The Journal Gazette
Sunday, July 12, 2020 1:00 am

State Republicans begin diversity program

BRIAN FRANCISCO and NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

The Indiana Republican Party last week launched a diversity leadership series meant to increase the engagement of minority Republican leaders in Indiana.

Applications for the inaugural class are due Sept. 1.

“Hoosiers continue to trust Republican leaders up and down the ballot to lead our state and our communities,” said Kyle Hupfer, chairman of the Indiana Republican Party. “And with that trust comes a responsibility to provide not just a voice, but real solutions for all Hoosiers. We're launching this leadership series as the next step of building relationships among diverse communities, helping mentor and empower future government and political leaders from these historically under-represented communities.”

The series will involve monthly classes, which will cover topics including civic engagement, campaign management, communication and state government. Class members will build their personal network, meet with state leaders and receive mentorship while developing additional avenues to become civically engaged in Indiana.

This leadership series will be guided by an advisory council of public- and private-sector professionals from across the state and from diverse communities. One is from northeast Indiana: Roanoke resident Tinisha Weigelt, the district director for U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd.

Weigelt is a member of the board of directors of United Way of Huntington County, president of the Roanoke Zoning Board of Appeals, a former president of the Roanoke Kiwanis Club and a member of the 2017-2018 class of the Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series.

More information, including applications for the inaugural class, is available at

Is she, or isn't she?

For the record, Erin Fogg is still on the November ballot as seeking one of three at-large seats on the Allen County Council. She was nominated in the June primary.

But a news release this week announcing a debate between Fogg and Seth Drayer about abortion said she is “a former candidate for County Council.” She is not listed in the Allen County Democratic Party's online list of candidates running in November.

Fogg, who appeared Thursday at a Faith in Indiana event outside the Allen County Sheriff's door at the Allen County Courthouse, said she is still deciding whether she'll continue her campaign for Allen County Council.

“I'm still trying to decide and I have until the 15th to withdraw,” Fogg said. In Facebook posts, she said she has suspended her campaign.

She's said she's not sure whether she identifies with being a Democrat or a liberal and is not in favor of being a member of a governing body such as the county council that approves jailing protesters, she said.

Maybe, maybe not

In June, Gov. Eric Holcomb said he intended to attend the Republican National Convention but on Wednesday he seemed less sure.

“That is the plan. That was the plan, but that's August,” he said.

Holcomb said things change quickly in terms of the spread of the coronavirus.

“I'm not going to find myself in a sea of humanity anytime soon,” he said. “We would have to do it differently than it's ever been done before.”

He does not have a flight booked for the event scheduled for Florida, where a major outbreak is ongoing.

Labor picks

The Indiana State AFL-CIO has endorsed Woody Myers for governor, Jonathan Weinzapfel for attorney general and many other Democrats seeking state and federal legislative seats in the Nov. 3 general election.

“As Hoosiers grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, economic uncertainty, and racial injustice, it is critical that we elect proven leaders who share our values,” Indiana State AFL-CIO President Brett Voorhies said in a statement. “The Indiana labor movement has come together, studied the candidates, and made endorsements because we believe these candidates will be a voice for working Hoosier families.”

Those endorsed by the labor organization include Democratic congressional candidates Chip Coldiron in the 3rd District and Patricia Hackett in the 2nd District.

Indiana House candidates who were endorsed include Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta of Fort Wayne in District 80, Kyle Miller of Fort Wayne in District 81 and Michael Stephenson of Angola in District 51. GiaQuinta is unopposed for reelection.

The AFL-CIO made no endorsements in several state legislative contests in northeast Indiana, including for Senate seats in Districts 16 and 18 and House seats in Districts 18, 22, 50, 52, 83, 84, 85.

“We don't make endorsements in every race – endorsed candidates must show a commitment to working people and the labor movement's values. We determine those values by grading incumbents on their legislative scorecard and challengers on their completed candidate questionnaire. Questionnaires are mailed to all challengers regardless of political party,” Rob Henderson, executive director of the state AFL-CIO, said in an email.

“Additionally, every election cycle we have historically made multiple rounds of endorsements so there will likely be more endorsements to come,” Henderson said.

Jim Chapman and Jamie Duffy of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column

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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