The Journal Gazette
Sunday, April 11, 2021 1:00 am

Banks' working-class memo goes national

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, is getting national attention for a memo titled “Cementing GOP as the Working Class Party.”

A recent Axios story says the memo shows Republicans in the House will be doubling down on Donald Trump for the foreseeable future.

Banks – who leads the Republican Study Committee – argues in the memo that “both parties are undergoing coalitional transformations” and the GOP shouldn't fight the trend of corporate donors pulling back from the party.

“Our electoral success in the 2022 midterm election will be determined by our willingness to embrace our new coalition,” the memo says. “House Republicans can broaden our electorate, increase voter turnout, and take back the House by enthusiastically rebranding and reorienting as the Party of the Working Class.”

Banks suggested in his memo that the party focus on Biden's border crisis, trade practices by the Chinese Communist Party and “wokeness and identity politics.”

House Republican Conference chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., argued against the memo – denouncing the class warfare. According to Politico, she said dividing society into classes while attacking the private sector is neo-Marxist and wrong.

The Indiana Democratic Party said in a news release that the party was “dumbfounded” by the memo.

“Congressman Jim Banks's votes and the Indiana Republican Party's record do not help working-class Hoosiers. Just last month, Banks and the INGOP voted against increasing the minimum wage for 30-percent of the state's workforce, they voted against the American Rescue Plan which will help us get through COVID-19 and get our economy back on track, and they never supported affordable healthcare for Hoosiers,” said Lauren Ganapini, executive director of the Indiana Democratic Party. “Banks is proving to be a typical Republican politician who talks a big game but is unwilling to do the work.”

Just how much?

Somebody paid $400 for an old pay telephone – you know, the kind that used to be in every bar and on just about every corner in town.

Somebody else paid around $850 for a soft-serve ice cream machine. A walk-in cooler was walked out by a farmer who wanted to relocate for cold storage.

People involved with the recent sale of the contents of the former Byron Health Center buildings spent some time during the last two weeks marveling at what had value – and, in some cases, what didn't.

The building is being emptied in preparation for demolition and likely a sale of the property at Carroll and Lima roads.

One surprise: A relatively attractive glass counter used as a reception desk for years sold for a penny – “and nobody came to pick it up,” said Vance Hernandez, Allen County director of facility maintenance.

He said the online sale arranged with the help of The Steffen Group, Fort Wayne, attracted bidders from as far away as Florida.

The sale raised only about $58,000, Hernandez said, which will be split with the auctioneer.

The relatively low amount didn't surprise him, he added, because a lot of the items were old and some “were pretty ratty” from long institutional use.

The last of the items were picked up and removed last week.

Hernandez said along with bidders the county had been approached by paranormal enthusiasts wanting to ghost-hunt on the property. That request was declined by the county commissioners, he said.

But one does wonder: if an actual ghost had been found, how much money might it have brought?

Back at it

A short-term state official is back in state government.

Dwayne Sawyer was tapped as state auditor by then-Gov. Mike Pence in August 2013. But he abruptly resigned a few months later in November. No explanation was given except “family and personal reasons.”

Pence then picked Suzanne Crouch to be state auditor. She is now lieutenant governor.

Sawyer posted on LinkedIn and Facebook last week that he is now working at Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita's office.

“This is a great fit as I can use my technical skills along with my communication, leadership, and political acumen to continue to make a difference for those I work for. I am here to serve,” he said.

His title according to LinkedIn is Project Manager and Business Systems Analyst.

For the past seven years, Sawyer has been an independent consultant with Here To Serve LLC in Brownsburg.

Planes, popcorn

Two measures identifying a state plane and state snack are nearing the legislative finish line.

House Bill 1197 declares the Republic Aviation P-47 Thunderbolt, known as the Hoosier Spirit II, as the official state aircraft of Indiana. Technically it already was but the bill adds the Hoosier Spirit language.

The plane was produced in Evansville and used during World War II.

Final approval was given Thursday and the bill heads to the governor. Also headed there is Senate Bill 97 – designating popcorn grown in Indiana as the official state snack.

Both will join other state symbols in code – from the flower, bird, river and gun.

Rosa Salter Rodriguez of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Niki Kelly at Political Notebook can be found at

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