Lincoln Day Dinner draws over 320 attendees
Republican voices heard loud

Wanda English Burnett

Attendance at the Ripley County Lincoln Day Dinner held Wednesday, February 17 was at an all time high with enthusiasm to match as guest speaker US Congressman Mike Pence (R) from District 6 took the podium.

After Pence was introduced by Denessa Benkie, Versailles, whom he referred to as a “rising star” on the National Republican Committee, he proclaimed, “Republicans on Capitol Hill are back!” This brought thunderous applause from the more than 320 gathered at the Knights of Columbus facility in Batesville.

While Pence didn’t dwell on what Republicans see as “faults” of the present administration, he did point out that unemployment is at an all time high and people are dissatisfied with representation in the political world in Washington.

He referred to political shake-ups in states such as Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and more recently Indiana, where Democratic US Senator Evan Bayh made his announcement to leave the political realm.

Pence told those at the event that Republicans need to stay focused and offer real solutions. He said both political parties need to “dust off the Declaration and Constitution.” He was clear when he told the crowd he stood for the sanctity of life and marriage between one man and one woman.

The crowd cheered to remarks Pence made that included saying America is the envy of the world, citing ideals, freedom, limited government and Christian values - some things he wants to see restored in Washington.

Pence didn’t shy away from claiming Christian principles as his own, quoting the Bible, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is - there is Liberty.”

Ginger Bradford, Ripley County Republican Chair told The Versailles Republican Pence was interrupted with applause more than any speaker she could remember.

The evening was not only packed with attendees, but with a very busy agenda. So many candidates were in attendance vying for state positions in the primary that they were limited to three minutes each to speak.

Speakers included State Representative Cleo Duncan who will not be seeking re-election. “After a lot of prayer we made the decision not to run again,” Duncan noted, thanking her husband, who has been her stalwart supporter over the 16 years she has served.

Those in attendance who would like to fill Duncan’s seat included: Tami Wenning (Decatur Co.), Cindy Ziemke (Franklin Co.), and Randy Frye (Decatur Co.).

State Senator Johnny Nugent spoke to the crowd saying he couldn’t remember a Lincoln Day Dinner with so many in attendance. “We’re coming together,” he noted of the Republican party. He thanked Duncan for her years of service saying she was a delight to work with.

Jud McMillan is on the Republican ticket for District 68 for State Representative, and spoke his allowed time.

Charlie White, who is running for Secretary of State, also gave a brief talk.

The seat for 9th District US Congressman that Democrat Baron Hill now holds, will also see competition with three candidates speaking at the Ripley County event. Mike Sodrel, who held the position for one term spoke, along with Todd Young and Travis Hankins. All gave a brief overview of their platform with Hankins garnering the most interruptions for applause.

Bradford recognized present office holders and those in the running for local open positions in the primary election.

Special music was heard by Pam Vollmer with dinner music provided by Suspence DJ Service, operated by Spencer Huffmeyer, a student at Jac-Cen-Del High School. The Batesville American Legion Color Guard posted colors for the patriotic event.

Bradford thanked the K of C catering service for a wonderful meal, the Republican Women’s Club, headed by Earline Copeland, and Rev. Don Buck of the Osgood First Baptist Church, for offering the invocation.

The message of Pence rang clear as the local Republicans vowed to take back some coveted seats and have a good time doing so.

Pictured above at the podium is US Congressman Mike Pence, who was the featured speaker at the Lincoln Day Dinner held at Batesville. Ripley County Republican Chair Ginger Bradford looks on as he addressed one of the largest crowds ever (pictured below) to attend one of these events. The dinner was held at the K of C at Batesville with over 320 attending.