Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

Sunday, March 11, 2018 1:00 am

Ober's youth the butt of House peers' jokes

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

The jokes about Albion GOP Rep. Dave Ober's youthful looks were flying last week when the Indiana House bid him farewell.

Ober is not seeking re-election, and the House honors departing members.

House Speaker Brian Bosma said he mistook Ober for the coffee attendant when he first met him at Walmart: “I thought he was a high school kid working there. He had braces and didn't have the fancy-schmancy hairdo.”

Rep. Dave Gutwein, R-Francesville, recalls playing golf with Ober and his roommate, Rep. Martin Carbaugh, R-Fort Wayne.

“They should be in the Army – left, right, left, right,” he joked about them hitting balls everywhere but the middle of the course.

But it wasn't all jokes. One member said Ober, 30, has “wisdom beyond your years, and you'll do great.”

Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, said he shared a hotel room with Ober several years ago and commented that they have different personalities and styles.

“My style is direct: head down and charge. David thinks things through and taught me a lot. Having met him, I'm a better person.”

Ober thanked everyone for the kind words and “the inside jokes, even though they were weird.”

And he choked up while giving a speech, saying it was a great opportunity as a millennial to get to know people and make policy the last six years.

“My voice is starting to crack like I'm in middle school,” he said. “Seriously, I look like I'm 12. I know that. I came here with no life experience. I've been a sponge. I'm better for it.”

Cars and the mayor

Mayor Tom Henry's calendar Wednesday included a stop at Menards, where he participated in a business announcement.

Kelley Automotive Group is moving five of its dealerships to land fronting Interstate 69. Tom Kelley bought the land from John Menard, founder and owner of the Menards retail chain.

Henry applauded the combined $70 million investment, which includes upgrades to two Menard's stores, and cited his personal shopping adventures with both businesses.

Henry confessed that when he leaves Menards, his wallet is always lighter. But, he quickly added, that's because he has bought home improvement items that ultimately save him money.

The seasoned politician, one of 17 children, relied on more comfortable comedic territory when he commented on the car dealer.

“The Henry family buys a lot of cars from Kelley,” he said. “But, with the size of my family, that's not a hard thing to do.”

Add your own rimshot here.

Trump and the Peace Prize?

Three men seeking the Republican nomination for an Indiana seat in the U.S. Senate are fervent supporters of President Donald Trump. But one might have upped the ante.

U.S. Rep. Luke Messer said Thursday that Trump should receive the Nobel Peace Prize if North Korea were to give up its nuclear weapons.

“If North Korea talks lead to concrete action, President Trump should be well on his way to his own Nobel Peace Prize,” Messer, R-6th, said in a statement. “North Korea is signaling for the first time a willingness to discuss disarming its nuclear capabilities. If this happens, it would be a direct result of President Trump's strong leadership and decisive action toward the brutal North Korean tyrant.”

Messer was referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the target of Trump administration sanctions and Trump's taunts. South Korea and North Korea engaged in diplomatic talks last, with South Korean envoys saying North Korea is prepared to negotiate with U.S. officials on denuclearization and normalizing relations.

Messer contended former President Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 “for being a charming presidential candidate. If North Korea disarms, President Trump's Nobel Peace Prize would be well deserved.”

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said in 2009 it awarded the Peace Prize to Obama “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.”

Messer's Republican rivals also weighed in on Trump last week. Jasper businessman Mike Braun said Thursday that he supports Trump's announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, and Rep. Todd Rokita, R-4th, said Wednesday the Trump administration “is absolutely right” for filing a lawsuit alleging that California laws protecting undocumented immigrants from deportation are unconstitutional.

Student filmmaker gets C-SPAN honor

A documentary made by a student at Canterbury Middle School in Fort Wayne won an honorable mention prize in C-SPAN's 2018 StudentCam competition.

The public affairs TV network announced Wednesday that eighth-grader Vonnia Anwar will receive $250 for her short documentary titled “Branching into New Medicine,” in which she looks at moral and legal issues surrounding embryonic stem cell research.

C-SPAN said it received nearly 3,000 video submissions from more than 5,700 students nationwide. This year's theme was the U.S. Constitution.

More than 300 students split $10,000 in prizes. Anwar was among 97 students who received honorable mention awards. Her video can be seen at

Sherry Slater 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 also be found as a daily blog at