Thursday, June 9, 2016

Indiana GOP Delegates Face Real Choices in Nomination Contests for AG, Superintendent of Public Instruction

Republican delegates elected from across Indiana will meet Friday night and Saturday morning in Indianapolis to decide who will represent the party for Attorney General and Superintendent of Public Instruction.  While a Lt. Governor candidate is also nominated at the state convention held on those two days, the only candidate for that position is Eric Holcomb, the current Lt. Governor under Governor Mike Pence.

Quite often state political party conventions are merely pep rallies.  But the contests for AG and Superintendent are being fiercely contested.  Let's look at the candidates for those contested contests.

Attorney General

The AG's race features four candidates.  Steve Carter, who was Indiana's Attorney General from 2001 to 2009 is running.  Another candidate is Abby Kuzma, who is currently an Assistant Attorney General under current AG Greg Zoeller, who was Carter's right hand-man when Carter served as Attorney General.

Carter and Kuzma face off against two "outsiders," Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill and State Senator Randy Head.
State Senator Randy Head

As an elected delegate, I am still pondering what to do in this race. I doubt I could supporter Carter or Kuzma. As an attorney, I've seen how the Attorney General's office has operated during the Carter-Zoeller years and I strongly believe there needs to be a change in direction. Consumer protection has been horrible during the past 16 years.  On another issue, while Carter (and his successor Zoeller) both went after gas stations that were "price gouging,"  the fact is the law gave him absolutely no legal authority to do so absent an emergency declared by the governor, fact I've written about on my website.  As far as Zoeller goes, his claim that he can pick and choose which laws get defended in court is untenable. It is a position that gives the AG an absolute veto over laws passed by our legislature.

I find Hill to be an intriguing choice.  Apparently he is well-liked by his staff, an important consideration for managing an office as diverse as the Attorney General.  But I am appalled by his insistence on pursuing felony murder charges against the Elkhart Four, a situation for which the law by any logical review of the facts did not apply - a fact the Indiana Supreme Court held.  Also, Prosecutor Hill's decision just last year to subpoena a reporter's notes in another case was an unacceptable attack on the idea of a free press.  In a letter to Prosecutor Hill, the NewsGuild attacked the decision:
On behalf of the 25,000 members of The NewsGuild-CWA, the union, until recently known as The Newspaper Guild-CWA, that has been representing professional journalists since 1933, I am writing to condemn your reckless, unconstitutional and shameful misconduct toward Elkhart Truth reporter Emily Pfund.
We call on you to rescind immediately your subpoena for Ms. Pfund’s testimony and her notes and other materials stemming from an interview with an inmate who accuses authorities of interrogating him under duress while needing medical care for a concussion and broken nose.
If you are genuinely concerned about the abuse-of-power allegations that Ms. Pfund’s interview raised, you can follow up with inmate Freddie Rhodes, with the police officers involved, and with the medical personnel who treated Mr. Rhodes’ injuries.
Instead, your pursuit of Ms. Pfund suggests a chilling attempt to punish her and the newspaper for publishing Mr. Rhodes’ charges, and to silence further such reporting. And it is not just the journalists’ First Amendment rights that are at stake. Your community has a fundamental right to know what its elected and appointed officials are doing, as well as the right and responsibility to hold those officials accountable.
I could not agree more. The prosecution of the Elkhart Four and going after a reporter's notes causes me to be concerned about Prosecutor Hill's judgment and temperament. Still, Attorney General is a completely different position than being a county prosecutor, the latter of which carries prosecutorial power while the former does not.

That leaves Randy Head. I know little about Senator Head, but his literature does suggest he disagrees with Zoeller and that all laws passed by the legislature should be defended in court. That's a major plus in my book.

Superintendent of Public Instruction

Two candidates square off for the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jennifer McCormick, the superintendent of the Yorktown Community Schools, and Dawn Wooten, a college instructor.   I don't know much about the two candidates, but I suspect the fight will focus on Common Core.  On her website, McCormick insists that Indiana totally abandoned Common Core in its standards:
Indiana is not a Common Core state. Indiana standards are not Common Core, and Indiana does not utilize Common Core testing. The Common Core standards have been repealed in Indiana because of concerns related to federal overreach. Indiana crafted and implemented our own state standards with input from Hoosiers. We deserved better standards, and we now have better standards.
Wooten, who was involved in crafting the new standards, disagrees and includes on her website a very compelling side-by-side comparison of Indiana standards and Common Core to prove her point.


leon dixon said...

When it comes to who knows about Common Core and Indiana and Mike Pence's foolishness it is hard to overcome the knowledge of Heather C or Erin T.....who are as close to experts on the subject as anyone in my opinion they have no peers. IDOE is FOS as is the whole Republican education agenda for the most part. Now, if you don't know who Erin T is or Heather C you ought not vote until you can find both of your nether cheeks with both hands. They have the goods and they are not supportive of the pretty face from Yorktown, Indiana but rather of the candidate who knows what she is talking about. "Leon Dixon " Republican Education Policy is bankrupt, anti family, anti academics, anti taxpayer, anti parent and it also is very much anti teacher. At least, it is anti teacher to this extent: Under our old standards, the one's internationally benchmarked, the ones clearly written and understood, teachers had a fighting chance to achieve, thru measured student academic achievement, merited recognition and compensation for their essential contributions. It mattered not that our cheap and lying blob of an establishment played games with cut scores-lying to Indiana for decades,by the way, reasonable people judging teacher performance with the talent afforded those teachers in terms of the material or lack of it could come to understanding of a teacher's professional competence. Not so, under Common Core/Mike Pence/ Republican cheapskates and users. Deflecting the blame for our crap schools onto the teachers instead of their 150 person school board makes political sense but only in the very short run." Just to be clear, Congress critters need to bug out and fix what they isn't in their wheelhouse." Which was posted on the site of the pretty face......

Pete Boggs said...

AG candidates should state unequivocal support for defending Indiana law- period. Leon's right, Heather & Erin are the trusted source for Indiana's education agenda & Commie Core edu-counterfeiting.