INDIANAPOLIS - The
former director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources who has
spearheaded a campaign to privatize and expand the Indiana Dunes State park
beach venues has been picked by Incoming Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb to run
the state Republican Party.
attorney Kyle Hupfer is expected to be formally made chairman at a meeting
of the state GOP in February.
Hupfer, who is the
party’s regional chairman for the 5th Congressional district, must be voted
in by state committeemen but is not expected to face opposition. The
district he currently oversees extends north and east from Indianapolis.
“I know Kyle Hupfer
is prepared to manage the robust statewide grassroots, finance and
communications organization that is the Indiana Republican Party well into
the future,” Holcomb said in a news release Monday, noting that Hupfer is a
longtime friend who served as his campaign treasurer and is one of the
officials in charge of his gubernatorial transition efforts.
led Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources under former Gov. Mitch
Daniels. He was also chairman of the Indiana State Fair Commission.
While serving as
DNR chief under Daniels, he led an unsuccessful push to build out and
privatize venues at the Indiana Dunes State Park on Lake Michigan.
and many local residents opposed the proposal at the time, which included
plans for a hotel.
The idea was later
revived by the GOP’s regional director for the 1st Congressional district,
Valparaiso developer Chuck Williams, who hired Hupfer to negotiate a
long-term lease at the park with officials at the agency he once led.
In a process that
the Izaak Walton League and the grass roots Dunes Action have criticized as
secretive and uncompetitive, the contract for construction of a banquet
center at the mouth of Dunes Creek was given to Williams, a long-time donor
to Republican political candidates in state and local races.
The deal - which is
slated to bring restaurants and bars to the park - was approved despite
considerable opposition to the sale of alcohol adjacent to the swimming
beach and privatization of Indiana state parks.
Williams is also a
member of the state committee that will vote on Hupfer’s nomination as
chairman Jeff Cardwell was appointed in 2015 by Gov. Mike Pence after
serving as director of faith-based initiatives for Pence. Earlier this year
Cardwell raised eyebrows after the Indianapolis Star reported he used GOP
email lists to promote an Indianapolis hardware store he owns.
Cardwell told party
officials that he plans to resign as chairman in early 2017.