Ex-Indiana attorney general enters GOP governor’s race after groping case derailed 2020 reelection

Ex-Indiana attorney general enters GOP governor’s race after groping case derailed 2020 reelection

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Former Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill announced Monday that he is entering the 2024 Indiana governor’s race nearly three years after his election bid was derailed by allegations that he drunkenly groped four women during a party.

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Hill, 62, announced his run in a statement in which said he was joining the race for the Republican nomination “after much prayer and consideration” and stressed his conservative credentials.

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“Hoosiers are hungry for a proven conservative leader with the courage to stand up for the traditional values ​​upon which our Republic was built. Our campaign will emphasize a positive vision for Indiana, restoring faith in our institutions, protecting our children, investing in our law enforcement, prioritizing the rebuilding of our economy and placing the needs of Hoosiers above the manipulation of Washington, DC,” he said.

Hill built a following among social conservatives during his time in office and his entry into the governor’s race could further complicate what is already shaping up to be an expensive fight for the Republican nomination. US Sen. Mike Braun, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and Fort Wayne businessman Eric Doden are already vying to replace Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, who can’t seek reelection because of term limits.

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Hill had said in early June that he was considering entering the governor’s race and that he expected to make a decision within weeks as he and his wife were “carefully praying for guidance.”

Hill won election as state attorney general in 2016 after 14 years as the prosecutor in northern Indiana’s Elkhart County. He had been seen as a rising African American star among Republicans and built himself up as an anti-abortion and tough-on-crime crusader, making appearances on Fox News to discuss topics such as San Francisco’s troubles with homelessness.

But he faced calls for his resignation from Holcomb and many other state Republican leaders after allegations became public that he groped the women during a 2018 party at an Indianapolis bar. He denied doing wrong but the state Supreme Court ordered a 30-day suspension of his law license after finding “by clear and convincing evidence that (Hill) committed the criminal act of battery” against three female legislative staffers and a state lawmaker during the party.

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The allegations were a key campaign issue when he narrowly lost the 2020 Republican attorney general nomination for his election to Todd Rokita, who took office in January 2021.

Hill failed in another attempted political comeback last year when he lost a vote among Republican precinct committee members to replace US Rep. Jackie Walorski on the election ballot following her death in a highway crash. Business executive Rudy Yakym won the GOP nomination and election for northern Indiana’s 2nd District seat.

Whoever captures the Republican nomination will be looking to extend the party’s dominance in the state, which includes winning five straight governor elections since 2004. Former state schools Superintendent Jennifer McCormick, who won election as a Republican in 2016 alongside Hill and Holcomb but later broke with the Statehouse GOP, announced in May that she was seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

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