Mayoral speculation grows following Hogsett resignation

(WISH Photo)
(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Speculation on what new job might soon be in the cards for U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett reached a fever pitch Monday, after Hogsett announced he will resign from office at the end of the month.

Hogsett’s resignation, effective July 31, came in the form of a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. It gave no reason for the resignation, instead expressing gratitude to those he worked with, and touting his office’s accomplishments.

“We have set new records for the number of defendants charged and the total number of criminal convictions. The office has led the nation in average length of sentences imposed on criminal defendants. Fiscally, annual office spending has fallen every year I have served,” Hogsett wrote in the letter.

A Hogsett spokesman declined to comment further. Federal law prohibits sitting U.S. attorneys from discussing future career plans.

Speculation regarding Hogsett’s interest in running for mayor of Indianapolis have surfaced repeatedly over the last year, despite comments made in March that he had no plans to do so. Hogsett had said at the time that he intended to remain U.S. Attorney through the end of his term in 2016.

Former U.S. Senator and Indiana Governor Evan Bayh — who nominated Hogsett to serve in his current post — addressed the speculation Monday afternoon, but offered little insight into Hogsett’s potential decision.

“I hope [he runs for Mayor],” Bayh told reporters. “But, that’s a decision for him to make. As you know, he won’t be stepping down from his current job until July 31, and I’m sure he’ll have an answer to that question at some point shortly thereafter.

Bayh said he had spoken with Hogsett “recently,” but said he planned to keep their conversations private. However, if Hogsett were to run for mayor, Bayh said he would eagerly support him, both by campaigning and through campaign donations.

“He’s my friend. I believe in him. But, of course, he has to make his decision first. I’ll do whatever I’m legally allowed to do,” Bayh said.

Other high profile Democrats were also playing information on a potential Hogsett mayoral run close to the vest.

“I don’t know anything more than that Joe has been a great U.S. Attorney for us, and he has a bright political future,” said Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody. “Whether it’s mayor or something else, I’m sure we’ll see great things from him ahead.”

Rep. Andre Carson (D-Indianapolis) and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana) also issued statements praising Hogsett’s record as top cop for the District of Southern Indiana.

“By bringing together federal law enforcement agencies and local prosecutors through his Violent Crime Initiative, Joe has created a good example of how we can leverage federal resources to assist regional and local efforts to reduce violent crime,” Donnelly wrote.

“His commitment to public safety in our city and state is unmatched,” Carson agreed. “I look forward to seeing what his future holds.”

But, not all were sold on that record.

“If he does run [for mayor] and he uses public safety as a focus topic, he should be prepared to defend his own record,” Marion County Republican Party Chairman Kyle Walker told 24-Hour News 8. “There were many opportunities missed to be more aggressive on violent crime, particularly when it comes to gun crimes.”

Still, Walker acknowledged Hogsett remains on the GOP’s radar.

“I know he’s said in the past he’s not interested in running for mayor. But, I assume he’s resigning for a reason. Any candidate they run, we’ll take seriously, including Joe,” Walker said.

So, likely, will Rep. Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis), who officially filed paperwork to run for mayor last week. In light of Hogsett’s resignation announcement Monday, DeLaney told 24-Hour News 8 political reporter Jim Shella that he is “evaluating his next move.”

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican, is expected to seek a third term next year, but has not announced plans yet. A spokesman deferred all comment on Hogsett’s announcement to the Marion County Republican Party.

To read Hogsett’s full resignation letter click here. 

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