Saturday, March 29, 2008

Pulliam Sizes Up Attorney General's Race

Star columnist Russ Pulliam takes a look at potential Republican candidates for attorney general and puts Secretary of State Todd Rokita and Deputy Attorney General Greg Zoeller at the top of the list. Here's how he sees the two stacking up:

Rokita has the credentials to be a credible candidate for governor and his current term ends in 2010. He faces a limit of two terms as secretary of state.

Rokita's advantage is his record as a successful statewide candidate, winning the race for secretary of state in 2002 and 2006. One disadvantage is that he is not a social conservative, in contrast to many of the delegates to a state Republican convention.

Zoeller's advantage is his service as deputy to Steve Carter, who announced Sunday that he would not seek another term as attorney general. Zoeller ran for the office in 1996, losing the nomination to Carter. Franklin College Journalism Professor John Krull calls Zoeller a "formidable" candidate, though he has not run statewide like Rokita. "Greg is articulate, smart," Krull said. "He's got that Rex Early quality, regular guy, approachable. He looks like the kind of guy you'd bump into at the diner even when it's not election time."

Family values activist John Price suggests that Zoeller also could have a philosophical or ideological advantage at the convention. "A lot of people I know are going to be for Greg Zoeller," Price said. "He's a movement conservative, pro-life."

John Price seems to think that Rokita is unacceptable to "social conservatives" because he's not seen as a "movement conservative." I guess folks like Price are still miffed that Rokita adopted a non-discrimination policy for his office that protects his employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Gov. Daniels adopted a very similar policy early in his administration. Price, incidentally, is the attorney who initiated the lawsuit against the newspaper formerly owned by Pulliam's family accusing a homosexual cabal within the newspaper of discriminating against two former editors because of their Christian beliefs. Price withdrew from the case before a federal court judge tossed the case this week on a summary judgment motion. Rex Early tells Pulliam he thinks Daniels will call the shot in the end since the candidate will be on the ballot with him this year. He's probably right.


Unknown said...

I'm more worried about who would run the best office over at the AG. Carter's performance from an administrative standpoint has been a disaster. People in the know about state government often point to the AG's office as the worst run department in state government. Zoeller, for better or worse, comes with Carter's baggage.

Certain the Secretary of State's Office is better run than the AG's. But Rokita's performance has been fairly average. I'd like a fresh face in the AG...someone who will not just take the regulary and enforcement role of the AG seriously rather than just grab on to a couple issues like the no call list and so-called gasoline price gouging to get the AG's name in the paper.

Diana Vice said...

I will be serving as a delegate at the Republican convention, and an endorsement by Gov. Daniels will not hold much weight with me. I agree with Flynn. I haven't been impressed with Carter, and he has not addressed the concerns of taxpayers regarding the AEPA/Tremco bidding scheme. I'll be wary of any candidate that is currently associated with Carter.

By the way, this is a great blog.

Jeff Cox said...

How precisely has Carter's office been "a disaster" or "the worst run in state government?"

Gary R. Welsh said...

Indiana's attorney general's office is one of the weakest in the country. It's not even a constitutional office. It's really hard to compare our office with Illinois' or New York's, for example, which have far greater power than Indiana's attorney general.

Unknown said...


I have worked in state government and had almost daily dealings with the AG's office. We dealt with the AG in a number of areas, including regulation and enforcement in state law of a number of professions. To say the AG's office is not active in terms of enforcement of the law is the understatement of the century. We have given them cases on a silver platter and they do nothing. The information gets stored away in a file cabinet and nothing ever gets done.

Recently the U.S. Attorney's Office obtained a criminal indictment against a realtor and an appraiser. The AG's office had that information months if not years earlier and did absolutely nothing.

The AG also represents the state in employment matters. I've represented people in those types of cases. The DAGs I see have a general lack of knowledge of employment law and do a poor job of advising agencies prior to the onset of litigation. Then the DAGs representation in complex litigation is even worse.

The AG is also responsible for investigating notices of tort claim. The idea behind the notice is to give the state an opportunity to settle a case before litigation if the merits indicate it should be settled. I've probably done 50 notices of tort claims over my legal career. Not once have I ever witnessed the AG's office actually conduct an investigation with regard to a notice of tort claim. As a result of the AG's lack of diligence, government gets sued more than they should and we as taxpayers end up paying.

I used to work at the AG's office, for a Republican AG. There is no question, none, that that office is about as ineffective and unresponsive as it has ever been.