Three candidates to vie in caucus to replace Sen. Chip Perfect

By  Marilyn Odendahl

The Indiana Citizen

September 12, 2023

Three Dearborn County small-business owners will be vying in tonight’s Republican Party caucus to replace Sen. Chip Perfect, R- Lawrenceburg, who announced his plans to leave the Indiana General Assembly on Sept. 26.

Precinct committee members from Senate District 43 will convene at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Dillsboro Civic Center to select a candidate who will fill the remaining three years of Perfect’s term. The district includes Dearborn, Jefferson, Ohio, Scott and Switzerland counties and portions of Jennings County.

Each candidate will give a short speech at the beginning of the caucus and then the precinct committee members will vote. The candidate who receives 50% plus 1 vote will be declared the winner and go on to the Statehouse.

A livestream of the event will be posted on the Indiana Republican Party’s Facebook page.

The three candidates are:

Randy Maxwell, a graduate of Indiana University-Bloomington, is the CEO of Maxwell Construction. He started the business in 1999.

The same day Perfect announced his resignation, he endorsed Maxwell.

“Randy is a great family man, a proven leader, a successful business owner and a tenacious fighter,” Perfect wrote to the precinct committee members. “He is exactly the strong Conservative we need combating the leftist agenda we see day in and out in Indianapolis.”

Sam Mortenson is the owner of MMM Tree Service in Aurora. In a letter posted on social media, Mortenson touted his participation in the 2023 Inaugural Military Veterans/Constitution Coaches Congress put on by the Patriot Academy, an institution based in Texas that, according to its website, seeks to “restore our Constitutional Republic and the Biblical principles that cause a Nation to thrive.”

Mortenson described the event as a “legislative boot camp.”

“Based on all the feedback I received from my teachers and fellow legislative students, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if I ever was asked to serve in that capacity, I could not only ‘hold the line’ for conservative values – but I could also be a conduit to take back ground we have lost to the aggressive Leftist agenda,” Mortenson wrote.

Joseph P. Volk is a farmer and small-business owner. In his letter to precinct committee members, he described himself as having a reputation as being candid, honest and a hard worker. He promoted his farming roots, saying agriculture has been important since the founding of Indiana with nearly half a million Hoosiers connected to farming.

“In the recent past, one Hoosier senator was a farm operator/owner – now there are none,” Volk wrote. “Indiana needs another. I can bring to the table a wealth of knowledge regarding better crops, protecting our farm and wild land and farming operations.”

This is the third Republican caucus – and the second in southeast Indiana – this year to replace legislators who have stepped down before the end of their term.

Aaron Zimmerman, an attorney from North Vernon, was selected by caucus in July to fill the vacancy created when Rep. Randy Frye resigned citing health reasons. Also, Lori Goss-Reaves was chosen in a caucus to replace Ann Vermilion, who resigned immediately after the 2023 legislative session ended.

Currently, 31 of the 150 members of the Indiana General Assembly – 21% or more than one-fifth – were caucused into their seats, according to an analysis by Capitol & Washington.

Mortenson called attention to the caucus in his letter. He told the precinct members that caucus elections typically have very low turnout and individuals can be elevated to the legislature with just a handful of votes.

“I do not know all the reasons as to why Chip has resigned so suddenly, but I am extremely grateful that he has at least lined up someone else he feels can finish the term we the people elected him to,” Mortenson wrote. “However, I personally dislike appointments to public office. I feel like hard earned elections produce far better public servants, which is what I want more of in our Great Republic!”

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. 

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