Senior staff writer
Jeff Cardwell experienced “a lifetime of memories” in the past 20 months as chairman of the Indiana Republican Party.
The Southside business owner and missionary took the GOP helm March 15, 2015, with the simple goal of re-electing Gov. Mike Pence and reorganizing the party to new heights. In a few days Cardwell and state Republicans were in the firestorm of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights and a complete reshuffling of the primary day lineup of candidates.
Cardwell, 56, was thrown into the national spotlight when Donald Trump named Pence as his vice presidential candidate. Cardwell’s duties exploded 10-fold.
“I have a front-row seat to history,” said Cardwell, who stepped to the podium at a state GOP victory party Nov. 8 to celebrate the election of the Trump-Pence ticket. Indiana was the deciding state for Trump in the primary and the first state announced for Trump on the night of the general election.”
Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in one of the closest elections in U.S. history.
There is no rest ahead for Cardwell and the Indiana GOP staff.
Vice President-elect Pence met Thursday with Vice President Joe Biden and later returned to Indianapolis for a raucous Hoosier homecoming. Cardwell’s friendship with Pence goes back 30 years.
Cardwell has begun making plans for a large Hoosier GOP contingent to attend the presidential inauguration Jan. 15 in Washington, DC. Cardwell and the state GOP are also planning the Jan. 10 inauguration of Gov.-elect Eric Holcomb at the Statehouse.
In an exclusive interview with The Southsider Voice, Cardwell outlined a focus of Trump and Pence to revitalize the American economy. He also pointed out the strengths of Trump and his 50-plus years as a business-real estate developer who has created thousands of jobs, and Pence with his vast experience in public sector governance.
“They have made it a mandate from Day 1 to create jobs,” Cardwell said. “Government is at its best when it develops public-private partnerships. It provides the best bang for the buck.”
He also will have responsibilities with Pence, the nation’s sixth vice president from Indiana, to assure a smooth transition from the Obama presidency to the Trump presidency.
“There’s no rest; this is a real fast track now,” Cardwell said.
But Cardwell will take a five-day break in early December from his GOP responsibilities to deliver food as part of a missionary to South America. He is president/CEO of Cardwell Do-it-Best Home Center, 3205 Madison Ave., and founder of the People Helping People radio network and World in Need charitable organization.
Cardwell continues to be stunned by the ripple effect in GOP candidacies that began with Sen. Dan Coats’ retirement. The GOP had 20 key races and won most of them statewide..
“Last night (Nov. 8) was a historic night for Hoosiers,” said Cardwell in a post-election statement. “We are one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. As we step out in this new journey for America’s future, now is the time to work together and heal our land.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to serve, and we look forward to working with all Hoosiers from all walks of life to take Indiana and America to the next level. There is so much more that binds us than that which divides us.”
Cardwell and his wife, Cheryl, have three grown children and three grandsons. They are members of Grace Assembly of God of Greenwood.