Dean Swihart, husband of the late Rep. Jackie Walorski, says he wants input into the next GOP 2nd CD nominee. HPI's list of potential candidates include Marlin and Christy Stutzman, Blair Milo, and State Reps. Tim Wesco, Jake Teshka and Curt Nisly.
Dean Swihart, husband of the late Rep. Jackie Walorski, says he wants input into the next GOP 2nd CD nominee. HPI's list of potential candidates include Marlin and Christy Stutzman, Blair Milo, and State Reps. Tim Wesco, Jake Teshka and Curt Nisly.
By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS – With funeral services for the late U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski concluding today, attention now shifts to the November concurrent elections called by Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Our short list of candidates includes former 3rd CD congressman Marlin Stutzman and his wife, former state representative Christy Stutzman. Both have been active in the 2nd CD, having bought Amish Acres (now called “The Barns”) in Nappanee with Christy Stutzman promising an announcement on Monday. Another name is former LaPorte mayor Blair Milo, who lost the 1st CD nomination to Jennifer-Ruth Green in the May primary. LaPorte straddles the 1st and 2nd CDs. From the General Assembly, we’ll be watching State Reps. Timothy Wesco of Elkhart and Jake Teshka of South Bend. State Rep. Curt Nisly tweeted out a “Nisly for Congress” logo Wednesday night and filed his candidacy with the secretary of state on Thursday. Importantville reported that former disgraced attorney general Curtis Hill has been making calls about the seat.


Dean Swihart, husband of the late congresswoman, says he plans to weigh in. "There are certain realities that we must face as part of this process, and I have been asked by many of you if I will be weighing in on Jackie’s replacement for the 2nd District Congressional seat based on the notice issued today from the Indiana GOP," Swihart said. "There was nothing more important to Jackie than public service, and as part of her legacy I know she would want to weigh in on her successor. At this time, I am not ready to engage on this topic, but I do plan to offer my thoughts at a later date. It’s what she would have wanted on behalf of the Hoosier residents and families she has so honorably served from the State House to Washington.” 

“The party’s having a difficult time right now, because the chair of the of the party in the county (Zachery Potts) passed away in the accident as well,” Michael Wolf, the chair of the political science department at Purdue Fort Wayne, told Indiana Public Media. “So, it’s going to be a very difficult time for the Republican Party to get their next nominee for this office.”  The Republicans will also caucus to select the candidate to fill Walorski’s spot on the ballot in the general election on Nov. 8. That person will run against Democrat Paul Stuery, who won the party’s primary in May.

Here is a brief rundown on potential candidates:

Marlin Stutzman: His entire career has been boosted by caucuses and special elections for vacant seats. He served in HD52 after being appointed by caucus following the resignation of Rep. Dale Sturtz, as well as SD13 following the death of Sen. Robert Meeks. In 2010, he finished second to Dan Coats in the U.S. Senate primary, losing 39-30%. Then after U.S. Rep. Mark Souder resigned later that month, he won the caucus and then the special election for the 3rd CD nomination, held concurrently. He won the 3rd CD nomination caucus at Columbia City on a second ballot. In 2016, Stutzman ran for the U.S. Senate, losing to U.S. Rep. Todd Young, 67-33%.

Christy Stutzman: The wife of the former congressman has been seen as the ambitious driver of his career. Following his 2016 U.S. Senate nomination defeat, she won an Indiana House seat in 2018 following the resignation of Rep. Wes Culver. She was reelected to the house in 2020. In late November 2020, she announced that she would have to step down to devote more time to managing the former Amish Acres tourist attraction that they renamed The Barns at Nappanee. She blamed COVID-19 restrictions ordered by Gov. Eric Holcomb for making business difficult to maintain saying he created “instability and difficult circumstances” for the business.

State Rep. Timothy Wesco: He is pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Elkhart. Wesco has served as state representative since 2010. Wesco chaired the House Elections Committee when the 2021 reapportioned maps were forged. Wesco is a graduate of Bethel College with a BS degree in organizational management.

State Rep. Jake Teshka: He was elected to serve House District 7 in 2020 after serving on the South Bend City Council in District 5. While on the city council, Teshka sat on the South Bend Transpo Board of Directors and the South Bend Redevelopment Commission.

State Rep. Curt Nisly: He tweeted out a “Nisly for Congress” logo Wednesday night on the eve of Rep. Walorski’s funeral. He was defeated for renomination by State Rep. Craig Snow in May after the two were paired in the same district due to reapportionment.

Blair Milo: She served as mayor of LaPorte  after being first elected in 2011 and reelected in 2015. During her time in office, Mayor Milo focused her administration on building the most conducive climate for economic development growth, providing for sustainable infrastructure needs and fostering a community dedication toward positive lifestyle choices. During her time as mayor, 1,100 new jobs and over $260 million in new investment were created. Gov. Holcomb appointed Milo as the first secretary for Career Connections and Talent. Milo served as the state’s chief talent officer as Indiana works to fill an estimated one million job openings over the next 10 years. She also served on the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, a body dedicated to shaping education and workforce training for a 21st Century workforce. She resigned in late 2021, announcing for the 1st CD. She was defeated in the May primary by Jennifer-Ruth Green 47-26%. Green maintained during the campaign that Milo was not sufficiently supportive of President Trump after she skipped the 2016 Republican National Convention in protest of his nomination.Milo served as a surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy. She first served as the anti-submarine warfare officer then as electrical officer in USS Mason (DDG 87) from January 2005 until May 2007, completing two Persian Gulf deployments.

Horse Race Status: At this writing, Rep. Wesco appears to be best positioned for a credible run at the 1st CD nomination, though crowded fields are often unpredictable.

Statewides

Sabato weighs secretary of state race

Sabato’s Crystal Ball today: Indiana: Open seat (Holli Sullivan, R, was defeated for renomination) Diego Morales, a businessman and former aide to then-Gov. Mike Pence, won the Republican nomination as an insurgent over Sullivan, the establishment choice, at the state party convention. Morales ran unsuccessfully in the 4th CD primary in 2018; as a campaigner, he’s described as tenacious, but so much so that he’s made some enemies within the party along the way. Morales has called the 2020 election a “scam” and echoed other election-related claims by Trump and his allies. He has also advocated cutting early voting days. The Democratic nominee is attorney and veteran Destiny Wells, who is little-known but will have the nearly full attention of the state Democratic Party, which has no other potentially competitive statewide races to focus on. As a Republican in solidly red Indiana, Morales would seem to start the race as the favorite. However, he could be weighed down by his own baggage and by the possibility that pro-abortion rights suburban women are energized by opposition to Indiana’s new abortion law. A poll by Indy Politics found Wells leading Morales, 31%-28%, though 34% were undecided.

U.S. Senate

Young lauds CHIPs bill

U.S. Sen. Todd Young issued the following statement after attending the White House ceremony at which President Joe Biden signed into law the China competitiveness legislation Young helped author: “Today, America goes on offense against the Chinese Communist Party. We have a national security imperative to ensure we don’t fall behind China in technological innovation, and getting this legislation enacted into law will help ensure America’s global leadership role in science and technology. The Chinese Communist Party actively lobbied against this legislation because they know this bill is bad for China and good for the United States. History will show that by enacting this legislation into law, we are confronting the challenges of today and building a more prosperous and secure tomorrow for all Americans.” Young first introduced the legislation in 2020 and has been working to pass it since then. President Biden said, “This a moment when we bet on ourselves, believed in ourselves and recaptured the story, the spirit and the soul of this nation.”

Young, APF to highlight gas prices

President Joe Biden has ushered in executive orders that have made the cost of gas more expensive, and later this week, U.S. Senator Todd Young’s campaign is partnering with Americans for Prosperity where they will lower the cost of gasoline to $2.38 at select gas stations in Indiana. “President Joe Biden’s energy policies have made gas prices more expensive, and with the help of Americans for Prosperity, we will lower the price of gas to $2.38, which was the cost of gas when Joe Biden and the Democrats took control of Washington,” said U.S. Senator Todd Young.  “I look forward to meeting with Hoosiers on my affordable gas tour and hearing their ideas on expanding our domestic energy supply so that we can permanently lower these high gas prices.”

Congress

1st CD: Green blasts Mrvan over inflation

The Committee to Elect Jennifer-Ruth Green released the following statement responding to news that U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan’s policies have resulted in an 8.5% increase in inflation in July compared to a year ago: “Working and middle-class families across northwest Indiana are feeling the pain caused by Congressman Frank Mrvan’s reckless spending and inflation at the gas pump, in the grocery stores and buying clothes and supplies for back to school,” Jennifer-Ruth Green said. “While Hoosiers suffer, Frank Mrvan continues to double down on the inflation-causing policies that benefit his elite friends in DC. He’s lost touch and it’s time for Mrvan to come home.” Green added: “In Congress, I will stop the extremism and work to bring common sense back to Washington. We need to balance our budget, stop the reckless spending that benefits China, and work to provide relief to middle-class families. We don’t need a congressman to vote with Nancy Pelosi 99% of the time like Congressman Mrvan has. It’s time for a new direction.”

DCCC assails Green over SB1

According to the DCCC, Indiana passed a statewide abortion ban “that leaves little to no room for exceptions for rape, incest, or life of the mother. This legislation – which is now law – will carry devastating consequences for women and families across Indiana, as well as women in neighboring states with abortion restrictions that relied on Indiana abortion providers.” Green is endorsed by the National Right to Life (NRTL) political action group, an organization that helped overturn Roe v. Wade and has supported banning abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother – similar to the Indiana law, which has very narrow exceptions. Green has even called for a nationwide ban on all abortions with no exceptions for rape, incest, or danger to the life of the mother. “Indiana’s devastating new law falls on the shoulders of Republicans in Congress who sought to overturn Roe and refuse to safeguard access to safe, legal abortion,” said DCCC spokesperson Helen Kalla. 

5th CD: Spartz crashed codel

When a bipartisan group of lawmakers visited the Ukraine border in March, an unexpected guest showed up on the trip: GOP Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana (CNN). Spartz, the first Ukrainian-born member of the US Congress and an outspoken advocate for her home country, had expressed interest in joining the congressional delegation but wasn’t invited to attend the trip, which consisted primarily of House Foreign Affairs Committee members, a panel where Spartz is not a member. So, she used her own funds to fly to the border of Ukraine in Poland and linked up with lawmakers once there to join in on some of their meetings, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation. Her surprise appearance, the circumstances of which have not been previously reported, was initially viewed as a welcome addition – albeit an unusual one – as lawmakers sought to rally Western support for Ukraine amid Russia’s bloody assault on the country that began a week earlier. But members who were part of the official trip told CNN that Spartz was “argumentative,” “accusatory,” and “unhelpful” during key meetings with NATO members, generals and government officials, sparking concern that her presence was doing more harm than good. “She crashed our CoDel. She was like a bull in a china shop,” said one GOP lawmaker, who like other members for this story was granted anonymity to speak more freely about a colleague and due to the sensitive nature of the subject. “I don’t know if it was pent-up frustration or she didn’t feel like she was getting enough proper information, but she was just accusatory and rude.”

3rd CD: Banks wants Trump to run

After the Republican Study Committee met with Donald Trump at Bedminster Tuesday night for three hours, U.S. Rep. Jim Banks left little doubt who he is supporting for president in 2024. “I have never seen President Trump as fired up as he was tonight,” Banks tweeted. “The sooner he gets out there the better.” U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz and 9th CD Republican nominee Erin Houchin also attended the meeting. Banks told WIBC’s Tony Katz the FBI’s search for classified documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is a “political witch hunt.” He added, “We have to be open to impeachment of top officials in the Biden Administration as well. We can’t shy away from that if the evidence leads to facts that show that this raid was political in nature; that we absolutely need to put impeachment on the table of the top officials of the DOJ and FBI.” 

Governor

Bloomington Chamber postpones Crouch

The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce postponed Tuesday’s planned private luncheon with Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch at the Graduate Hotel (Beane, Indiana Public Media). Crouch’s scheduled presentation, “Empowering Women Leaders IN Indiana,” came just days after Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law an almost complete ban on abortions in the state. Local community leaders planned a protest outside the hotel to coincide with Crouch’s appearance, but canceled it after her event was postponed. An email from the leadership team called the appearance “a slap in the face of all Hoosier women” and called for the Chamber to rescind its invitation. In a Facebook post, the Chamber wrote: “In consultation with Bloomington Women in Leadership leaders, Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce President Eric Spoonmore has announced the Lieutenant Governor’s event on August 9 will be postponed to a future date to be determined.” Ron Green, director of communications for Crouch, said the lieutenant governor was informed of the postponement Monday night. 

General Assembly

INDems push Glynn, Hart on SB1

The Indiana Democratic Party called out Indiana GOP House candidates Fred Glynn and Michael-Paul Hart for dodging voters on one of the most important kitchen-table issues facing Hoosiers this election year: abortion. For Glynn, he’s shying away from his “life begins at conception” stance he used during the primary elections. And in Hart’s case, the Indianapolis city councillor voted to abstain from a resolution in support of abortion access and refered to abortion as a “state business,” despite challenging Rep. Mitch Gore for HD89.

Indiana

Buttigieg to attend IDEA

U.S. Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg will attend the annual Indiana Democratic Editorial Association meeting in French Lick next week. In an email to Indiana Democrats, Chairman Mike Schmuhl, his former campaign manager, said Buttigieg is expected to speak next Friday afternoon, according to Importantville.

Man arrested to prevent candidacy 

Two Indiana officers were suspended after a stunning courtroom revelation that police thought a potential town council candidate was anti-police and arrested him, stopping him from running for office (Washington Post). During a July 19 hearing, Franklin County Prosecutor Chris Huerkamp dropped charges that included drug possession against Trevin Thalheimer after an officer and witness recounted how Brookville police talked about Thalheimer. Huerkamp, who also did not pursue a rape charge police had investigated, said he was “disturbed beyond words” by the alleged police conduct and reported the incident to the Indiana State Police, which launched a criminal investigation. The transcript of the hearing was made public Monday. Brookville Police Chief Terry Mitchum and the investigating officer, Ryan Geiser, were suspended with pay from the nine-person force Thursday by the town’s council, which ordered them to stay away from other officers and town property. 

Presidential 2024

Trump takes the 5th

Former President Donald Trump said he refused to answer questions Wednesday at a deposition by investigators for New York Attorney General Letitia James as part of her civil probe into his business (CNBC). “I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question,” Trump said in a furious statement that railed against James as a renegade prosecutor with a vendetta against him. “When your family, your company, and all the people in your orbit have become the targets of an unfounded, politically motivated Witch Hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors, and the Fake News Media, you have no choice,” Trump said. “Accordingly, under the advice of my counsel and for all of the above reasons, I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution,” he said.

Informant keyed Mar-a-Lago search

The raid on Mar-a-Lago was based largely on information from an FBI confidential human source, one who was able to identify what classified documents former President Trump was still hiding and even the location of those documents, two senior government officials told Newsweek. The officials, who have direct knowledge of the FBI’s deliberations and were granted anonymity in order to discuss sensitive matters, said the raid of Donald Trump’s Florida residence was deliberately timed to occur when the former president was away. A confidential informer told the FBI what documents Donald Trump was hiding at Mar-a-Lago, and where. FBI decision-makers in Washington and Miami thought that denying the former president a photo opportunity or a platform from which to grandstand (or to attempt to thwart the raid) would lower the profile of the event, says one of the sources, a senior Justice Department official who is a 30-year veteran of the FBI. Instead, it prompted a furious response from GOP leaders and Trump supporters. “What a spectacular backfire,” says the Justice official.

Pence denounces Mar-a-Lago search

Former Vice President Mike Pence tweeted: “I share the deep concern of millions of Americans over the unprecedented search of the personal residence of President Trump. No former President of the United States has ever been subject to a raid of their personal residence in American history. After years where FBI agents were found to be acting on political motivation during our administration, the appearance of continued partisanship by the Justice Department must be addressed. ”

Hammond says McDaniel to run for RNC

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel will seek a fourth term. “She has not announced anything and is focused on the November elections,” said John Hammond III, an RNC member from Indiana. “That said, my conversations with her indicate she is open to running again and likely to do so, which I believe would be very popular within the RNC membership.”