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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, December 10, 2017 1:00 am

Stutzman's wife ponders run for House

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

The wife of former federal and state lawmaker Marlin Stutzman said on social media that she might seek a seat in the Indiana House.

Christy Stutzman wrote Wednesday on her Facebook page that she “would like to ask for your prayers and support as I consider running” for the Republican nomination in House District 49, which is in eastern Elkhart County.

Rep. Wes Culver, R-Goshen, recently announced he will not seek re-election next year to the seat he was first elected to in 2008. Christy Stutzman wrote that Culver “leaves big shoes to fill.”

Marlin Stutzman wrote Wednesday on his Facebook page that his wife “would be a strong conservative voice for Hoosiers at the Statehouse!”

House District 49 is west of the district that Marlin Stutzman represented as a LaGrange County resident in the 2000s before he was elected to the Indiana Senate in 2008. He won election to the U.S. House in 2010 in northeast Indiana's 3rd District and left Capitol Hill this year after failing in 2016 to win the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat.

The Stutzmans live in Middlebury and have turned their LaGrange County home into an Airbnb rental property.

State GOP to have Senate straw poll

The Indiana Republican Party announced Wednesday it will have a straw poll next month for GOP activists to show which candidates they favor for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

The party has invited the five announced candidates to speak at the Jan. 13 luncheon for the state Republicans' Congress of Counties in downtown Indianapolis.

After the candidates' remarks, hundreds of people attending the two-day training event can cast unofficial votes for whom they would like as the GOP nominee to face Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in the 2018 general election.

Announced candidates for the Republican Senate nomination in the May 8 primary election are former state lawmaker Mike Braun of Jasper, Kokomo attorney Mark Hurt, U.S. Rep. Luke Messer of Greensburg, U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita of Brownsburg and New Albany college administrator Andrew Takami.

“Our U.S. Senate straw poll will provide political watchers with the first grassroots barometer to measure early support in this high-profile, statewide race that has national implications,” Indiana GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer said in a news release.

Didier pays tribute to late best friend

Fort Wayne City Council President Tom Didier's voice broke as he described the loss of childhood friend Don Offerle at the start of Tuesday's City Council meeting.

“He was a great friend of mine for 55 years,” Didier said. “I grew up with him on Crescent Avenue. He was just a wonderful person and I'm going to miss him terribly.”

Offerle, 55, was a well-known tennis pro who worked at Autumn Ridge Golf Club and Cherry Hill Golf Club. A bicycle accident in 2015 left Offerle in a coma with a brain injury. He recovered and went on to raise awareness of the dangers of cycling without a helmet. Offerle died Monday following a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Didier said Offerle was his best friend.

“I had to tell you because my heart's breaking right now and I'm sitting here doing the job God has me doing in my life,” Didier said Tuesday. “And I know Donny is looking down over me tonight.”

Bush ladies to visit Purdue next fall

Former first lady Laura W. Bush and her daughters, Barbara Pierce Bush and Jenna Bush Hager, will speak at Purdue University next year.

“Women in the White House and Beyond: A Conversation with Mrs. Laura W. Bush, Barbara Pierce Bush and Jenna Bush Hager” is presented by the College of Liberal Arts and the Department of History as part of the Sears Lecture Series.

Ticket availability will be announced by the beginning of fall semester 2018. The event is scheduled for Oct. 18.

Laura Bush is an advocate for literacy, education and women's rights. After leaving the White House, President George W. and Laura Bush founded the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.

The center is home to the Bush Presidential Museum and Library and the George W. Bush Institute, a public-policy center established to solve challenges by developing leaders, advancing policy and taking action.

Jenna Hager is a contributing correspondent on NBC's “Today” show and an editor-at-large for Southern Living magazine. She is also the author of the New York Times best-seller “Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope,” which she wrote after traveling to Latin America in 2006 as an intern with UNICEF.

“Ana's Story” is based on the life of a 17-year-old single mother with HIV who struggles to shield her child from the life she had of abuse and neglect.

Barbara Bush is CEO and co-founder of Global Health Corps, which mobilizes a global community of young leaders to build the movement for health equity.

Global Health Corps was founded in 2009 by six people in their 20s who were challenged by Peter Piot at the aids2031 Young Leaders Summit to engage their generation in solving the world's biggest health challenges.

Bush and her co-founders were united by the belief that health is a human right and that their generation must build the world where this is realized.

Dave Gong of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at or Niki Kelly at An expanded Political Notebook can be found as a daily blog at