INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - One of the things Republicans learned in the 2012 Presidential race is that GOP candidates must do a better job of attracting minority voters.
One way to do that is to have more minorities in key party positions. That may have something to do with the selection of Dwayne Sawyer to be State Auditor.
Sawyer is currently one of just four local elected officials in Indiana who are black. His elevation to state office won praise from national party leaders almost immediately.
At the Republican National Committee summer meeting in Boston Thursday morning RNC Chairman Reince Priebus called on Indiana GOP Chairman Tim Berry.
"Why don't you tell the group what Governor Pence did today?" he said.
"Governor Pence named Dwayne Sawyer, an African American, Hoosier, town council president from Brownsburg, Indiana as my replacement," Berry said.
It was in the middle of a forum designed to highlight rising stars in the GOP who are also minorities and that's why Priebus reacted by saying, "That's great. First ever?"
"First ever Republican statewide elected official," responded Berry.
So while Dwayne Sawyer plays it down and the governor says it wasn't the most important factor in his selection, Mike Pence made it clear in a 24-Hour News 8 interview that race was a factor in his selection, nonetheless.
"Let me say I'm aware of the historic aspect of this appointment for our party," said the governor, "and I'm humbled to have played a small role in that."
Democrats aren't impressed.
"Let's see. This is what, 2013 this is?" said former state Chair Ann DeLaney on Indiana Week in Review, "And this is the first African American Republican appointed, or chosen to run, or elected on the Republican ticket?"
Former GOP state Chair Mike McDaniel, meantime, admitted a need to expand the GOP base.
"There always is," he said. "And this is a lot harder to do than people realize."
McDaniel says Dwayne Sawyer will help.
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Gov. Mike Pence's proposal to phase out the business personal property tax continues to get a chilly reception from local officials and state lawmakers.
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