The voice vote was certainly the loudest portion of the convention: hundreds of delegates yelling “AYE” for the version of the platform they wanted to see. Hoosiers have a way of open dialogue and that’s what was felt in the week prior. But in the most stripped down form of dialogue, Hoosier Republicans voted to keep the line “marriage between one man & one woman” intact. The tagline for the weekend was Indiana Republicans are the party of purpose, and they purposefully chose to stick with their laurels.
When asked about the decision, the state representative from Chandler, Ron Bacon, explained it easily.
“I listened to my Republican constituents and they said to keep it as it is.”
A marriage made the headlines but if you ask anyone who was at the convention; Mike Braun was the talk of the town. From RNC Chairperson Ronna McDaniel to Governor Eric Holcomb, to a letter from President Donald Trump everyone at the Ford Center wanted to see Mike Braun replace current U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly. In true Donald Trump rally fashion, the convention crowd chanted “send Joe [Donnelly] home!” intermittently. It was this sense of urgency that reverberated around the Ford Center more than the voice vote. Dozens of folks all trying to energize a party of people to flip a blue seat.
With energy pumping from McDaniel and Governor Holcomb, Mike Braun took the stage. In comparison to the two before him, Braun spoke softly, but he was quick to point out the big stick he carries with him. Years of businesses acumen including a degree from Harvard Business is what the potential U.S. Senator focused on. He pointed out the business he helped build is no more than an hour from Evansville, and all the steps that he took to build it. Braun was cool and calculated in his approach, hitting on Donnelly for sending jobs to Mexico and working with Pelosi and Schumer.
Indiana GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer spoke about the need for diversity in the party. He looked at a broad strokes version of Indiana and the republicans that reside within the Hoosier State. From a more urban setting to the rural folks just getting WiFi, Hupfer said it was important to get all demographics involved.
Convention business beyond platform talk was very straightforward. Each of the three statewide office nominees was running unopposed. Connie Lawson is looking for her second term as Secretary of State. She focused on buffing Indiana’s elections as a reason to vote her in again.
Kelly Mitchell is the nominee for state treasurer. She hit on a major point, lowering college costs for young Hoosiers.
Of the three ladies running, Tera Klutz is the most unique. She was appointed to the role of Indiana State Auditor after the woman in the role before her, Suzanne Crouch, was elevated to the Lt. Governor position. Running her first campaign Klutz embraced a fun energetic vibe during a pretaped commercial. She spoke of transparency reports with the same vigor sports fans speak of home runs and big slam dunks. Klutz says she’s ready to be the first CPA State Auditor.
Indiana GOP Chairman Hupfer downplayed any talks of the Republican Party being at war with women. He simply pointed to the three qualified women who have run and won state offices.
One GOP official told me he hoped the convention is boring because that means that everything is working as intended. On the flip side, conventions are meant to be a place where the base is energized and that was certainly felt in Evansville. But it was a mix of the boring party business along with the frenetic voting energy on the platform and surrounding Mike Braun that made the convention’s first foray into Evansville one to remember.