Allen County Republican Party Chairman Steve Shine said the state GOP convention went off without a hitch at Grand Wayne Center.
“I have heard nothing but accolades from every delegate I have seen,” he said Saturday during an interview.
One delegate told The Journal Gazette that he wished there were more downtown hotel rooms, but he also noted ample parking near Grand Wayne Center. Other participants agreed that the Fort Fun Night – live music, food, hospitality suites and fireworks on Friday at Parkview Field – lived up to its name.
Local Republican activist Bill Bean, co-chairman of the convention host committee, said the Allen County GOP raised roughly $250,000 to finance non-convention activities and attractions, including a Saturday night concert by Kenny Loggins at Embassy Theatre.
The state GOP committee had to change its bylaws to shift the convention from Indianapolis to Fort Wayne. Bean said he'd like to see conventions alternate between Indianapolis and other cities, adding that there is talk of having them in French Lick, Merrillville and Terre Haute.
Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long of Fort Wayne expanded on Bean's list during a conventions speech, naming Evansville, South Bend, Lafayette and Columbus as possible sites.
“If we can do it, maybe they'll get a chance to do it, too, sometime in the near future. I would certainly be very supportive of that,” Long said from the stage.
Bean rejected Shine's suggestion that Bean and host committee partner Bruce Dye become full-time convention planners. Bean said with a laugh that his answer to putting together another Fort Wayne convention would be “not only no, but hell no.”
Elected officials fill GOP booklet
If Indiana Republican delegates had any doubts that their state convention had moved from Indianapolis to Fort Wayne, all they had to do was read the booklet for the gathering.
The 48-page guide was largely advertisements and welcoming letters, and many were from elected officials in Fort Wayne and Allen County.
Inside the cover was a full-page color ad by City Councilman Mitch Harper that included his image and a photo of the downtown. A few pages later was a full-page, black-and-white plug for the Indiana Senate Majority Campaign Committee featuring a photo of – and a quotation from – Long, the Senate's president pro tem.
The re-election campaign for Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, bought two full-page ads, one showing him with his family and one of him alone. The 3rd District Republican organization placed a half-page ad.
Contained in the booklet was a letter from Allen County Commissioners Linda Bloom, Therese Brown and Nelson Peters, Republicans all, welcoming convention delegates to Fort Wayne.
There was a welcoming letter from Shine, Allen County's GOP chairman, and another from local party activists Bean and Dye, the co-chairmen of the convention host committee.
There was a letter from state Republican Party Chairman Tim Berry, who noted in the first sentence that Fort Wayne is his hometown.
And then there was a welcoming letter from a prominent Democrat: Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry. The text of the letter did not mention his political party affiliation, however.
Convention delegates sang “Happy Birthday” to Gov. Mike Pence, the featured speaker at Saturday's general session. Pence turned 55 Saturday.
Fort Wayne City Councilman Tom Didier sang the national anthem to open Saturday's session. Christy Stutzman, wife of Marlin Stutzman, sang it to begin Friday's session.