Unprecedented convo rebuke to top pick marries Braun, Beckwith

The fall race has now been defined – but only between Republicans and Democrats. Much of the next few months will be spent figuring out who wins the internecine Republican conflict spurred by the nomination of Noblesville pastor Micah Beckwith (R) for lieutenant governor.

The Beckwith selection came by a margin of 63 votes, 891 to 828 over Rep. Julie McGuire (R) and her backing from the gubernatorial nominee, U.S. Sen. Mike Braun (R) and seemingly sealed with a Trump endorsement 48 hours before the vote (but we noted that it wasn’t replete with the trademarked CAPITAL LETTER emphasis). While the race had been tightening in the final hours, the betting bucks were still on the establishment to pull McGuire across the finish line . . . despite “upset” convention victories over, for example, candidates backed by Governor Eric Holcomb (R) in the last round of races for secretary of state, state treasurer, and attorney general.

None of this should have been a total surprise, however, and probably should not have happened, either.

Missed Opportunities for the “Establishment”

We told you long ago that one candidate had been strongly advised by their team that they needed to run a counter campaign to Beckwith if they wanted to choose their own running mate, a campaign that would effectively be a convention campaign run in tandem with the primary campaign, recruiting potential delegates, schmoozing with them in their living rooms and at coffees, and holding their hands after they were selected in the primary. That kind of an effort would cost between $1 million and $1.2 million, the candidate was told, and would require an even more significant personal commitment of time.

As you saw, no one did that, and, contrary to what had been expected through January or February, no candidate even made an early announcement about a potential LG running mate. Meanwhile, Beckwith and his faithful recruited delegate slates, he was tirelessly traveling the state meeting with delegates and collecting and reaffirming pledges, fueling Facebook feeds, and speaking freely with the media about his thoughts on process and state policy change.

All of this at a time was unfolding while the gubernatorial candidates were preoccupied with fighting, as one former GOP governor noted this week, about “ ‘standing up to China,’ taking on foreign drug cartels and closing the Mexican border.”

First-term lawmaker McGuire entered the race too late; had no statewide (or even regional) network to tap; was a virtual unknown in political, governmental, business, and education circles; was not identified with any policy or process, and simply felt like a top-down selection oblivious to what was happening on the ground and in the field.

Indeed, the first delegate we saw in an Indianapolis parking garage across from the convention venue that Saturday morning (one from outside the metro, according to his license plate) was sporting a “Not a Rubber Stamp” Beckwith button.

The Convention Itself

Seems that on a beautiful Saturday morning in Indianapolis, almost 100 delegates supposedly pledged to McGuire failed to show up to the confab, more than enough to have turned the vote in her favor. There was a lot of post-event hand-wringing on Team Braun about just what had happened; attrition is always to be expected, but a strong whip organization is an antidote to this phenomenon, and it seems anecdotally that falloff is smaller in Indianapolis than when the delegates convene out-state (and fewer seem to leave earlier in Indianapolis).

Some also attribute some of the blame for the McGuire loss to the demise of Saturday morning district caucuses, which allow the delegates one last time to hear more specifically from candidates about regional or local concerns, and afford county and district chairs a final opportunity to try to engage their delegations and emphasize the need for loyalty or certain votes in certain ways.

While former Sen. Randy Head (R) won plaudits from the old crowd for how he handled the potentially sticky issues related to policy resolutions, the party’s top-down approach may have also further inflamed Beckwith backers – as well as those on the fence who might have wanted to have a voice in policy in a non-platform year.

Beckwith himself was full-Micah on Saturday morning, stationing himself in a prominent spot in the hallway and informally engaging delegates, members of the media, and others with his trademark boundless enthusiasm and optimism. He fired up his people, while McGuire was not to be seen in the hallway, and Sen. Braun was largely just escorted into the arena without glad-handing as the festivities were officially scheduled to begin.

Rep. McGuire also failed to help herself during her address to the convention, delivering a lackluster speech that certainly lacked the enthusiasm and red meat of the appearances by Attorney General Todd Rokita (who donned red boxing gloves, complementing the miniature souvenir boxing gloves his team was passing out to supporters. The Beckwith delegates were also armed with assorted paraphernalia designed to make their floor presence and demonstrations known; McGuire’s supporters were merely handed campaign signs that resembled Braun signs.

The Barun camp seemed unable to respond on the fly to what was evolving on the floor, and while we’ve seen “enthusiasm gaps” before that didn’t translate into wins for the candidate who seemed to have won the hearts of delegates, it was because their opponents had effective floor leaders and whips who could sense the mood of delegates and quickly run the traps and broker alliances and deals with key county chairs and other persuaders (some of the ability for these old-time operatives to work their magic through trade-offs has disappeared in the past several cycles, however, with the clerk of the courts and superintendent of public instruction offices no longer being nominated and elected).

The whispers all morning had largely focused on a McGuire win, but by a closer margin than most had expected a week earlier, and a victory that would be accompanied by significant divisiveness on the convention floor – and going forward.

The Beckwith win didn’t seem to carry with it any overwhelming air of a divided party, except at the top of the Braun campaign itself – largely resembling some of the internal back-biting among party officials and those on the GOP ticket in 1992 after then-gubernatorial nominee Linley Pearson (R) had to fight hard for his largely unknown preferred running mate, and he lost his choice for attorney general at the convention.

That was also the last time that a statewide elected Republican official lost a gubernatorial general election.

The Republican Party

For those who wondered what the Indiana Republican Party really was or will be this fall, the convention outcome certainly didn’t answer the question.

Trump backers who believed that the Indiana Republican Party was now the party of Trump (as well as those who resisted the Trump affiliation, such as U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R)) have to question the lack of impact of the personal Trump endorsement of McGuire in a down-ballot race among the core of the party – convention delegates, a group even more socially conservative and engaged than primary voters. That’s a loss for the Trump faction.

At the same time, however, Trump backers have to understand that Beckwith is more socially conservative and activist than McGuire. The Indiana Conservative Alliance expressed frustration with McGuire in a hand card distributed at the convention which took her to task over her support for the Governor’s public health initiative that would “oversee the county health departments in emergency or ‘pandemic(‘) situations,” as they see it, “under SB4. Julie McGuire supported SB4 and has been working for the governors (sic) office writing resolutions and legislation.” We’ve told you all year about how backlash against the Governor’s Covid protocols have resonated among the party base, and Beckwith, as we noted last week, has been boasting about all of the vaccine exemptions he was personally responsible for handing out in his pastoral role.

Beckwith also was the beneficiary (at convention; we’ll see how this plays out in the fall) of the recirculation on social media of his January 7, 2021 video in which he says that the Lord told him in prayer, “Micah, I sent those riots to Washington. What you saw yesterday was my hand at work.” The Beckwith win, in terms of ideology and tactics, is arguably more favorable to Trump in Indiana than a McGuire win would have been.

We told you that the post-convention fallout was largely limited to the top. The evening after the LG vote, Braun campaign general counsel Jim Bopp, Jr., a former Indiana Republican National Committeeman and former Republican National Committee general counsel (as well as campaign finance counsel to recent Hoosier governors), emailed a “Confidential Memorandum” to 12 people: Indiana’s state treasurer, comptroller, secretary of state, and attorney general; the GOP nominees for governor and U.S. senator; Braun’s campaign chief; and five influential GOP political leaders or lobbyists detailing how “Beckwith’s nomination as Lt. Gov poses a serious threat to the Braun candidacy, election and administration.” As Bopp explains, “Beckwith ran a campaign to the right of Braun, promising to have his own agenda and ‘to hold the Republican Establishment in account,’ most particularly Braun. He will do so with the bully pulpit of Lt. Gov. and endorsement of the Indiana Republican Party at our convention. He has been very active in public speaking over the years, expressing his views on numerous subject, and has explicitly run as a Pastor and Christian who will bring that to state government. Since both Braun and Beckwith are voted on together as a team, this poses special challenges to the Braun campaign,” Bopp tells recipients in the missive leaked to at least three members of the media less than one hour after he hit “send.”

We’ll have more to tell you about the Bopp after-action memo as we delve deeper into the impact of the Beckwith nod on the campaign, but the fact that Bopp felt compelled to put his thoughts and concerns on paper and detail what he sees as a threat to the gubernatorial nominee by Braun’s own new partner suggests the degree of dysfunction within the party that needs to be addressed.

Another GOP insider with a seat at the table confides to us of Team Braun, “it’s hard to see how they could handle this so badly unless they had no idea what they were doing. They are careening from one fiasco to another, and they have no one to blame but themselves.”

“The lunacy and chaos of the Indiana GOP is making its way into national news once again,” Indiana Democratic Party Chair Mike Schmuhl declares in a breathless fundraising email Tuesday “A piece in the New York Times details how Indiana Republicans are in the midst of a brutal civil war, pitting MAGA against MAGA,” he notes. Michelle Goldberg takes a look in a Times opinion piece at how “In Indiana, the MAGA Revolution Eats Its Own.”

As Goldberg sees it, “The divide within the Republican Party, in Indiana as elsewhere, isn’t really between moderates and conservatives, because almost everyone involved is very right-wing. It is, rather, between people who know how to work within the existing system, and outsiders who want to overturn it. Bopp, for example, is no RINO squish; he’s the general counsel for National Right to Life and an election denier who, in 2020, filed lawsuits challenging election results in four states won by President Biden. If he’s worried, it’s not because Beckwith is an extremist, but because he’s an extremist who might threaten Republican power.”

Consummate insider Anne Hathaway will step down as Indiana Republican Party chair once her successor is named by state committee, and Joe Elsener will also leave his post as state party executive director.

We’re hearing that state committee members really wanted Hathaway to stay on as chair.

The June 24 selection for party chair, of course, will be at the discretion of U.S. Sen. Mike Braun (R) as the gubernatorial nominee, but the political (with a small “p”) considerations related to who will fill the post may be a bit different after he was saddled with a running mate not of his choice.

Braun has been looking at bringing aboard a loyalist, Daviess County Republican Party Chair Jan Schuler-Hicks, who is one of his Senate office staffers . . . but we’re hearing that in Monday calls to state committee members with his “recommendation,” he was unable to secure commitments from a majority of members to back her.

Schuler-Hicks is not particularly well-known even among her fellow county party chairs, and is not a familiar face for the statewide political media.

After the delegate decision denying his pick for lieutenant governor, there was said to be some exigency to bring aboard someone with good ties to the evangelical community (which some in the establishment are now using as a mistaken shorthand for Beckwith backers). Sen. Braun could have turned to a stalwart like former state party chair Jeff Cardwell (one of the named recipients of the Bopp memo) – who could step into the role with some gravitas and impact through the election, allowing for some post-election change based upon needs that might be identified at that time. However, Sen. Braun seemed to have initially decided that having his one person in the role for the long run outweighed any particular need to reach out to the (Beckwith-cultivated) grassroots . . . many of whom seemed not to be “real” Republicans, but rather disaffected former party identifiers, Libertarians, former tea party types, and Christian conservatives brought to the table (if not tent) by the newly minted LG nominee – some as delegates to the GOP convention. Hence, the decision to turn to his staffer.

After things went awry with that selection (and we can’t remember a state committee of either party ever snubbing a sitting governor or gubernatorial nominee their “recommendation” for state chair; an early 2000s Demo dust-up during the O’Bannon/Kernan administration came when Kernan wasn’t even running at the time, let alone the nominee), we started to hear Wednesday that former Sen. Randy Head (R) was being shopped by Team Braun as an alternative (and Krieg DeVault LLP filed paperwork that same day removing him from the ranks of compensated lobbyists).

While Head is well-liked and deeply respected, (everyone should be old enough to remember that) as one GOP Braun skeptic puts it to us, “he was the face of the establishment’s effort to crush the convention rebels when he ruled as convention chair that their motions and resolutions were out of order, then immediately adjourned the convention.”

Are the Braun forces setting up another fight with Beckwith and his backers by seeking to install Head, an establishment insider who lost a 2016 convention bid for attorney general, at the top of the state party after Head slapped them down Saturday on behalf of Braun – just before Beckwith earned his revenge?

Meanwhile, the Indiana Conservative Alliance takes aim at state party officials in a broadside distributed at the state GOP convention. In a typo-ridden diatribe, the alliance complained that “the Indiana GOP wants every pro-life conservative Christian vote, but will not voluntarily place any pro-life conservative Christian in any leadership role. The GOP leadership (The Central Committee in Indianapolis ‘Ann Hathaway’ (sic)) wants to be able to control the county party electorate.” The piece proceeds to explain that “we understand the political process and system, and the Indiana GOP has abused its influence over the people, forgetting they are to work for ‘we the people’ not dictate to us. knowing (sic) if an organization gives a substantial amount of money to any candidate, the candidate is unfortunately, expected to return the favor.” Will a Braun-selected chair from his Senate staff keep this faction under the Big Tent – or will they be ignored simply because they have no other lever to seemingly pull on the November ballot? Bear in mind that Donald Rainwater (L) collected a double-digit percentage of the 2020 gubernatorial vote . . . and the social conservatives can also simply choose not to vote on down-ballot races, voting only for Trump, Banks, and (Braun/)Beckwith – and maybe a relevant local school board contest.

Regardless, the state Republican party is in turmoil. If you had to choose between leading one or the other major state political party right now, you’d still have to side with the GOP, but it will be a high-maintenance effort, and expectations are higher than for Indiana Democrats who would think they won the 21st century if they can wrest four House seats from Republicans to break the supermajority in one chamber.

At the same time, we’re picking up signs that some Republican county chairs are not comfortable with the Beckwith nomination (or the factors which led to it), the party disarray, or the uncertain future. And one thing that has been largely overlooked in all of this: fully six in every 10 Republican primary voters I n May voted against Braun for governor, so many rank-and-file and county chairs were not thrilled about the prospect of a Governor Braun to begin with.

Some prominent Republicans have already been looking to 2028, believing that a then-74-year-old Braun would not seek re-election, or that his LG (McGuire or Beckwith) would not be a strong option as heir-apparent in either a primary or general election. Indeed, the last elected Republican lieutenant governor to succeed his or her governor was Bob Orr (R) way back in 1980. Two-term Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch (R) couldn’t even secure her party’s nod for the top office this year.

Other names already circulating among the GOP for governor in 2024 include Attorney General Todd Rokita (R); outgoing Rep. Chuck Goodrich (R); U.S. Rep. Rudy Yakym (R); House Speaker Todd Huston (R); and any number of mayors (even some outside Hamilton County!).

The State of the 2024 Campaign

If you believe Jim Bopp, saddling Braun with Beckwith offers no upside whatsoever.

“Since Braun necessarily had to campaign for Julie as ‘his choice,’ which he urged the delegates to back, and supplemented with endorsements of Republican political leaders, it was understood that rejection of Julie would be an implicit rejection of Braun and undermine his leadership going forward. This of course has already happened,” Bopp writes.

He then delves deeply into the Hoosier political landscape and sees only potential land mines.

Looking back at the 2022 cycle, he sees a presumptive statewide GOP margin of 25 percentage points, but notes that with only “a modest campaign against him raising minor and insubstantial issues attacking him,” Diego Morales (R) was able to win the secretary of state’s office by only a 15% margin. Bopp believes “The Democrats have a real opportunity to launch a serious campaign in the fall because of Beckwith’s nomination, and it has already begun. We can look to the Trump primary results in Indiana to see the danger here.” He dissects the Trump-Haley numbers and concludes that the bottom line is that 10% of Republicans were not convinced to support Trump. “And added to the fact that Braun only got 40% of the Republican primary vote and Rainwater will be on the ballot to drain off some conservative votes, it is perfectly plausible that 8% of Diego’s general election vote could be pealed (sic) away by a vigorous campaign by the Democrats targeting Beckwith,” Bopp fears, “and Braun loses. This makes the general election very dicey.”

Bopp was concerned that Democrats would recruit former U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) to be the gubernatorial candidate and Dr. Jennifer McCormick (D) would step down to become the lieutenant governor nominee (though he overlooks the total – and long-term – devastation to Democrats when they pulled their too-cute by-half tactic of changing nominees for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and Southwest Indiana Senate and House seats in 2010).

By Tuesday morning, it became clear, however, that Dr. J. was not going anywhere, and there would be no race between two male Catholic candidates.

Still, Bopp expresses concern that Democrats “would focus almost exclusively on Beckwith and his ‘radical’ views. In taking down Beckwith, they take down Braun. And they will paint the whole ticket, including [Rokita], with this brush. It has already begun: McCormick: ‘I refuse to turn Indiana over to the Braun-Beckwith team. They are dangerous, divisive, and extreme – and embody the fear and chaos that has taken our state on a dangerous path.’ And Braun will be asked to answer for every statement Beckwith has every made – and there are many – and this has already begun,” he writes, citing the Beckwith video about January 6.

Bopp is right. Saturday night the Indiana Democratic Party sent an email to supporters seeking to raise cash on the Beckwith backlash, saying they intended to “Run critical advertising campaigns to inform the public that a straight-ticket GOP vote is a vote for Beckwith’s extremist views.” Indiana Democratic Party Executive Director Dayna Colbert, who left the Hamilton County Democratic Party chair for the state post last year, sent an email Monday saying “I watched as a local resident as he led the charge to ban and reshelf (sic) hundreds of books while as a member of the Hamilton East Public Library Board. This includes titles from Hoosier authors such as John Green. As lieutenant governor, he would push to expand this government intrusion into classrooms and doctor’s offices.” IDP Chair Mike Schmuhl follows with a Tuesday missive confirming Bopp’s fears about perceptions: “Make no mistake: A Mike Braun administration would be pushed to the furthest extreme by an LG who wants to ban books, criminalize women and doctors, and push business out of Indiana.”

Beckwith begs to differ. “I’ve never seen myself as extreme,” he tells WFFT-TV Fox 55 in Fort Wayne. “I’m someone who believes in limited government, personal liberty. What I do think has become extreme is the Democrat Party,” he digs. “I want to be a unifier. I want to extend an olive branch,” Beckwith said at the convention. “I want to make sure that people are heard. I think the conservative movement, the grassroots movement that I’m a part of – I believe they feel unheard.”

Even worse, potentially, is that Democrats can use Braun’s own words at the convention against him “Everything you believe in, I have as well,” Sen. Braun said onstage to Beckwith in what was a conciliatory gesture to Micah and his minions, but which will no undoubtedly be seized upon by Democrats as a free-will admission.

The lieutenant governor candidate whom Democratic nominee Dr. McCormick prefers is former House Democratic leader Terry Goodin (D) of Austin, a choice she says is “based upon character, competence for the position, and overwhelming commitment to serve Indiana in the highest regard.”

Dr. Goodin, the Indiana state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture until his resignation on June 14, is a beef cattle farmer with a doctorate in education from Indiana University and former (24-year) superintendent of the Crothersville Community Schools. His twin brother is a longtime former Indiana State Police trooper who is now the hard-line sheriff of Scott County. Dr. Goodin is probably as good a selection as McCormick could make. He’s viewed as the last true Copperhead Democrat in the House, and he was the last Democrat to represent a truly rural and agricultural district – important for an office which oversees the Indiana State Department of Agriculture and rural development programs.

“That position of Lieutenant Governor is huge,” McCormick said in a joint appearance with Braun Wednesday in Allen County. “It’s very responsible for rural development, which makes no sense on why Republicans put in who they did,” she said, hinting as to her choice for a partner – and the importance Democrats will place on rural issues during the campaign.

He has conservative credentials (he was one of 11 House Democrats in 2011 to vote for a gay marriage ban, something that led LGBTQ+ advocates to remonstrate against his potential selection when word leaked Wednesday), understands leadership in the legislature, as well as what the Democrats are lacking to appeal to independents and moderate Republicans. In contrast to Beckwith, he has two decades of experience in the General Assembly, including a stint on the State Budget Committee and as vice chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, service affording him a deeper understanding of state finances and budgeting. He also spent time as a member of the House committees on agriculture and rural development; natural resources; roads and transportation; international trade, banking and finance; and elections and apportionment.

Goodin also provides gender and geographic balance and can further complement McCormick’s own education chops, emphasizing the ticket’s commitment to public education. As superintendent, he developed one of the first Early College Initiatives in the state, allowing students the opportunity to graduate from high school with a college degree. He also initiated vocational classes that allowed students to earn national and international certifications, a program in keeping with current workforce development priorities.

If nominated, he’ll be the campaign’s rural ambassador and the guy to show that Democrats can offer a moderate alternative to Beckwith with other credentials and minus any extremism concerns . . . while Republicans will seek to tar him with the Biden Administration connection and his appointment by the President to the USDA post.

Indeed, as we were heading to press with this issue, Indiana Republican Party Communications Director Griffin Reid issued a statement declaring that “Liberal Democrat Jennifer McCormick continues to let us know who she is, a radical Biden ally. After facing multiple rejections from her own Democrat party friends, she turned to her old pal Joe Biden to pluck a member of his administration to plug in as her running mate. She won’t rest until she brings Biden’s policies to Hoosier door steps! These radical, liberal ideas have no place in Indiana, which is still very much Trump country.”

The geographic aspect that Goodin brings to bear may play an intriguing role this cycle. The Jamey Noel scandal is overhanging a lot of GOP politics in Clark County, Floyd County, and Scott County in particular. Goodin hails from Scott County, a strongly republican country which is under the microscope in the saga of the former sheriff, and the presence of Goodin on the ticket (and his brother as the Democratic sheriff helping to clean things up) may see Ds flipping that county and making further inroads in Ohio River territory that has been ceded to Republicans since the Holcomb Aiming Higher PAC campaign wiped out state elective Democrats from Dearborn County to Posey County on behalf of the Daniels Administration in 2010.

Dr. Goodin must pass a low bar to be nominated, taking on (if they properly file and pay their filing fees) Clif Marsiglio (D) of Indianapolis, briefly a 2023 mayoral candidate and perennial state and federal candidate Bobby Kern, a convicted felon also known as Bobby Hidalgo, Robert Hidalgo Kern, Bobby Hidalgo Kern, Robert Kern, and Tonya Roberts. Seriously.

Marsiglio, a management analyst with a focus on program review in the Indiana University Department of Institutional Analytics, tweeted Wednesday, “We don’t need anyone in our party who have more in common with WIBC than they do than loving people in Indiana.” He adds, “I will back down and walk away when we have a candidate who shares the loving values we all desire.”). He urged an end to nominating what he describes as “uninspiring centrists.”

A passel of Hoosier LGBTQ+ elected Democrats had earlier released a statement condemning Beckwith’s nomination and his brand of “extremism that threatens to make our state a pariah on the national level. We can’t roll back the historic civil rights gains supported by the vast majority of Hoosiers. A Braun-Beckwith ticket puts LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights, and more all on the line,” they contend, and it’s hard to see that they wouldn’t stick with a McCormick/Goodin ticket given the alternative despite their concerns that Goodin is anything but a “progressive” Democrat. Indeed, being dissed by progressives may help the ticket among other voters who consider the GOP ticket too extreme, and there is no chance today that Hoosiers would elect a pair of “progressive” Democrats.

Nevertheless, Goodin on Wednesday said that he no longer stands by his “wrong” vote 13 years ago – which, along with his pro-life record, generated enough feedback to prevent him from being named the Democratic LG candidate in the 2020 race, as we told you in these pages four years ago.

Is Goodin the best pick for McCormick? Arguably not, and the fact that she reportedly was turned down by as many as four others for the post would seem to confirm that. But is Beckwith the best pick for Braun? No, and he theoretically had his choice of just about anyone for the job, ultimately settling on McGuire, who also wasn’t the best pick from the wide field of potential

running mates. And he owns that decision, even though he may not be quite as responsible for Beckwith being the guy he’s now joined with at the hip (Sen. Braun not only didn’t make the best selection he could have for the role, he couldn’t even get her across the finish line . . . and we saw the same things a few days later in his machinations to replace Anne Hathaway as state party chair). As former U.S. Rep. Andy Jacobs, Jr. (D) sagely observed a few decades back, “We’d all like to vote for the best man, but he’s never a candidate.” The bottom line is that Democrats probably end up faring slightly better than Republicans if you just consider the respective LG candidates.

One final word on the Demos: Goodin’s resignation from the USDA post came the day before the Beckwith nomination – which undoubtedly came as a surprise for Democrats. The date suggests that they (or at least Dr. McCormick) had already locked in the choice of Goodin for the ticket, making it much more complicated for them to have chosen to pivot to a Donnelly/McCormick slate. Their big problem now: the lack of capital to capitalize on the Republican dysfunction.

But back to the Republican dilemma.

Campaign finance guru Bopp also fears that “By running against Beckwith, the Democrats will be able to raising unlimited funds from their left wing allies and billionaire liberal supporters. Rather than a modest campaign that Diego faced, the left will spend tens of millions on endless ads quoting and featuring Beckwith’s statements.”

One GOP insider, however, beg to differ with Bopp, labeling it an overreaction and telling us “Micah Beckwith ultimately doesn’t matter” because “[n]obody votes for or against a candidate for governor on the basis of the LG nominee.” This political veteran reminds us that “Hoosier voters haven’t flinched at voting for somewhat flawed down-ticket Republicans like Charlie White, Todd Rokita, or Diego Morales. They’re not going to flinch at voting for Mike Braun because of Micah Beckwith,” pointing out that as the LG candidate in the team election, “Beckwith’s not even got his own line on the ballot.”

This operative’s bottom line: “It’s only material for November if they make it.” Of course, however, some might suggest that they seem determined to do just that . . .

This week’s abrupt end to the nascent independent ticket of Hamilton County-based Moms For Liberty leader Paige Miller and unsuccessful GOP gubernatorial primary candidate Jamie Reitenour may have helped Braun in the general election. Had the two extreme social conservatives (miraculously) accumulated the approximate 37,000 petition signatures required by July 1 for ballot access, they would have siphoned votes from either Braun or Rainwater (and arguably more from Braun, because of Reitenour’s relative popularity and contacts from the May primary effort).

Bopp didn’t mention this potential crusade, which ended Tuesday when the duo announced that they would be suspending their signature-collection effort because of Beckwith’s addition to the ticket. Miller had worked with Beckwith on parental rights and library issues in Hamilton County, and said her own campaign effort was on hold out of “great admiration and respect for Micah Beckwith.” Reitenour praised Beckwith’s nomination as “the greater victory given by ‘we the people.’ ”

Let’s also look more specifically at the process of the GOP campaign.

Will Braun and Beckwith campaign as a true team, with Braun/Beckwith signs and TV ads, or will Braun media simply be silent about his running mate? Will there be a coordinated campaign in which strategists for both men decide campaign tactics, such as having Braun campaign in urban settings and Beckwith in smaller, more rural communities? Will the two choose to keep Beckwith from the business community, or will Beckwith simply opt to be a free agent of sorts, effectively campaigning for himself for LG (and, incidentally, for the Braun ticket)? What joint appearances will be authorized or encouraged, given that Democrats and the media will be carefully scrutinizing any such events for sins of discord?

From a policy perspective, how will policy positions (beyond China, the border, Second Amendment, and backing law enforcement) be determined . . . and, on the law enforcement front, what does the Braun half of the ticket have to say about Beckwith wanting to sic the Indiana State Police on the FBI?!

While they may well be ideologically sympatico, there is a lot of potential divergence in specific policy – philosophically based and otherwise. Beckwith, for example, already unveiled his proposal for agricultural and residential property tax relief; Braun has simply promised one before the 2025 session.

There are a lot of “out there” Beckwith statements out there.

Bopp writes that Sen. Braun “will be asked, and held in account, for every statement Beckwith has ever made. So how does Braun respond? If he is viewed to be repudiating Beckwith or even distancing himself from him, he loses support from hardcore Beckwith supporters and if he embassies Beckwith, he feeds into the Democrat campaign. And since Beckwith wins if Braun wins, how can Braun really separate himself from Beckwith if he tried? And does saying ‘I am in charge’ really work when the convention has just nominated Beckwith to hold Braun in

account and it is obvious that Beckwith has no interest in following Braun’s lead if he does not want to?”

That’s a huge and important question mark: How will the Braun campaign choose to respond when trolled over them by Democrats, or asked about them by the media or even by Braun backers who want to know where their man stands?

At the convention, Braun was asked about Beckwith statements in a general sense. “If it doesn’t make sense; if it doesn’t resonate, remember, I’m going to be the governor,” the man at the top of the ticket responded. He then added a warning shot of sorts across the bow of Team Micah: “There is no doubt about this: I am in charge. And Micah is going to be someone who works with me. And if he doesn’t,” Sen. Braun continued on a practical note, “I think that means that it will probably not be as fruitful in terms of what we can get done.”

On Wednesday, Sen. Braun spoke at a Hamilton County Republican party breakfast. Braun proceeded through his whole spiel before he even mentioned Beckwith, and only acknowledged that in passing, referencing that Beckwith was in the room and that Micah would be on his team. Read into it what you might, but Beckwith was wearing the Braun trademarked blue shirt with the sleeves rolled up . . . even as there seems to be no coordination yet on the shotgun political marriage.

Will the Beckwith nomination poison the relationship between Trump and Braun? Will the former president feel betrayed by Braun who just made him (and them) look weak in Indiana? Will Trump rescind his endorsement of Braun? Will he avoid making a TV spot for Braun? And what will the Indiana MAGA faithful think about Braun looking toward the fall?

Just how energized will Republicans be this Fall? No one seems to believe that the presidential race is in doubt locally, nor the U.S. Senate race. Democrats don’t seem to have a serious chance of converting any congressional seats (and it’s probably a stretch for Repubs to think they have a good shot at CD 01). Why would Republicans actively work for a divided ticket – even should Democrats mount a top-tier challenge to AG Rokita?

On the flip side, Beckwith tells WFFT-TV Fox 55 in Fort Wayne he believes he can attract disaffected voters to the voting booth in November. We’re getting messages from people who said, ‘Listen, I’d kind of given up on the Republican Party, but this gives me hope. I think I can get behind this ticket now,’” Beckwith explains.

Even though Beckwith backers may be fired up now about taking on the party and winning, could their idealism be washed out by the end of the summer should Braun and the state party avoid or seek to muzzle their champion?

For Braun, he has to take to heart some of the Bopp speaking truth to power concerns. Cast aside the desire for geographic and gender balance; policy compatibility; and filling in gaps on life, business, political and government experience; the principal axioms of selecting a candidate for lieutenant governor candidate are: (1) the political equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath – do no harm; and (2) the unquestioned ability of the nominee to immediately step in without hesitation should the unthinkable happen – as faced Joe Kernan (D) in 2003. Convention delegates encumbered Braun with a running mate not of his choosing who may be perceived as falling short on these criteria. At the very least, he is linked to a candidate for lieutenant governor who is now driving discussion of the ticket, if not the ticket itself . . . and that’s dangerous for Sen. Braun.

Governing – The LG in the Executive Branch

The campaign is one thing, but important as it may be, it is only a prelude to the act of governing. Assuming a Braun/Beckwith win in November, this can become – well, uh, complicated.

The big question is who will be in charge, with the corollary being whether Republicans and allies will look to Beckwith as a vehicle by which to circumvent Braun on policy matters or process . . . and Democrats will likely seek to magnify any daylight between the two men as well as try to exacerbate and then exploit any instances in which the two might be seen as working at cross-purposes.

Sure, Braun made the requisite Al Haig-like declaration right after the convention vote, but can he walk the walk in the face of what may be intense pressure from within his own (new look) party, electorate, and administration? Will Beckwith prove to be deferential – and, if so, for how long? Will Beckwith take his policy and process grievances with his governor public, or will he – like Lt. Governor Crouch, for example – wait until his own campaign for governor to cite any differences?

Bear in mind that the Office of Lieutenant Governor is assigned a score of statutory responsibilities . . . even as service as secretary of commerce and overseeing the Department of Commerce was stripped from OLG during the early days of the Daniels Administration in favor of the unique structure of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

The LG serves as secretary of agriculture overseeing the State Department of Agriculture, and as secretary of rural development overseeing the Office of Community and Rural Affairs. The LG also has responsibilities supervising energy matters; tourism, Main Street initiatives and Grow Indiana; and the Housing and Community Development Authority.

We won’t delve into any specifics with these units here, but suffice it to say for now that there are a lot of policy initiatives, high-profile appointments, and big budgets under the putative control of the lieutenant governor. OLG also authorizes Local Economic Development Grants for housing rehabilitation; and administers the Community Services Block Grant; Housing Assistance Act; home energy assistance, weatherization, and LIHEAP programs; migrant and farm worker programs; and the shelter plus care and emergency shelter grant programs. In the past year or so, the office has been a focal point for state broadband programs.

Governing – The LG in the Legislative Branch

Just as intriguing is how Beckwith might approach his constitutional duty of presiding over the Senate, a largely ceremonial role that consumes a lot of time, but little actual power save breaking ties, an unusual circumstance with a republican supermajority.

But the post is also effectively a post through which a governor can liaise with lawmakers, which may be why the last three elected lieutenant governors (and six of the seven elected since the state transitioned to team elections for governor and LG) have come to the post with previous legislative service.

The Bopp memo also recognized that Beckwith has vowed to assume a unique view of his role in the Senate. “The final wild card is the State Senate. Beckwith has threatened to seize control of the State Senate based on Beckwith’s view of his constitutional powers. This is certainly wildly unpopular among Senate Republicans. How are they going to respond?”

While Bopp may have engaged in some hyperbole with his reference to seizure of power, it is clear that Beckwith does not view his potential service as president of the Senate in the same ministerial sense as his predecessors have adopted. He’s spoken only about using his Senate post as a bully pulpit for lobbying on behalf of legislation he believes should be enacted . . . and it doesn’t sound like the same kind of subtle, behind-the-scenes work other lieutenant governors have performed on behalf of their own governor (the Skillman Administration was particularly adroit at communicating to her governor what would and wouldn’t fly on the Third Floor, tempering gubernatorial rhetoric and expectations, and assuaging hurt legislative feelings).

We reminded you last week to take a look back at a front-page piece we wrote last June that detailed an organized sub rosa grassroots effort by GOP social conservatives to change House rules. They sought process changes that would see committee chairs selected by the caucus and not by the speaker, making the committee chairs more responsive to colleagues and not beholden to leadership, as well as empowering individual committee members to call down bills for a vote and not imbuing the respective panel chairs with this authority and discretion, much like members can call down their own bills for a Second Reading or Third Reading on the House floor.

This scenario becomes important because of the recent rhetoric that you have heard from Beckwith about becoming more involved in internal Senate activities and lobbying. Absent some intervening event, look for him to be at the forefront of such a rules fight in that chamber.

The problem for Beckwith, however, is that it may be difficult to point to more than a veritable handful of senators (perhaps even just one or two) who might be painted as his disciples, a far smaller number than in the House. Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R), whose father served in the House and Senate, is the archetype institutionalist, and we don’t see him being amenable to any substantive process changes – particularly given that there wouldn’t seem to be much grassroots Senate support for deviating from the status quo.

Beckwith will have to learn that the Senate podium is different from the pious or political pulpit to which he has become accustomed.