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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, February 10, 2019 1:00 am

Banks' House ally Cheney to speak at GOP Lincoln Day Dinner

BRIAN FRANCISCO and NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming will be keynote speaker for the Allen County Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day Dinner in April.

Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is chairman of the House Republican Conference, the party's third-highest ranking GOP position in the House behind minority leader and whip. She also is the top ranking woman in the caucus.

County GOP Chairman Steve Shine said in a news release that Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, secured Cheney's appearance. Cheney's leadership profile will be a factor in Republican efforts to recruit female candidates and voters, Shine said.

The Lincoln Day Dinner will be April 26 at the Ramada Plaza Hotel and Conference Center, 305 E. Washington Center Road, Fort Wayne. A VIP reception begins at 5:30 p.m., with dinner at 7 p.m.

Admission is $150 a person for the reception and dinner and $75 for the dinner only.

Candidate breakfasts

Candidates for the Republican nomination for Fort Wayne mayor will address GOP breakfast gatherings in coming weeks.

Tim Smith will speak Feb. 23, and John Crawford will speak March 16 at the Allen County Republican Party Chairman's Breakfasts at party headquarters, 135 W. Main St.

Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, is scheduled to speak at the April 20 breakfast.

People planning to attend any of the breakfasts, which are from 9 to 10 a.m., should RSVP to chairmansteveshine@allencounty.gop.org.

Henry honored

Mayor Tom Henry has received the 2019 National Environmental Achievement Award from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies.

The award recognizes public officials at the local, state and federal levels “who have demonstrated exemplary commitment to public service in their community and protecting the environment,” Fort Wayne City Utilities officials said in a news release.

“Mayor Henry's leadership and support of City Utilities initiatives have led to the updating of aging infrastructure, protecting our water resources, reducing runoff pollution from our waterways, recapturing waste to create energy and building improvements to protect neighborhoods from street flooding and basement backups,” the release said. “His environmental stewardship at our plants saw the installation of power efficient lighting and HVAC systems.”

Homecoming for Donnelly

Joe Donnelly is the first Hoosier since Dan Quayle in 1993 to move back to Indiana after leaving the U.S. Senate – although Quayle's return was delayed four years by his term as the nation's vice president.

News media reported last week that Donnelly has taken a part-time position teaching political science and global affairs at the University of Notre Dame, his alma mater. He lives in nearby Granger, and his wife works at Notre Dame.

Democrat Donnelly served one term in the Senate, losing his seat in the Nov. 6 election to Republican Mike Braun of Jasper.

Quayle, a Republican senator from Huntington from 1981 through 1988, moved to Carmel in 1993 after leaving the vice presidency. He moved to Arizona a few years later. Since then, Democrat Evan Bayh and Republicans Richard Lugar and Dan Coats stayed in Washington – Coats as President Donald Trump's director of national intelligence.

Before Donnelly, the last Hoosier senator who returned to Indiana upon leaving the Senate was Republican Homer Capehart, who lost a bid for his fourth term in the 1962 election to Democrat Birch Bayh. Capehart moved to Indianapolis, where he ran his family's business and farming interests, dying in 1979 at age 82.

Rokita lands new gig

Apex Benefits, a benefits strategy and services provider has hired former Indiana Secretary of State and U.S. Congressman Todd Rokita as its general counsel and vice president of external affairs.

In this role, Rokita will oversee corporate legal strategies and serve as a representative for Apex and an advocate for its customers by public policy initiatives in Indiana and the nation.

“As Apex continues rapidly evolving to meet the needs of our clients and demands of the ever-changing health care industry, it's become increasingly more important to add an experienced legal and public policy perspective to our team,” Apex President and CEO John Gause said. “The timing is ideal for us to join forces and our missions couldn't have aligned better.”

The company has an Indianapolis office.

Rokita, the company said, has worked to rein in the rising costs of health care for public- and private-sector organizations and U.S. taxpayers since he entered public service in 2002.

Dave Gong of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

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.