SOUTH BEND, Ind. — I’m not usually at a loss for words. But the loss our friends yesterday is truly hard to process. REAL News Michiana is proud to have had such big supporters and friends in Congresswoman Jackie Walorski and St. Joseph County GOP Chair Zach Potts. While the death of Walorski has taken center stage, it is hard to explain what a massive loss Zach is to our party and our county. Zach was a visionary. Zach was an organized and calculating machine. And, while mostly quiet, Zach had the guts to speak up for what was right when others would have folded.
I know many of us called Zach our friend. But, I found the following statement from Tyler Gillean, Chairman of the St. Joseph County Young Republicans, particularly meaningful. Zach had a heart of gold. Our party, our community and our country suffered a massive loss.
“These people meant so much to me. Not just politically but personally. Zach Potts was one of my best friends. Zach and I met back in January of 2019 at the meeting he became chair of the St. Joseph County Republican Party.
I didn’t know a soul in that room; a room full of total strangers. I googled “GOP HQ” and drove to where Google said it was. Earlier in the day I foolishly signed up to run for city council in South Bend without ever knowing there was a Republican Party in South Bend. When I appeared, there room was full of white haired people I didn’t know and a fire engine red haired kid that looked younger than me at the front.
I walked in, extremely nervous, and sat down at a table with people I didn’t know and watched Zach Potts become our next party chair. After shaking hands with all the people congratulating him, he walked over to me and introduced himself then introduced me to Jake Teshka at the same meeting. Both of them could not have been more gracious without having known why I was there.
What followed was a friendship I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. Outside of being a master organizer and fundraiser, Zach Potts was a masterful human being. He knew when something was going on in your life and never asked “what’s wrong?” but ”how could he help?” That was just the kind of dude he was. The highs and lows we shared together are something out of a book – he was passionate for what he believed, for who he believed in and his love for Congresswoman Walorski. Together they formed an amazing team who could not be matched other than by his love for his beautiful fiancé, Ashlea.
There was nothing Zach was more proud of than her. She came to every meeting, every event, every fundraiser supporting him and who they were supporting. It takes a very special person to be committed to public service and Zach is the personification of public service. He did more things for more people than will ever be known… he supported me through thick and thin.
From the ashes of my own electoral loss to the loss of my grandfather a few weeks ago, Zach always rose to the occasion and stood by when I needed it most. My grandfather was a diehard democrat, but that didn’t matter to Zach because that was the man who helped shape me into the person I am today. Zach sent a beautiful bouquet from himself and Congresswoman Walorski in addition to letters to me and my family. I just imagine him and my grandpa together in heaven having a discussion as to the direction this nation needs to take and how I need to improve as a man.
I’m going to miss our meetings together, the funny looks we gave one another, the text messages across the table, the group chat we were in, the dinners, his random calls and always being there for me and the candidates when we wanted to discuss something in our lives.
Zach changed my life. He made me believe again. He showed me that you can take your passion and turn it into something productive for mankind. Nothing Zach did was just for “politics” he just cared about results for his neighbors. Never in a million years did I think Zach would pass before me (I’m much older and have a worse hairline) but damnit I couldn’t have been prouder than when he asked me to be his Young Republicans chairman for St. Joseph County and the confidence he placed in me to help young people become civically engaged.
I’m going to miss you, Zach. We all are going to miss you. It hurts like hell, but we will never forget you and how you changed our lives. Love you, buddy. We’ll meet again.”