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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, October 28, 2018 1:00 am

2 enter race for county seat

GOP caucus to determine who replaces Busch

BRIAN FRANCISCO and NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

Two Republicans have thrown their hats into the ring to replace outgoing Allen County Councilman Justin Busch, R-at large, as he prepares to take over for retiring state Sen. David Long, R-Fort Wayne.

Adam Welch and Kyle Kerley announced they will seek Busch's seat when the Allen County Republican Party holds a caucus in the coming weeks to fill Busch's term, which will expire in 2020. 

“Our county continues to be recognized across the state and region for its welcoming business climate and disciplined fiscal responsibility,” Welch, an economic development professional for Greater Fort Wayne Inc., said in a statement. “I hope to earn the opportunity to serve Allen County residents in order to protect taxpayers while also setting a vision for our community's future.”

Kerley, chairman of Fort Wayne's Legacy Joint Funding Committee, said in a statement: “Today is a new day and new challenges face the taxpayers of Allen County. County Council serves as the fiscal steward of your tax dollars. As we face these new challenges, we must do so with vigilance to get the most out of each dollar spent, whether it be for infrastructure, roads, libraries or public safety.”

A GOP caucus voted Oct. 9 to replace Long with Busch in Senate District 16.

Braun, Donnelly spending big

Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly and Republican challenger Mike Braun have been neck-and-neck in the polls ahead of the Nov. 6 general election. Their money race is pretty close, too, thanks to Braun's willingness to open his wallet.

Donnelly raised nearly $1.44 million in campaign contributions and spent nearly $3.7 million during the first 17 days of October, according to the pre-election campaign finance report he filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Braun's FEC report shows he raised $1.25 million in contributions and spent nearly $3.3 million during the first half of October. Braun, who owns an auto parts distribution company, also lent his campaign $1.6 million.

For the entire election cycle, which began in 2017, Donnelly has raised $16.2 million and spent $14 million, and he had $2.3 million in cash on hand as of Oct. 17. Braun has raised nearly $17 million in all – including $10.4 million he has lent his campaign – and spent about $15.6 million, and he had almost $1.4 million in cash as of Oct. 17.

The Indiana race is among a half-dozen Senate contests across the nation that are considered toss-ups and will decide which party controls the Senate, according to polling and election analysts. 

In northeast Indiana's 3rd Congressional District, Democratic challenger Courtney Tritch raised more than $85,000 during the first half of October and spent almost $184,000. Republican Rep. Jim Banks raised $19,000 and spent more than $172,000.

For the election cycle to date, Banks has raised and spent $1 million, and he had roughly $87,000 in cash as of Oct. 17. Tritch has raised nearly $834,000 and spent almost $616,000, and she had about $218,000 in cash heading into the last weeks of the campaign.

Public meeting on hate crimes law

Fort Wayne City Councilman Geoff Paddock will hold a public input session Tuesday regarding a possible state hate crimes law.

“It is my intention to ask the general public to come forward and offer their thoughts about hate crimes legislation. I am also asking some community leaders, who have expressed interest in this issue, to testify as well,” Paddock, D-5th, said in a statement Monday.

Indiana is one of five states that does not have a hate crimes law, Paddock said, noting that Gov. Eric Holcomb has said he would support a hate crimes law if passed by the General Assembly.

“I think it is important the citizens of Fort Wayne support this effort. I am also contacting my colleagues on City Council to see if we can get the necessary votes to pass a resolution urging the General Assembly to act on Gov. Holcomb's request,” Paddock said, noting he does not know whether a majority of council members would support such a resolution.

Tuesday's meeting will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the City Council discussion room at Citizens Square, 200 E. Berry St.

Dave Gong contributed to this report.

To reach Political Notebook, email 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.