Monday, June 02, 2008
Decision Day For State GOP
The Indiana Republican Party conducts its state convention today at the Indiana Convention Center. The race for Attorney General between Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas and Chief Deputy Attorney General Greg Zoeller is providing excitement to what would otherwise be a dull event. Costas has the backing of Gov. Mitch Daniels and many party leaders, but Zoeller is matching that with years of accumulated contacts among the party's rank and file, along with a respectable share of local party leadership support. As a delegate, I'll be casting my vote for Zoeller. He clearly has the right kind of experience to step into the job and hit the ground running on day one. Some people are concerned that the division within the party over this race will weaken the candidate's chances in the fall against Democrat Linda Pence. I don't subscribe to this view. I think forcing the candidates to put together an organization to win the nomination gives them a stronger footing than the winner would otherwise having going into the fall election if the nomination is simply handed to them on a silver platter. Some people point to Timothy Bookwalter's loss in the AG's race back in 1992. After the candidate with the backing of the gubernatorial nominee, then-Attorney General Lindley Pearson, lost on the convention floor, Pearson stormed out of the convention. If Zoeller is successful today, Gov. Daniels won't react in a similar fashion. He will work to unite the party. More importantly, Pence won't have the benefit of a popular Bayh at the top of the ticket to pull votes her way. Delegates at today's convention will also be renominating Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman and nominating Dr. Tony Bennett for Superintendent of Public Instruction. More later.