A GOP testosterone ticket


INDIANAPOLIS ­— If U.S. Sen. Mike Braun secures the Republican gubernatorial nomination next Tuesday and Noblesville pastor Micah Beckwith prevails in his unorthodox quest for the ticket at the June convention, the GOP’s standard will be a font of testosterone in the so-called “Year of the Woman.”

Mike Braun, Micah Beckwith, Todd Rokita and Jim Banks.

That would compare to the austere Democratic ticket headed by Jennifer McCormick, with potential female nominees for lieutenant governor, attorney general and the U.S. Senate.

Why is 2024 being cast as the “Year of the Woman?” Because the impacts of the U.S. Supreme Court that rendered Roe vs. Wade moot are starting to be revealed. Florida just instituted its new law making abortion illegal after six weeks. Arizona found itself with an 1864 abortion ban law until its legislature repealed it this week. Voters in conservative states such as Kansas, Kentucky, Montana and Ohio have passed referendums preserving abortion access.

And here’s a canary/coal mine element: Despite open seats for governor, the U.S. Senate and three congressional districts, early voting appears to be very low across Indiana.

Allen County Republican Chairman Steve Shine told Howey Politics Indiana on Wednesday: “So far in Allen County, voter turnout is low compared to 2020 and just low overall. Election boards across the state have been communicating they all are reporting low turnout. If that trend continues, we’ll have a primary with very low turnout but with a high price tag. So for whatever reason, voters are not being motivated to go to the polls at this time.”

Why would that be happening with an open governor seat and three congressional districts? Is it Donald Trump’s castigating early voting that is in play here? Or that none of these consultant-driven campaigns have captured the imagination of voters? Electing “outsiders” to the ultimate “insider” office is simply not exciting anyone.

Axios reported on Thursday: After years of calling voting by mail “corrupt” and “crooked,” Donald Trump and GOP committees are scrambling to convince their voters that it’s safe and secure ahead of the election. Many Republican voters have bought into Trump’s distrust of voting by mail. Trump railed against the practice just two months ago. In Michigan on Feb. 27, he said: “Mail-in voting is totally corrupt ... Get that through your head.”

Which brings me to the premise of this column: What would a GOP gubernatorial ticket look like this month?

Evansville attorney Joshua Claybourn observed that he has been hearing rumors, though nothing credible. “I think the activist efforts to elect Micah Beckwith at the state convention will complicate the nominee’s efforts to select their own LG,” he said.

In the Aug. 10, 2023, edition of Howey Politics Indiana, Lt. Gov. Crouch said, “It is not my right to choose a lieutenant governor nominee. It is by a vote of the delegates that my potential running mate is selected. The fact that several people have expressed interest in joining me in a campaign that will make history is both very flattering and quite encouraging.”

Braun took a more nuanced approach. Senior advisor Joshua Kelley told me last year,  “Mike Braun believes our party and state are stronger when the grassroots has a seat at the table, and he looks forward to working with the delegates next summer to find a lieutenant governor candidate that shares his conservative values and can help further his agenda to make Indiana a beacon of freedom and opportunity.”

Should Crouch pull off an upset next week, her potential running mates would likely include U.S. Rep. Greg Pence and Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen, both of whom have endorsed her.

Eric Doden has long cited his mentor in Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas, though with the Beckwith aim at using the convention to make the ticket, it would be hard to see Costas emerging. He lost a 2008 attorney general nomination when delegates revolted against his candidacy despite the ardent backing of Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Curtis Hill had vowed to reveal his LG pick before the primary but hasn’t done so as of this writing.

As for Sen. Braun, the tea leaves are so tiny as to leave us to speculate.

Rival media outlets had suggested Braun might select former Congressman Trey Hollingsworth, who would bring a huge checkbook to the campaign. The Braun campaign swatted that one away as mindless speculation, with Kelley saying last August that the reports were “not accurate.”

If Braun is seeking gender, race and geography diversity, a name we’re hearing is 2022 1st CD nominee Jennifer-Ruth Green, a Black woman with military experience. Another is newly appointed state Comptroller Elise Nieshalla, who hails from Boone County. She lost a 2022 convention race for state treasurer. And there’s U.S. Rep. Erin Houchin, who served several terms in the Indiana Senate.

If gender diversity is not a priority, another name surfacing is Treasurer Daniel Elliott.

If geography and a Statehouse résumé are priorities, LaPorte Mayor Tom Dermody might fill the bill. He previously served in the Indiana House. Another mayor to keep an eye on would be Scott Fadness of Fishers, though he has endorsed Brad Chambers.

Stay tuned.


Brian Howey is senior writer and columnist for Howey Politics Indiana/State Affairs. Rory Appleton of State Affairs contributed to this column. Find Howey on Facebook and X @hwypol. State Affairs reporter Jarred Meeks contributed to this column.