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Thursday, May 31, 2018 1:00 am

House speaker in city to back Banks

Making 3rd trip here in past 2 years

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan will be in Fort Wayne this morning to campaign for Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd.

Ryan, R-Wis., is scheduled to speak at a 9 a.m. fundraising breakfast at an undisclosed site, according to an invitation to the event. Banks' campaign is charging $500 for individuals, $1,000 for sponsors and $2,700 for hosts.

Banks, who was elected to Congress in 2016, is opposed in the Nov. 6 general election by Democratic candidate Courtney Tritch.

This will be Ryan's third visit to Fort Wayne in recent years. The speaker had breakfast with elected officials and business leaders at the Ramada Plaza Hotel and Conference Center in May 2017, and he campaigned for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Young, who would go on to win election, at Fort Wayne Country Club in September 2016.

Ryan, 48, announced April 11 that he will not seek re-election this year. He has been speaker since 2015, a member of the House since 1999 and the GOP vice presidential nominee in 2012.

The House is in recess this week – what it calls a district work period. According to news reports, Ryan also was scheduled to appear at fundraisers for Republican congressional candidates in Ohio and North Carolina.

After today's breakfast, Banks will tour Hangar 2 at Smith Field. He introduced legislation in February that would designate the hangar as the National Airmail Museum, and the House approved the proposal in April. Smith Field supporters are trying to raise $2.5 million to develop the museum.

Banks, a member of the House Veterans' Affairs and Armed Services committees, will tour the VA Medical Center this afternoon. After that, he will attend a news conference at the Lakeside D.O. McComb and Sons Funeral Home in which the McComb Family Foundation will contribute $25,000 to Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit organization that provides programs and services to wounded military veterans.

On Friday morning, Banks will donate the military uniform he wore in Afghanistan to the Whitley County Historical Museum in Columbia City, his hometown.

Banks was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014 and 2015 as a Navy Reserve supply corps officer.