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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, September 03, 2017 1:00 am

President's hair tempts Hoosier Lawson

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson was talking seriously last week about election security and her service on President Donald Trump's election integrity commission.

Lawson said she stood next to the president at a recent meeting.

“Privately I wanted to reach out and touch his hair, but I didn't,” she said to a room full of laughter in the Indiana Statehouse.

Tritch gains endorsement

The Indiana Democratic Party State Central Committee has endorsed Courtney Tritch for the U.S. House seat representing northeast Indiana.

Tritch is among three announced candidates for the Democratic nomination for the 3rd District seat held by Republican Rep. Jim Banks.

“Courtney has the know-how and experience to jumpstart the Hoosier economy and attract and cultivate good-paying jobs to Indiana's Third Congressional District,” state Democratic Party Chairman John Zody said Wednesday in a statement. “The State Central Committee and Hoosier Democrats back candidates who are focused on building up Indiana communities, who fight for families, fairness and the future, and that's exactly the kind of leader Courtney Tritch is.”

Tritch, a Fort Wayne resident, owns a marketing consulting firm and is a former vice president of marketing for the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, an economic development organization.

She recently was endorsed by the 3rd Congressional District Democratic Party. The district includes 10 counties in northeast Indiana and parts of two others.

Other announced Democratic congressional candidates are Fort Wayne residents David Roach and Tommy Schrader, who won the 2016 Democratic primary election in the 3rd District.

Laws and order

Former U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman and his successor, freshman Rep. Jim Banks, are a lot alike.

Both are conservative Republicans who served in the Indiana General Assembly before representing northeast Indiana in the U.S. House. And like Stutzman before him, Banks is no fan of congressional schedules that do not follow regular order for advancing legislation through committee and floor votes.

Banks and the rest of Congress return this week from their August recess. They will have less than a month to raise the national debt limit, approve a fiscal 2018 budget and appropriations bills and reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Flood Insurance Program. Another pressing issue will be providing federal aid to help pay for the damage Hurricane Harvey inflicted on Texas and Louisiana.

Banks said last week that he expects Congress to pass a continuing resolution that would extend current spending levels through the end of the year so that Congress can negotiate a budget for fiscal 2018. Continuing resolutions have been the norm in recent years.

“It is a disappointing aspect of my experience in Washington when we are dealing with continuing resolutions and not passing full-year annual appropriations bills,” Banks said Friday after a tour of Harris Corp.'s Fort Wayne operation.

He said House members are well on their way “to getting back to regular order” by approving four of 12 appropriations bills before the August break. Stutzman had said something similar – back in January 2016, when he was instructed to take a bill of his to a committee chairman.

Banks said the latest holdups have tended to be in the Senate. Republicans control both chambers, although they have a much smaller majority in the Senate.

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 be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.