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Local politics

Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Indiana Republican Party Chairman Tim Berry, right, talks with Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma before Tuesday’s GOP Bean Dinner at Ceruti’s Summit Park.

At dinner, GOP blames stalemate on Democrats

The federal budget standoff prevented Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., from speaking Tuesday at the annual Allen County Republican Party Bean Dinner on Tuesday night.

Coats’ replacements – including his wife, Marsha, a national GOP committee member – blamed Democrats for the impasse that kept him in Washington, D.C., and has shut down parts of the federal government since Oct. 1.

“The solution is to get more conservative Republicans elected so that in 2014 and 2016, we can change the balance,” Marsha Coats said about a government divided among a Republican House and a Democratic Senate and White House.

She called President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which is among the sticking points in fiscal negotiations, “the worst piece of legislation that has ever come down the pike.”

Her husband stayed in Washington with their dog, Honey, which he sometimes takes to work with him. Honey “fertilizes the courtyard of the Senate Russell Office Building, and there’s plenty of that in Washington to go around,” Marsha Coats said.

Indiana Republican Party Chairman Tim Berry called Obama “confused, inconsistent and incoherent” on domestic and foreign policies, as well as “preachy” and “all talk.” The Fort Wayne native said Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., “acts exactly the same” as Obama in his votes on legislation.

“But we’ve got to be real,” Berry said. “We recognize that the media tells us that it’s not real good for Republicans right now. But we also recognize that the president has taken a big hit as well” in approval rating polls.

A few hundred people attended the fundraising dinner at Ceruti’s Summit Park, where the meal included beef, chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans. Many in the audience departed early, leaving a half-dozen empty or nearly empty tables in the room before Berry was finished talking.

Berry, a former state auditor and state treasurer, praised the “Republican brand” in Indiana, where the party controls both houses of the General Assembly and the governor’s office.

“I believe that we can … and we will continue to grow this party in our state,” Berry said. “For the sake of our state, I tell you we must continue to grow the party in this state.

“We represent the right-track Indiana way. We’re not here just to win elections. … We’re here to make a difference, to make a difference in the lives of Hoosiers,” he said.

He and Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, listed as GOP accomplishments in the state lower taxes, reduced spending, retired debts and school choice.

The Allen County’s GOP has replaced Marion County’s as the “stalwart” at the Statehouse, Bosma said.

“The strength in the legislature is not in Marion County, it’s in Allen County,” Bosma said. “The youth, the future of the Republican Party in the legislature, is not in central Indiana, although there’s plenty of great leaders; it’s in Allen County.”

Earlier, Berry presented the State Chairman’s Award for service, commitment and leadership to local GOP financiers Bruce Dye and Bill Bean. Berry cited their efforts as essential in the GOP state committee’s decision last summer to have its 2014 nominating convention at Fort Wayne’s Grand Wayne Center in June.

Numerous candidates for state and county offices in the 2014 elections introduced themselves before the main speakers.