Political Notebook


Pence aims to find chairman soon

– There’s been more than a week of radio silence since Indiana Republican Party Chairman Eric Holcomb announced his upcoming departure.

Although Gov. Mike Pence said Thursday he wasn’t surprised by the resignation, he clearly didn’t have anyone lined up to take over the job.

“I’m looking for a Republican,” he joked. “Fortunately we’ve got a very deep bench. Our party is in very strong shape.”

Pence said he has interviewed candidates – both male and female – for various roles and expects to make a decision in days, not weeks. Holcomb’s last day is July 9.

While the state committee – with representation from all nine congressional districts – officially makes the selection of a new chairman, it is tradition to follow a recommendation from the governor. Pence said he is looking for a person of integrity who can raise money and be an effective advocate for his agenda.

“I’m looking for someone who loves the Republican Party, loves to be at picnics and chicken dinners, and shares my affection for people who take the time out of their busy lives to volunteer all over the state of Indiana to participate,” he said.

In addition to Holcomb’s top post, several other key officials stepped down, including the vice chair and executive director.

A statement from Pence’s office Friday announcing Senior Policy Director Marilee Springer’s promotion to deputy chief of staff hinted to some that governor’s office executive Chris Crabtree might be preparing to transfer to the party organization.

That’s because when Crabtree was tapped by Pence in December, his title stated in the press release was deputy chief of staff for external operations, so many thought Springer was replacing Crabtree.

But somewhere along the way, the administration had changed the title of Crabtree’s job to director for external operations, and so actually never had a deputy chief of staff.

Pence spokeswoman Kara Brooks said Crabtree isn’t going anywhere, and Springer’s job is a new position created in the office.

Odd, since just two weeks ago, Springer appeared before the State Ethics Commission to receive clearance to return to a downtown Indianapolis law firm where she previously worked. During that meeting, she spoke about how much she missed practicing law.

Playing hardball

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., threw the ceremonial first pitch before the TinCaps played West Michigan last Sunday at Parkview Field.

“One of these days, it’s going to be very embarrassing,” Coats, 70, said Monday during remarks to the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce. “In fact, I just watched on ESPN the 10 worst celebrity first pitches. It’s awful. I said, ‘I don’t want to get on the list.’ ”

But Coats thought he had thrown a fine pitch, and he said so to the TinCaps player who caught him.

“I said, ‘I think that was a strike, don’t you?’ ” Coats recalled. “He said, ‘I had to frame it a little bit.’ I said, ‘C’mon, I’m not one of these young guys. Can’t you tell me that was a strike?’ ‘No, I had to frame it a little bit.’

“So I said, ‘I appreciate your honesty. I wish everybody in Washington was as truthful.’ ”

Coats said he had filled up on pastries and other food at Greekfest in Headwaters Park before the game.

He and his wife, Marsha, were in town this weekend for the burial of her father, Cecil Crawford, at Leo Memorial Cemetery. Crawford, 93, died June 5 in Wilmington, N.C.

Crawford was Coats’ campaign manager when he first ran for the Fort Wayne seat in the U.S. House in 1980. Washington campaign operatives at the time were skeptical, insisting Crawford was a novice who “doesn’t know how to do any of this stuff,” Coats said.

“I said, ‘That’s why I’m hiring him. The stuff you’re doing isn’t working so well,’ ” Coats said to laughter from chamber members.

Coats captured 61 percent of the vote to win the election.

Coulter coming

Conservative commentator and author Ann Coulter is scheduled to speak in Fort Wayne in September.

Federated Entertainment has announced that Coulter will be the keynote speaker for the Northern Indiana Business & Life Masters Series at 8 p.m. Sept. 13 at Grand Wayne Center.

Federated Entertainment calls Coulter “one of the leading political pundits of our time.” The company is part of Federated Media, which operates five radio stations in Fort Wayne, including the news-talk station WOWO.

General-admission tickets for Coulter’s appearance cost $25 and went on sale last Friday at www.businessandlifeseries.com.

Coulter’s books include “Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America,” “If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans” and “How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must).”

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