The Journal Gazette
Sunday, May 24, 2020 1:00 am

Grand Wayne to host area GOP delegates

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

For the second time in six years, Allen County delegates will gather at Grand Wayne Center in downtown Fort Wayne for the Indiana Republican State Convention.

The city hosted the 2014 GOP nominating convention, the first conducted outside Indianapolis. The June 18 convention, which will take place at the studios of an Indianapolis TV station, will be telecast live around the state because of social distancing guidelines aimed at halting the spread of the coronavirus.

“It's déjà vu, if you will, for 2014. And it is also significant in that it is the first event the Grand Wayne will be hosting since March,” Steve Shine, chairman of the local Republican Party, said last week in a telephone interview.

The convention will be shown on a large screen at Grand Wayne Center. Shine said the gathering will be limited to about 150 people, including 101 delegates, party officials, elected government officials and news media.

The convention will be 5:30 to 7 p.m. Allen County delegates will have a 5 p.m. caucus to discuss the business at hand, in particular the contested race for the attorney general nomination among incumbent Curtis Hill and three challengers. 

Shine said social distancing guidelines will be observed.

Hand sanitizer will be provided, and convention-goers are encouraged to wear their own face coverings.

“We want to be very, very, very cautious. I would rather err on the side of keeping it small and spacious,” he said.

The convention center hall where Republicans gather has a seating capacity of more than 1,000 people. Gov. Eric Holcomb, who is scheduled to speak on the convention telecast, is restricting public gatherings to 250 people.

The attorney general candidates will speak on the telecast, as will Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, who is unopposed for the nomination as Holcomb's running mate in the November general election.

Republican delegates typically nominate statewide candidates at their conventions. But this year, delegates will vote by mail. They will receive ballots around June 22, and ballots must be returned to tabulators by 5 p.m. July 9.

Senator's son donates plasma

Sen. Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne, gave a Twitter shoutout to her son Patrick last week for donating plasma after his recovery from COVID-19.

Then she spoke to Political Notebook about her son's journey, which is also highlighted on the American Red Cross website.

“I have to be honest, as a mom I was worried but it was early so it was just starting to ramp up,” she said. “It's a little less nerve-wracking when your husband is a doctor and he asks all the right questions.”

Son Patrick Brown, 36, splits his time between Fort Wayne and working in New York City as an education consultant for international families and schools, the Red Cross site said.

He was in New York in early March as businesses began to close because the pandemic. He became ill and self-quarantined.

“I spoke to my friends and family regularly,” Patrick Brown told the Red Cross. “I felt very fortunate to have so many reach out to me and wish me well.”

Liz Brown said he couldn't get a test back then because he wasn't hospitalized and tests weren't available. After his quarantine he returned to Fort Wayne to be with family. He has since had an antibody test proving he had the novel coronavirus.

He's now been recovered for at least six weeks. During that time, he became aware of a new initiative through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help treat critically ill COVID-19 patients with plasma transfusions from donors who are fully recovered from the virus.

He immediately signed up and gave his plasma through the Red Cross on May 12.

“The process was extremely easy. The staff at the center were attentive, quick and professional,” Patrick Brown said.

He encourages others who may qualify to become donors, too.

“While I was giving my donation, three people thanked me for giving,” Patrick Brown said. “Even though this wasn't going to them, they were incredibly grateful. With all of the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, spending a couple of hours in an attempt to help someone struggling with this is time well spent. Get out there, people; the Red Cross has sweet movies and candy, too!”

Trades Council backing Holcomb

Gov. Eric Holcomb has earned the endorsement of the Northwestern Indiana Building and Construction Trades Council, a group of more than 30 construction unions working across northwest Indiana.

It is the first time in the council's history that it has endorsed a Republican in a governor's race.

The Northwestern Indiana Building and Construction Trades Council, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, promotes economic development, worksite safety and apprenticeship and journey-level training. The group consists of 31 unions and more than 35,000 workers in the construction trades.

They include boilermakers, bricklayers, carpenters, millwrights, electricians, elevator constructors, glaziers, heat and frost insulators, iron workers, painters, pipe fitters, plasters and cement masons, plumbers, roofers, sheet metal workers, sprinkler fitters and stagehands.

A letter from the group to Holcomb said “our decision was based on your firm support for union labor and working families. Please do not hesitate to call if you need further assistance.”

Hamilton endorses Myers for governor

Former Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton has endorsed Indiana's presumptive Democratic nominee for governor, Dr. Woody Myers.

“Dr. Woody Myers will be an excellent Governor for the State of Indiana,” Hamilton said in a statement. “I'm pleased to endorse his campaign. Woody is an accomplished physician and small business owner who is uniquely qualified to lead Indiana during this difficult time. He understands the challenges and, more importantly, has the solutions needed to ensure Hoosiers have safe jobs, access to affordable health care and that their children have the resources needed to learn.”

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at or Niki Kelly at An expanded Political Notebook can be found as a daily blog at

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