WARSAW — It didn’t matter if it was a local, state, national or Presidential race, Republican candidates or representatives flocked the annual Kosciusko County Republican Fish Fry Wednesday evening, April 6.
Even unopposed candidates made sure to attend. There were no speeches, just an evening to socialize and meet constituents. It was also an opportunity for the public to meet the candidates in a relaxed atmosphere.
Pastor Rafael Cruz, father of Republican Presidential Candidate U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, spent several hours talking with residents. Fish fry goers flocked to Cruz to take the opportunity to meet, talk and have photographs taken. Many enjoyed his story of coming to the United States.
The reception for Gov. Mike Pence and Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb was just as welcoming. Both spent up to two hours serving fish, talking with the public and answering questions. Pence was seen numerous times talking to children. Holcomb is no stranger to the fish fry as he has participated for several years.
Other candidates or representatives present included those for U.S. Senate, U.S. Representative, state superintendent of public instruction, attorney general, state Senate, state Representative, county treasurer, county commissioner, county council at-large and county coroner. Several surrounding county party chairpersons and district party officers were also in attendance.
More than 600 pounds of fish was fried and when the evening ended only 10 pieces were left. There was a steady flow of people throughout the evening with the 127 seats constantly filled. It is estimated between 800 to 900 people were served. Anyone attending could see a lot of socialization, talking with candidates or just watching the candidates.
This fish fry is reported as the second largest county event for the party in the state. Candidates have tagged the event as the place to be if in a contested race. “It keeps getting bigger and better,” said Steve Carter, candidate for attorney general, who has participated in a few fish fries in the past. “This fish fry is the strongest tradition in the state of Indiana. It’s a good chance to listen to the people.”
“This is the biggest, I’ve ever seen,” stated former county chairwoman Jean Northenor. “This is Republican politics at its best.”
Lynn Howie, treasurer for the local party, stated not a lot of money is made off the event, just enough to cover expenses with a small profit. “The idea is camaraderie and create an atmosphere for the public to see candidates up front and the availability of candidates for area voters to meet.”
Randy Girod, county chairman, continues to make sure the event functions smoothly and there is enough food. Howie stated Girod makes sure “there are no speeches, an evening to come and eat fish, talk and building camaraderie.”
Girod and Monica Boyer, president of Kosciusko Silent No More and co-founder of Hoosiers for a Conservative Senate, were the individuals responsible for the attendance of Cruz.