Republican Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita announced Friday that he is running for the 4th District congressional seat being vacated by longtime GOP Rep. Steve Buyer.
Buyer said Friday that he will serve out his term but will not seek re-election after 18 years in Congress because his wife, Joni, has an incurable autoimmune disease.
Rokita, 39, said he and his wife, Kathy, discussed how best to serve Indiana either in or out of elected office. Rokita was first elected secretary of state in 2002. He cannot run again because of term limits.
"For us, it became clear that the best way we can work on reducing the national debt and generating good jobs, strengthening our national and homeland security, and nurturing an environment based on conservative family value, is to ask the people of the 4th congressional District for the opportunity to serve them in Congress," Rokita said in a statement.
"Over the next several months, my team and I will work morning, noon, and evening crisscrossing the district and detailing our plans and ideas," he said.
Rokita said he visited all 92 counties every year while secretary of state and was deeply familiar with the people and issues of the district.
He said as secretary of state, he reduced the size and cost of the office while improving services.
Purdue University biology professor David Sanders, who lost badly to Buyer in the 2004 and 2006 elections, is the only Democrat to announce a campaign.
Republican state Sen. Brandt Hershman of Lafayette, Buyer’s district operations director, said Friday he would consider running in the 4th District. The heavily Republican district stretches from the Lafayette area through the western and southern suburbs of Indianapolis to Bedford.
Cheryl Denise Allen of Martinsville filed for the seat on the Republican side on Jan. 28. Trevor Foughty, spokesman for the Indiana Republican Party, said he did not know anything about her, and there was no telephone listing for her.
Rokita had considered a challenge to Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh this year. Republican Rep. Mike Pence also considered a run against Bayh but said recently that he was seeking re-election to the House instead.
While in office, Rokita led an effort to overhaul Indiana’s securities laws to provide more protections for investors. He created a prosecution assistance unit that has helped prosecute 37 cases and recover more than $29 million for victims.
He owersaw establishment of a statewide voter registration system, which links all county voter lists and updates them in real time to eliminate duplications.
And he has been a strong advocate for Indiana’s voter ID law, which requires people to show a state or federally issued photo ID to vote in person.
The Indiana Supreme Court announced last week that it would hear an appeal of a 2009 lower state court ruling that overturned the voter ID law because it required those who vote in person to verify their identities but not those who vote by mail.
The League of Women Voters argued the law violated the Indiana Constitution by imposing a new requirement on only some voters. The state appeals court agreed with those arguments in a 3-0 decision.