MERRILLVILLE | Dan Dernulc won election Saturday as Lake County Republican Party chairman, defeating opponent Allan Katz.
Dernulc, a Lake County councilman, garnered 140 votes compared to 113 for Katz in a caucus of the party precinct organization at St. Elijah Serbian American Hall.
Outgoing chairwoman Kim Krull, who had endorsed Katz, declined a nomination for party vice chairman.
Dernulc and Katz campaigned heavily for the post, and in pre-vote speeches Saturday both urged party unity.
"We need to come together," Dernulc told the 253 party delegates gathered in the hall.
Dernulc said under his leadership the party would not make endorsements in primary elections that in past elections helped split voting results.
"We have been our own worst enemy," Dernulc said. "I will work with all Republicans," whether conservative or moderate. "Our county party needs all of you."
Katz, a Center Township resident, said Republicans "can make Lake County a place we can be proud of." Katz pointed to a history of indictments of county Democrat elected officials, leading to what he said is a "reputation for corruption," in Lake County.
"We can improve the reputation simply by electing Republicans," Katz said.