By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – Libertarian candidate Donald Rainwater criticized Gov. Eric Holcomb’s government shutdown over the pandemic during a Patriot Rally on the lawn of the Kosciusko County Courthouse Friday night, Oct. 16.
The Libertarian from central Indiana has gained notoriety in recent weeks across the state as resistance to the mask mandate continues to simmer in conservative circles.
Rainwater has emerged as perhaps the wildcard in what has been a tame campaign between Republican Holcomb and his Democratic opponent, Dr. Woody Myers.
With a little more than two weeks before Election Day, Rainwater is the only gubernatorial candidate to host a public rally in Warsaw this year.
The fresh round of criticisms about the shutdown was aired on the same day that Indiana saw another daily record for new cases, led in part by surging numbers in Kosciusko County and nearby in Elkhart and St. Joe counties. Earlier this week, the state established a free drive-thru testing center in Warsaw that is expected to remain in place for eight months.
The rally was held between Warsaw City Hall and the Kosciusko County Courthouse where Republican city and county leaders have voiced strong and continued support for Holcomb’s approach and continue to urge people to wear masks while in public indoor areas that are crowded.
But Rainwater and other speakers at the rally focused almost entirely on pains suffered by Hoosiers as a result of the forced government shutdown ordered by Holcomb.
“We live in a situation today where our state government has overflown its boundaries,” Rainwater said.
He accused Holcomb of individually choosing who is an essential worker, which businesses are necessary to remain open and when people can attend church.
“I’m sorry, but the free exercise clause of the First Amendment says he doesn’t have the right to do that,” Rainwater said.
“How can we as a free people stand idly by and allow government to take away our rights of which they do not have the authority to take?” Rainwater said. “The only way they do it is because we consent to it.”
Rally organizer Kevin Kyle spoke to the crowd and urged them to vote on Nov. 3 and expressed his support for President Donald Trump.
Republican State Rep. Curt Nisly, who has been an outspoken critic of the way Holcomb has handed the pandemic, also spoke at the rally. The House District 22 state lawmaker has repeatedly said Holcomb’s cure has been worse than the ailment itself and cast it as a fight between liberty and slavery.
Nisly mentioned the mask mandate, the lack of input from the General Assembly, the negative impact on businesses and limitations placed on nursing homes and churches.
He said the governor has “weaponized local health departments,” encouraging them to close businesses that violate terms of the shutdown. He accused Holcomb of taking draconian measures without any evidence that the steps would slow the spread of the virus.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the twilight zone,” Nisly said. “These acts I described … were not taken by a Democrat, but by a Republican – none other than Eric J. Holcomb.”
The comment led to shouts of RINO in the crowd, a term for Republicans in name only.
Holcomb has advanced the reopening of the state to the final stage 5, but this week extended the mask mandate until mid-November.
Rainwater’s libertarian campaign is also calling for the legalizing of cannabis, eliminating certain taxes and supporting gun rights, but those themes were not specifically addressed in his speech. In fact, he never mentioned masks in his 10-minute speech, which concluded the rally.
Prior to the rally, Rainwater told InkFreeNews that he’s seeing increased support because of the “totality” of Holcomb’s actions rather than just the mask issue.
Rainwater also met with a large number of people after his address as campaign supporters made available yard signs for Rainwater and Nisly nearby.
A handful of protesters, some of who had signs supporting Black Lives Matter, stood across Center Street. Kyle said he shook hands with them invited them to be part of the rally.
The event included numerous speakers who focused mostly on Election Day, including Steve Long, a friend of Kyle’s, who blasted the media.
Long accused the media of downplaying President Trump’s popularity and warned of voter fraud involving mail-in ballots.
He attacked InkFreeNews for mischaracterizing him but didn’t give specifics.
“Report the news. We’ll figure it out. We’re not stupid,” Long said.
He closed out his speech by recalling Thomas Jefferson’s famous words that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time “with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
“Are we there?” Long asked. “We’ll find out … Nov. 3.”