Race to replace Pence heats up at the convention

By Adrianna Pitrelli

CLEVELAND — Officially, the Indiana Republican Party will select Gov. Mike Pence’s replacement on the ballot next week, but unofficially, the race is being discussed at the national convention.

The majority of the committee that will select the next Republican candidate for governor attended the Republican National Convention this week, where they’ve been talking about the race over breakfast and in between speeches.

“You’ve got two-thirds of the state committee here,” delegate Mike McDaniel of Indianapolis said. “And they’re all being bombarded.”

Two candidates for governor have already asked McDaniel to support them in the race.

Following Pence’s nomination as Donald Trump’s vice presidential candidate, the Indiana gubernatorial race is in need of a replacement on the Republican ticket. Under state election law, Pence is not permitted to be on the ballots for both the gubernatorial and vice presidential races.

Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb, U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks and U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita have all decided to run for governor and they all attended the convention.

Holcomb had the biggest presence at the Republican National Convention, where he formally nominated Pence for vice president. The nomination caused speculations among delegates to quickly arise. Who will replace Pence as the Republican candidate for governor?

Although Rep. Eric Turner, who is attended the convention as a delegate, knows all three of the candidates well, he said Holcomb brings a lot to the table comparatively.

“He was the one selected by Gov. Pence as lieutenant governor and I think Eric will be an excellent choice,” Turner said.

Holcomb was nominated to fill the remainder of Sue Ellspermann’s term as the lieutenant governor when Ellspermann resigned in March 2016 to become the president of Ivy Tech Community College.

Prior to his time as the lieutenant governor, Holcomb served as an advisor to former Gov. Mitch Daniels, became the Chairman of the Indiana Republican Party and was the state Chief of Staff to U.S. Sen. Dan Coats.

“[Holcomb] is very capable and he is the ideal guy,” McDaniel said. “But whatever the outcome is, I know it will be best for the state of Indiana.”

McDaniel anticipates seeing Holcomb’s name on the ticket, but knows the committee will not make the wrong choice.

But Rokita and Brooks are still fighting to win the nomination as the gubernatorial candidate.

Rokita said when he runs for important positions, like governor, the economy is always his first priority.

“I don’t hide from the fact that I am very conservative on social issues,” Rokita said. “But that’s not why I’m running for governor.”

Brooks was also hard at work campaigning in Cleveland among the delegates who are on the committee. On the way to breakfast Thursday morning, delegates received pamphlets from the Brooks campaign.

Brooks calls her rivals “friends” and hopes she is able to answer any questions delegates have prior to next week’s appointment.

“I hope I can track the record of fundraising and winning tough elections,” Brooks said. “I hope it will help put me over the top.”

The committee will meet on Tuesday to make the decision. This is the first time in state history that the committee will determine their candidate for governor.

Adrianna Pitrelli is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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