Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Indiana GOP Taps Lieutenant Governor to Replace Pence

The 22 members of the Indiana Republican Party's Central Committee tapped picked Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb over Reps. Susan Brooks and Todd Rokita and State Sen. Jim Tomes. Holcomb won on a second ballot after none of the four candidates secured a majority on the first.

“We’ve got work to do and a short time to get there,” Holcomb said at a news conference after the vote. “This campaign now officially kicks into high gear. This year as you all know, everyone in this room, has taken many twists and turns, but I am ready to answer the next call.”

In choosing Holcomb, Indiana Republicans picked a relatively unknown insider over better-known elected officials. Holcomb was a top aide to former Gov. Mitch Daniels and Sen. Dan Coats and a former Chairman of the State Republican Party.

He won public endorsements from Pence, Coats and Senior State Legislators, support he used to convince Committee members he would have the money necessary to run a well-funded campaign. Holcomb’s campaign said he would receive financial support from Pence, who had $7 million in the bank when he exited the race; that money cannot be used to fund a Presidential contest.

Holcomb’s swift rise to the top of Indiana’s ballot came after an inauspicious start to the year. He announced last year he would run for the U.S. Senate seat Coats is vacating, but he struggled to raise money to compete with two incumbent members of Congress who were better-known.

But earlier this year, Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann resigned her post to take another job. Holcomb quit his bid for Senate when Pence, facing a tough reelection contest, offered him a spot on the ticket to replace Ellspermann.

The same committee that picked Holcomb will choose a new Lieutenant Governor nominee on Aug. 1. The new ticket will face former State House Speaker John Gregg, who lost to Pence by a 3-point margin in 2012, and State Rep. Christina Hale, the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor, in November.

To make their own bids for Governor, Brooks and Rokita were forced to formally drop their reelection bids for their respective seats in Congress. Republican Precinct Committee members in both Districts must choose replacements, though the Party is likely to simply renominate Brooks and Rokita.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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