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Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman delivers the keynote address at the Crawford County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner at the Crawford County 4-H Community Park south of Marengo. Approximately 350 people attended the event, which also featured speeches by state and federal GOP candidates, including Todd Young, who is running for the Ninth District congressional seat currently held by Democrat Baron Hill. Photo by Chris Adams

Skillman, Young fire up GOP

September 01, 2010
The fall political campaign got underway in Crawford County Saturday evening as about 350 supporters turned out for the county Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner, which included red-meat speeches by state and federal candidates, including Todd Young, as well as Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, the event's keynote speaker.

Young, who is challenging Democrat incumbent Baron Hill for the state's Ninth District congressional seat, received a standing ovation following his fiery address to the crowd, gathered in the pavilion at the Crawford County 4-H Community Park south of Marengo.

"Washington is broken, our Washington politicians aren't listening, they are throwing away the future for my four children, for our nation's children and grandchildren, and it must stop," he said.

Young, in imploring the county's Republican faithful, both the party's leaders as well as others, to help him unseat Hill, who served three terms after first being elected in 1998 and two more since winning the seat back in 2006, tied Hill to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose favorable ratings are low.

"Together, we have seen Baron Hill and Nancy Pelosi and all of the others that are of like minds in Washington take fiscal irresponsibility to levels that, frankly, I couldn't have imagined just two years ago," he said.

Young likened Congress' fiscal behavior to that of an alcoholic. Just like an alcoholic promises to quit drinking after just one more all-night binge, Congress acts the same way when it comes to its promises of financial responsibility, he said.

"Baron Hill and Nancy Pelosi until they're blue in the face — maybe that's why they call them Blue Dogs — indicate that 'We're going to get this nation's deficit, budget under control, but, first, we just need to spend a little more money'," Young said. "So, after pouring a $1 trillion stimulus down our throat, ladies and gentlemen, just the other day, they spent another $26 billion because California and New York can't balance (their) budgets like the state of Indiana can.

"Well, just as with the alcoholic, so goes Congress. To get the alcoholic to stop drinking, it requires an intervention. Ladies and gentlemen, you and I, we are the intervention to take back Congress."

In closing, Young, in talking about his service as a Marine and how he wants to serve the people of the Ninth District, made a thinly-veiled reference to comments Hill made to an Indiana University student at a town hall meeting a year ago in Bloomington.

"I will never stop listening to you. Ladies and gentlemen, this is your office; it's not Baron Hill's office, and I will never forget that," he said.

The anti-Baron Hill theme continued with Skillman, who said Hill and his fellow Democrats have orchestrated the takeovers of the automobile industry and student loan program while passing a tax on medical devices, including those made in Indiana as part of the health care reform legislation.

"You know, six months ago the Democrats, to hear them tell it, thought these were grand ideas, and, yet, today, I've never seen so many politicians run as fast as they can away from their very own accomplishments," she said. "You know why they do that? Because they know that they're in trouble.

"I have to admit I've been in a little trouble myself in my much younger days," Skillman joked. "I can recall as a teenager my parents being very upset when they learned after the fact I had been drag racing against boys at the White River Bridge. I can remember my mother saying, 'Now, if it's something you can't tell us about, then you shouldn't have been doing it at all.' So, I think Todd Young should say to Baron Hill, 'If you're too embarrassed to bring it up, if it's something you can't tell us about, then you shouldn't have done it at all'."

Indiana, unlike Congress, has made the difficult financial decisions that, while not fun, have kept the state afloat during the national recession, Skillman said. Those decisions, she said, have enabled Indiana to fare much better than its neighboring states.

"We have stayed in the black for years, and we intend to stay in the black for many years to come," Skillman said.

State government agencies have been shrunk by more than 20 percent, said Skillman, noting that Indiana's per capita spending is the sixth lowest in the nation and the number of state employees is the lowest it has been in 28 years.

"Had we done nothing like other states during this 20-month period of revenue decline, it would have exhausted all of the revenues that we worked so hard to build when we first came to office," she said.

Whereas other states have had their credit rating lowered as they have fallen deeper into debt, Indiana received the top rating for the first time a few years ago and has maintained it, Skillman said.

In contrast, she pointed to Illinois where Gov. Pat Quinn has said the state, because of its debt, will withhold payment to contractors and providers, even though doing so likely will mean some will go out of business.

"What a sad commentary. It's state government's role to create a business-friendly environment," she said.

Those problems aren't unique to Illinois, Skillman said, and Indiana businesses are feeling the fall-out. She said officials from one Hoosier company months ago told her a check for work done for the state of California bounced twice.

However, each time another state raises taxes on businesses or doesn't pay its bills on time, Indiana gets another look from businesses looking for somewhere to locate, Skillman said.

She pointed to an economic report published in The Wall Street Journal in July that showed that, for 2010, Indiana has added the most number of jobs of any state.

"We are a state that has only 2 percent of the country's population, but we've actually added 10 percent of the country's jobs this year," she said.

By being fiscally responsible, the state, Skillman said, has been able to share monies it receives from the federal government with communities throughout Indiana. Since 2005, she said, the state has awarded almost $7 million in grants to Crawford County for housing development, soil conservation, water systems and other community projects.

Skillman urged those in the crowd to work for Steve Davisson, who is running against Democrat Ryan Bower for the District 73 state representative seat currently held by Dennie Oxley I of Taswell. Republicans, who also control the State Senate, have had to work twice as hard just to get half as much done in recent years because of the Democrats controlling the House.

Skillman also praised Ted Metzger, who is challenging District 47 State Senate Democratic incumbent Richard Young of Milltown. Both Davisson and Metzger briefly addressed the audience earlier in the evening.

Also in attendance was former Gov. Edgar Whitcomb, who lives in Perry County. Whitcomb, governor from 1969 to 1973, said this year's election is especially important.

"We are facing what will be the most important election in our lifetime," he said. "Our way of life is being changed right before our eyes, and those people in Washington now are not doing anything about it. We need change in Washington."

Whitcomb, who noted that he spoke in Crawford County 42 years ago while campaigning for governor, praised the county's Republican party.

"Listen, I want to say Crawford County has come up in the world," he said. "This is a delightful, big turnout tonight, and I want to congratulate all the people who are participating in this."

Crawford County Republican Party chairman Patricia Ramsey, vice chairman Daniel Crecelius, who also is running for the District 1 county commissioner's seat, and party member Whitney Timberlake took turns introducing the speakers and others in attendance, including candidates for county offices, county precinct committeemen, Ninth District GOP chair Erin Houchin, Republican officials from other counties and representatives from the campaigns of U.S. senatorial candidate Dan Coats and Indiana secretary of state candidate Charlie White.

Doug Phillips, the chaplain for the Crawford County Sheriff's Department, gave the benediction, and the meal was furnished by Mulzer Crushed Stone, Tyson Foods and Schwartz Family Restaurant.

Ramsey, after the meeting, thanked party volunteers for supporting this year's dinner.

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