The Journal Gazette
Sunday, June 21, 2020 1:00 am

State GOP convention gets virtual treatment

BRIAN FRANCISCO and NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

The Indiana Republican State Convention might have been virtual Thursday, but it had familiar flair, including polished campaign videos, the Pledge of Allegiance and several references to sports movies.

The livestream began with a television ad paid for by Todd Rokita in his bid to win the attorney general nomination. The ad featured President Donald Trump praising Rokita, a former congressman.

Rokita wasn't the only one to invoke Trump. Embattled Attorney General Curtis Hill compared himself to the president, saying both have endured relentless attacks and smears.

“Like President Trump, I have faced accusations and investigations designed to destroy me politically. Like President Trump, I'm a threat to Democrats and a radical liberal agenda. Both President Trump and I are wounded, some would say, and yes, we are both warriors with battle scars,” he said.

Another popular theme was President Abraham Lincoln, whose name was invoked by a number of candidates and speakers during the event.

And Fort Wayne native Tera Klutz, the state auditor, used the slogan for racial equality.

“We can show that Black Lives Matter to Republicans as much as the unborn child,” she said.

Black Lives Matter

As Black Lives Matter protests continue in Fort Wayne and elsewhere, a former Fort Wayne mayor weighed in last week on social media.

“We took a number of steps to make the #police department more 'community oriented' (civilian oversight/review board/complaint office/mental health intervention teams/etc) when I was mayor of @CityofFortWayne - not sure what has happened since I left office 20 years ago,” Paul Helmke tweeted Tuesday.

Helmke, a Republican, was mayor from 1988 to 2000.

Local discussions about reforms to the Fort Wayne Police Department – including mandatory body cameras and implementation of a citizens review board to oversee officer conduct – are ongoing.

Several City Council members have said they could support implementing some reforms. At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Democratic Mayor Tom Henry announced an action plan for public safety and racial justice.

Endorsement Part I

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb received the unanimous endorsement of the Indiana State Building and Construction Trades, a council representing 115 affiliated local building trades organizations with more than 62,000 workers.

The organization cited Holcomb's Next Level Jobs and Next Level Roads programs as reasons for the endorsement. Next Level Jobs has helped more than 10,000 Hoosiers fill high-wage, in-demand jobs, the organization said, and Next Level Roads fully funds Indiana's road and bridge projects for the next 20 years.

The group also cited the governor's leadership through the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason for the endorsement.

Organized in 1910, Indiana State Building and Construction Trades is chartered through North America's Building Trades Unions, a department of the national AFL-CIO.

Endorsement Part II

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dr. Woody Myers and his running mate, State Rep. Linda Lawson, received the endorsement of the Indiana AFL-CIO.

The Indiana AFL-CIO represents a federation of Indiana unions, and includes thousands of active and retired members.

“Working people in Indiana need an administration that will fight for all Hoosiers and stand by our side,” said Brett Voorhies, president of the group. “That's why we're endorsing Woody and Linda; they are a strong team that have the backs of working families. Our members are ready to roll up their sleeves, make phone calls and get out the vote to help elect the Myers-Lawson ticket in Indiana.”

Myers, a former state health commissioner, said working people are the backbone of Indiana.

“My administration will prioritize access to affordable health care, public education and good paying jobs,” he said.

Journal Gazette staff writer Dave Gong contributed to this report.

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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