Posts Tagged ‘2008 Republican Primary’

Drama building in several primary races

February 11, 2008

From the South Bend Tribune:

by Jack Colwell

Tony Zirkle, once laughed off as “the guillotine guy,” says he read here last Sunday that Republican leaders had found their candidate for Congress in Indiana’s 2nd District — Luke Puckett — and decided then to file on Monday for the GOP nomination.

He did. So there will be a race in the May Republican primary: Zirkle vs. Puckett.

Puckett, a Goshen businessman, is indeed the choice of party leaders to oppose Congressman Joe Donnelly, D-Granger, in the fall.

Kyle Bailey, a young but experienced regional political director for the Indiana Republican Party, is moving in as campaign manager for Puckett.

And Bailey says the Puckett campaign is prepared for any primary challenge as well as for a fall campaign in which Donnelly will have more funding.

It’s smart politically not to just laugh off Zirkle.

In the 2006 Republican congressional primary, Zirkle captured 30 percent of the vote in challenging Congressman Chris Chocola, the Republican incumbent. This was a sign that Chocola would be vulnerable in the fall. He was, losing to Donnelly.

Bailey, 23, a LaPorte native who knows the territory, having worked on Chocola campaigns and with GOP mayoral candidates in northern Indiana, says Puckett will hit the ground running after formal announcement of candidacy on Feb. 11. Puckett plans campaign events in Cass and LaPorte counties on the 11th, in St. Joseph and Elkhart counties on the 12th.

Zirkle has been kind of a barometer for prospects of Republican incumbents. He also showed that Chris Toth was in trouble in seeking re-election as St. Joseph County prosecutor by getting an impressive percentage against Toth in the 2002 Republican primary. Toth lost big that fall.

Zirkle says he sees a chance this time to enter a race in which he has better name recognition than his opponent. And he’s not backing away from some of his controversial statements of the past, including his call for use of the guillotine. He points out that he proposed it only for use on someone convicted of multiple child rapes.

He says he doesn’t come up with such things just to get attention or laughs. Strange as some of his proposals may sound, he didn’t leave Toth or Chocola laughing.

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