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February 23, 2020

Huh? And Hmm...
Mike Murphy, a state legislator from Indianapolis, is one of four candidates hoping to unseat 5th District Congressman Dan Burton in the May 2010 Republican primary election.

Last week, Murphy announced that he has garnered some important political support from three prominent Shelby County Republicans.

WISH-TV political reporter, Jim Shella, thought Murphy's campaign announcement was strange since the three Shelby County Republican supporters seem to be far more supportive of Congressman Dan Burton.

On his political blog, in a post titled "Huh?", Shella wrote the following:

"Mike Murphy issued a news release today to announce that three Shelby County Republicans support his opponent. 

Really, he did.

The Murphy release states that Shelbyville Mayor Scott Furgeson and two others..., well, just read what the release said:

'All three officials continue in their support of Congressman Dan Burton, but each said if voters are looking for an alternative, Rep. Mike Murphy would be the clear choice.'

Funny stuff, huh?

Hmm... I wonder why Shella only mentioned one of the three Shelby County "supporters" by name. Perhaps he didn't think the other two supporters had enough prominence.

Anyway, Shella isn't the only person who considers the press release to be bizarre. Lots of Shelby County citizens are still buzzing about the announcement.

And as you would expect, "Shelbyville's Own Hometown 5th District Congressional Candidate", Luke Messer, quickly resonded.

In an article by newspaper staff writer Jeff Tucker, published in The Shelbyville News on June 9, Messer listed by name some of the "dozens and dozens and dozens of people who are already supporting us" (Messer has a natural tendency to refer to himself in the first person plural).

The Shelbyville News story is lengthy but definitely worth reading to learn who Messer lists as his campaign supporters.

The June 9 newspaper article from The Shelbyville News follows:

Some Shelbyville leaders not backing fellow citizen Messer

The Luke Messer for U.S. Congress campaign has gotten a lukewarm reception from some prominent Shelbyville leaders who suggested Monday that Republican primary voters leaning against incumbent Dan Burton vote for a candidate other than Messer.

In what could be perceived as a shot across the hometown bow of Messer, the campaign of fellow congressional candidate Mike Murphy issued a news release Monday that touted support for Murphy among some key Shelby County Republicans.

The news release from Murphy's campaign noted that Shelbyville Mayor Scott Furgeson, Shelbyville Clerk-Treasurer Rod Meyerholtz and former Shelbyville Mayor Dan Theobald are supporting Dan Burton for re-election, but it said the three local leaders have "today joined to ask voters of the 5th Congressional District to take a serious look at Rep. Mike Murphy's record of legislative leadership and his work to help elect Republicans in Shelby County."

"Mike Murphy is the only challenger in the congressional race whose leadership has actually resulted in more than $1 billion in private investment and thousands of new jobs," Furgeson was quoted in the news release that drew some statewide attention Monday. "Congress is not a place for learning on the job. Mike Murphy is a real leader."

Asked by The Shelbyville News Monday why he was not supporting fellow citizen Messer in his bid for Congress, Furgeson declined to comment.

"I like him. I think he is a nice guy. He has a great family," Furgeson said. "Personally, I'm supporting Burton. I think that Dan Burton has done a good job, and if he is successful, he will continue doing a good job for us. But if people are looking for another alternative other than Burton, then I think that Mike Murphy is capable of getting the job done also."

Meyerholtz worked with Murphy when both served as Republican Party chairmen.

"Mike Murphy brought the largest county party in the state back from financial ruin and helped many Shelby County candidates, like Jeff Linder, Mike Herndon, Roland Stine and Sean Eberhart pursue successful candidacies," Meyerholtz said in the Murphy news release. "Whenever I have asked for help on behalf of Shelby County Republicans, Mike Murphy has been there for us."

Theobald, a former Shelbyville mayor and current executive director of the Shelby County Development Corp., said he has worked with Murphy on economic development issues for more than 20 years.

"Mike Murphy was a leader when he worked for Lt. Gov. John Mutz, and he continues to use his significant influence to cut taxes and to help businesses thrive," Theobald said in the news release. "I have traveled with Mike to Japan in search of investment and am currently working with him on a prospect for right here in Shelby County."

Contacted Monday night, Messer, a former state representative and former executive director of the state GOP, said he found the Murphy news release odd since those quoted did not actually endorse Murphy as their first choice.

"Obviously, we'd like everybody's endorsement, but we are focused on the people where we are their first choice, not their second or third choice," Messer said.

Messer has enjoyed widespread support among local leaders since he officially launched his campaign on a chilly morning in early April, surrounded by local elected Republicans at the Kent Property Group.

Messer said his list of endorsements from Shelby County include Commissioners Tony Newton and Kevin Nigh, Prosecutor Kent Apsley, county Councilmen Scott Asher, Bob Carmony, Terry Smith and Tony Titus, county Councilwoman Linda Sanders, former county Councilman Brent Fuchs, and county Councilman Tom Debaun, who is a former sheriff.

Messer's said his list of supporters serving in Shelbyville government include council President Kim Owens, Councilmen David Phares, Jeff Sponsel and Brian Asher, former county GOP chairman and city Councilman Dick Fero and former Shelbyville Mayor Betsy Stephen.

Asked why he is not getting support from two Shelbyville mayors, Furgeson and Theobald, Messer said he did not know.

"But again, we choose to focus on the dozens and dozens and dozens of people who are already supporting us, and we're going to focus to continue to grow our support throughout the community," Messer said.

Messer said he's also being endorsed by former state Sen. Bob Jackman, superintendent of Shelbyville Central Schools David Adams, and former GOP county Chairman Lee McNeely, who is Furgeson's father-in-law.

Messer picked up other key endorsements recently out of Shelby County when he was endorsed by Hamilton County Sheriff Doug Carter and Hancock County Sheriff Bud Gray.

"Our support has grown way past this community," Messer said. "Those are great early signs in a campaign that has 11 months to go. We've been really overwhelmed by the local support we've seen from the community already, and we're going to keep working."

Messer, 40, who served two terms in the Indiana House of Representatives from 2003 through 2006 and as executive director of the Indiana Republican Party for five years, said he was not concerned about getting lost in the shuffle of candidates seeking to oust the 14-term Burton in the May 2010 Republican primary.

The candidates that have declared are Burton, Murphy, a state representative from Indianapolis, former Indianapolis coroner John McGoff, and Carmel businessman Brose McVey, and Shelbyville's Messer, currently a partner at the Indianapolis law firm of Ice Miller.

The heavily Republican 5th District lies in the heart of central Indiana and includes all of Grant, Hamilton, Hancock, Huntington, Miami, Tipton and Wabash counties, and parts of Howard, Johnson, Marion and Shelby counties, including Shelbyville.

Messer, who said he recently raised $125,000 at two fundraisers, predicted the Republican primary campaign alone would cost the successful candidate between $700,000 and a million dollars.

He said the field will narrow as less well-funded candidates drop off the radar screen.

"I remain confident as we get close to Election Day," he said. "The first 60 days of our campaign effort couldn't have gone any better than it has, and we're just going to keep working. This early, you really have to focus on growing our grassroots support and explaining to people throughout the 11 counties in the district why it is you are running and raising the dollars to communicate your message."

In other 5th District campaign news, McVey announced the establishment of his campaign leadership team, which his campaign says is built from a roster of successful business, agriculture and community leaders with strong roots in the 11-county district.

The leadership team includes campaign chairman Fred C. Tucker III, of F.C. Tucker Realty; campaign vice chairman Devin Anderson, president of E&A Industries; campaign treasurer Karen Arland, an attorney at Ice Miller of Indianapolis; Mike Smith, former CFO of Anthem-Wellpoint and former president of Mayflower Transit; Bill Culpepper, president of SePro; and Jack Moran of National Lodging and Leisure.

"I am humbled that these influential leaders have given of their time and resources to back my candidacy for Congress," McVey said. "These community and business leaders are respected throughout the 5th District, and I am proud to have their continued counsel."

McVey, a small business owner, unsuccessfully challenged former Democratic Congresswoman Julia Carson in 2002 for the 7th Congressional District that includes Indianapolis.

McVey, currently the principal of Nexpointe Strategies LLC of Carmel, an economic development and consulting firm that helps companies sell their services to governmental entities, describes himself as a "conservative across the board." He said he would like to focus on taxes, education and tax simplification, if elected.

Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Article comment by: Baba Ram Dass Jr.

"Our support has grown way past this community," Messer said.

Baba Jr.'s cosmic translation: "Who needs these Shelbyville hicks? I'm big, baby, really big!"

Posted: Monday, June 15, 2009
Article comment by: Luke Skywalker


First of all, your cartoon on Furgeson and Messer is great as usual.

2. Does this represent a disturbance in The Force (the power elite who run this town and county)?

3. Why are any of these people supporting "Burton first," a man who spends most of his "work days" out on the golf course when he should be casting votes and working for his constituents (all of which has been fully documented in the news media)?

4. We think this is all very interesting and funny at the same time. We wish that a good Democrat or independent candidate would emerge and put all three of these people on the sidelines. We better quit writing here now so we can go wee-wee.

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