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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, July 06, 2019 1:00 am

Criticism raises question of party, posterity

There's bad news if you want less squabbling and more bipartisanship in Indiana politics.

When Republican state schools chief Jennifer McCormick agreed to join a Democratic state senator on a statewide education listening tour, McCormick's party leader was the first to lash out.

“After being on stage at our Republican Conventions in 2016 and 2018, running on GOP ideals in 2016 and accepting campaign aid from thousands of Republican Party supporters across the state, it begs the question whether Jennifer McCormick is still a Republican,” GOP State Chairman Kyle Hupfer said in a statement.

McCormick told the Indianapolis Star she was “thrilled” when Sen. Eddie Melton, a former Indiana State Board of Education member, asked her to join him speaking at several town halls across the state, including one on July 15 in Fort Wayne, because the ranking minority member on the Senate education committee has been good at reaching across the aisle.

Hupfer's words were especially sharp given that McCormick was a strong vote-getter for Republicans in 2016. She won with 1.42 million votes against incumbent Superintendent Glenda Ritz, compared with Gov. Eric Holcomb's 1.39 million votes against John Gregg.

“I expect that at the federal level, just because of the political allegiance games being played,” McCormick said of the GOP state chairman's criticism.

“At the state level, it's disappointing. I think we have to do better than that. For me, it's not about a political party. It's about kids.”