FORT WAYNE – The Indiana Republican Party nominated three women for statewide offices Saturday during its convention and recommended that marriage be limited to heterosexual couples.
The inclusion of the marriage provision in the party's platform and the nomination of Kelly Mitchell as its treasurer candidate in the November general election suggest that the Indiana GOP is growing ever more conservative.
“It's a good day for conservatives all the way around,” Kosciusko County delegate and tea party activist Monica Boyer said during an interview on the floor of Grand Wayne Center.
Mitchell is an aide to term-limited Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who is popular among the ultraconservative wing of the GOP.
She soundly defeated Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold in the third round of balloting for the treasurer nomination.
Seybold is an establishment Republican who had been endorsed by former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, whom Mourdock beat in the 2012 primary election. Mourdock lost to Democrat Joe Donnelly in that year's general election.
“I promise you that every single day, I will give you my very, very best,” Indianapolis resident Mitchell told delegates, many of them wearing Kelly green T-shirts to show their support. “I'm really, truly, deeply honored to accept your nomination for state treasurer.”
Republican convention delegates also nominated two unopposed, appointed incumbents: Secretary of State Connie Lawson of Danville and Auditor Suzanne Crouch of Evansville.
The Democratic Party a week earlier nominated Beth White of Indianapolis for secretary of state, Mike Claytor of Carmel for auditor and Mike Boland of Fishers for treasurer.
On Saturday, Seybold won the first round of treasurer nominee balloting by seven votes over Mitchell and 52 over Richmond financial adviser Don Bates, a tea party favorite.
Because no candidate received a majority of votes cast – the spread ranged between Seybold's 34.7 percent and Bates' 31.2 percent – the election advanced to a second ballot.
Mitchell surged ahead of Seybold by 76 votes in the next tally but, named on 39.1 percent of the electronic ballots, failed to reach a majority. Bates finished third and was eliminated from the final round by convention rules.
Delegates for all three candidates had predicted that Bates' supporters would back Mitchell in the last ballot, and they obviously did just that. Mitchell, director of the treasurer's local government investment pool, received 870 votes, or 64 percent, to 497 votes for Seybold.
The three ballots took nearly 4 1/2 hours to complete. The number of voting delegates dwindled from 1,498 in the first round to 1,357 in the last. More than 1,650 delegates were eligible to vote.
In the morning, delegates adopted the party platform in a standing vote, with convention Chairman Ed Simcox declaring a clear majority from his perch on the stage.
Using the same method of voting, delegates defeated an amendment, endorsed by a faction called Grow Our Party, that would have removed the heterosexual marriage stipulation from the “Strong Family Structures” plank of the platform.
“This amendment is about growing our party, not dividing our party,” sponsor Tom John, a Marion County delegate, announced. “This amendment is not about whether we support gay marriage or we don't support gay marriage.”
Rush County delegate Michael Dora argued against the proposal.
“As we know, we should always treat people with grace, love and dignity, but that doesn't mean abandoning our principles,” Dora said.
The final plank states, “We believe that strong families, based on marriage between a man and a woman, are the foundation of society. We also recognize that some families are much more diverse and we support the blended families, grandparents, guardians and loving adults who successfully raise and nurture children to reach their full potential every day.”
State Democratic Party Chairman John Zody said in an emailed statement that the GOP platform “sends the debate over marriage equality in reverse.”
The Republican-dominated legislature this winter reworked a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriages, delaying a public vote until 2016.
In another standing vote at Saturday's GOP convention, delegates overwhelmingly rejected an amendment stating, “On the subject of divisive social issues, the Indiana Republican Party shall pursue solutions that bring resolution to the conflict and restore social harmony.”
Concluding two days of convention business and speeches, state GOP Chairman Tim Berry, a Fort Wayne native, urged delegates: “Let's take it to the streets. Let's win” in November.