fort Wayne. Admission is free; attendees must pay for their meals. For information, call 260-750-9013.

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