At the Marion County Republican Party’s Reagan Dinner, supporters mingled with candidates and elected officials in the Crowne Plaza’s renovated event space. The event’s main speaker was gubernatorial candidate Rep. Mike Pence, R-6th District.
Marilyn Halbrook greeted guests as they entered the room for an hour-long reception before the meal. She waved to Pence twice as he walked through the room. But she’s really taken, she said, by his wife Karen and running mate Sue Ellsperman.
“Karen is delightful, but I was really impressed with Sue,” Halbrook said.
Beyond Halbrook’s post and the entrance to the old train platforms, guests split up. The event was primarily a fundraiser, one of the year’s two biggest for the Republican Party.
“In the spring we do a spring dinner, and in the fall we do a Reagan dinner,” Executive Director Bryce Carpenter said.
They expected to fill the room, Carpenter said, though he added that they’re “limited” by space. They try to get a well-known speaker. Last spring, it was Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind. This year, it was Pence, a former Marion County precinct committeeman.
“Everyone’s excited to see him whenever they get the chance, and we’re lucky to have him,” Carpentar said.
Paul Sauley, known by Marion County Republicans as “Ponytail Paul,” stood near the open bar. Sauley is first vice president of the Warren Township GOP Club. He turned around to display a long silver length of hair, split in three places by a red, a white and then a blue elastic.
“I work very hard to get Republican candidates elected,” Sauley said.
Speakers, including State Superintendent for Public Instruction Tony Bennett, Secretary of State Connie Lawson, and Susan Brookes, candidate for the 5th Congressional District, addressed the group after dinner.
When Pence took the stage, he began by recounting his own experience with the Marion County Republican Party. He walked into the county party headquarters in 1983, he said, and told them he was there to sign up to go to work.
“It all started right here in the Republican Party in Marion County, and I want to thank you for that,” Pence said.
Pence recognized local leaders as well, and said grassroots workers would deliver a Republican victory in Marion County and all around Indiana.
“Elections, when they’re best fought, are not just about trying to put the right people in office,” Pence said. “It’s about advancing the right ideas. It’s about standing with clarity for the right vision for the state.”
Pence went on to tell some of his own story, gave his reasons for running and expanded upon two aspects of his “Road map for Indiana” plan. He ended with a call to action for supporters.
After 40 days and 40 nights of hard work, Pence said, “I believe, with your help and with god’s help, we will lay a foundation and a vision for leadership that will build a more prosperous Indiana that we have ever known in 40 days. Let’s go to work.”
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