The Journal Gazette
Saturday, May 28, 2016 10:02 pm

Hoosier Democrats rename dinner to jibe with message

Niki Kelly and Brian Francisco | The Journal Gazette

The Indiana Democratic Party’s big annual fundraising dinner is coming up – but this year it has a different name.

For years, the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner has been the party’s signature event here and across the country – full of red, white and blue decorations and more donkeys than you can shake a stick at.

It is named after former presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, both of whom owned slaves – a fact that has spurred several state Democratic groups around the country to move away from the name.

The June 17 event in Indianapolis is now dubbed the Hoosier Hospitality Dinner. It usually draws more than 1,000 Democrats and will include state, local and federal speakers.

But the new title isn’t directly related to the racial overtones.

Drew Anderson, spokesman for the Indiana Democrat Party, said the change is connected to the party’s overall message and the fight to restore the "Hoosier hospitality" image in Indiana.

"We want to reclaim our welcoming reputation after a term of Mike Pence and his out-of-touch political agenda," he said. The title is also meant to remind voters that the Indiana Democratic Party is inclusive and welcomes all.

The change, though, isn’t set in stone – and will be re-evaluated next year. County officials can still call their dinners whatever they want, by the way.

Gregg vs. Shabazz

When Democrat governor candidate John Gregg asked for any questions from the news media Wednesday at his lieutenant governor announcement, it was no surprise that Abdul-Hakim Shabazz was the first to pipe up.

The radio/political personality prides himself on getting in the first question.

But Gregg had other things in mind – stepping over Shabazz and saying "from the media" while calling on other members of the Statehouse Press Corps.

Shabazz kept trying, though, and eventually got a very long question out.

People in the audience laughed nervously during the back-and-forth between the candidate and Shabazz, and many wondered whether the duo had a beef.

Gregg Spokesman Jeff Harris said the event was only for the press.

"He’s a blogger and a political commentator but not a journalist," Harris said.

Shabazz has his own political blog and website and he regularly does radio in Indianapolis. He admittedly supports Republican candidates and philosophies.

"I’ve known John for years and like him personally, even though we may disagree on things politically," Sha­bazz told Political Notebook. "I will be the first one to admit I am not a pure journalist, but a political commentator and blogger with a sense of humor.

"We may not always agree, but everyone gets treated fairly, and if the Gregg folks have a problem with me, I’m happy to have them buy the cocktails and we can chat."

Shabazz did get the last laugh, though.

The Gregg campaign used a picture that Shabazz took and posted of the event on their Facebook page without attribution.

Audit help needed

The Fort Wayne City Council is calling for applications to two appointed positions on the city’s Internal Audit Committee.

The committee’s current term expires on June 30 and the positions must be filled by then, Councilman Tom Didier, R-3rd, said Tuesday.

The appointees must have a strong financial background, and one appointee must be a non-governmental CPA licensed by the state board of accountancy.

The two currently appointed committee members are interested in serving again for another term, Didier said.

The term is for one year.

Those interested in the position or who want to nominate someone should call Molly McCray in the City Council office at 260-427-1445 or go to to download the application form.

Dave Gong of The Journal Gazette contributed to this story.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at or Niki Kelly at An expanded Political Notebook can also be found as a daily blog at

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