ELKHART — A big name in the Republican Party will be coming to Elkhart to help out the candidacy of Jackie Walorski, GOP hopeful for the 2nd District U.S. House seat in Indiana.
Karl Rove, the conservative pundit and senior advisor to President George W. Bush, will be the featured speaker at a $250-a-head fundraiser Monday for Walorski, said Brooks Kochvar, spokesman for the candidate.
Rove, currently a Fox News contributor according to his website, is expected to deliver remarks on the “current political landscape,” Kochvar said in an email Wednesday. Then he’ll take questions from attendees.
The event, to be held at the RV Hall of Fame here, generated a measure of derision from the campaign of Brendan Mullen, the main Democratic hopeful for the 2nd District spot.
“While our opponent has (Washington) D.C. celebrities flying into Elkhart, we’ve got something much more valuable, support of people who actually live here!” the Mullen campaign said in an email blast Wednesday morning seeking donations.
A Republican operative countered later Wednesday, alluding to Mullen’s Washington D.C. ties. Mullen, a consultant and U.S. Army vet, lived in the U.S. capital before moving back to his native South Bend as his campaign for the 2nd District post has unfolded.
“I find that laughable that Washington resident Brendan Mullen, who has relied on Washington special interests to fund his campaign, would criticize someone for having an event in Indiana’s 2nd District,” said Andrea Bozek, spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. The NRCC boosts GOP candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Mullen generated $303,881 in contributions in the second half of 2011, $83,169 of it, or 27.4 percent, from political action committees, or PACS. Walorski, a former Indiana state representative from the Jimtown area, generated $286,244, $54,900 of it, or 19.2 percent, from PACs.
Dale Stickel, head of the Elkhart County Republican Central Committee, said he’d be attending Monday’s event. He said the presence of a big name like Rove in Elkhart is a plus because it draws attention to the community, though the fundraiser, as currently planned, is closed to the press.
Area Democratic leaders didn’t immediately provide comment.
All of Elkhart County and nine other north-central Indiana counties sit inside the 2nd District, either wholly or partially. Granger Democrat Joe Donnelly currently serves in the 2nd District post, but he’s running for a U.S. Senate seat this electoral cycle.
Rove is a political strategist who helped engineer George W. Bush’s two successful presidential campaigns. He served as deputy chief of staff and senior advisor to the president.
Also vying for the 2nd District seat are Elkhart recreational vehicle industry manager Dan Morrison of the Democratic Party, South Bend doctor Greg Andrews of the GOP and Goshen lawyer Andrew Straw of the Green Party.