The scorecard is finally set, it seems, for this fall’s elections. This has been a year politically like no other. Starting at the top of the ticket, last week the Democratic National Convention formally elected Hillary Clinton as nominee for president of the United States. History was made, as Ms. Clinton became the first female candidate of a major party for the office of president. She is a former first lady when her husband, Bill Clinton, was president; she later served as a U.S. senator from New York and as secretary of state in the Obama administration. She has selected as her running mate U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, who also is a former Virginia governor. Clinton and Kaine will be pitted this fall against the Republican ticket of Donald Trump and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. Trump is new to politics, running his first campaign after a successful career in real estate. Pence is a veteran politician who was a U.S. representative before serving in Indiana’s highest office. Whatever your personal leaning ‒ Republican, Democrat, or independent voter ‒ it will, no doubt, be an interesting campaign to watch.
Additionally the U.S. Senate appears to be up for grabs. Currently the Republicans hold a small majority but, since they have more seats on the ballot this year, there is a good chance that the Democrats could end up with a slight majority next year. One key to that outcome is Indiana. Recently, Democratic primary election nominee Baron Hill withdrew his name from consideration so that Evan Bayh, former Indiana governor and U.S. senator, could be selected to replace him. Mr. Bayh will run against current U.S. Rep. Todd Young, who won the Republican nomination for the open U.S. Senate seat. This seat became available when Sen. Dan Coats decided against another election campaign. While this seat previously was regarded as a sure Republican victory, it no longer seems to be. Entrance of the ever-popular Bayh has changed the dynamics completely.
At the state level, Pence had to withdraw from his effort for a second term as governor of Indiana when he accepted Trump’s offer to seek the vice presidency. This development followed, by just a few months, the resignation of Sue Ellspermann as lieutenant governor, who accepted the position of president of Ivy Tech Community College. Her resignation opened the door to long-time GOP insider Eric Holcomb, who was approved by the Indiana Senate to replace Ellspermann as lieutenant governor. Then, when Pence removed himself from the Republican ticket for governor, Holcomb filed to run. Last week the 22 members of the Indiana Republican State Committee met to determine who, among the four candidates who had filed for consideration, should replace Pence on the ballot this fall. They selected Holcomb.
In his first act as candidate for the governorship, Holcomb selected Indiana Auditor Suzanne Crouch as his running mate for lieutenant governor. Crouch, who served as a state representative from Evansville prior to her election as auditor, is known as a prolific fundraiser. Fundraising will certainly be high on the to-do list for the Holcomb/Crouch ticket, as they face their Democratic opponents of John Gregg, former speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives, and Rep. Christina Hale. At this point, it appears to be a close race.
I hope this review helps you update your scorecard for this fall’s biggest contests. Never before have there been so many changes so close to an election. It will be an exciting year politically, as we watch to find out who survives the general election this fall.
– S. Joe DeHaven