July 23rd, 2024

Indiana Republicans upset Mike Braun’s choice for lieutenant governor, backing far-right pick

By Isabella Volmert, The Associated Press on June 15, 2024.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Indiana Republicans have rejected Sen. Mike Braun’s choice for lieutenant governor, instead nominating a podcasting pastor with far-right views to be his running mate.

Braun, who is leaving the Senate, endorsed state Rep. Julie McGuire for his running mate when he became the GOP nominee for governor. Indiana delegates usually back the nominee’s chosen running mate without a challenge.

But McGuire faced a challenge from Micah Beckwith, who promotes uncompromising positions on abortion, gender and sexuality and cohosts his “Jesus, Sex and Politics” podcast. Beckwith lobbied delegates for a year to win the nomination at the convention on Saturday.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Indiana Republican delegates are set to gather Saturday at the party convention to nominate a candidate for lieutenant governor, and in a decidedly unconventional situation they’ll have multiple choices this time.

Traditionally, delegates go along with the gubernatorial nominee’s choice, and Sen. Mike Braun has endorsed state Rep. Julie McGuire to be his running mate. But she is being challenged by an ultra-conservative Christian pastor, Micah Beckwith.

Braun, who is leaving the U.S. Senate, announced his choice in May, a day after winning the primary election with about 40% of the votes. Braun had been endorsed by former President Donald Trump and campaigned largely on national issues such as immigration.

Trump made a surprise endorsement Thursday night for McGuire ahead of the convention, indicating Beckwith’s campaign has some teeth. The endorsement is a major win for McGuire in a state where Trump won the 2020 election by 16 points.

McGuire, from Indianapolis, was a policy analyst for Senate Republicans until 2022, when she unseated a representative who had angered other Republicans in part by repeatedly pushing a complete ban on abortion. Indiana’s current law allows exceptions in rare and limited circumstances.

Braun said he selected McGuire for her strongly conservative legislative and policy record despite her short time in office. If ultimately elected by voters in November, she would be the latest in a series of women to reach the second highest office in a state that has never seen a female governor.

The lieutenant governor runs four state agencies, ceremoniously presides over the Senate and would break tie votes there, if that would ever happen in a chamber where the GOP enjoys a supermajority.

Beckwith, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress from central Indiana in 2020, actively campaigned for lieutenant governor for a year, courting delegates months ahead of the convention. He co-hosts a podcast called “Jesus, Sex and Politics,” and is known for his far-right stances on gender, sexuality and abortion. He cast himself as a political outsider who would keep the governor’s office in check, limit property taxes and oppose school efforts to support the LGBTQ+ community.

Delegates sometimes buck their leaders choices: in 2022, they defied Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s backing of the incumbent secretary of state for a second term and instead elected Diego Morales, who went on to win the general election.

Whoever wins this nomination will run with Braun against Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jennifer McCormick, a former state education chief, and Libertarian nominee Donald Rainwater. Democrats haven’t won a statewide office in Indiana since 2012.

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