September 20, 2023

Ex-Indiana attorney general looks at GOP governor’s race after tangible case derailed 2020 reelection

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Former Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill is considering running in the 2024 Republican gubernatorial race, nearly three years after his re-election bid was derailed by allegations that he drunkenly groped four women at a party.

Hill built a following among social conservatives during his tenure, and his entry into the governor’s race would further complicate what is already threatening to become an expensive battle for the Republican nomination. U.S. Senator Mike Braun, Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch and Fort Wayne businessman Eric Doden are already vying to replace Republican Governor Eric Holcomb, who is not seeking re-election due to term restrictions.

Hill expects to make a decision in the coming weeks as he and his wife “pray carefully for guidance,” he said in a statement to The Associated Press from his political consulting firm.

“At a time when Hoosiers are hungry for new leadership, it is critical that we distinguish between those who genuinely represent conservative values ​​and those who simply say they do,” Hill said. “Our state deserves a proven conservative who has the guts to challenge the status quo of Indianapolis and the guts to stand up to the mob in Washington, DC.”

Hill, 62, won election as attorney general in 2016 after 14 years as a district attorney in northern Indiana’s Elkhart County. Viewed as a rising African-American star among Republicans, Hill built himself up as an anti-abortion and hard-nosed crime crusader, appearing on Fox News to discuss topics such as San Francisco’s problems with homelessness.

Hill faced calls for his resignation from Holcomb and many other Republican state leaders after allegations became public that he groped the women at a 2018 party at an Indianapolis bar. He denied wrongdoing, but the state Supreme Court ordered a 30-day suspension of his law license after he found “by clear and convincing evidence that (Hill) committed the criminal act of battery” against three female legislative staffers and a state legislator.

The allegations were a major campaign issue as he narrowly lost the 2020 Republican attorney general nomination for re-election to Todd Rokita, who took office in January 2021.

Hill failed in another attempt at a political comeback last year when he lost a vote among Republican district committee members to replace U.S. Representative Jackie Walorski on the election ballot following her death in a highway accident. Company president Rudy Yakym won the GOP nomination and election for northern Indiana’s 2nd district seat.

Although Hill finished a distant second, the caucus vote showed that Hill still had a base of supporters and could further divide conservative voters in a competitive race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, said Steve Shine, who is the Republican chairman. has been in Allen County, which includes for over 30 years the second largest city in the state, Fort Wayne.

Add that to what he’s had to endure, because if it was that devastating, he wouldn’t be second. He would rather have been at the end of the pack than at the top,” said Shine, who has not endorsed any candidate.

However, Hill would fall far behind in fundraising for the campaign.

Braun, Crouch and Doden all started this year with campaign bank accounts of nearly $3 million or more and have since raised at least hundreds of thousands more. Hill’s state campaign reported ending 2022 with about $20,000.

Whoever wins the Republican nomination will look to extend the party’s dominance in the state, including winning five consecutive gubernatorial elections since 2004. Former superintendent of public schools Jennifer McCormick, who won the 2016 election alongside Hill and Holcomb as Republican, but later broke with the Statehouse GOP, is the sole declared candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

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