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Expert: Beckwith lieutenant governor run could be bid to push social conservative issues

A stadium-like screen shows Indiana Republican chairman Kyle Hupfer standing in a grey suit behind a podium with a blue sign that says "Indiana GOP" and has an elephant. Beneath it, a blue banner flashes saying "The Party of Purpose" with an elephant
Brandon Smith
IPB News
Elizabeth Bennion, Chancellor’s Professor of Political Science at Indiana University South Bend, said Beckwith's move could likely be him pushing for a focus on social conservative issues among state leaders.

Conservative pastor Micah Beckwith announced his run for lieutenant governor on Monday.

Elizabeth Bennion is Chancellor’s Professor of Political Science at Indiana University South Bend. She said the lieutenant governor is chosen at the state GOP party convention and often selected by the party’s gubernatorial candidate.

“This is unusual because the governor and the lieutenant governor will run together on a ticket in the fall election campaign,” she said. “And so usually the governor will pick a lieutenant governor as part of that ticket.”

Bennion said delegates will be responsiblefor deciding who to elect as lieutenant governor during this convention. She explained potential party delegates will be placed on primary ballots and will be decided ahead of the convention – where they will then decide lieutenant governor.

“As we think about that state convention where a lieutenant governor candidate will be elected, it's possible in theory that somebody who's not supported by a gubernatorial candidate who won in the primary could be selected,” she said.

READ MORE: You asked what role state party conventions play in Indiana. We’ve got answers.

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She said if Beckwith can get Republican delegates elected to the convention who support him – there is a chance he could be elected.

Bennion said this move could likely be Beckwith pushing for a focus on social conservative issues among state leaders.

“In some ways, this can be a signal to other candidates who are running for governor to say, we care about these issues,” she said. “I'm not the only one who cares about them.”

She said some of these issues include concerns about gender-affirming policies and critical race theory in schools.

Bennion said Gov. Eric Holcomb has generally focused on economic issues and steered clear of social issues throughout his term. She said it’s possible Beckwith is trying to send a different message.

“We care about the economy and economic issues, but also about these social issues,” she said. “And he wants to make sure that whoever becomes governor keeps those issues front and center.”

Beckwith has been outspoken against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and “woke culture.”

The lieutenant governor of Indiana leads the state Senate and serves several other statutory roles – including as secretary of agriculture and rural development and overseeing the offices of tourism, defense development and small business and entrepreneurship.

Violet is our daily news reporter. Contact her at vcomberwilen@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @ComberWilen.