Dwayne Sawyer

Democrats attack Mike Pence

October 23rd, 2014 at 3:52 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Democrats are searching for potent issues in the effort to win statewide races in the November election and that has them attacking Governor Mike Pence. It’s an unusual strategy.

That’s because Mike Pence is popular with Indiana voters and he’s not on the ballot. He’s not a good target.

The only thing that makes sense is that Democrats don’t like him and party leaders need to energize their own voters in this low interest election.

That’s why state Democratic Chairman John Zody joined with State Auditor candidate Mike Claytor to question actions taken by the governor. They pointed out that Mike Pence will campaign in other states, including New Hampshire, over the next two weekends.

“We’ve asked what are the costs to the state of Inidana of the governor’s travel both nationally and internationally,” said Claytor, “and that has gone unanswered.”

“When is he going to be transparent with Hoosiers about these plans to either run for President,” asked Zody, “or stay focused on being governor of Indiana as he was elected to do?”

When asked who pays for his travel when Pence goes to New Hampshire and other states, State GOP Chairman Tim Berry said, “I have no idea, but that’s not a state expenditure.”

He suggested that the Democrats are desperate. “And they’re throwing things at a wall trying to get something to stick,” said Berry, “in an effort to try and be successful on November the 4th.”

Claytor, meantime, is challenging State Auditor Suzanne Crouch and, in the most unusual of the charges, Zody demanded answers for last year’s resignation of Dwayne Sawyer, her predecessor.

“Taxpayers never found out,” he said, “why the person charged with managing over $30 billion in taxpayer money suddenly left office.”

And, in case you wonder if the Republicans are confident about their chances in the election, the Democrats supplied that answer.  Mike Pence will be campaigning, not for candidates in Indiana, but for candidates in other states over the last two weekends of the 2014 campaign.

Gov. Pence names Suzanne Crouch to become State Auditor

December 16th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

State Representative Suzanne Crouch was introduced as the next state Auditor Monday.  She takes office on January 2.

Crouch was chosen because of an extensive resumé that includes service as a county auditor.  She has also been a county GOP chairwoman, a county commissioner, and currently holds a leadership position on the House Ways and Means committee.

Governor Mike Pence named Crouch to fill out a term in the Auditor’s office that ends next year.  She succeeds Dwayne Sawyer who resigned effective yesterday for personal reasons after serving just about 4 months in office.

Crouch will run for election as Auditor in 2014 and the governor says she didn’t apply for the job.

When asked if the governor’s call came out of the blue, Crouch said, “Oh yeah, yes, the governor called me and so upon some reflection and upon some discussion with my husband we decided that this was the next thing that perhaps I should do.”

“I just think she is uniquely qualified to serve Indiana as Auditor of State,” said Governor Pence.

Crouch will resign her seat in the House of Representatives and a replacement will be chosen by precinct committeemen in Evansville.

Because she is from southern Indiana her selection also gives Republicans some geographic diversity on the 2014 ticket, something that seemed unlikely until this morning.

Democrats are are still pursuing answers about the vetting of Dwayne Sawyer and State Democratic Chairman John Zody questioned why his public records request has not been met.

The governor said the vetting process in his administration has been improved but wouldn’ spell out how.

The case for Suzanne Crouch

December 14th, 2013 at 2:42 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

State Rep. Suzanne Crouch of Evansville will be named State Auditor by Mike Pence on Monday.  Here’s what the governor and other top Republicans will be saying about her selection:

She is experienced in a variety of ways that include service as a county GOP Chair, county commissioner, county auditor, and state lawmaker.  She is currently in a leadership role on the House Ways and Means Committee.  And, of course, her gender is a plus in a Republican Party where sensitivity training is front page news.

She also provides geographic diversity to a ticket that would otherwise have little.

It is a much safer and wiser choice than the Dwayne Sawyer pick that preceded it.

Mike Pence reviews the good and bad of 2013

December 13th, 2013 at 2:34 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Mike Pence feels good about his first year in office but he also has some regrets.  The Republican governor sat down Friday to look back on 2013 in a one-on-one interview.

Mike Pence is enthusiastic about being governor.  “This job is the greatest privilege of my life,” he said.

He took the oath of office in January replacing the popular Mitch Daniels and says the best accomplishment of his first year is simply staying the course.

He loves talking about the state’s balanced budget and big surplus.  But he also recognizes problems that include his battle with Democratic state school Superintendent Glenda Ritz.

The creation of a new office of Education and Career Innovation led her to accuse him of a power grab.

“I have no doubt that at the outset of this office,” he said, “we could have done a better job explaining our purpose and intention.”

“And I’ve expressed that to the Superintendent.”

And there may be no better example of how the Pence Administration has endured a learning curve than the controversy over comments removed from his official facebook page.

He was accused of censorship and apologized for it.

“I really regret that the actions that our staff took on some of our social media platforms created any impression of people that would suggest,” he said, “that we don’t cherish a free and open debate in Indiana.”

And while lawmakers didn’t buy his call for a 10% cut in the state income tax, they passed a smaller cut and eliminated the inheritance tax.

“I say without hesitation,” said Pence, “I think the final product was better than what I first proposed.”

He’s now looking forward to some time off over the holidays but, before that, he has one more big move to take.

Pence will name a new State Auditor on Monday replacing Dwayne Sawyer, who lasted just 4 months in the job.  The governor said he reached his decision on a successor for Sawyer but isn’t ready to make it public.

Dwayne Sawyer steps down as State Auditor

November 26th, 2013 at 11:30 am by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Just four months after accepting an appointment from the governor State Auditor Dwayne Sawyer has resigned his office.

Dwayne Sawyer hand delivered a resignation letter to the governor citing personal and family reasons.

Those reasons have not been spelled out publicly but the governor is assuring taxpayers that Sawyer’s duties as a state officeholder were not affected by his problems.

Sawyer was named to fill the vacancy created in the auditor’s office when Tim Berry became State GOP Chairman.  He took the oath of office in August becoming the first African American Republican to hold astatewide office.

The former president of the Brownsburg Town appeared to have a bright future and was preparing to run in 2014 before unspecified problems came to light.

Governor Mike Pence (R-Indiana) is protecting that information.

“I’m just simply not going to discuss private conversations with Mr. Sawyer concerning this matter,” said Pence.  “He submitted his resignation for personal and family reasons and I’m gonna respect his decision but I’m also going to respect his privacy.”

Sawyer will continue to serve until December 15.  The governor says he hopes to have a replacement named by then.

Among those who are interested in succeed Sawyer are state Representative Tom Saunders and former Carmel City Councilman John Accetturo.

Democratic State Chairman John Zody called on the governor to appoint a qualified successor.

Michael Claytor running for State Auditor

September 11th, 2013 at 11:58 am by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

The November 2014 election is a long way off but a candidate for State Auditor is getting an early start.  Democrat Michael Claytor will kick off his campaign on Thursday.

Claytor is a retired CPA who spent most of his career in state government where he was lead examiner at the State Board of Accounts.

Republican Dwayne Sawyer was recently appointed to fill out the term of departed State Auditor Tim Berry.
A Sawyer-Clayton matchup is likely in 2014.

“You know, the Auditor of State is the chief financial officer,” said Claytor, “and I believe we ought to have someone in that office that’s a CPA and financially qualified to perform those responsibilities.”

The last time a Democrat won the race for State Auditor was in 1982.

Dwayne Sawyer’s role in efforts to grow the GOP base

August 16th, 2013 at 4:57 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

One of the things Republicans learned in the 2012 Presidential race is that GOP candidates must do a better job of attracting minority voters.   One way to do that is to have more minorities in key party positions. That may have something to do with the selection of Dwayne Sawyer to be State Auditor..

Dwayne Sawyer is currently one of just four local elected officials in Indiana who are African American.  His elevation to state office won praise from national party leaders almost immediately.

At the Republican National Committee summer meeting in Boston Thursday morning RNC Chairman Reince Priebus called on Indiana GOP Chairman Tim Berry.  “Why don’t you tell the group what Governor Pence did today?” he said.

Said Berry, “Governor Pence named Dwayne Sawyer, an African American, Hoosier, town council president from Brownsburg, Indiana as my replacement.”  It was in the middle of a forum designed to highlight rising stars in the GOP who are also minorities and that’s why Priebus reacted by saying, “That’s great.  First ever?”

“First ever Republican statewide elected official,” responded Berry.

So while Dwayne Sawyer plays it down and the governor says it wasn’t the most important factor in his selection, Mike Pence made it clear in a News 8 interview that race was a factor in his selection, nonetheless.  “Let me say I’m aware of the historic aspect of this appointment for our party,” said the governor, “and I’m humbled to have played a small role in that.”

Democrats aren’t impressed.  “Let’s see.  This is what, 2013 this is?” said former state Chair Ann DeLaney on Indiana Week in Review, “And this is the first African American Republican appointed, or chosen to run, or elected on the Republican ticket?”

Former GOP state Chair Mike McDaniel, meantime, admitted a need to expand the GOP base.  “There always is,” he said.  “And this is a lot harder to do than people realize.”

McDaniel says Dwayne Sawyer will help.

For the record, four African American Democrats have served in statewide office.  Dwayne Brown and David Lewis served as the Clerk of the Supreme Court when it was an elected office.  Pam Carter and Karen Freeman-Wilson both served as Attorney General.

Sawyer named State Auditor

August 15th, 2013 at 11:20 am by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Governor Mike Pence made the formal announcement this morning that Dwayne Sawyer will be the next state Auditor.

The selection of Sawyer is a historic one.  He will be the first African American from the GOP to serve in a statewide office in Indiana.

Pence says he chose Sawyer to be the state’s top finanacial officer because he was the most qualified applicant available to serve out the remainder of Tim Berry’s term.  Berry is now the state GOP Chairman.

Sawyer is the president of the Brownsburg Town Council and he has a background in information technology. He also downplayed the historic nature of his selection.  “I think we recognize that it is what it is,” he said, “but my focus is serving all the people of Indiana with distinction, serving well.”

“Let me say it was a pretty tough choice,” said the govenror. “We had some outstanding men and women that we interviewed from all over the state of Indiana for this position.”

Sawyer will be sworn in during a Statehouse ceremony on Monday.  He is already planning to run for re-election in 2014 and says he was considering a bid for Auditor next year before Tim Berry decided to step down.

Dwayne Sawyer chosen to become State Auditor

August 14th, 2013 at 3:38 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Governor Mike Pence will name Dwayne Sawyer to become the new State Auditor on Thursday.  Sawyer is a relative unknown in statewide political circles.  He is currently the president of the Brownsburg Town Council but will move into the Statehouse almost immediately.

Dwayne Sawyer’s name wasn’t on any published list of contenders when Mike Pence began his search for a new state Auditor.
As President of the Brownsburg town council Sawyer is familiar with local issues like annexation.  But with former Auditor Tim Berry serving as State GOP Chairman, Sawyer must now familiarize himself with larger issues.

Governor Mike Pence said little about his criteria when he launched his search for a new Auditor on July 4th.  “We’re determined to take our time,” he said, “to talk to men and women that have an interest and people that are qualified for that position.”

Among those who were considered were state Representative Tom Saunders (R-Lewisville) and Hamilton County GOP activist Cecilia Coble.

State Treasurer Richard Mourdock is among those who were testing the waters for a 2014 run for Auditor before Tim Berry stepped down.
The governor’s backing of Dwayne Sawyer is meant to keep other Republicans from challenging for party nomination next year.

One of the obvious goals in the selection of Sawyer, who is African American, is the creation of a more diverse GOP ticket in 2014.  It’s a ticket that will be led in all liklihood by Secretary of State Connie Lawson.  There may yet be a battle for the nomination for state Treasurer.

The governor will make the Sawyer choice official in a Statehouse announcement Thursday morning.