“My endorsement of Matt Kelty does not stand,” Souder said in a statement released just after 7 p.m. By late this afternoon, Souder’s 3-month-old endorsement statement and a video of Souder’s appearance with Kelty had been removed from Kelty’s Web site.
Souder, who recently has been candid about his growing uneasiness with Kelty, listed multiple factors for his growing discomfort. They include “an increasing number of defectors from the Kelty campaign claimed that people within the campaign, and the candidate himself, continued to make disparaging remarks about me and attacked my friends.”
He said the only "pressure I have received because of any of my comments has been from Kelty supporters. These comments have generally been accompanied by non-subtle threats to wreck my political career. No other Republican Party official or anyone opposed to Kelty has pushed me to act.”
Last week Souder said he was troubled by Kelty’s lack of judgment. Then, yesterday, he said he was “extremely upset” that Kelty used Souder’s past endorsement in a mailing to supporters and said he was not sure whether he’d vote for Kelty in the Nov. 6 election.
Souder had publicly endorsed Kelty three weeks before the indictments for perjury and campaign finance violations were handed out. After the nine indictments, Kelty asked Souder to cut a radio commercial “about what an ethical guy he was.” Souder refused.
Souder, who worked with Kelty on the staff of then Senator Dan Coats, supported Nelson Peters, in the primary, as did all other elected Republican officials in Allen County. But after Kelty won that election, Souder appeared at Kelty’s side and described him as the candidate “who can best lead Fort Wayne into the future.”
“Withdrawing an endorsement is very serious. Endorsements sometimes don’t mean much, but withdrawing an endorsement means a lot. I can’t think of anything similar in local Fort Wayne politics ever,” said Paul Helmke, former Republican mayor.“A public endorsement being publicly withdrawn by one of the senior Republicans in the area who used to work with Kelty – it’s unprecedented,” Helmke said.