Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

May 10, 2012

Stump surprised with vote total, touts Weddell as replacement

GOSHEN — Tom Stump, a newcomer to county politics, said he thought he would do well in Tuesday’s election, but said he was surprised with his finish in a five-man race for three at-large seats on the Elkhart County Council.

“I thought I would win,” said the current Goshen City Council president, “but I didn’t think I’d be the top vote getter.”

Stump finished with more votes in Tuesday’s Republican primary than two county council incumbents, John Letherman and David Ashe, who finished second and third respectively in Tuesday’s results. All three will be on the November general election ballot.

Stump, the owner of Cripe’s Septic Cleaning Service and a 20-year veteran of the Goshen City Council, said Wednesday he believes numerous factors worked in his favor.

He said he thinks his friendship with farmers, associations through business and his reputation as a conservative on the city council likely contributed to a strong showing.

“I never had a negative comment from anybody,” Stump said, “particularly people in and around Goshen.”

Stump did especially well in Elkhart Township, which includes the city of Goshen. About 28 percent of his 9,920 votes came from people in Elkhart Township.

Stump also thinks he got a late boost from Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman, a Democrat, who made the extraordinary move of expressing support for Stump and Mike Yoder in his race for County Commissioner, District 2.

Stump, in a slightly ticklish position, made it clear he didn’t seek out the support of Kauffman, but said he believed it helped.

“I know it helped me,” Stump said. “I got people who I know are Democrats (who) said they voted for me.”

What’s next?

With his strong finish Tuesday and a lack of competition so far from the local Democrats in the fall election, Stump is widely viewed as a safe bet to win in the general election in six months.

If elected, Stump would step aside from his City Council post before January and a replacement would be named by a Republican caucus.

With that in mind, Stump on Wednesday threw out his support for Brett Weddell, a Goshen eye doctor whose name is one of several that have been bandied about as a possible replacement on the Goshen City Council.

Stump said he thought Weddell, 35, ran a good campaign last year, has a good reputation and would be electable.

“If I were a precinct committeeman and voting on somebody, that is who I’d vote for,” Stump said. “He has all the characteristics you need to continue on.”

Weddell lost in last year’s municipal election against longtime City Councilman Everett Thomas. Ever since then, Weddell said he’s been encouraged to remain active and consider future opportunities to serve.

“I always promised them I’d keep my options open and if this transpires,” Weddell said. “Those options will come a little sooner than I thought.”

Another beneficiary?

Mike Yoder, who was locked in a spirited race against Darryl Riegsecker, might have also benefited from Kauffman’s endorsement.

Riegsecker said Tuesday night he believed he was hurt by media coverage involving his comment that he would not support funding for ADEC, a county-wide group that helps disabled residents.

Riegseckler had the support of some local Tea Party groups, one of which tried to label Yoder as a socialist.

Yoder defeated Riegsecker Tuesday by gaining 51.9 percent of the vote.

Even though Riegsecker is a resident of Goshen and pledged to work toward better relations between the county and city, Yoder, a Middlebury resident, won 55.3 percent of the vote in Elkhart Township.

“The combination of the ADEC position and the mayor’s endorsement put me over the top,” Yoder said Wednesday. “Without those two things, I would probably be in my last year as county commissioner.”

Election tidbits

• Jackie Walorski’s support in Elkhart County in her Republican primary race for U.S. House District 2 was stronger than her district-wide results, in which she won about 71 percent of the vote against South Bend physician Greg Andrews. Walorski captured 79.7 percent of the votes in Elkhart County.

• Brendan Mullen won the Democrat primary for District 2 against Dan Morrison, but did not win Elkhart County. Mullen won 54 percent throughout the district, but only won 46.7 percent of the vote in Elkhart County. In fact, Morrison won nine of the 10 counties, but Mullen won the most populous county, St. Joseph, with 60 percent of the vote.

• Elkhart County’s results in the U.S. Senate race closely mirrored state-wide results in which state treasurer Richard Mourdock trounced longtime incumbent Richard Lugar. Statewide, Mourdock collected 60.3 percent. In Elkhart County, Mourdock won 61.9 percent.

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