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Donnelly mulling a local office

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., has not determined whether he will have a regional office for constituent services in Fort Wayne. But he will have something of a local presence for a while.

If you call the phone number used by Donnelly’s predecessor, Republican Richard Lugar, at his former Covington Plaza office along Jefferson Boulevard – 422-1505 – you will connect to Donnelly’s office in downtown Indianapolis, at least until early February.

Elizabeth Shappell, communications director for Donnelly, said that as a courtesy to their replacements, former senators extend their phone numbers for 30 days after they leave office and calls are bounced to their successors. Donnelly took over from Lugar on Jan. 3.

The phone number at Donnelly’s Indianapolis office is 317-226-5555.

On Wednesday, after Donnelly toured the local Raytheon plant, Political Notebook asked him whether he plans to open a Fort Wayne office.

“We have not gotten to that step yet,” Donnelly said.

He said he is considering all of Indiana for possible regional office sites.

In addition to his Capitol Hill digs at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington and his Indianapolis office, Donnelly said he has two staff members working in the South Bend office he maintained as a member of the House. Donnelly lives in nearby Granger.

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., and Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, operate constituent service offices at the E. Ross Adair Federal Building in downtown Fort Wayne.

Cabinet confusion

Gov. Mike Pence showed off his new Cabinet on Wednesday to reporters – with one interesting addition.

Seated a few chairs down from the governor at the table was Attorney General Greg Zoeller – a separately elected statewide officeholder.

He didn’t say anything but he had a placard in front of him. And while he was at the table, other executive-branch appointees were relegated to chairs behind the governor.

It is unclear why Zoeller rated an appearance but not the state’s other four elected officeholders – Secretary of State Connie Lawson, Auditor Tim Berry, Treasurer Richard Mourdock and Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz.

Pence press secretary Kara Brooks was asked specifically about why Zoeller was invited, and if the other officeholders were as well.

Her response avoided the question, simply saying Zoeller “attended today’s Cabinet meeting to meet the agency heads and so that they could meet him as well.”

Brooks also ignored a follow-up email asking again whether the other officeholders were invited or not.

Zoeller Spokesman Bryan Corbin was more receptive, saying it made sense for Zoeller to meet the new state leaders because he is the lawyer for state government and has attorneys embedded in all executive branch agencies.

“AG Zoeller will attend future Cabinet meetings upon request but not as any formal member of the Cabinet because he is independent,” Corbin said.

Saddle up

Two girls from northeast Indiana will ride horses in President Obama’s inaugural parade Monday.

Annie Morsches of Columbia City and Claire Haldewang of Syracuse are members of the Culver Girls Academy Equestriennes.

The 24-member unit will ride with 58 members of the Culver Military Academy Black Horse Troop, according to Culver Academies in Marshall County.

It will be the 16th inaugural parade for the Black Horse Troop and the seventh for the Equestriennes, the academies said in a prepared statement.

Culver Academies said this will be the 100th anniversary of the Black Horse Troop’s first ride in a presidential inaugural parade. In 1913 and 1917, the mounted unit escorted Vice President Thomas Marshall – who was from Columbia City and lived in Fort Wayne as a teenager – during President Woodrow Wilson’s inaugural parades.

Youngest not fazed

The hazing has been limited against Rep. David Ober, R-Albion, the youngest-serving lawmaker currently in the General Assembly.

Ober’s youthful face is hard to miss on the Indiana House floor. At age 25, he often looks more like an intern than a state rep. Perhaps that’s why he has been seen sporting a bow tie of late.

He said he has had a few coffee orders from colleagues, but everyone has been generally pleasant and welcoming.

Ober is nowhere near the youngest ever to serve. It appears that distinction belongs to Fort Wayne’s Mitch Harper, who was just 22 years old when he was elected to the Indiana House in 1978.

Auburn’s Dean Kruse was 25 when elected to the Indiana Senate in 1967.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at or Niki Kelly at An expanded Political Notebook can also be found as a daily blog at

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