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Goshen Democrats’ Dirty Little Strategy

He asked me if I would follow him as mayor, I said, by the time you’re done being mayor, Republicans will be so sick of Democrats in Goshen no Democrat could get elected.

Alan Kauffman – Former Mayor – Goshen, IN

Alan Kauffman served as Mayor of Goshen, IN for more than 18 years. Not bad for a guy who was convinced no Democrat could get elected in Goshen after Mayor Puro.

So how did Kauffman overcome the odds? How did he become mayor when he was convinced it wasn’t possible for a Democrat to get elected?

“One night I said, well if something happened that you left office, then I was caucused in and I could run as an incumbent, I’d think about it.”

Alan Kauffman – Former Mayor – Goshen, IN

Listen to the audio below.

In March of 1997, Puro resigned and Kauffman was, indeed, easily caucused in by the Democratic Party. From there, he ran for mayor as the incumbent in 1999 and won. Incumbents hold a significant advantage to be reelected. The rest is history.

Kauffman is currently a Goshen School Board member and embroiled in an election scandal for mishandling election funds and possible illegal campaign contributions.

Fast forward to 2015. After mentoring Jeremy Stutsman for over 8 years, Kauffman had his hand-picked successor. Stutsman would defeat Republican Mary Cripe to be Goshen’s next mayor. Kauffman said he would have run again if he felt the next mayor would be a ‘flake.’

Stutsman ran unopposed in 2019 after his opponent, Republican Terry Snyder, 77, died unexpectedly just weeks before the May 7 primary election. In December of 2022, Mayor Stutsman announced he was running for his third term as mayor of Goshen.

Then, just a few months later, Mayor Stutsman announced he’s was not running for reelection after all.

Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman is resigning later this year to become the new C-E-O of Lacasa, Inc.

95.3 MNC

At his public announcement that he would not seek reelection, Stutsman said:

“Over the next couple of weeks, between myself, the new mayor that … uh the person that I’m hoping will be the new mayor that’s announcing …”

Mayor Stutsman

Listen to the audio below.

More on who that person is shortly.

The mayor announcing they weren’t running for reelection right after announcing that they were caused confusion about the election.

Mayor Stutsman will remain on the May primary ballot. The Democratic party will then caucus a candidate to take Stutsman’s place for the November general election.

It’s hard to say how the GOP would have adjusted their strategy and candidate selection had they known Stutsman would not be running, but it’s safe to assume they would have taken a different approach.

It’s also safe to assume that the timing of Stutsman’s announcement prevented any Democrat candidate from announcing a primary run. Especially since it was too late to replace Stutsman’s name on the May ballot.

Once again, Goshen Democrats strategized to take the choice out of the people’s hands and hand-pick their successor for Mayor.

Elkhart City Councilman Aaron Mishler thinks this is a brilliant strategy. Frankly, it is brilliant albeit very shady, and underhanded.

Goshen election officials said Democrats would caucus to choose Stutsman’s replacement after the May primary. It’s only April and we already have the heir apparent.

Mayor Jeremy Stutsman has endorsed Gina Leichty as the candidate of choice to fulfill his term and run for office in the fall municipal election in 2023.

95.3 MNC

Democrats are expected to caucus for a candidate in May. Stutsman has estimated he will be done as mayor in June. The election is in the Fall.

The strategy is simple:

  • Announce you aren’t running for reelection late in the cycle to prevent candidates in your own party from running against your hand-picked successor.
  • Negatively affect the other political party’s strategy going into election season.
  • Give your hand-picked successor an almost certain win.
  • Rinse and repeat anytime there’s a changing of the guard.

To be clear, I’m not accusing anyone of breaking the law. The strategy is effective. Goshen residents need to decide for themselves if they feel cheated by this scheme.

Are Democrats ok with not being able to effectively run for mayor in the primary with a level playing field?

Are Republicans ok with effectively being shut out of a truly competitive electoral process by not knowing who they were running against?

Are Goshen voters ok with the electoral process being manipulated by local Democrats so that all eligible candidates don’t get a fair shot in the primary?

Only Goshen can answer that question.