Political Notebook


Pence taps city native for key post

A Bishop Dwenger High School graduate was one of four deputy chiefs of staff tapped by Gov. Mike Pence last week.

Sean Keefer will serve as deputy chief of staff of executive branch agencies. In this role, the Fort Wayne native will oversee the large majority of state agencies and will be responsible for managing operational issues, personnel hiring and contracting across all agencies, as well as Cabinet-level communications.

Before he joined the governor’s office as legislative director last year, Keefer was commissioner for the Department of Labor. Previously he served as the chief of staff at the Indiana State Department of Health under Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Danielle McGrath will be deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs to help coordinate and successfully pass the governor’s legislative agenda. McGrath will lead coordination with agency legislative liaisons and manage the appointments of boards and commissions. McGrath currently is executive director of external affairs for the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, where she is the chief liaison for legislative issues and oversees a staff of 13 responsible for media relations, consumer affairs, information technology and the agency’s budget.

John Hill will serve as deputy chief of staff of public safety, overseeing all of the state’s public safety agencies.

Hill is currently the executive director of the Department of Homeland Security. Hill has more than 35 years in public service at the federal and state levels. He was a member of the Indiana State Police for 29 years, working in public safety and highway safety. Hill also served as the field enforcement division commander and was later asked to start the ISP’s new motor carrier division, where he also served as its leader.

Ryan Streeter, currently the senior policy director, has been named deputy chief of staff of policy and strategy. He will continue to develop major policy initiatives for the governor and will take on an increased role in developing strategy for the governor’s main policy agenda.

Burying the hatchet

The three people who ran for the Republican nomination for state treasurer seem to have buried the hatchet, and not in one another.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller has scheduled a fundraising reception for treasurer nominee Kelly Mitchell on Monday at an Indianapolis restaurant. His co-hosts for the event are Mitchell’s rivals at last month’s GOP state convention in Fort Wayne: Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold and Richmond financial adviser Don Bates.

Delegates supporting Seybold, an establishment Republican, and Bates, a tea party favorite, expressed contempt for the other side before and during the convention.

In the run-off election, Bates was eliminated after finishing third, and his supporters switched to Mitchell, who easily defeated Seybold on the final ballot.

At the time, Seybold’s camp appeared reluctant to endorse the winner. But in an invitation to the fundraiser for Mitchell, Seybold wrote that when Zoeller asked him to take part, “I immediately said yes. I pledge my full support to Kelly” in the November general election.

Seybold called Monday’s reception “a special unity fundraising event.”

A source close to Seybold told Political Notebook that Zoeller “has done a great job pulling the party back together” since the convention split.

Mitchell, an Indianapolis resident who is an aide to term-limited Treasurer Richard Mourdock, is opposed in the general election by Democrat Mike Boland of Fishers.

Messer makes move

Another Hoosier seeks a leadership post with the U.S. House Republican caucus.

The National Journal reported Thursday that first-term Rep. Luke Messer, who represents the 6th District in east-central and southeast Indiana, said he will run for chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee when political parties organize this fall for the next Congress.

The No. 5 leadership job is held by Rep. James Lankford, the GOP nominee for a Senate seat in Oklahoma. Messer reportedly is the first announced candidate for the position. Messer, a former state lawmaker from Shelbyville, first must win re-election Nov. 4. He is challenged by Democrat Susan Hall Heitzman of North Vernon.

Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, ran for House majority whip, the No. 3 leadership post, in June after a leadership shuffle resulting from Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s loss in the Virginia primary election.

Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise won the three-candidate whip race.

Lugar series open

The Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series, a political leadership development course for Republican women, is taking applications for its next class until Aug. 1.

As many as 25 participants will be chosen through a competitive selection process.

The Indianapolis-based class will meet monthly for nine months and will hear from government and political leaders, lobbyists and media representatives.

More than 400 women have graduated from the Indiana program since its inception in 1990, according to the program’s website.

Applications are available at www.LugarSeries.com. For information, call 317-536-6900 or email lugarseries@gmail.com.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at bfrancisco@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. An expanded Political Notebook can also be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.