CROWN POINT | Two women hoping to be named Lake County assessor Friday by Republican precinct committeemen have had dalliances over the years with the opposing party.
Jolie Covaciu, 46, of Cedar Lake, and Debra M. Johnson, 54, of Crown Point, will face a Republican caucus Friday night with voting records that represent less than 100 percent party loyalty but asking for the privilege to fill the vacancy left by county Assessor Hank Adams' death earlier this month.
Lake County GOP Chairman Dan Dernulc and other party leaders have certified Johnson to be a true standard bearer of the party and declined to give Covaciu the same designation.
Covaciu said Tuesday, "She would like a similar designation."
She wrote in an email to The Times, "Ms. Johnson and I both voted Republican just slightly under 60 percent of the time. Our records are identical in that regard. I am not a Democrat. I definitely am a Republican."
Dernulc said Tuesday he would ask his advisers to reconsider the question, "but I don't expect any change. I think the decision has been made."
He said both women are eligible to run as candidates before the Friday caucus regardless of certification.
"I like both of the candidates. I'm saying (Johnson) is the best candidate to be a Republican for this caucus," Dernulc said.
Covaciu said she respects Dernulc's authority to endorse Johnson over her but wants the precinct committeemen to know she is equally committed to the party and worked well with Adams.
Covaciu cast ballots for GOP primary candidates in 1986, 1992, 2002 and 2011 and Democratic primary candidates in 2008, 2010 and 2012, Lake County voting records show.
Johnson voted in the Republican primary in 1995, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006 and the Democratic primary in 1994, 1998, 1999, 2008 and 2010.
Tim Berry, chairman of the state Republican Party, praised Dernulc's handing of the county assessor caucus Tuesday.
"I applaud Dernulc and the Lake County Republican Central Committee for outside-the-box thinking and leadership with regards to finding Hank's replacement," Berry said in a prepared statement.
"Republicans have made great strides in Lake County in recent years, and I'm confident under the current leadership that momentum will continue."