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Dinner is Republican mainstay

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GREENFIELD — More than 200 people are expected to turn out to support Hancock County’s biggest political party Friday in an ideal event for candidates to greet the party faithful.

The Lincoln Day Dinner is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday, but those who want to shake a few hands should show up an hour early.

“I think it’s a good opportunity (for candidates) to mingle with the people and show that they support the Republican Party,” said Janice Silvey, GOP chairwoman. “They come, they support the party, they’ve got the hour before that they can mingle.”

Silvey said while 236 people have signed up to attend the fundraiser so far, tickets will also be sold at the door.

The event is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the GOP, having already raised about $18,000 this year in sponsorships. Silvey said while attendance is expected to be about normal, there will be plenty of networking. After all, there are seven contested races for county seats on the Republican primary ballot this year, as well as a few township races. Given trends in recent elections, securing the Republican nomination in May is tantamount to winning in November. That makes events such as Friday’s dinner a not-to-be-missed occasion for candidates.

Candidates buy ads in the dinner brochure, pass out buttons and fliers, and put yard signs all around the banquet hall.

For sheriff’s candidates Mike Shepherd and Donnie Munden, attending the event to support the party and campaign is a no-brainer.

Both have been attending for years. They say while many of the party faithful may have already made up their minds about who they intend to support, it certainly doesn’t hurt to pass out a few fliers and shake some hands.

“As much as anything it’s to support the party itself,” said Shepherd, the incumbent who’s seeking a second term. “Obviously, there’s going to be an ad in the flier, and you’re talking to people, but most of these people are within the party more or less have their minds made up one way or another.”

Challenger Munden said he’s already spoken with many who will be attending Friday’s event; he agrees that they probably already have their minds made up who to vote for May 6. Still, he’s taking hold of the opportunity to chat with voters and hear what they think are vital issues to the county’s public safety agency.

“There’s going to be not just candidates there, but other representatives throughout the county,” Munden said. “It’s a good chance to talk to them about issues and use them as a sounding board.”

Silvey said while in the recent past there’s been a moratorium on where to put campaign fliers, this year candidates can load up the dinner tables with brochures. The keynote speaker of the event is GOP State chairman and former state Auditor Tim Berry. Congressman Luke Messer will also be given time to speak.

New this year is the release of Hancock County historian Joe Skvarenina’s new book, “Remembering the Hancock County GOP.”

Skvarenina, the director of research and political affairs for the county party, said it took three years to compile the information for the 93-page book that details key players from the formation of the local party in the mid-1800s to modern-day politicians and scandals.

“I had a lot of help from people, but politicians aren’t without a lack of ego,” Skvarenina said, chuckling. “I had to boil it down to where they weren’t attacking each other.”

The book, which also contains lists of candidates and winners of top county seats over the years, is meant to give those interested in the GOP a glimpse of its legacy and its history so the party can work toward a common goal, Skvarenina said.

“It’s supposed to be a history, but it also covers the good, bad and the ugly,” Skvarenina said. “It’s an expose to give people a common heritage.”

Proceeds from sales of the book at the event will benefit the county GOP.

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