The 22 members of the Indiana Republican Party’s central committee has picked Lieutenant Governor Eric Holcomb to take Governor Mike Pence’s spot on the ballot this November. Pence was initially running for re-election, but state law forced him to drop out when he was picked by Donald Trump to be the vice presidential nominee.
Holcomb himself is relatively new to the Lt. Governor position. Sue Ellspermann was previously the Lt. Governor, but resigned in March to take over as President of the Ivy Tech Community College. Holcomb was then chosen to fill the remainder of Ellspermann’s term.
Holcomb will face former state House Speaker John Gregg in the election this November. While Indiana is largely a red state on the national level, it is purple on the state level. Democrats are hoping to win the governor’s mansion by focusing on the controversial religious freedom law that critics claimed would allow for legalized discrimination against LGBT people.
While Holcomb is currently an elected official, he has spent a large portion of his career behind the scenes as a political aide. He was the chief political aide for the popular Governor Mitch Daniels and then served as chair of the Indiana Republican Party. Holcomb then worked for Senator Dan Coats (R-IN) and had a short-lived bid to replace Coats once the Senator announced his retirement before accepting Pence’s invitation.
“Today, we stand united and give our full support to Eric as we race towards victory in November,” Indiana Republican Party chair Jeff Cardwell said in a statement.
Pence had pushed for Holcomb behind the scenes to be the party’s nominee.
In a statement, Pence said, “Eric is a man of great integrity who loves the people of our state.” He also used the opportunity to take a shot at who is now Holcomb’s opponent, “He has a servant’s heart. Importantly, Eric played a tremendous role in helping both Mitch and me turn the state around after Speaker John Gregg’s policies put Hoosiers in such a poor position.”