Dalton: HD19 GOP Primary has Intrigue for Northwest Indiana Voters

Steve Dalton’s popular blog Northwest Indiana Politics is read by many politicos statewide.

House District 19: The Republican primary pits former Mayor of Crown Point Dan Klein against Fran Katz, chief operating officer of the American Society of Agronomy.  

Republicans believe this seat to be particularly vulnerable to a pick-up in that first-term incumbent Shelli VanDenburgh is a Democrat in a marginally Republican district — by a small margin. In a year where one House race may determine control of redistricting, and some of those races may be determined yet again by just hundreds of votes — or less, this race has been targeted by HRCC as a key priority. During 2009, there was quite a bit of effort expended to recruit former military hero Luke Abbott to run for this office, and initially he did announce intentions to run. Early in 2010, word leaked out that his work schedule would preclude him from running and HRCC began to search to find another suitable candidate. 

Here’s where there is a bit of controversy: Instead of working closely with the new GOP chair from Lake County, Kim Krull, HRCC jumped quickly to put out former Mayor Klein’s name and freeze everyone else out. Fran Katz then, with the support of chairman Krull, filed to run as well. Chairman Krull says she will work with the winner to replace Vandenburgh, but that she was not in the loop and didn’t know that Klein was being recruited. There have been words of frustration from both camps over the apparent faux pas, but at this point there’s a primary and everyone’s working to win.

Former Mayor Klein is handicapped by his dramatic loss in the Republican primary in 2007 to the director of the Crown Point Chamber of Commerce (the Republican went on to lose the mayor’s office to Democrats in that year). There have also been persistent issues surrounding an investigation into a loan made to Plasmatronics, an economic development opportunity, while he was mayor. The discussion boards and blog comments have been littered with accusations that to date have not been anything more than that. But all handicaps and gossip mills aside, Klein has name recognition as a former mayor and current director of Habitat for Humanity. He also has the support of potential Speaker Bosma and the finance commitments that may be necessary to knock off an incumbent Democrat. Rumors that this run is merely a stepping stone to another run for mayor are probably whisper campaigns to stir up resentment only. 

Katz appears to bring a wealth of experience in sciences and research, and a lifetime of working to combat arbitrary ceilings and barriers. She does not have the name recognition that Klein holds, but she has the tacit support of the Lake County GOP organization and those in Crown Point who remember Mayor Klein less than fondly.   

I would predict a Klein win, though a smaller margin than expected by any of the internal polling, based on name recognition voting. A big turnout favors Klein; a weak turnout in heavy rain probably gives Katz a chance.  

U.S. House District One: I can keep this short and sweet. Rob Pastore has run the most aggressive campaign, and has captured the most attention among Republican candidates. I would expect him to win the primary. I would also expect that, barring major corruption charges, Pete Visclosky will win re-election. This is the safest seat in Indiana for Democrats.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Out of respect for our guest bloggers, we will not be allowing anonymous comments on their blogs this week. Additionally, the Indiana Chamber does not necessarily share the opinions of our guest bloggers.

4 thoughts on “Dalton: HD19 GOP Primary has Intrigue for Northwest Indiana Voters

  1. Thanks for the opportunity to guest post in this very important primary season. Northwest Indiana has a very active online stream for those that use twitter try searching #nwindiana for our regional thought stream.

  2. Actually neither HRCC nor Klein ever contacted me to say Abbott was out and Klein was in. I met with Abbott the Saturday before the last day to file. That is the first I heard he was not going to sign up as planned. I started making phone calls to recruit someone and within a couple days had Fran Katz committed to run. Fran signed up that Tuesday. That same day that Fran signed up was the first I heard of Klein actually wanting to sign up too and he announced at a CP meeting in the evening that he would be signing up that Thursday (day before the deadline). Which was 2 days AFTER Fran. HRCC never called me. Klein never called me. I interpret that as blatant disrespect. Only after Klein signed up and I expressed my displeasure to Mr Gentry and HRCC on his method and choice did he ever ask to meet with me.

    So now we have anonymous character assassination letters going out again just like the ones we saw in 2007. Funny, even the handwriting is the same. We have the IN Right to Life people endorsing only HRCC approved candidates and never even gave the others an opportunity to get endorsed and the head of the Lake Co RTL admitting he “helped Klein.” We have the HRCC who is giving tens of thousands of dollars to 1 Republican candidate over another in a primary. And the candidate that they are giving it to is the same candidate that Republicans fired in 2007 because they had had enough!

    So the HRCC may get their wish on Tuesday. But at what cost to the Republican party? Are they really that desperate for a win in HD19 to sacrifice their Republican principles and values and what we are building here in Lake CO? Perhaps though that is the problem. Perhaps Marion co doesn’t want to see Lake Co build strength. We are after all, the 2nd largest Republican vote in the state. The state’s biggest fundraiser, Dan Dumezich lives right here in Lake Co. Does he help raise money for us? Let me give you a hint: He doesn’t even invite me as county chairwoman to fundraisers that he hosts.

    If Klein wins on Tuesday, his first question to me will be are you going to support me Kim? My reply will be simple. I support candidates who have a record of supporting the county and their local GOP party. How have you done that in the last 7 years since you “changed” parties? And selling watermelon for a couple hours at the GOP booth in the summer of 2006 doesn’t count!

  3. Madam Chair:
    With all due respect when things are happening in South County you show real concern and outrage; writen in softer words that none the less show others your pissed.
    But when others in North County,share some of the same concerns in Hammond you tell us to (pharaphrasing a bit)
    Get over it and work together!
    I know that you feel things are different in South county but I can assure you they are not.

  4. Madam Chair:
    Once again, your slip is showing. Which Republican principles are you so worried will be sacrificed? The one where you and all of your cronies went online to assassinate the character of an incumbent mayor, his family, his (at the time) 12 year old daughter, his friends and other office holders who worked with him? Or the one where you put on a silly disguise to attend a fundraiser for the Republican mayoral candidate’s Democrat opponent? Or is it the one where you and your cronies tried to cover up the scandal that the candidate you supported was a part of? You remember, the emails on chamber and city computers, with a Lauth mole? The destruction of city property (computer hardrive)?
    These are the principles of Chicago/Alinsky pupils, NOT the Republican party! The Crown Point Republican party went South when a select group decided to blindly follow Allan Katz. He puts the “al” in Alinsky. Too bad.

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