FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Former Vice President Mike Pence will headline a February fundraiser for Ron Turpin, the Fort Wayne businessman running in the Republican primary for Indiana State Senate in District 14.
The $1,000 per couple event will take place on Feb. 1 at an undisclosed location in the district which covers most of Allen County’s east side. Turpin is pitted in the primary against Dr. Tyler Johnson, an emergency room physician with Parkview Health. The seat has been held for years by Dennis Kruse.
“We are honored to have Vice President Pence come to Northeast Indiana to support our campaign for State Senate District 14,” Turpin wrote to WANE 15. “The VP’s support speaks to the campaign we are running and I am excited about what we hope to accomplish for Hoosiers in the district as their state senator.”
The high-profile event is not without risk.
“A former VP should be a draw at a fundraiser,” said Andy Downs, Director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Purdue Fort Wayne. “The challenge with Vice President Pence is how a part of the Republican Party that is very loyal to President Trump (will react). Will it raise enough money to offset any potential loss in primary votes? That’s the question to answer.”
Downs thought Johnson would need to wage a costly messaging campaign to inform voters of Pence’s endorsement but believed Johnson’s campaign would be better off to deliver a different message.
The invitation included traditional GOP donors Bill Bean and Tom Kelley, former State Senator David Long and Daryle Doden, who owns Ambassador Enterprises, where Turpin now works. A screenshot of the invitation was sent to WANE 15.
“I think (Turpin) is a fantastic person who would do a great job as a state senator,” Bean wrote to WANE 15.
Pence was elected Vice President in 2016 and Indiana Governor in 2012. He also served 12 years in Congress, representing east central Indiana, including parts of Allen, Adams, Wells, Blackford and Jay counties in the WANE 15 viewing area.
WANE 15 reached out the Johnson campaign and was told they had no comment.