Notes scribbled on the back of a Lincoln Day dinner program . . .
The Grand Ol’ Party is alive and well in Montgomery County, thanks to the professional approach and touch of party boss Suanne Milligan.
Political observers will likely remember the disarray the GOP went through under the last couple of Chairs, John Pickerill and Scott Molin. However, there’s not much evidence of anything awry now, and that was especially true at last week’s Lincoln Day Dinner. A full house was on hand to listen to Gov. Eric Holcomb. It didn’t even matter that this was Holcomb’s very first visit as governor to take part in the Lincoln festivities. Unlike the last few years, smiles were aplenty and the talk, mood and overall demeanor was predictably optimistic.
Milligan was quick to give credit to the party officers as well as county commissioner Jim Fulwider who was in charge of organizing Friday’s event. However, as more than one political observer noted, things have calmed down and smoothed out – thanks to Milligan’s leadership.
It certainly didn’t hurt Friday that Holcomb came across so well either. Instead of a typical speech from the podium, Holcomb sat with Milligan and did a Q&A for about 40 minutes. Both handled the spotlight well and Indiana’s 51st governor kept everyone smiling with his easy-going and friendly approach.
Prior to the evening getting rolling, The Paper had an opportunity to chat with the governor privately. The following are some excerpts from that conversation:
Topic: County and local road repair and maintenance
Gov. Holcomb: The locals will be a big part of the solution. I always think of Indiana as the crossroads of America and we are. To fulfill that mission, you have to get roads to go to the area where business are located and are going to locate. When we talk about luring jobs to Indiana they go to somewhere locally. We’ll keep that top of mind.
Topic: Economic development and the reorganization of local efforts
Gov. Holcomb: It’s of paramount importance you get it right so when you’re out luring business to come to Montgomery County you’re of one voice.
(Indiana is) an extremely incredible place to invest. Your dollars year after year after year go much farther in the state of Indiana.
Topic: Trains and the upcoming potential loss of full train service in Crawfordsville
Gov. Holcomb: We are in ongoing discussions. (It’s important because) it’s got to do with how we connect to the rest of the world and how they connect to us. We connect in many ways, and rail is an important part of that. We are adding a fourth port down on the Ohio River. We are adding more direct flights. Indiana is on the move in huge part because of our stability and certainty.
Topic: Gen. Lew Wallace
Gov. Holcomb: My senior year at Hanover, we set out to exonerate Lew Wallace and his experience at the battle of Shiloh. My roommate and I headed down there and re-traced (Wallace’s) footsteps. For the record, he did not do anything wrong.
Topic: State Rep. Tim Brown and State Senator Phil Boots
Gov. Holcomb: Phil Boots is a leader in all respects. Doc Brown does a very fine job for you all here.
For whatever it’s worth from an old reporter, Holcomb appears to have the wherewithal to take Indiana to the next step. His time and experience under previous governors Mike Pence and Mitch Daniels appears to have taught him well and left him well-prepared to lead.
From Milligan’s steady hand on the helm locally to Holcomb’s good first impressions, local Republicans from all backgrounds had a lot to celebrate.
Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Tuesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at