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Republicans run the table

Republicans run the table
Republicans run the table
Former Indiana District 70 Rep. Paul Robertson speaks with the current representative, Rhonda Rhoads (center) and newly elected Karen Engleman after results came in last night at the Government Center in Corydon. Photos by Ross Schulz

Harrison County has turned predominately red in recent elections, but last night the GOP kicked it up a notch and completed an outright sweep of every county race.
Of the 28,770 registered voters, 18,939 (66 percent) went to the polls. Of those, 5,929 cast straight-party ballots (4,214 Republican, 1,576 Democrat and 139 Libertarian).
The top vote-getter in Harrison County was Republican Gary Gilley, a long-time police officer who recently retired from the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept. and now will take over as county coroner. He defeated Willard M. Haas by a count of 12,150 (66.5 percent) to 6,122 (33.5 percent).
‘It’s very humbling to have that many people support me, and I truly appreciate what they’ve done and I truly appreciate what (Sheriff) Rod Seelye has done for Gary Gilley,’ Gilley said.
Gilley, as a Democrat, ran unsuccessfully in 2010 against Seelye for the sheriff position.
Gilley will succeed Democrat Rusty Sizemore, who came up short in his bid for surveyor against incumbent Republican Harold Klinstiver. Klinstiver secured 9,711 votes (53.5 percent) to 8,433 (46.5).
The race was the closest of any contested race in Harrison County pitting one Democrat versus one Republican.
‘I would like to thank everyone who helped me pull this victory off,’ Klinstiver said. ‘It’s a heartfelt thing to me to know the voters of Harrison County have trusted me to carry on the business. It tells me I’ve done a good job and my pledge is to continually do a good job.’
All three at-large county council seats were won by Republicans, led by Gary Byrne with 9,203 votes (20.9 percent), Jennie Engleman Capelle with 9,046 (20.5) and Donnie Hussung with 8,806 (20).
‘I’m very surprised,’ Byrne said. ‘I was hoping to be top three. The message was just slow some spending down. When I was out talking to people, they seemed to like that.’
Byrne, who currently sits on the North Harrison Community School Corp. Board of Trustees, will take his first countywide political position on Jan. 1. The school trustees will appoint Byrne’s successor.
Capelle, a political newcomer, is the director of College and Career Readiness for the South Harrison Community School Corp.
‘I am honored to have been in the top three, and I think it’s something I’ll enjoy,’ she said. ‘I’m really proud of Gary (Byrne); he worked hard for that top spot.’
Hussung, who also has experience with a county school corporation as a former school board member at Lanesville, will take a seat on the county council for the first time.
In 2014, Hussung lost in the General Election for the County Council District 2 seat as a Democrat to Gary Davis.
‘I want to thank the voters for having confidence in me, giving me a chance to show what we can do in this county,’ Hussung said.
The council will now be made up of six Republicans (Davis, Holli Castetter and Sam Day) and a lone Democrat (Kyle Nix).
Incumbent District 2 Commissioner Kenny Saulman handled Democrat challenger Aaron Haggard by a count of 10,686 (59 percent) to 7,368 (40.8 percent).
‘I just want to keep working for the people of the county to try to do as good a job as we can do,’ Saulman said. ‘I’m really not in favor of spending a lot of money; we’ve already spent quite a bit to build that new highway garage. We need to buckle down and do some other things and work on this high-speed Internet.’
Saulman will be joined by newcomer and fellow Republican Charlie Crawford as District 1 Commissioner. Crawford was unopposed and collected 14,598 votes.
‘Charlie’s coming in here with a lot of experience under his belt from a lot of different things,’ Saulman said. ‘I look forward to working with him.’
The third member of the board of commissioners is also a Republican, Jim Klinstiver, who has two more years on his term.
In the race for recorder, political newcomer Republican Debbie Dennison topped Cathy Elbert McCarty 11,013 (61.4 percent) to 6,897 (38.5).
‘I’m surprised about the percentage I won by,’ Dennison, who is the first deputy in the Recorder’s office, said. ‘I appreciate everybody’s support. I mean, I had a good team of people.’
She said it was a clean race with McCarty.
‘We didn’t say anything about each other,’ she said. ‘We had to focus on our own assets. I focused on my experience. My experience helped a lot.’
Scott Fluhr, chairman of the Harrison County Republican Party, credited the GOP sweep to ‘good candidates who worked really hard.’
The State District 70 (Harrison, Clark and Floyd counties) Representative seat will again be held by a Harrison Countian as Karen Engleman, a Republican, easily defeated Heidi Cade Sellers 19,990 (66 percent) to 10,259 (34).
The seat has been held by a resident of Harrison County since at least 1978, when Democrat Paul Robertson of Depauw was elected. Robertson, who held the seat for 34 years, was defeated by Corydon’s Rhonda Rhoads (GOP) in 2010. Rhoads has held the seat ever since and decided not to run for re-election.
‘I’m very honored to have won; I’m so happy people entrusted me with District 70,’ Engleman, of Corydon, said. ‘I would like to thank everyone for their votes and their support, and I will work hard to represent the residents of District 70.’
Engleman, the current auditor, will be replaced in the interim by Chad Shireman, who is chief deputy of the Auditor’s office. The full-time replacement (two years remain on the term) will be determined at a later date during a caucus by the county GOP.
The top state races ‘ governor, attorney general, superintendent of public instruction and U.S. Senate seat ‘ also were won by the GOP candidates.
Eric Holcomb soundly defeated John Gregg in Harrison County to be Indiana’s next governor, 11,680 votes to 6,297 votes, and was leading statewide 1.3 million votes to 1.1 million with 84 percent of the votes in. Locally, Rex Bell, the Libertarian candidate, received 417 votes and, statewide, had 77,644 votes.
The Attorney General position was won by Republican Curtis T. Hill Jr. He defeated Democrat Lorenzo Arredondo 12,829 votes to 4,888 votes locally and, with 80 percent of the precincts reporting, was ahead with 63 percent of the votes. Hill succeeds Greg Zoeller, who did not seek re-election but, instead, lost a bid for the Ninth Congressional seat in the Primary.
Democrat Glenda Ritz, the current superintendent of public instruction, was ousted by Republican Jennifer McCormick, who is the superintendent of Yorktown Community Schools. Locally, the GOP candidate received 11,160 votes to Ritz’s 6,462. Statewide results were not available at press time.
For the U.S. Senate seat, being vacated by Republican Dan Coats, Republican Todd Young, who currently is Indiana’s Ninth District congressman, beat out former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, who also previously served as Indiana’s secretary of state and two terms as governor, 11,435 votes to 6,570 votes locally, and, with 84 percent of the vote in statewide, was leading 1,275,691 votes to 1,006,697 votes. Libertarian Lucy Brenton had 133,495 votes statewide and 580 votes in Harrison County.
Trey Hollingsworth was elected to succeed Young as the U.S. District 9 representative. In Harrison County, Hollingsworth received 10,801 votes, while his challenger, Democrat Shelli Yoder, had 6,697 votes. Libertarian Russell Brooksbank received 895 votes.
Salem’s Steve Davisson, a Republican, was re-elected to another term as state representative for District 73. He defeated Douglas Leatherbury.
Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and vice presidential candidate Mike Pence dominated both Harrison County and Indiana.
Trump secured 12,933 (70 percent) votes in Harrison County compared to 4,776 (26) for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson pulled in 139 votes (4).
With 89 percent reporting at press time, Trump was declared the winner of Indiana’s 11 electoral votes by a 57.5 to 37.6 percent lead.
At midnight, Trump had secured 238 of the 270 electoral votes needed. Clinton had 209.
In the nonpartisan race for Lanesville Community School Corp. Board of Trustees, incumbents Sharon Rothrock and Robert L. Schickel were re-elected to four-year terms in a four-way race for three seats. They received 1,414 votes and 1,455 votes, respectively. Chan Bailey squeezed past Jaycen Marat Abell to grab the third seat being vacated by Denzil McKim. Bailey received 960 votes, while Abell had 946.
Several provisional ballots were cast; those voters will have 10 days to provide proof of their eligibility to vote in yesterday’s General Election.
Local results were delayed yesterday while the Harrison County Election Board processed 4,240 absentee/early ballots that were cast. That number is about 31 percent more than the 2012 General Election.