FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — Indiana Republicans picked an all-woman team to lead their ticket in November at their convention Saturday, but also struggled through a divisive gay marriage battle and heard their state treasurer compare national economy to the events leading up to Germany’s 1936 elections under the Nazi regime.
Treasurer’s office staffer Kelly Mitchell won a surprise victory in three rounds of balloting at the convention to best Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold and financial adviser Don Bates for the treasurer’s nomination. She now joins Secretary of State Connie Lawson and Auditor Suzanne Crouch to make the three statewide Republican candidates for office this year all women.
“My heart is full of gratitude, it is overflowing,” Mitchell said, as she took the stage to accept the nomination. A tight-knit team of young Republicans, many of them who cut their teeth when former Gov. Mitch Daniels ran the party, helped lift Mitchell to victory through hours of balloting.
The Republican Convention in Fort Wayne was formally about the party selecting its candidates for office and approving its platform, but Treasurer Richard Mourdock drew attention when he compared the national economy to the events that led to the election of the Nazis.
Mourdock, who was on stage accepting a thank-you award from Republicans after eight years as state treasurer, talked about the sacrifice of veterans and D-Day, which happened 70 years ago. But he then launched into an analogy explaining how the Nazis exploited Germany’s bankruptcy to win office and stating that continuing debt troubles are likely to place the U.S. in a similar position.
“The truth is 70 years later we are drifting toward the tides of another beachhead with the bankruptcy of America,” he said.
Republican Party Chairman Tim Berry said he did not hear Mourdock’s comments because he was busy running the convention, but called comments regarding Nazis inappropriate.
Mourdock’s comments came shortly before the party’s delegates wrangled with the ongoing question of gay marriage. Social conservatives successfully amended the party’s platform last month to support marriage being between one man and one woman. Opponents of that language being the platform led an unsuccessful fight to have it removed from the platform.
Tom John, a Marion County delegate, proposed stripping the marriage language from the platform.
“This is about growing our party, not dividing our party,” he said. “This amendment is not about whether we support gay marriage or oppose gay marriage. What this is about is party unity.”
Rush County Republican Chairman Michael Dora, who authored the marriage language in the platform, argued his language — which recognizes multiple family structures — was a compromise with moderate Republicans.
The roughly 1,500 delegates who attended Saturday’s convention overwhelmingly supported keeping the marriage language in the platform.
The party now heads into the general election showdown with Democrats in November.