Upset at GOP convention sets unexpected Secretary of State contest
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - Saturday’s nomination of challenger Diego Morales -- over incumbent Holli Sullivan -- sets up a November ballot showdown that few would have once predicted.
The Republican Morales will face Democrat Destiny Scott Wells and Libertarian Jeff Maurer in the fall race for Indiana Secretary of State. At Saturday’s party convention, Morales upset Sullivan to secure the nomination in the second round of voting.
Gov. Eric Holcomb appointed Sullivan to complete the term of Connie Lawson, who stepped down last year. That appointment, many analysts believe, made her the favorite for the party nomination in 2022.
Morales, however, drew support from allies of former Pres. Donald Trump. Though he had previously been dismissed from a position in the department he now seeks to lead -- and resigned from a second such role -- Morales topped a field of four candidates with relative ease. In the second round vote, he earned 52 percent, with Sullivan trailing at 35 percent.
We've made history, Indiana!— Diego Morales (@cdiegomorales) June 19, 2022
Thank you Republican Delegates for the opportunity to be your Secretary of State nominee.
It's the greatest honor of my life - and I can't wait to get started. 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/nfpjjzHYfX
Morales is an Army veteran -- his Twitter account features a photo of Morales in uniform -- and a former congressional candidate. He has also worked for Mike Pence and has questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 election. As Secretary of State, he would play a key role in oversight and administration of voting in Indiana.
Democrats see an opportunity to claim a statewide office and break the Republican stranglehold.
Wells -- whose military experience includes deployment to Afghanistan and who is an Army Reserve Lt. Colonel -- Tweeted: I’m fielding contact from Republican friends today in support of my candidacy. Folks want healthy government, not far-right conspiracy theorists — Indiana truly is a purple state.
.@TheDestinyWells is officially @INDems Secretary of State candidate!— Indiana Democratic Party (@INDems) June 18, 2022
Destiny is a veteran and a fighter for voters across Indiana. She’s ready to take on @cdiegomorales and an @indgop that’s shown to put extremism ahead of a Hoosier’s right to vote. #BigDemWeekend pic.twitter.com/N1HWPRa9CG
Maurer began serving in the Air Force in 2020 and has worked in several business capacities. He had been formally nominated by the Libertarian Party at an earlier convention.
“I congratulate Republican Diego Morales and Democrat Destiny Scott Wells for joining me in the race,” Maurer said in a statement released on Monday, in which he called for a “public debate among all the candidates.”
“Hoosiers deserve to see how each candidate would preside over Indiana’s elections, and they deserve that debate before any Hoosiers cast their votes,” Maurer said.
The fall election is set for Nov. 8.
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