GOP state chair stumps for mayoral candidate

Indiana Republican Party chairman Kyle Hupfer, right, came to Elkhart on Thursday to support Republican candidate for mayor Dave Miller, left, at a campaign rally at Lex 530.

ELKHART — Indiana Republican Party chairman Kyle Hupfer came to Elkhart on Thursday morning to support his party’s candidate for mayor.

“We are just excited with mayor’s races across the state, but especially with Dave’s,” Hupfer said, following a campaign rally with about 100 people at Lex 530.

The state party chairman said the purpose of being in Elkhart was to help raise money and create enthusiasm as the Nov. 5 election draws near.

The Indiana Republican Party is involved in more than 40 mayor’s races, according to Hupfer, who said he chose to personally help out in Elkhart because of the city’s importance in supporting the state’s economy.

“It’s the kind of place that you need to ensure that you keep Republican leadership that is going to be fiscally conservative, be very strong with the business community and keep this kind of growth alive in Elkhart,” he said.

The state Republican Party was involved in the local election before Hupfer’s visit, mailing Republican voters to encourage absentee voting and having staff and interns help with organizing.

Hupfer also told the crowd that Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb is expected to come to Elkhart on Saturday, Nov. 2, to help the Miller campaign.

The state party chairman, who is also Holcomb’s campaign manager, said the governor sees the relationship between the Governor’s Office and city hall as particularly important.

Miller said the city needs relationships at all levels, including the governor.

“The Governor’s Office can be amazingly helpful to a city, and I enjoyed a great relationship in the past,” the former mayor said.

Miller said examples of how the city might benefit include special appropriations or collaborations on projects such as the current improvements of Cassopolis Street, which is a state road.

Turning to the 2020 governor’s race, Hupfer said he is experiencing “tremendous enthusiasm” for Holcomb’s re-election campaign.

A Democratic talking point against the governor has been that, while his approval rating tends to be 50 percent or higher and his disapproval rating is near 20 percent, a large portion of Hoosiers do not really know the governor, who came into the 2016 election late after former Gov. Mike Pence joined Donald Trump’s ticket in that year’s presidential race.

Holcomb’s campaign manager said he does not agree with that premise, stating that having about 80 percent of a state’s population either approve or disapprove shows that people know who the governor is. He said the campaign will be targeting the part of the population who have yet to make up their minds about Holcomb.

Holcomb may face a challenger in the Republican primary, as Carmel businessman Brian Roth has filed campaign finance paperwork. Hupfer said he does not see his roles as party chairman and the incumbent’s campaign manager as problematic.

“The party is a de facto arm of the governor,” he said.

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter at @ReadRasmus

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