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Hoosier GOP insiders spurn party establishment, nominate Beckwith for LG

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Hoosier GOP insiders spurn party establishment, nominate Beckwith for LG

Jun 15, 2024 | 2:36 pm ET
By Leslie Bonilla Muñiz
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Hoosier GOP insiders spurn party establishment, nominate Beckwith for LG
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Lieutenant governor candidate Micah Beckwith chats with Republicans at the Indiana GOP's convention on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Leslie Bonilla Muñiz/Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Indiana’s GOP delegates narrowly named Noblesville pastor Micah Beckwith as the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in a shocking vote at the party’s convention Saturday.

The GOP’s 1,719 delegates rebuffed Republican gubernatorial nominee Mike Braun’s handpicked choice for the role — first-term Rep. Julie McGuire — in a vote of 891 to 828.

That’s despite McGuire nabbing a last-minute endorsement from former President Donald Trump. It was the first competitive race for the state’s second-highest office in decades.

“There’s no doubt about this. I’m in charge,” Braun told reporters after the vote. “And Micah is going to be someone that works with me. And if he doesn’t, … it will probably not be as fruitful in terms of what we can get done.”

Delegates also nominated incumbent Attorney General Todd Rokita, by voice vote, to the ballot. He ran unopposed.

“I want to tell you one thing, the Republican Party should be incredibly excited around the state of Indiana right now,” Beckwith said to cheers after the vote was announced.

“I want to say this about our next governor, Mike Braun. I’m excited to work with that man. He’s going to do great things for our state,” Beckwith continued. “I have said my job as lieutenant governor will be to do everything in my power to make him the most successful conservative governor in the entire United States.”

Braun said he’d move forward with Beckwith.

“I love competition. And Micah, even though I chose someone else to be my partner, you and I have known one another and everything you believe in, I have as well,” Braun told Beckwith on stage.

“I’m a guy that knows how to get from here to there. I’ll handle it well even when it doesn’t go your way. We will take Indiana to that next level,” Braun added. “Everything you’re interested in, and you’ve been disappointed with, recently, that’s going to change.”

Beckwith thanked Braun, saying, “Never once did he ever try to push me out of this race” — and thanked McGuire, adding, “Julie worked her tail off, just like I did.”

Braun later told reporters he’d wanted a partner with experience in the legislative process.

“To me, this is no different than when you have a little bump in the road. And you make the best out of it,” he said.

Term-limited Gov. Eric Holcomb and senior U.S.Sen. Todd Young did not attend Saturday’s convention, which was packed with the party’s “grassroots” conservatives.

Delegates have traditionally leaned more conservative – and more anti-establishment – than Republican general election and even primary election voters. 

Beckwith campaigned directly to them.

He ran an unorthodox solo campaign for the number two spot, publicly pitching himself as both the prospective governor’s cheerleader and a check on his power.

His upstart campaign began as a rebuke of Holcomb: the state’s pandemic-era shutdown, plus a veto on a transgender girls sports ban. Beckwith says his motivation is unchanged, even as Braun promises a more socially conservative approach to the governor’s office than the economy-minded Holcomb.

He also focused on the need for property tax relief in his campaign.

Beckwith is a pastor at Life Church’s Noblesville campus and co-hosts a podcast called “Jesus, Sex and Politics” with another pastor. He also operates a small business — a music school — and remains involved in his family’s dairy company.

He has additionally spent about five years doing policy work with the Indiana Family Institute and was prominent in a Hamilton County public library effort to relocate allegedly inappropriate books.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jennifer McCormick’s campaign has said an announcement about her lieutenant governor pick is on the way.

The Indiana Democratic Party excoriated Beckwith’s positions as “extreme” in a news release Saturday, but gave a nod to the rare choice delegates had. 

“Today, Indiana Republicans showed their stark divisions, not only within their party, but with their visions for the future of our state,” Democratic Party Chairman Mike Schmuhl said. “Gubernatorial candidates selected by the people should be allowed to select their potential governing partners, and Micah Beckwith’s win shows how out-of-the-mainstream extremism has hijacked the current Indiana GOP.”

Schmuhl criticized Beckwith’s library activism and a video he made the day after the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, in which he said the assault was divinely inspired. 

“… People are disgusted by what they saw, and a lot of people are freaking out over what they saw, and I can totally understand that,” Beckwith says in the video. “But I was in prayer this morning … and you know what the Lord told me?”

“He said, ‘Micah,’ he said, ‘I sent those riots to Washington.’ He said, ‘What you saw yesterday was my hand at work.'” 

Braun, however, dismissed his new partner’s antics in comments to reporters.

“My running mate can say whatever he wants,” Braun said. “If it doesn’t make sense, if it doesn’t resonate, remember: I’m going to be the governor.”

Beckwith told reporters that if he disagrees with Braun, in keeping with a biblical citation, he’d hash it out “in private” first, but added, “I also know what hills I should die on and what hills I shouldn’t.”

The lieutenant governor position is second in line to the governor and has an additional 26 statutory roles, alongside other duties, according to the National Lieutenant Governors Association.