Daniels names longtime state senator as secretary of state

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A moderate Republican Indiana state senator will take over the embattled office of secretary of state, which has been rocked for more than a year by voter fraud allegations against the ousted elections chief.

Gov. Mitch Daniels announced Sen. Connie Lawson's appointment Friday.

"This new opportunity to serve all Hoosiers Republicans and Democrats across the state is a responsibility I take very seriously," she said Friday morning in the governor's office, flanked by Daniels, Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman and her family.

The decision came a day after the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that Secretary of State Charlie White's 2010 candidacy had been valid despite the Feb. 4 conviction on voter fraud and other felony charges that forced him from office.

The court ruling dashed Democrats' hopes of having runner-up Vop Osili named to the job and cleared the way for the Republican governor to appoint a successor.

"Senator Lawson has a tough road ahead of her to restore integrity to an office stained by the record of the convicted felon who most recently occupied it. We hope, for all Hoosiers, that she is able to successfully rebuild," Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker said in a statement Friday.

Daniels called Lawson, a Republican from Danville who has served in the Senate since 1996, an "obvious choice" for the job.

"Indiana has probably never been served by a secretary of state better prepared on day one," he said.

Lawson is one of Senate President Pro Tem David Long's top lieutenants and part of an ever-shrinking group of moderate Republicans in the Senate, where she has served since 1996.

Lawson, only the second woman to hold the office, will serve the remainder of White's term, which runs until 2015. Sue Anne Gilroy was elected in 1994 and served two terms.

Before joining the Senate, Lawson was a local elections administrator. She said she views her new office as the "chief election officer" for Indiana, a description that White disputed when he was battling criminal charges. Daniels said he could not find a better choice for the job, based in large part on her elections experience.

White, a Republican, was sentenced Feb. 23 to one year of home detention.

He was charged after he listed his ex-wife's address instead of his new condo on his 2010 voter registration form, when he already was claiming the condo as his home on other legal documents. Prosecutors said he wanted to avoid giving up a town council salary after moving out of the district he was elected to represent.

Democrats contended the conviction proved White ineligible to run for office and that state law requires a winner whose candidacy is declared invalid be replaced with the second-place finisher, in this case Osili.

The Supreme Court disagreed and unanimously overturned a Marion County judge's decision ordering the state recount commission to certify Osili, who finished about 300,000 votes behind White. The commission had upheld White's candidacy last June.

Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard wrote that Democrats could have filed an official challenge to White's candidacy before the election instead of waiting until after the election. Under Indiana law, he said political campaigns must "investigate and vet their opposition before the pre-election time limitations expire."

Long, who joined the Senate with Lawson in 1996, called her pick a loss for the Legislature, but said he advised her to embrace the role.

"I don't care how old we are, you can never shy away from new challenges and opportunities," he said Friday. If you're good and you're right for the job you should take it."


  • No surprise
    He made the pick before he and the Supreme Court determined the outcome of the lawsuit. Watch next for a male on the Supreme Court. Naming a female to this position is to offset the fact that he's had two chances to name a female to the S.C. and won't do it.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I am not by any means judging whether this is a good or bad project. It's pretty simple, the developers are not showing a hardship or need for this economic incentive. It is a vacant field, the easiest for development, and the developer already has the money to invest $26 million for construction. If they can afford that, they can afford to pay property taxes just like the rest of the residents do. As well, an average of $15/hour is an absolute joke in terms of economic development. Get in high paying jobs and maybe there's a different story. But that's the problem with this ask, it is speculative and users are just not known.

  2. Shouldn't this be a museum

  3. I don't have a problem with higher taxes, since it is obvious that our city is not adequately funded. And Ballard doesn't want to admit it, but he has increased taxes indirectly by 1) selling assets and spending the money, 2) letting now private entities increase user fees which were previously capped, 3) by spending reserves, and 4) by heavy dependence on TIFs. At the end, these are all indirect tax increases since someone will eventually have to pay for them. It's mathematics. You put property tax caps ("tax cut"), but you don't cut expenditures (justifiably so), so you increase taxes indirectly.

  4. Marijuana is the safest natural drug grown. Addiction is never physical. Marijuana health benefits are far more reaching then synthesized drugs. Abbott, Lilly, and the thousands of others create poisons and label them as medication. There is no current manufactured drug on the market that does not pose immediate and long term threat to the human anatomy. Certainly the potency of marijuana has increased by hybrids and growing techniques. However, Alcohol has been proven to destroy more families, relationships, cause more deaths and injuries in addition to the damage done to the body. Many confrontations such as domestic violence and other crimes can be attributed to alcohol. The criminal activities and injustices that surround marijuana exists because it is illegal in much of the world. If legalized throughout the world you would see a dramatic decrease in such activities and a savings to many countries for legal prosecutions, incarceration etc in regards to marijuana. It indeed can create wealth for the government by collecting taxes, creating jobs, etc.... I personally do not partake. I do hope it is legalized throughout the world.

  5. Build the resevoir. If built this will provide jobs and a reason to visit Anderson. The city needs to do something to differentiate itself from other cities in the area. Kudos to people with vision that are backing this project.