By Marilyn Odendahl

The Indiana Citizen

September 6, 2023

The Indiana Republican Party has announced the time and place for the caucus to replace Sen. Chip Perfect, R-Lawrenceburg, who has endorsed businessman Randy Maxwell, CEO of Maxwell Construction in Guilford, as his successor.

In a press release issued Tuesday, the GOP stated the party caucus would begin at 7 p.m. Sept. 12 at the Dillsboro Civic Center, 9824 Central Ave., in Dillsboro. Precinct committee members from Senate District 43 will pick a replacement from a slate of candidates to fill the remainder of Perfect’s term, which ends in 2026.

Individuals interesting in filling Perfect’s legislative seat must file their paperwork 72 hours prior to the caucus.

Perfect (pictured above) announced on Aug. 30 his plans to resign from the Indiana Senate. In a letter that he wrote the same day, the Republican advocates for the precinct committee members to consider Maxwell.

“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. “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.”

Dearborn County business owner, Sam Mortenson, appears to also be vying for Perfect’s seat in the Statehouse. He posted a lengthy letter on social media explaining he is running because he believes that America as established by the Founding Fathers needs a new type of leader which he called “Freedom Fathers.”

“Normal, everyday people who are committed to sacrificing for the good of their country not for any kind of personal gain, but just simply because they love her,” Mortenson wrote. “Freedom fathers! Liberty Lovers! That’s what we need so desperately!”

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.

Individuals running for the District 43 vacancy will not have much time to campaign. The caucus is being held 13 days after Perfect announced his resignation even though the senator does not plan to leave office until Sept. 26.

Senate District 43 includes Dearborn, Jefferson, Ohio, Scott and Switzerland counties and portions of Jennings County.

Republican Party chairs in Dearborn and Jefferson counties did not return requests for interviews. Also, the Indiana Republican Party did not respond to a question about how the date for the caucus was selected.

The Dearborn Democratic Party chair did not reply to a request for comment.

Perfect is the third GOP legislator, and the second from the southeastern part of the state, to step down this year.

 Rep. Ann Vermilion, R-Marion, tendered her resignation in April shortly after the 2023 legislative session ended. In June, Rep. Randy Frye, R-Greensburg, announced his retirement, citing “multiple health issues.” Both representatives left office days after their announcements but the Republican Party did not convene caucuses to replace them until 24 days and 21 days later, respectively.

Perfect, president and CEO of Perfect North Slopes, did not give a specific reason for his decision to step down but noted growing responsibilities outside the Statehouse are taking away his ability to fully focus his duties in the Senate.

“I have had the honor to serve as senator of Senate District 43 for nearly nine years and have made the difficult decision to resign my position,” Perfect said in his statement. “It is a challenge to balance public service with business, personal and family obligations, as each of those responsibilities has grown recently and it feels like a disservice to the people of my district when I cannot fully give the Indiana Senate the focus it requires.”

A graduate of Purdue University, Perfect was first elected to the Indiana Senate in 2014, defeating his Democratic opponent by winning 72% of the votes. In 2018 and 2022, he did not face a challenger in either the primaries or the general elections.

In the legislature, Perfect has most recently served as chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce and Technology and as ranking member of the Senate Committee on Utilities. He is currently the chair of the Interim Study Committee on Commerce and Economic Development and sits on the Interim Study Committee on Labor and Employment.

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, and worked as a planner for other newspapers, including the Louisville Courier Journal. 

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