Political Notebook


Coats pokes fun at Putin’s ban

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., is enjoying his banishment from Russia.

Coats was among six members of Congress and three White House aides who were barred Thursday from entering the country. It was Russia’s response to U.S. sanctions for its takeover of the Crimea region of Ukraine.

With a nod to Hoosier funnyman David Letterman’s “Late Show” TV show, Coats on Friday tweeted his Top 10 list of things he cannot do after being banned from traveling to Russia.

Among them:

9. I won’t be able to compare the Bolshoi Opera House with the Palladium in Carmel.

8. I’ll never learn the Russian name for our dog Hoosier.

3. I won’t be able to compare Russiaville, IN with Russia.

2. I won’t be able to see if borscht really does taste just like pork tenderloin.

1. Our summer vacation in Siberia is a no go.

Mayoral money

It should be noted that money is not everything in a political campaign. But it is a lot.

It should also be pointed out that we are more than a year away from the primaries for the 2015 mayoral races, and much can change in that time. And incumbents always have a much easier time raising money than their challengers do.

But City Councilman Mitch Harper announced in August 2012 he would run for mayor of Fort Wayne, meaning he has had more than a year to raise money for the 2015 campaign.

So what to make of the campaign finance reports filed for 2013 recently?

Harper began 2013 with about $10,000 on hand, and raised another $20,000 over the year. The campaign spent about $6,000, leaving him over $24,000 to start 2014.

Mayor Tom Henry, meanwhile – who has not yet announced his intentions regarding 2015 – began the year with more than $94,000 on hand, and raised another $259,000 in 2013. Even after spending $50,000, he goes into 2014 with over $303,000 in the bank.

Granted, money alone doesn’t win races. But it sure makes winning them easier.

Chamber champ

The Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana has recognized Rep. Dan Leonard as the Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana’s 2014 Legislative Champion.

Leonard is a Republican who represents Indiana’s House District 50, which includes portions of southwest Allen County, western Wells County and all of Huntington County.

Regional Chamber Executive Director Vince Buchanan announced the award, citing Leonard’s extraordinary work to advance regional priorities that create an environment which allows northeast Indiana to thrive in a competitive economy.

“We considered the fact that Rep. Leonard authored two of the Regional Chamber’s 2014 legislative priorities, and was critical in advancing single county executive legislation,” Buchanan said.

Leonard also worked to protect funding for Indiana’s union and non-union apprenticeship programs to ensure that Indiana has a full pipeline of qualified and skilled workers to rebuild Indiana’s infrastructure.

Leonard was first elected in 2002 and has since held assignments on a variety of influential House committees.

In addition to his role overseeing the state’s fiscal responsibilities on the Ways and Means Committee, he now serves as the Ranking Minority Member of the House Employment and Labor Committee.

Platform talk

The Indiana Republican Party has announced the formation of the 2014 Platform Committee, to be chaired by Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann and co-chaired by Mike McQuillen, minority leader of the Indianapolis City-County Council.

Members of the committee will include state and local elected officials, representatives from the Young Republicans and the Federation of Republican Women and individuals and party leaders from across the state.

Indiana Republican Party Chairman Tim Berry would like to extend an invitation to all Republicans to participate in the development of the party platform.

Every two years, the state party revisits the platform document in advance of the state convention.

This year, the chairs will facilitate a discussion using focused questions about the current platform and the future of the party. All attendees will be afforded the opportunity to participate in the discussion and to voice their opinions. There will be five statewide platform meetings, including from 5 to 6:30 p.m. April 1 at the Allen County Republican Headquarters in Fort Wayne.

RSVPs are highly encouraged, though not required. For more information, contact the Indiana Republican Party at 317-635-7561.

Dan Stockman of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

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