Republican Sec. of State Holli Sullivan (left) and Democrat Destiny Scott Wells.
Republican Sec. of State Holli Sullivan (left) and Democrat Destiny Scott Wells.
By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana secretary of state race began to take definition this past week as incumbent Republican Holli Sullivan declared for a full term while Democrat Destiny Scott Wells declared for the nomination with a boost from Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, who held the seat three decades ago.

Sullivan, who was appointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb when Connie Lawson retired last winter, faces at least two convention opponents, Newton County Commissioner Kyle Conrad and unsuccessful 4th CD candidate Diego Morales.

“As secretary of state I know how much is at stake,” Sullivan said in announcing for a full term on Monday. “I’m running because safe and secure elections is not a destination. It is a relentless pursuit to ensure that all eligible voters are able to cast a ballot and all legal votes are counted in a timely manner, free of fraud, corruption and interference. Here in Indiana, we have safe and secure elections with our strong voter ID laws and our transparent process for maintaining current and accurate voter rolls. Democrats and their allies are trying to federalize our elections. We can never let this happen. Hoosier elections should always be run by Hoosiers.” 

While Sullivan has concentrated on Indiana, she has also opposed federal initiatives proposed by President Biden and congressional Democrats. “When we talk about outside interference in elections, this also includes the federal government,” Sullivan said. “What is being proposed by the Biden Administration in Washington, D.C., is deeply concerning to me and should be to anyone else who believes in free, secure and independent elections. Most Americans agree with security measures like showing ID before casting a ballot. Yet far-left D.C. politicians are trying to change the rules in order to roll back common-sense laws that protect our fundamental right to vote. I am committed to fighting against overreach that allows the federal government to dictate how Indiana runs our elections.”

Conrad announced his candidacy last November, saying, “I’ve heard from all four corners of Indiana, from county chairs and clerks to election board members, about how much experience matters and how important it is when it comes to elections and the Secretary of State. Now is not the time to learn as we go.”

Conrad has over 30 years of election administration experience, serving as Newton County clerk for 10 years from 1991 to 2000. During this time he was recognized by both the Association of Indiana Counties (1995) and the Association of Clerks of the Circuit Courts of Indiana (2000) as the state’s outstanding clerk. He was named Election Administrator of the Year by the Election Division of the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office in 2000.

Morales is a former secretary of state employee. While he finished second to U.S. Rep. Jim Baird in the 2018 4th CD race, he emerged with a reputation as a temperamental candidate.

Sullivan enters the GOP race as a favorite. Her membership of the Indiana Republican Central Committee has kept her in touch with wide swaths of potential convention delegates. She has the imprimatur of Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Having said that, Holcomb stirred controversy with a marriage platform plank at the 2018 Republican Convention in Evansville. That raised the specter of a delegate revolt like the one that occurred in 2008 when Gov. Mitch Daniels endorsed Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas for attorney general, only to have him lose the floor fight to Greg Zoeller.

Wells is expected to be the Democratic nominee. Mayor Hogsett introduced her to a campaign opening rally a week ago. Wells plans to immediately pressure Indiana’s Republican legislature on some of the country’s most restrictive voting laws, like Indiana’s 29-day voter registration deadline, and to advocate against the Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ practice of selling Hoosiers’ personal information to third parties. “As a veteran who proudly served and defended the freedoms of our nation, I found last year’s attack on the Capitol deeply disturbing,” Wells said. “We must safeguard democracy on the home front, like free and fair elections. That is that is why I seek the privilege of becoming Indiana’s next secretary of state.”

General Assembly

SD14: Pence fundraiser for Turpin

Former Vice President Mike Pence will headline a February fundraiser for Ron Turpin, the Fort Wayne businessman running in the Republican primary for SD14 (WANE-TV). The $1,000-per-couple event will take place on Feb. 1 at an undisclosed location in the district which covers most of Allen County’s east side. Turpin is pitted in the primary against Dr. Tyler Johnson, an emergency room physician with Parkview Health. The seat has been held for years by Dennis Kruse. “We are honored to have Vice President Pence come to Northeast Indiana to support our campaign for State Senate District 14,” Turpin wrote to WANE 15.

Indiana Senate Candidate Filings: Republican: Andy Zay SD; Travis Holdman SD19; Mike Gaskill SD25; Scott Alexander SD26; Kevin Boehnlein SD47; Jim Tomes SD49; Democrat: Ashley Eason SD46; Karla Lopez Owens SD46.
 
HD45: Ellington files 

Indiana Rep. Jeff Ellington (R-Bloomfield) filed Tuesday for reelection to HD45, switching from his current HD62. He’ll run against Rep. Bruce Borders (R-Jasonville) in the Republican primary for HD45. Ellington has represented HD62 since 2016. After the state completed redistricting last year, he announced he would run for the HD45 seat. Greene County, which makes up a majority of Ellington’s HD62, will be incorporated into HD45 once the new district maps go into effect this November. Ellington wrote in a statement that his campaign would focus on defending the Second Amendment, expanding property rights, increasing economic development in southwest Indiana, improving roads and bridges, supporting pro-life legislation, and protecting Indiana coal from “the Indianapolis-Bloomington Democrats, the Biden-Harris administration and other regulators.” “I also vow to go to Indianapolis again to protect Greene, Sullivan, Daviess, Knox and Vigo counties from the Indianapolis-Carmel elites, the establishment types in both parties,” Ellington said. 

HD25: Abernathy announces

Retired Army Colonel Kent Abernathy has filed paperwork to become the Republican nominee for HD25. A native Hoosier, and graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Abernathy has dedicated his life to service. His military service included active duty in Korea and with the 82nd Airborne division, before transitioning to the National Guard.Following his retirement from the military, Abernathy served in the administrations of Governors Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence, including as Commissioner of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) under Gov. Pence. “My experience in the military and business, and in all levels of government from local, to state and federal, has uniquely positioned me to serve as a member of the General Assembly, and I’m proud to seek election to House District 25,” Abernathy said. 

Indiana House candidate filings: Republican: Dale DeVon HD5; Jake Teshka HD7; Michael J. Aylesworth HD11; Sharon Negele HD13; Hal Slager HD15; Bryan Washburn HD16; Jack Jordan HD17; Jim Pressel HD20; Stephen Gray HD21; Curt Nisly HD22; Craig Snow HD22; Ethan Manning HD23; Becky Cash HD25; Jeffrey A. Thompson HD28; Chuck Goodrich HD29; Mike Karickhoff; Ann Vermillion HD31; Paul G. Nix HD32; Todd Huston HD37; Brittany (Bridges) Kloer HD33; John (J. D.) Prescott HD33; Susan Dillon HD 34; Jerry Torr HD39;  Richard Bagsby HD41; Andrew McNeil HD43; Beau Baird HD44; Jeff Ellington HD45; Aaron (A.J.) Calkins; Scott C. Strother HD47; Doug Miller HD48; Joanna King HD49; Daniel J. Leonard HD50; Ben Smaltz HD52; Robert W. Cherry HD53; Bobbi Plummer HD54; Gayla Taylor HD4; Curtis M. Ward HD55; Craig Haggard HD57; Ryan Lauer HD59; Chris May HD65; Zach Payne HD66; Randy Frye HD67; Jim Lucas HD69; Jackie Bright Grubbs HD72; Cindy Ledbetter HD75; Martin Carbaugh HD81; David Mervar HD81; Jordan A. Davis HD87; Chris Jeter HD88; John L. Couch HD92; Felipe Rios HD99. Ed Soliday HD4; Kyle Pierce HD36; Todd Huston HD37; Jerry Torr HD39; Bob Heaton HD46; John Young HD47; Heather Carie HD54; David Welsh HD55; Brittany Carroll HD60; Karen Engleman HD70; Scott Hawkins HD71; Wendy McNamara HD76; Tom O’Brien HD78; Matthew Lehman HD79; Stan Jones HD85; Chris Jeter HD88; Robert Behning HD91; David Hewitt HD91; John Jacob HD93. 

Democrats: Sue Errington HD34; Kurtis J Cummings HD46; Maureen Bauer HD6; Patricia A. (Pat) Boy HD9; Chris Campbell HD26; Tonya Paff HD43; Nan Polk HD54; Ross Thomas HD59; Rita Fleming HD71; Keil L. Roark HD72; Kyle Miller HD82; Kathy Zoucha HD82; Reneé Pack HD92; Gregory Porter HD96.