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State Democrats nominate ticket, blast GOP

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Democrats on Saturday formally nominated their statewide ticket – and took some swings at Gov. Mike Pence and the Republicans controlling the Statehouse.

About 1,700 Democratic delegates gathered in Indianapolis to tap Mike Claytor for Auditor; Mike Boland for Treasurer; and Beth White for Secretary of State.

Mixed in with the well-dressed Democrats were costumed folks taking part in a convention and hordes of gamers.

John Gregg, who narrowly lost to Pence in 2010, gave a spirited welcome for Claytor that included jabs about Pence traveling the nation on the taxpayers’ dime with possible presidential aspirations.

He also pointed out that due to two auditors resigning – and interim appointments – Indiana has had five auditors in 12 months.

Current Auditor Suzanne Crouch has been in office since January, and now faces Claytor in the November election.

Claytor, of Carmel, is an accountant and attorney who was born in Hartford City and graduated from Ball State University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He immediately went to work at the Indiana State Board of Accounts under then-Gov. Bob Orr. He later received a law degree and worked for the state on several white-collar crime investigations.

He later retired as a partner with Crowe Horwath LLP in Florida, moving back to Indiana last June.

Claytor talked about how Republican-run state government has lost or mismanaged hundreds of millions of dollars.

“We don’t need that. We need a professional operating in the auditor’s office,” he said as he pulled a secret weapon out of his pocket. “I own a calculator and I know how to use it.”

Democrats also nominated White for Secretary of State, who faces Connie Lawson. Lawson was appointed in 2012 to replace Charlie White, who was convicted of voter fraud and was removed from office.

“He is no kin to me,” Beth White said.

She is the Marion County clerk and has run 12 elections in the state’s most populous county. She was previously a top aide to Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson and was a member of Gov. Frank O’Bannon’s administration.

Beth White said Republicans have been putting up barriers to voting – making it harder to register, easier to reject registrations at the county level and reducing the number of days for early voting. She also said Indiana has the strictest voter ID law in the nation.

“We can do better. I’m going to take on this challenge because it’s time to take back state government for all the people of the state of Indiana,” she said.

Mike Boland of Fishers, a former Illinois state lawmaker, was nominated for state treasurer.

His opponent is still a mystery as three people are seeking the Republican nomination to be decided at the GOP state convention June 7 in Fort Wayne.

Boland, a 30-year retired educator, moved to Indiana in 2012 with his wife, Mary, after serving in the Illinois legislature for 16 years. Since arriving in Indiana to be closer to family, Boland has become active in the Democratic Party, helping candidates and organizations with their mission to restore balance to Hoosier government.

He entered the stage to the Rocky theme with his arms in the air and asked the crowd, “are you tired of extremists and do-nothing Republicans running your state?”

He also promised to be an outspoken defender of local government.

Several current office holders fired up the crowd by talking about Pence finally using President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act to expand health care in the state for uninsured poor Hoosiers.

And Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, shook his head at the “accomplishments” of the Republican-dominated General Assembly earlier this year.

“All Republicans with their supermajorities could do was to pass one more round of corporate welfare and corporate tax cuts,” he said. “We have to do better for the middle class families who are merely an afterthought in the Republican race to the bottom.”

Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz was the top speaker, and she told the group “electing democrats will move us toward what is right for our children. Elections matter. I can hardly wait for more Democratic support at the local level and the state level.”