ANDERSON — The chairmen of area Republican Party organizations in central Indiana expressed surprise at the sudden resignation of Dwayne Sawyer as state auditor.
Sawyer was appointed by Gov. Mike Pence to the position in August when Tim Berry left the post to become chairman of the Indiana Republican Party. Sawyer resigned Tuesday for family and personal reasons effective Dec. 15.
At the time of the appointment, Sawyer indicated he planned to run for election to the office in 2014.
Berry said the resignation is an issue the governor will have to address and was confident a new state auditor would be named by Dec. 15.
“I’m sure we will have a conversation before that time,” he said. “We need to find someone ready to campaign across the state in 2014.”
Russ Willis, chairman of the Madison County GOP, said Sawyer’s resignation came as a complete surprise.
“I had no idea Sawyer was resigning,” he said. “I’ve not thought about any potential candidates. I would expect a replacement to be named in the next few weeks.”
Henry County GOP chairman Michael Gerrish said he was disappointed by Sawyer’s resignation because he took the position and only remained in the office for four months.
“It was a shock and surprise,” he said. “The governor should name someone as quickly as possible.”
Gerrish said Pence should consider state Rep. Tom Saunders for the position. He said Saunders was under consideration when Berry announced his resignation.
“He (Saunders) is fitted for the job, gone through a lot in local and state government and has been tremendous in state government,” Gerrish said. “I think he would run statewide.”
Brett Curnutt, chairman of the Tipton County Republican Party, also expressed surprise at Sawyer’s sudden resignation.
“The governor will go through the appointment process and look for the correct candidate,” he said. “There is tremendous talent in that office and one or two people may be considered.”
Curnutt said it was assumed Sawyer would have run for the office in 2014.
“Priority always has to be family first,” he said. “I’m always surprised when someone resigns.”
Howard County GOP chairman Craig Dunn said he has heard some speculation in general who the governor may appoint.
“It has to be someone with significant political experience that can run in all 92 counties,” Dunn said. “We don’t want to see someone named that wants to use the office as a springboard for another office.”
Dunn said experience as an auditor is not necessary because of the experience of the people working in the office.
“They have to be able to work closely with the governor and the budget office,” he said.
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