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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, September 30, 2018 1:00 am

2 local women in Lugar Series

Habitat official, RNC organizer among 20 in class

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

The Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series recently selected its 29th class of Republican women for leadership training in government, politics and public service.

The 20 women in the 2018-19 class hail from 11 counties throughout Indiana – including two from Allen County.

Lindsay Hannah is the director of development for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Fort Wayne; and Nicole Keesling is a field organizer for the Republican National Committee.

The Lugar Series is a political training program for women with a mission to “increase the number and influence of Republican women in elected and appointed governmental positions at the local, state and federal levels.” To date, 509 Hoosier women have completed the program. Graduates include former Indiana Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann, state Rep. Holli Sullivan and state Sens. Liz Brown and Erin Houchin.

“This year's class is comprised of 20 outstanding Hoosier women from multiple industries across the state who bring with them a diverse skill set and background,” said Anne Hathaway, Lugar Series executive director. “These women are strong leaders who seek to engage in our state and communities. I look forward to seeing how they will utilize their talents and training after they complete the Lugar Series.”

Endorsements rolling in

Allen County Councilman Justin Busch is piling up the endorsements in his quest to replace state Sen. David Long, R-Fort Wayne.

Busch announced in April that he will run in the GOP caucus to fill Long's remaining term when he leaves in November. The Senate District 16 term runs through 2020.

Busch worked in the administration of former President George W. Bush and is a former aide to U.S. Sens. Dan Coats and Richard Lugar. He is currently the northeast Indiana director for U.S. Sen. Todd Young.

Not surprisingly Young has come out in support of Busch's candidacy, saying in a statement, “I have known Justin since before I was elected to Congress in 2010. His experience, conviction, and relationships will allow him to serve the people of Senate District 16 very well. From helping me on my first run for office, to representing me in northeast Indiana, Justin has proven time and again his ability to get things done. His passion and enthusiasm for northeast Indiana will make Justin an excellent Senator for residents of our region at the Statehouse.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, a former state senator who represents northeast Indiana's 3rd Congressional District, said, “Justin Busch has the right experience and values to be an effective, conservative leader” for Whitley and Allen counties at the Statehouse.

Other supporters include state Reps. Martin Carbaugh and Bob Morris, Allen County Sheriff Dave Gladieux, former Allen County sheriff Ken Fries, Allen County Auditor Nick Jordan and five former and current Allen County Council presidents: Paula Hughes, Paul Moss, Tom Harris, Larry Brown and current President Joel Benz.

Endorsements announced last week for the Nov. 6 general election included:

• The campaign for Mike Braun, Republican candidate for a U.S. Senate seat from Indiana, announced he has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association. Braun is challenging Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly.

• The campaign for Courtney Tritch, Democratic candidate for the northeast Indiana seat in the U.S. House, announced Wednesday she has been endorsed by the Alliance for Retired Americans. Tritch is challenging Banks in the 3rd Congressional District.

Redistricting workshop

The Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting will have an activist training workshop in Fort Wayne on Saturday.

The free workshop will be from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Gethsemane Lutheran Church, 1505 Bethany Lane. A light lunch will be provided. Registration is required by contacting Julia Vaughn at before Thursday.

The coalition advocates for legislation that would establish an independent panel of citizens to draw state legislative and congressional districts every 10 years, a process currently conducted by the Indiana General Assembly. The coalition says an independent panel would put a halt to partisan gerrymandering, where legislators draw districts to give clear electoral advantages to the candidates of one political party. The next round of redistricting in Indiana will be in 2021.

Workshop sponsors are Advancing Voices of Women, Common Cause Indiana and the League of Women Voters of Fort Wayne. Coalition members include Common Cause Indiana, League of Women Voters of Indiana, Hoosier Environmental Council, Citizens Action Coalition, ACLU, NAACP, Indiana Farmers Union, Jobs for Justice and Moral Mondays.

Mixing alcohol, voting?

Scotch-maker Johnnie Walker is partnering with nonprofit organization, a initiative, to support its “Election Day Holiday” campaign. The campaign urges companies to offer employees paid time off, ranging from flexible working schedules to a full paid holiday, to get to the polls on Nov. 6.

In 2014, 35 percent of the U.S. population said that scheduling conflicts with work and school prevented them from voting in midterm elections.

Johnnie Walker parent company Diageo said it is committed to giving all of its salaried employees and non-union hourly associates across the country two hours of paid time off to get to the polls Nov. 6. This policy is in place across all U.S. offices and manufacturing sites, making it simpler for Diageo employees to vote, regardless of location.

And maybe after they vote they can toast with some Scotch whisky.

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