The Indiana Republican Party Convention over the weekend boasted two important events — creating an all-female November ticket for the first time in Indiana history, and drawing a stark line in the sand on the question of gay marriage.
The weekend also gave a good indication of the party’s intentions in the upcoming elections. Hoosiers can expect to see GOP campaigns running on almost entirely fiscal issues.
While frontrunners for the Indiana state treasurer nomination Friday were Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold and financial adviser Don Bates, it was Kelly Mitchell who unexpectedly reeled in the nomination. Mitchell worked under the current state treasurer Richard Mourdock. Bates was eliminated during the second vote Saturday, June 7, and many of his supporters tossed their hats in with Mitchell, which sealed the deal on the all-female ticket for the fall.
She will join Secretary of State Connie Lawson and State Auditor Suzanne Crouch for November’s elections. Mitchell defeated Seybold on the third ballot, 860 to 497.
Mitchell isn't wasting time on getting ready for the campaign. Her website already says that financial education for youth is one of her top priorities. Voters will most likely see this highlighted in campaign ads in the fall.
The weekend drew media attention from around the state for more than just a treasurer nomination. Seybold raised some eyebrows with his marketing techniques - the hotel key cards that were used by the delegates served as an advertising medium for Seybold’s campaign.
“There was always a bit of pretentiousness between Bates and Seybold camp,” said Adam Bujalski, an Elkhart Republican who attended the convention. “No matter what side you were on, she was a second choice for a lot of people.”
Bujualski went on to comment on the historical all-female ticket, saying that it was “not a big deal” but does bode well for the national Republican party as they have often been accused of disliking women. While an all female ticket is not a new concept nationally, it is a first for Indiana and may catch the attention of Republicans wishing to comment on women in party leadership.
The media also caught wind of the unsavory comments of Richard Mourdock when he compared the U.S. to Nazi Germany.
"The people of Germany in a free election selected the Nazi Party because they made great promises that appealed to them because they were desperate and destitute. And why is that? Because Germany was bankrupt," Mourdock said.
Mitchell ran a very quiet campaign, something that worked to her advantage in the midst of more vocal candidates. Mourdock officially tapped her for the nomination shortly before the vote and never issued a press release to vocalize his support. Mitchell has worked as treasurer of State’s Office and TrustINdiana for the last six years. Her job focused on managing $500 million in public funds and training local elected officials on how to manage money.
She will run against Democratic nominee Mike Boland, who is a recent Indiana resident. Boland served as a representative in the Illinois state House of Representatives state from 1995 to 2011.
Campaign messages over the coming months from Mitchell’s office will almost definitely echo her speech Friday, where she poked at Boland for his shallow Indiana roots.
Boland ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
On Friday the three Republican candidates gave speeches hoping to push a few on the fence votes to their side. Most came into the convention already knowing exactly who they would vote for.
GOP DEFINES MARRIAGE
The convention also was noted for officially defining marriage as between one man and one woman, and adding that stance to the GOP platform, a definition coming from the winds of HJR-3.
Freedom Indiana, a coalition that played a key role in organizing anti-HJR-3 campaigns in the 2014 session, encouraged lawmakers to turn down the addition.
The Committee on Resolutions was kept short, and attempts to address the marriage definition were called “out of order” by Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann. The vote moved to the floor on Saturday after two amendments to remove and add to the definition were quickly voted against.
Thomas John, a partner at Indianapolis law firm Ice Miller and Southern Congressional District Chairman, proposed an amendment that would not exclude LGBT couples from the definition.
He commented that he “did not think (defining marriage as one man and one woman) reflects the position of the Republican party.” John also stated that there are a number of Republicans who disagree with the marriage definition that was added to the platform.
Local Republican legislators Sen. Carlin Yoder (R-Middlebury) and Sen. Joe Zakas (R-Granger) were eager to voice their opinion on the issue.
The majority, as expected, adopted the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman. This could have a pivotal impact on Republican lawmakers who vocalized their opposition in the 2015 session and on the now unified stance against same-sex marriage by the Indiana GOP.
Follow Emily Taylor on Twitter @emrotayl