Lorey claims District 5 seat in close race

Kaiti Sullivan/The Herald
Tracy Lorey of Jasper, right, hugs her husband, newly-elected District 5 Councilman Paul Lorey, during the Dubois County Republican election results party at Schnitz Pub in Jasper on Tuesday. Kaiti Sullivan/The Herald


JASPER — Eight years ago, Paul Lorey found his way to Earl Schmitt’s porch after a tightly contested election night. Schmitt had defeated Lorey by 41 votes for the Jasper Common Council District 5 seat, and the two marked the occasion by each drinking a Busch Light.

Following a rematch of that 2011 contest, they’ll convene on that porch again in the coming days.

But this time, Lorey will walk away as the new councilman.

Just like eight years ago, there won’t be any hard feelings from the old friends. Even before the results were announced, Lorey said they’d both come to the same conclusion.

“No matter who won in District 5 tonight, the City of Jasper won,” Lorey said. “We didn’t have a bad candidate.”

Lorey — a Republican — unseated the two-term Democrat veteran on Tuesday night by a count of 121-104.

Prior to a victor being named, three faulty election machines that wouldn’t power on to tell the world who had won the race gave the pair plenty of time to think. Preliminary numbers showed the race was tight. Lorey knew the race would be the closest in the city. But the technical difficulties?

Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Earl Schmitt of Jasper, who ran for re-election on the Jasper City Council and lost to Republican challenger Paul Lorey, talks with Tara Eckman of Jasper while waiting for final results during the Dubois County Democrats election results party at the Knights of Columbus in Jasper on Tuesday.

Just before the votes from the final machines were announced, he paced around the inside of the Schnitz Pub, his heart racing, his mind wondering what he could have done differently. Mark Messmer, chairman of the Dubois County Republican Party and state senator, knows how stressful those minutes can be.

“When you’re a candidate, this is the worst time,” Messmer said at the time. “When the voting is done, until they get done counting. The anxiety of waiting, being in limbo, is the most stressful time. It’s probably more stressful now than any time during your campaign.”

The relief eventually came. Following his victory, Lorey called the race a “hard fought battle” that consisted of a lot of campaigning and leg work. He thanked his wife, kids and family for their help along the way.
“It’s a group effort,” Lorey said. “No question.”

Lorey is a salesman at Hopf Equipment of Jasper and is also the president of the Jasper Plan Commission. He has been involved in city politics since 2012, and ran his 2019 campaign on a platform centered on bringing a young voice with a business background to the council.

Schmitt spoke highly of his opponent after his loss. When thinking back on his time with the council, he said that he “enjoyed it all.” He was nervous the first couple of meetings, but after that, he found his groove and made the best choices that he could to push the city ahead.

“I knew it was gonna be close, and I’d done everything I could,” Schmitt said. “Paul done a little bit better.”

Schmitt — a lifelong Jasper resident — praised Lorey’s experience, adding that he believes he will serve the city well.

“I just wanna say thanks to everyone that voted for me,” Schmitt said. “And thanks to my family. Thanks to everybody, really. Jasper’s a good community.”

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