JG logo

Democrat enters race for state auditor

Niki Kelly and Brian Francisco

Carmel Democrat Mike Claytor jumped into the 2014 race for state auditor Thursday.

And Indiana Republican Party Chairman Tim Berry wasted no time welcoming the “Floridian” to the race.

Claytor is an experienced accountant and attorney who was born in Hartford City and graduated from Ball State University in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He immediately went to work at the Indiana State Board of Accounts under then-Gov. Bob Orr.

He received a law degree in 1983 and continued working for the state on several white-collar crime investigations. He later retired as a partner with Crowe Horwath LLP.

Claytor said he wants to bring accountability and transparency back to Indiana state government.

“It is not possible for every citizen to know how the billions in the state budget are spent on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “That’s why I’m running to be an experienced, independently elected public servant who will watch over those funds and report to the taxpayers if they are missing or misrepresented or when they’re directed to entities that are not providing true value to the voters in Indiana.”

Gov. Mike Pence recently appointed Republican Dwayne Sawyer to fill the remainder of Tim Berry’s term as state auditor. Berry left to run the Indiana Republican Party.

Sawyer will seek the Republican nomination for state auditor.

Berry, meanwhile, tracked down Claytor’s voting record in Florida – noting he voted there in the 2008, 2010 and 2012 general elections. He also gave money to Florida candidates.

“As he embarks on his statewide campaign, Mike will have a lot of questions to answer about this. While his biography may gloss over it, we will make sure to spread the word that Democrat Mike Claytor is, in fact, a Floridian by virtue of his voter registration,” Berry said.

Claytor acknowledged he moved to Florida for work reasons several years ago, while his wife maintained their Indiana home. He voted there as well and had a Florida driver’s license.

But he registered to vote in Indiana in June and now has an Indiana driver’s license. He and his wife still own the Florida condo as well as a home in Carmel.

There is no one-year voting/residency requirement to run for state auditor.

More caucus news

Another area man is seeking to replace Rep. Phyllis Pond, R-New Haven.

Dave Heine sent a letter expressing interest in the post to all the precinct committee persons voting in the Oct. 8 caucus for Pond’s successor.

Her current term ends in late 2014, with a new two-year term up for grabs next year.

“I will work hard to represent the 85th District in the Indiana state legislature keeping the constituents in mind at all times while striving to uphold conservative Republican values,” Heine said.

Heine has lived in House District 85 his whole life. He is a corporate executive and owner/operator of a family farm.

He is also a precinct committee person himself who can vote in the caucus.

So far, Heine joins the field along with Fort Wayne attorney Casey Cox – who had decided to run for the post even before Pond’s announcement – and Realtor Denny Worman, who has challenged Pond several times in the past.

Several precinct committee persons have said Ric Runestad has also been calling around for support. He has not returned several messages seeking comment.

Runestad in 2010 led an effort to try to remove then-Allen Superior Court Judge Ken Scheibenberger from the ballot. He also unsuccessfully challenged Allen County GOP Chairman Steve Shine for that post in 2009.

New director tapped

Bill Law has been appointed as the new executive director of the Allen County Democratic Party.

He replaces Jack Morris, who recently launched his candidacy for the Indiana Senate District 15.

Law is an IU graduate and vice president/COO of Law’s Enterprises Inc. He currently heads Law’s Country Kennel, a family business in Allen County.

A news release said he is enthusiastic about assuming this role with the Democratic Party.

“I am very excited about this opportunity. This is a very dynamic time in our local party and I’m thrilled to play an integral role in continuing to strengthen our organization to best serve our members, elected officials, candidates and voters,” he said.

Law assumed his position Sept. 1.

"Bill had huge shoes to fill,” Allen County Democratic Party Chairman John Court said. “But he is more than up to the task, and we could not ask for a better person to be at the helm than this exciting young leader as our party undergoes dynamic growth.”

Law will oversee operational functions of the party and assist in strategic planning.

Ask Joe, tell Dan

U.S. senators from Indiana have launched constituent pages on their websites. One senator’s site is for questions, the other’s for complaints.

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., has begun a “Just Ask Joe” video series in which Hoosiers can receive information about federal resources available to them. The contact information is 317-226-5555, Donnelly.senate.gov, senatordonnelly on Facebook and @sendonnelly on Twitter.

The first video on the senator’s website featured a testimonial from a South Bend woman who received assistance from Donnelly’s staff in obtaining benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. There is a blooper of sorts that was kept in the clip. At one point, Mary Andrews starts to call Donnelly “governor” before catching her mistake and, with a smile, calling him “senator.”

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., has started Indiana Input at www.coats.senate.gov/indianainput. Coats is asking Hoosiers to share their stories on how they are being affected by the Affordable Care Act, taxes and regulations.

“I believe there are three problem areas keeping America from getting back on track toward growth and prosperity: the costly health care law, the impact of federal regulations on businesses and our burdensome tax system,” Coats said in a statement.

Coats announced last week he had introduced legislation that would delay until 2015 the individual and employer insurance mandates in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Obama administration already has delayed the employer insurance mandate until then.

Coats’ bill is the same as one offered by Rep. Todd Young, R-9th, and passed by the House in mid-July in a 251-174 vote.

Coats said the health care law has increased insurance premiums, forced employers to cut workers’ jobs or hours and required families to change coverage plans.

“The best shot at repealing this devastating law is to delay it and allow the American people to decide Obamacare’s fate in the 2014 election,” Coats said in a statement.

Republicans would have to win a majority in the Democratic-controlled Senate and maintain their House majority to try to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Such legislation certainly would be vetoed by President Barack Obama, as the health care law is regarded as the signature legislative accomplishment of his presidency.

As of Thursday, 33 Republican senators had co-sponsored Coats’ bill, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had offered it as an amendment to the energy efficiency bill.

To reach Political Notebook by email, 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.

© Copyright 2014 The Journal Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.