Indiana Democrats prepare to choose attorney general nominee

Indiana Attorney General

Longtime state Sen. Karen Tallian and former Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel are vying for the nomination, a selection made by state delegates rather than primary election voters.

Posted: Jun 15, 2020 10:08 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Democrats are announcing this week who will run for state attorney general in November.

Longtime state Sen. Karen Tallian and former Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel are vying for the nomination, a selection made by state delegates rather than primary election voters.

But due to concerns raised by the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s convention Saturday was a virtual one.

Convention delegates received their mailed ballots in May and had to turn them in by Friday, said Indiana Democratic Party spokesperson Phil Johnson.

Votes will be tallied through Wednesday, with the Democratic nominee announced Thursday.

Both Democratic candidates have taken their campaigns almost entirely online, focusing largely on issues like healthcare access and criminal justice reform. Incumbent Curtis Hill was a motivation to run, too.

Tallian noted Hill’s “personal misbehavior problems,” while Weinzapfel emphasized Hill’s “ongoing efforts to destroy the Affordable Care Act.”

The Republican attorney general is finishing a monthlong suspension that was ordered by the state Supreme Court after four women said he groped them during a party.

The question remains whether Hill will be replaced on the ticket by one of three challengers. Republicans won’t decide their nominee until July.

“The state party conventions are a great time for people to gather and see old friends, to help build the party platform, to take care of the mechanics of nominating people for statewide offices and for convention delegates,” said Robin Winston, former state Democratic chair under Frank O’Bannon. “But we’ve all had to adjust – there are some changes to deal with this year, for sure.”

Here are the Democratic candidates:

TALLIAN

Tallian, 69, has represented portions of northwest Indiana in the state Senate since 2005.

Access to health care, abortion rights and marijuana reform laws are chief among the policy issues Tallian has championed in the General Assembly.

“When it comes to Curtis Hill, he and I disagree on almost all of this,” Tallian said. “He’s on the opposite side of all the policy positions I have.”

Hill, a conservative, joined Indiana with 19 other states in 2018 to challenge the constitutionality of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

He has also used his office to impose additional abortion restrictions and further ongoing efforts to strike down abortion-related laws.

But what Tallian said sets her apart from her party opponent, Weinzapfel, is additional support she’s earned from Libertarians and “middle-of-the-road Republicans.”

“I’ve got support from those who don’t buy into all the right-wing stuff,” she said, “and the support from Republican women who don’t buy into the whole Curtis Hill sexual harassment chaos.”

If she wins the nomination and is elected attorney general come November, Tallian said her efforts would first target affordable healthcare by removing Indiana from the pending litigation challenging the Affordable Care Act. She also plans to focus on consumer protection issues and fighting Medicaid fraud.

Criminal justice reform, too, “is critical right now,” Tallian said. In addition to reducing the state’s incarceration rates, the state senator said she wants to be on the front lines of discussions and action plans coming together to “make sure what happened in Minnesota doesn’t happen again.”

WEINZAPFEL

Weinzapfel, 54, said his experience at the statehouse, in local government and in the private sector makes him “especially equipped” to serve as the state government’s top lawyer.

A state representative from 1999-2003, much of his recent experience in Evansville is what Weinzapfel said has equipped him with the “strong leadership qualities” needed by Indiana’s next attorney general: He served as mayor of the city from 2004-11 and as chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College in Evansville from 2014-19.

He’s a partner at the law firm of Jones Wallace.

Like Tallian, Weinzapfel said his campaigning tactics have shifted due to the coronavirus. He’s made close to 1,000 personal phone calls to delegates and has “gotten very comfortable with loads of Zoom meetings.”

“When I first got into this race in early December, I thought this was going to be a campaign focused on Curtis Hill’s ethical transgressions and his efforts to find the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional,” Weinzapfel said. “But there’s a new dynamic now, and folks have different concerns – concerns that aren’t being addressed like they should be.”

His first priority if elected in November is, like Tallian, to withdraw Indiana from “the fight against affordable healthcare.” Weinzapfel said he additionally hopes to quickly secure “large settlement potential” for pending litigation against opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma.

More accountability for the expenditure of charter school funds and “drastically increasing transparency” about coronavirus-related cases and deaths taking place in Indiana nursing homes are also among Weinzapfel’s core platform points.

DELEGATES DECIDE

With ballots already cast for the attorney general position, Democratic delegates met via Zoom on Saturday. In addition to the attorney general nominee, delegates this week will make official the party’s selection for lieutenant governor nominee.

Former state Rep. Linda Lawson of Hammond, a retired police officer, is the only candidate for that position. She will run alongside the party’s gubernatorial nominee, Dr. Woody Myers.

While Winston, the former state Democratic chair, is declining to endorse either Democratic candidate for the attorney general nomination, he stressed for Hoosier voters to “pay attention to the actions and inactions of the current attorney general in the middle of a pandemic.”

Both Tallian and Weinzapfel, he said, have “the public and their health” in mind – something Winston said Hill has neglected to do.

The Indiana Republican State Convention, also being held virtually, will also follow on Thursday, scheduled to be broadcast from 5:30-7 p.m. by WISH-TV.

Gov. Eric Holcomb and lieutenant governor Suzanne Crouch, seeking second terms, along with the four candidates seeking the attorney general nomination are slated to speak.

The spotlight is expected to be on Hill, who must convince delegates that he deserves a second term despite his misconduct allegations.

Hill, 59, has denied doing anything wrong at a party marking the end of the 2018 state legislative session where four women said they were groped. His suspension ends Wednesday.

Hill’s challengers include Todd Rokita, a former member of Congress and two-term Indiana secretary of state, Decatur County Prosecutor Nate Harter and Indianapolis lawyer John Westercamp.

The votes for the Republican candidates will be mailed in by state convention delegates by 5 p.m. July 9.

Those results will be announced by the party July 10.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 157713

Reported Deaths: 4092
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion25392789
Lake13805355
St. Joseph9277163
Elkhart8890135
Allen8278230
Hamilton6215113
Vanderburgh588261
Tippecanoe375915
Hendricks3302133
Monroe326638
Porter322049
Johnson3151129
Delaware297074
Clark296762
Vigo264840
Madison240595
LaPorte226658
Cass225522
Warrick195265
Kosciusko187826
Floyd180167
Howard164066
Bartholomew143358
Marshall140026
Dubois139626
Wayne132130
Henry128430
Grant127839
Boone124550
Hancock119944
Noble117434
Jackson114416
Dearborn98028
Morgan94840
Lawrence90837
Daviess89334
Gibson88612
Clinton86716
Shelby83531
LaGrange81015
Knox77410
Harrison77324
Putnam73716
Posey7236
DeKalb72011
Fayette69018
Steuben6338
Miami6305
Jasper6175
White59215
Montgomery59022
Greene55337
Scott52413
Decatur50739
Adams5027
Whitley4636
Clay4537
Ripley4538
Sullivan44414
Wells43511
Wabash4219
Starke4157
Orange40925
Huntington4015
Spencer3956
Washington3783
Franklin37625
Jennings36913
Fulton3653
Randolph3659
Jefferson3435
Pike33518
Carroll32913
Perry32614
Jay3116
Fountain3073
Tipton27823
Vermillion2531
Parke2374
Newton23011
Blackford2193
Rush2184
Owen2071
Martin2000
Crawford1591
Pulaski1562
Brown1433
Ohio1327
Benton1120
Union1110
Switzerland960
Warren841
Unassigned0234

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 192948

Reported Deaths: 5184
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin31703640
Cuyahoga19906684
Hamilton16878344
Montgomery10546189
Butler8401130
Lucas8364373
Summit6780265
Warren428466
Stark3853182
Mahoning3739287
Marion341250
Pickaway302446
Delaware290627
Lorain275489
Fairfield268657
Licking262366
Clark253057
Wood252981
Clermont251238
Greene234542
Trumbull2290134
Allen218373
Columbiana213387
Miami202858
Lake196659
Medina188942
Portage165468
Mercer154728
Wayne144669
Ross141537
Richland135124
Tuscarawas130825
Athens12352
Erie116953
Darke115551
Hancock106626
Madison106315
Auglaize102316
Putnam101627
Lawrence94525
Shelby91714
Muskingum9044
Scioto8719
Geauga86950
Belmont78927
Union7703
Ashtabula73548
Sandusky71722
Huron71614
Preble63518
Holmes63310
Seneca60714
Ottawa58930
Fulton54513
Henry48817
Jefferson4774
Clinton47213
Jackson4728
Crawford4688
Defiance46613
Fayette4528
Highland4446
Logan4353
Ashland4109
Champaign4053
Knox39416
Brown3883
Perry37311
Morrow3562
Washington35524
Hardin34813
Williams3464
Guernsey3298
Coshocton32412
Pike3120
Wyandot29813
Gallia29213
Van Wert2685
Carroll2157
Adams2126
Meigs21012
Paulding2072
Hocking1999
Monroe16318
Noble1480
Vinton1043
Harrison843
Morgan800
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 36°
Angola
34° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 34°
Huntington
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 32°
Decatur
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 32°
Van Wert
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 32°
Cooler Saturday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events