国产自拍

Howey: A 1996-style assignment awaits Hoosier GOP delegates

Brian Howey
Columnist

When Indiana Republican convention delegates gather on June 15, they鈥檒l have an extraordinary assignment they鈥檝e not had since 1996: Selecting a lieutenant governor nominee.

Yes, delegates ratify the statewide ticket every four years, but this year there are two active candidates for lieutenant governor 鈭 gubernatorial nominee Mike Braun鈥檚 choice of state Rep. Julie McGuire of Indianapolis, or Noblesville pastor Micah Beckwith.

Normally, the nominee for governor chooses a running mate.

In 1996, Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith easily defeated Rex Early and George Witwer in the primary with 55% of the vote. 鈥淲e just came through a primary where two-thirds of the Republican county chairmen endorsed Rex,鈥 Goldsmith said. 鈥淎nd I think it鈥檚 important to reach out to those county chairmen, and it is also important to reach out to delegates at the convention.鈥

While Goldsmith took a hands-off approach, Braun and McGuire as well as Beckwith have been actively meeting with delegates. The Braun campaign sees in McGuire a fresher face, a conservative, a woman. McGuire has been spending six to eight hours of the day on the phone at GOP headquarters contacting delegates, and then hits the road for three or four hours meeting with more in the evenings.

U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, who won Indiana's Republican gubernatorial primary, poses with Rep. Julie McGuire, R-Indianapolis, his recommendation for the state's next lieutenant governor.

鈥淗is entrepreneurial spirit, the way he鈥檚 ready to run this state, I love the agenda, I love that he鈥檚 ready to be bold and we need that in Indiana,鈥 McGuire told delegates in Merrillville, according to a report from NWI Times reporter Dan Carden. In Fort Wayne on Saturday, Fox 55 reported that though McGuire is in the midst of her first term at the Statehouse, Braun said he is impressed.

鈥淭he number of people that wanted to be lieutenant governor, none of them were focusing on the most important thing,鈥 Braun said. 鈥淗ow do you work with the Legislature? Do you understand the process, and are we going to be synced up on what we need to do?鈥

McGuire told Fox 55, 鈥淲e want a united party. Mike wants a partner. I鈥檓 doing something I love to do. That鈥檚 work on public policy. I鈥檓 a learner. I鈥檓 a collaborator, and I think my background has been receptive.鈥

Beckwith, who finished a distant third in the 2020 5th Congressional District primary, began his lieutenant governor campaign positioning as a check on Gov. Eric Holcomb.

He's been critical of Holcomb's pandemic-era policy of social closures, masking and vaccinations. His campaign emailed supporters a photo of Albert Einstein, who "once said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That's why I have broken with tradition and I am running for Indiana lieutenant governor to be your voice."

Micah Beckwith

Hoosier Republicans have had a long history of rebuking their leaders, as they did in 2008 when they rejected Gov. Mitch Daniels' endorsed candidate for attorney general, or in 2022 when they defeated Holcomb's secretary of state choice. And I've covered a number of congressional and legislative caucuses over the years and, invariably, there are candidates who thought they had commitments to go over the top, but then fell well short of victory.

George B. Witwer, publisher of the聽Bluffton 国产自拍-Banner, finished third to Goldsmith and Early in the 1996 GOP primary. Witwer learned of Goldsmith鈥檚 lieutenant governor decision 鈥渁t the same time everyone else did.鈥

Witwer鈥檚 lieutenant governor campaign was atypical, jamming a year鈥檚 worth of stumping in six weeks.

鈥淚t was kind of spontaneous,鈥 Witwer said. 鈥淧eople kept reaching out to me.鈥澛

鈥淭he situation was very different in 1996,鈥 Witwer said. 鈥淩ex still had quite a bit of support when the convention came around. The convention was not united behind Steve.鈥

Braun won the six-person primary with just under 40%, meaning that 60% of voters backed someone else. Since then his primary rivals in Eric Doden, Brad Chambers and Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch have closed ranks behind him.

Witwer was endorsed by聽Indianapolis 国产自拍聽publisher Russ Pulliam and former Gov. Doc Bowen, but Secretary of State Sue Anne Gilroy appeared to have momentum on the eve of the convention as the candidate list grew. A 鈥渉ard delegate count鈥 I got wind of on the convention floor minutes before the first ballot had Gilroy at 750, Witwer at 650 and Friend at 500.

Then came the first ballot, which聽Howey Politics聽described as a 鈥渢hunderclap鈥 鈭 Witwer 826, Gilroy 524, and Rep. Bill Friend at 448.

鈥淎 benign kind of pandemonium broke out to the right of the stage after the first ballot totals emerged,鈥 Howey Politics reported. 鈥淭he remaining contenders sought out one man, Marion County Chairman John Sweezy.鈥

Witwer approached Sweezy: 鈥淲e want to cooperate with you.鈥

But Sweezy was adamant, declaring, 鈥淲e'll stay with Sue Anne on the second ballot.鈥

On the second ballot, Witwer rolled to a 1,121-542 victory over Gilroy to clinch the nomination. 鈥淪omeone told me I won Marion County on the second ballot,鈥 Witwer told聽Howey Politics聽once the dust had settled. 鈥淭here were many delegates who voted their conscience.鈥

Witwer, who is not a delegate this month, is ardently backing Braun and believes McGuire should be nominated.

So while Braun and McGuire as expressing confidence that they will prevail a couple of Saturdays from now, the proof will come in that final roll call.

Brian Howey is senior writer and columnist for聽. Find Howey on Facebook and X聽.听