Political Notebook

  • Mom's ad surprises candidate
    Congressional candidate Justin Kuhnle said Wednesday afternoon that except for an image texted by a friend, he had little knowledge of a newspaper advertisement supporting his candidacy.
  • Bennett back at the Statehouse
    Gov. Mike Pence had an intriguing visitor to his Statehouse office Tuesday - former Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett.
  • Right to Life PAC endorses 6 area GOP candidates
    The Indiana Right to Life Political Action Committee has endorsed six area Republicans seeking Statehouse office.

Democrat again seeks to unseat Stutzman

Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, has a challenger in his bid for re-election in 2014.

Justin Kuhnle of Kendallville told Political Notebook he will again seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for Stutzman’s seat representing northeast Indiana.

Kuhnle finished fourth in a six-candidate field won by Kevin Boyd of Fort Wayne in the 2012 Democratic primary election. Boyd received 33 percent of the vote against Stutzman in the general election.

Kuhnle, who turns 33 today, is a rehabilitation service provider for Bowen Center in Albion. He works with children and their families on developing relationships.

Improving education and worker training will be among the issues he concentrates on. He said people tell him their expectations for the federal government are “reducing taxes, finding more efficient ways to spend money and how to fix the education system.”

Kuhnle said he has been in contact with 3rd District Democratic officials and, unlike in 2012, will try to raise money for this campaign. Stutzman’s campaign had about $200,000 in cash through March, according to his most recent report to the Federal Election Commission.

“I’m just trying to get out, introduce myself to people, get the name recognition going,” Kuhnle said.

Puttin’ on the Ritz

Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz is being honored as the 2013 Democratic Trailblazer at the state party’s upcoming Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner.

The event Friday also features Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro.

The VIP reception begins at 5:30 p.m. with the dinner following. The events will be held at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.

Individual tickets are $125, with VIP passes at $500.

According to the online invitation, as of late Friday 99 people had bought tickets – raising more than $19,000.

If you have questions, email info@indems.org or call 317-231-7100.

Now a lobbyist

About a year after taking the lucrative position, former state Rep. Matt Bell is leaving as president of Ivy Tech Corporate College to become a lobbyist.

The news came last week via an email from the communications department, which said Bell’s last day will be June 30.

“I will be leaving Corporate College to begin a business with a long-time colleague at the end of the fiscal year. I am tremendously excited with the opportunity ahead of me, and yet leaving this team and Ivy Tech has been a very difficult decision,” Bell said.

He started his position in April 2012 at an annual salary of $250,000.

Bell told Political Notebook that he is finalizing a partnership with a colleague to lobby state government. He said more details will be unveiled in a few weeks.

“I think it could be an exciting endeavor,” he said. The only thing he would confirm is he is not partnering with another former northeast Indiana legislator-turned-lobbyist – Randy Borror.

Bell previously served in the Indiana House from 2005 to 2010. After he left, he was executive director of the Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana.

He said one of the big draws to the move is more time with his wife and children, who have remained in northeast Indiana while he lived in Indianapolis.

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