INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Four candidates entered, but a Republican committee could choose only one to replace Gov. Mike Pence in this year's gubernatorial race.
In the end, it was Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb who won the vote.
Indiana Republicans met Tuesday to select a replacement for Pence, who dropped out of the race for governor after accepting Donald Trump's offer to become his running mate on the Republican presidential ticket. State law prohibits Pence from running for governor and vice president at the same time.
"Members of our state committee came together and made a historic vote to fill a gubernatorial vacancy, something that has not happened in recent history," said Republican Party Chairman Jeff Cardwell.
Three other candidates entered the race to replace Pence: Rep. Susan Brooks, Rep. Todd Rokita and state Sen. Jim Tomes. The committee meeting was scheduled to start at 10 a.m. and expected to last two or three hours. Cardwell would not release the result of the vote.
All four candidates were allowed to speak and answer questions from the committee. Cardwell said the party was united in Holcomb's selection. Holcomb will challenge Democrat John Gregg, who's running again after losing to Pence in the 2012 race.
"We've got a lot of work to do and a short time to do it," Holcomb said of the nomination, thanking those who endorsed him for the post.
"We cannot, cannot, allow our state to slip and drift and go backwards to those days of debt and delayed payments to schools or unfunding important, critical infrastructure projects across the state of Indiana."
Holcomb said the only way to move Indiana forward is by continuing the current path. He vowed to invest in infrastructure and operate under a balanced budget, citing former Gov. Mitch Daniels and current Gov. Mike Pence as examples. Holcomb said he considered the Trump-Pence ticket a strength for his campaign.
Brooks and Rokita, who both withdrew from their congressional races, have until Aug. 14 to get back on the ballot. Both said they were not interested in the lieutenant governor's seat. Tomes said he appreciated the opportunity to enter the race and enjoyed the experience.
John Gregg, Holcomb's opponent, released a statement welcoming Holcomb to the race while also criticizing previous policy:
“I want to congratulate Eric Holcomb on this latest political appointment. While there may be a new name on the ballot, the issues remain the same. For too many Hoosier families, wages aren’t keeping up and the good paying jobs we are losing aren’t being replaced. Eric Holcomb wholeheartedly embraced the failed approach that embarrassed our state, cost us jobs and has left the middle class behind. My economic plan sets our state on a new path forward, one that puts jobs and the middle class first.”
Republican Sen. Dan Coats congratulated Holcomb on his selection:
“Indiana is blessed to have many outstanding leaders who are willing to answer the call to public service. It is a unique time in our state’s history, and I want to thank all four candidates who put their names forward to serve as our next Governor. Each of these leaders is talented, hard-working and committed to improving the lives of all Hoosiers.
“I congratulate Eric Holcomb on his selection and believe that he is the best person to serve as the 51st Indiana Governor. Eric will use his wealth of experience and deep love of our state to continue the progress Indiana has made over the last decade. I congratulate Eric and Janet on this high honor and look forward to his leadership in years to come.”
John Zody, chairman of Indiana's Democratic Party, described Holcomb as an "out-of-touch" ideologue:
"Eric Holcomb has sought three different public office positions in just one year, and each campaign has carried the same out-of-touch, ideological agenda that has set both middle-class Hoosiers and Indiana's economy back. This includes RFRA, one of the most restrictive women's health laws in the nation, and a state economy that has our workers' incomes falling behind the rest of the country. Eric Holcomb is just another out-of-touch ideologue who will hurt the middle class and undermine Hoosier values."
And Gov. Pence, the man Holcomb will replace, had this to say:
"We are thrilled that our friend Eric Holcomb won the Republican nomination for Governor of Indiana. Eric is a man of great integrity who loves the people of our state. He has a servant's heart. Importantly, Eric played a tremendous role in helping both Mitch and me turn the state around after Speaker John Gregg's policies put Hoosiers in such a poor position.
"The contrast could not be more clear: Hoosiers will choose between a veteran who has always answered the call to serve or a career politician turned lobbyist who has a legacy of tax increases, debt, and insider deals. I'd also like to thank the other candidates who offered themselves for public service. Susan, Todd, and Jim are good people who will play an important role in uniting the party and continuing the growth and success of our state."