The Dillsboro Civic Club, host of Tuesday night’s Republican Party caucus took place (Photo by Marilyn Odendahl, The Indiana Citizen)
By Marilyn Odendahl
The Indiana Citizen
September 12, 2023
The Indiana Republican Party convened a caucus of precinct officials within Senate District 43 Tuesday evening to fill the seat being vacated by Chip Perfect.
The well-attended gathering at the Dillsboro Civic Center kicked off with a prayer, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. After that, it was all business.
When the formalities at the Dillsboro Civic Center were over and quickly followed by a vote of committee members, the results of that vote may have seemed to many like just a formality.
Randy Maxwell, founder and CEO of Maxwell Construction in Guilford, was the winner with 56 votes.
The other two candidates, Sam Mortenson, the owner of MMM Tree Service in Aurora, and Joseph P. Volk, a farmer and small-business owner, got 17 votes and 7 votes, respectively.
After the vote, Maxwell was swarmed by well-wishers. He shook hands, thanked supporters and posed for pictures.
He told The Indiana Citizen, “I talked to my wife and we decided I can do a good job for the district. I have no preconceived notions or agendas or bills or anything other than just wanting to represent the people.”
The same day last month that Perfect announced his resignation, he endorsed Maxwell. He lobbied for his friend in a letter sent Aug. 30 to precinct committee members in which he also announced his resignation.
“Like my predecessor Senator Johnny Nugent, I would not leave office without ensuring the good people of my district had a quality representative to consider to step in to fulfill the remainder of my term,” Perfect wrote in the letter. “Having had many discussions with this gentleman over the years about the role and responsibilities of the Senate, I whole-heartedly want to urge you to consider Randy Maxwell to step up and serve each of you in District 43.”
There were 80 precinct committee members at the meeting, meaning the winner of the seat would have needed at least 41 votes.
When it was his turn to speak to the committee members, Maxwell touted his experience running a business, serving on community boards and filling appointments to state boards by former Gov. Mitch Daniels.
“I am a conservative dedicated to protecting families, limiting government intervention and supporting those who serve and protect us,” Maxwell said.
Senate District 43 includes Dearborn, Jefferson, Ohio, Scott and Switzerland counties and portions of Jennings County.
Perfect, who was re-elected in 2022, said he will leave on Sept. 26. Maxwell will serve the remaining three years of Perfect’s term.
This was the third caucus this year to replace a Republican legislator — but the first under the new chair of the Indiana Republican Party, Anne Hathaway. The other caucuses selected Lori Goss-Reaves and Alex Zimmerman to replace Reps. Ann Vermilion, R-Marion, and Randy Frye, R-Greensburg, respectively.
Under Indiana Code section 3-13-5- and 3-13-11, the party caucus system is used to replace state lawmakers and local elected officials who leave before their term is completed. Precinct committee members affiliated with the political party of the person stepping down elect the replacement.
Previously, precinct members did not caucus until 21 or more days after Vermilion and Frye announced their decisions to leave office. The caucus to replace Perfect was held 13 days following his announcement.
Dwight Adams, a freelance editor and writer based in Indianapolis, edited this article. He is a former content editor, copy editor and digital producer at The Indianapolis Star and IndyStar.com, and worked as a planner for other newspapers, including the Louisville Courier Journal.
Guilford construction company owner Randy Maxwell was chosen by Republican precinct committee members Tuesday to fill the Indiana Senate District 43 seat being vacated by Chip Perfect.
Joseph P. Volk, a Dearborn County farmer and small-business owner, and Sam Mortenson, the owner of an Aurora tree service company, got 7 votes and 17 votes, respectively, in their unsuccessful candidacies for the Senate District 43 seat.