Political Notebook

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    Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and national GOP Chairman Reince Priebus will speak at the state party’s convention in Fort Wayne.
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  • Fries gets Farm nod
    Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries has received the endorsement of the Indiana Farm Bureau ELECT in his primary election race for the District 15 Indiana State Senate seat.
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It’s official: Morris to get primary challenge

Attorney Michael Barranda will challenge state Rep. Bob Morris in next year’s Republican primary election.

Barranda announced Thursday that he will seek the GOP nomination in the 84th District in northeast Fort Wayne.

He has been signaling a campaign since the 2012 primary season, when he criticized Morris for a letter to House members in which the lawmaker called the Girl Scouts “a group that has been subverted in the name of liberal progressive politics and the destruction of traditional American family values.” Morris later apologized.

Barranda said in a statement that if elected, he will “promote principled, conservative stands on fiscal and social issues while embracing diversity and inclusion while not being divisive and intolerant.”

He has been gearing up for a run for more than a year. Barranda filed a candidate statement of organization with the Indiana secretary of state in April 2012 and a couple months later issued a news release indicating he would run in the 2014 GOP primary.

His exploratory committee’s campaign finance report shows he raised $5,025 in contributions in 2012 and started this year with $3,870 in cash. By comparison, Morris reported having nearly $10,700 in campaign cash at the beginning of 2013.

Morris had little to say about his challenger.

“He is a constituent. I welcome any ideas that my constituents have,” Morris said. “And I will be seeking re-election and am focusing on serving the people of the district and the state of Indiana.”

Morris has represented the 84th District since Republicans chose him to fill a vacant seat in 2010. He won the 2010 and 2012 general elections and ran unopposed for the 2012 Republican nomination.

Representation

This spring, when the Fort Wayne City Council was considering an income tax increase to make up for lost revenue under property tax caps, the Allen County Council objected loudly.

Local income taxes are set by the Allen County Income Tax Council, but that body’s votes are based on population, so the city controls the tax council. When the City Council voted to raise income taxes, it raised them for everyone in Allen County.

County Council members at the time called that “taxation without representation,” incorrectly equating not having a majority vote with not getting a vote at all.

Thursday morning, the County Council had its chance to cast a vote on the question, but members voted 4-3 to take no action.

You read that right – the body that called the system “taxation without representation” chose not to vote at all. That means that the residents in unincorporated Allen County represented by the council will be taxed but had no representation.

The real irony is that members voting against casting a vote did so because they said they didn’t want to vote against the tax and then accept the money when it came in. That, they feared, would be hypocritical.

Berry returns

Tim Berry was state auditor when he was invited to the Allen County Republican Party’s summer golf outing and barbecue.

But he will attend the Monday gathering as the new chairman of the state GOP.

The party’s state executive committee is expected to elect Berry as its leader at a Monday afternoon meeting in Indianapolis. He will take part in a 3 p.m. news conference with Gov. Mike Pence, who had recommended him for the post, then head to Fort Wayne for the barbecue at Chestnut Hills Golf Club on Illinois Road, according to Steve Shine, chairman of the Allen County Republican Party.

“He is going to be freshly minted,” he said about Berry, who is from Fort Wayne.

Others who are expected to attend the Chestnut Hills events include 3rd District U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson and state Senate President Pro Tem David Long of Fort Wayne.

Berry, the second-term auditor and former two-term state treasurer, will replace Eric Holcomb, who resigned as state Republican chairman in June and was later named chief of staff for Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind.

Pence on Wednesday recommended that the GOP state committee select Coats’ wife, Marsha, to replace Becky Skillman on the Republican National Committee. Skillman, former lieutenant governor, announced her resignation from the panel the same day Holcomb said he would leave the chairman’s job.

Marsha Coats said in a statement, “The Indiana Republican Party has long been the party of purpose, and I am excited about the opportunity to serve Hoosiers in this new capacity.”

Skillman joined the national committee in June 2012 for a four-year term.

The song’s too long

Usually, it’s a bit of a scramble to start the Fort Wayne City Council meeting, with the City TV folks telling the council folks how much time is left and council folks rushing to get into their seats and get started.

Not last week. On Tuesday, council members were in their places and ready to go, but when they looked to the cameraman, he said two minutes remained before the start.

Council President Tom Didier, R-3rd, exclaimed, “Two minutes!”

But Tom Smith, R-1st, had an idea. “Sing us a song, Tom.”

Didier, who often sings the national anthem at Komets hockey games, wasn’t biting. “National anthem’s a minute and a half if you sing it right,” he said. “You’re going to have to wait.”

Vivian Sade and Dan Stockman of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

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.

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