Elkhart and Indiana GOP to hold in-person caucus to replace Rep. Christy Stutzman

NOW: Elkhart and Indiana GOP to hold in-person caucus to replace Rep. Christy Stutzman

ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. - Elkhart County will soon have a state legislator position to fill after State Rep. Christy Stutzman's resignation takes effect. Because it is a state legislator position, the Indiana Republican Party will head up the caucus to replace Stutzman instead of the Elkhart County GOP, but those voting will still be the 36 precinct committeemen from Elkhart County. Organizers said they plan to have the caucus in person in a large venue so as to adhere to Indiana's group gathering social distancing policies.

"The directive is to have it in large enough space that we can socially distance and still meet together as a caucus," Elkhart GOP Chairman Dan Holtz said.

Holtz said based on past experiences, he believes the party can put on an in-person caucus safely and efficiently.

"We've run two safe primary elections involving every voter in the county this year," Holtz said. "So, to run a caucus of 36 is a lot easier than running a primary."

Holtz said a total of about 40 people will be at this caucus. He said they will be essential State Republican Party personnel, the candidates and the 36 precinct committeemen. Holtz also said the state party would make sure attendance is limited to that.

"We are not going to open it to the general public because of COVID," Holtz said. "It will be limited to the state party people that need to be there, the candidates and the precinct committeemen."

Chuck Teall is one of those precinct committeemen. He said because of the work Holtz and the state party are putting in, he's not worried about any potential risk.

"I think that Dan has already attested to the fact, and I think the people in Indianapolis who are technically in charge of this caucus are willing to follow those regulations, those requirements and/or those suggestions," Teall said. "So, if we have the proper place, which I think they do, where we can be properly spaced. There only needs to be 38 or 39 people there in total."

Steve Warner is another precinct committeeman who said he was a committeemen when the County Republicans voted to replace Curtis Hill as county prosecutor after his attorney general election. He said the precautions the state party said it would take have him feeling safe as well.

"If we follow the precautions like screening people beforehand that could possibly be sick and take the mask precautions along with hand cleaner and whatever else can be done," Warner said. "I haven't been getting out that much myself, but that being said I would still be comfortable with meeting."

The state Republican party said it is looking for a large venue in which to hold the caucus. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in Goshen was being looked at as a possible venue, but the party said it will notify the county leadership of its decision in the next day or two.

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