State Superintendent McCormick Endorses Weinzapfel For Attorney General

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Jonathan Weinzapfel, Democratic candidate for attorney general, attended the press conference of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus Thursday. Photo by Janet Williams, TheStatehouseFile.com

State Superintendent McCormick Endorses Weinzapfel For Attorney General

By Taylor Wooten
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS — Republican State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick announced Thursday that she is endorsing Democratic Indiana attorney general candidate Jonathan Weinzapfel.

“This isn’t about politics, this is about who has the experience, the integrity and the vision to best represent all Hoosiers, especially our children,” McCormick said in a press release. “Jonathan has a well-earned reputation for bipartisan problem solving, for listening and for making a real difference in every job he’s had.”

Jonathan Weinzapfel, Democratic candidate for attorney general, attended a press conference of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus this summer. Photo by Janet Williams, TheStatehouseFile.com

McCormick has crossed party lines on multiple occasions, recently with an Aug. 5 memo to Secretary of State Connie Lawson requesting that no-excuse mail in ballots be offered in Indiana to decrease the risk of COVID-19 exposure for students and teachers in Indiana public schools that are required to open their doors as polling locations. This request goes against Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s insistence that it is safe to vote in person.

“She’s been somewhat of a maverick in her party,” said Laura Merrifield Wilson, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Indianapolis. “She’s clearly acting based on her principles and values, not on party.”

In July 2019, McCormick went on a bipartisan listening tour to discuss education policy with Indiana Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, as he explored a run for governor.

Weinzapfel, former chancellor of the Ivy Tech Evansville campus, has said he wishes to be a “champion for education” by fighting for enhanced pay for teachers and increased accountability for educational institutions that receive tax dollars.

The $86 million controversy regarding two Indiana virtual charter schools will be a subject of criminal prosecution if he becomes attorney general, Weinzapfel said. The Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy collected over $80 million from the state by falsifying student enrollment data.

Weinzapfel and McCormick had numerous conversations regarding education policy before her decision to endorse the campaign, he said.

“McCormick really is an inspiration because I’ve seen where she’s put people and progress above politics,” Weinzapfel said.

Wilson said there is uncertainty around how this endorsement could affect the attorney general race.

“People see it as a down-ballot race,” Wilson said. “But this could perk up some ears.”

Weinzapfel faces Republican Todd Rokita in the Nov. 3 general election.

Rokita’s campaign chair, Indiana Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, criticized McCormick and Weinzapfel’s stance on education in a statement.

“McCormick and Weinzapfel have both attacked school choice, going after charter school funding and supporting policies that continue to feed the status quo education machine,” Houchin said. “Todd Rokita understands that to ensure all parents, regardless of race, income level, or other barrier, can choose the best school for their kids, we need to strongly support all aspects of school choice.”

Houchin also pointed to McCormick herself, saying the education chief is “grandstanding as a liberal activist.”

“After claiming she was going to remove politics from education, Jennifer McCormick continues to push a political agenda to promote herself and liberal policies,” Houchin said.

Taylor Wooten is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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