Pete Peterson, president of the Fishers City Council, was named chairman for the Hamilton Co. Republican Party after a caucus that officials on both sides described as “ugly.” And it might not be over yet with a looming appeal.
Former chairman Pete Emigh resigned at the end of 2015, leading to a race to fill his vacant spot up until the end of his 4-year term, which is up in March 2017. Vice chairman Laura Campbell, who is a newly elected member of the Carmel City Council, threw her hat in the ring, but Peterson was seen as Emigh’s choice for successor.
Last month, Campbell, who served as interim chairman upon Emigh’s resignation, took issue with 71 new precinct committeemen that were appointed by Emigh in November. Campbell said that Emigh was trying to “stack the deck” in Peterson’s favor by choosing mostly Fishers residents and those close to Peterson.
Campbell removed those new names but that led to legal action by some, including Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness who was removed as a precinct committeeman. The caucus was held on Jan. 30 with provisional yellow ballots for the new appointments. The other ballots were colored white.
Campbell won the white ballots 115-99, and Peterson won the yellow ballots 52-0, meaning that combined Peterson won.
“It’s no surprise though,” she said. “I’m very happy I won the white ballots because I think it spoke volumes.”
Campbell has decided that she will appeal the decision and has until 48 hours before the next State Committee meeting, which is scheduled for Feb. 17.
Peterson said he doesn’t want to dwell on the past because it’s time for everyone to unite after this tough process. He said he’s focused on the upcoming elections for governor, U.S. Senate and more.
“We have too many important races coming up,” he said. “We have to look to the future and come together. This year is too important.”