Beleaguered Morales emerges victorious in secretary of state race

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Diego Morales speaks to supporters at an Indiana Republican Party event on Tuesday night in Indianapolis. (IBJ photo/Taylor Wooten)

Despite numerous controversies dogging his campaign, Republican secretary of state candidate Diego Morales emerged victorious Tuesday night, ending Democrats’ bid to land their first statewide election victory in a decade.

Morales spoke to GOP supporters at the JW Marriott at about 9:50 p.m., shortly after Indiana Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer declared him the winner. At that time, he had about 55% of the vote to Democratic opponent Destiny Wells’ 40%, with about 66% of the ballots counted. 

“Hoosiers have once again shown that they trust the Republican Party to run free and fair elections in Indiana and have rejected Democrats’ efforts to reduce the integrity of them,” Hupfer said in a statement.

Many political pundits had expected it to be a much closer race due to the laundry list of allegations against Morales–something the candidate appeared to reference in his speech to the GOP faithful.

“The truth always prevails,” Morales told the crowd. “Let me say that again. The truth always prevails.”

The allegations against Morales started piling up during his last run for public office in 2018 when he lost in a multi-candidate congressional primary to Jim Baird, who ultimately won the 4th District congressional seat.

During that campaign, Morales was criticized for embellishing parts of his resume, including his work as an aide for then-Gov. Mike Pence and his time in the Secretary of State’s Office. Those allegations followed him in this year’s campaign and were joined by a litany of other incidents and accusations:

  • Records show Morales was fired from the Secretary of State’s Office in 2009 under then-Secretary Todd Rokita for failing to agree to a work-improvement plan. When he landed another job in the office in 2011 under then-Secretary Charlie White, he was disciplined for failing to complete work. 
  • Morales was accused of exaggerating his military service. He spent three months and 18 days on active duty as part of his training period and separated from the Indiana National Guard three years before his eight-year commitment was over, according to military records.
  • In September, two women came forward to accuse Morales of unwanted sexual advances that allegedly occurred more than a decade ago. He has denied the allegations, calling them “politically motivated.”
  • Morales declined to participate in at least two public debates. 
  • More recently, Morales was accused of voting in Hendricks County during his 2018 campaign while claiming a homestead deduction on his Marion County property.

Instead of debating, Morales said he would rather focus his energy on traveling the state’s 92 counties, which proved to be a winning strategy.

Morales has vowed to strengthen the state’s existing voter ID law by making absentee voters provide a copy of their driver’s license with their voting application. To increase voter turnout, he said he would roll out public campaigns to educate Hoosiers about the voting process.

Despite his beleaguered campaign, Morales earned the backing of several high-profile Republicans, including Rokita, former Secretary of State Ed Simcox, former Vice President Mike Pence and Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Wells’ first campaign

Democrat Destiny Wells concedes in her race against Republican Diego Morales. (IBJ photo/Destiny Wells)

Wells addressed her supporters in a speech Tuesday night in which she urged them to continue to fight for the party in future elections.

“We were on the precipice of an amazing opportunity for Indiana with this office,” Wells said. “We were about to flip Indiana blue for the first time in a decade. But we fell a little short.”
Mike Schmuhl, chair of the Indiana Democratic Party, warned that Morales’ victory could undermine the state’s election process.
“The Republicans nominated somebody at their convention who is dangerous for this state,” Democratic Party Chair Mike Schmuhl. “And unfortunately, we’re about to see what that looks like.”

In what was her first campaign for public office, Wells often touted her working class roots in rural Morgan County and her military service. The first in her family to attend college, she joined the Indiana Army National Guard shortly after 9/11, served in Afghanistan and went on to earn the rank of U.S. Army Reserve lieutenant colonel.

Wells has volunteered for Democratic campaigns and worked as associate corporation counsel for the city of Indianapolis and Marion County and, later, as deputy attorney general for Indiana under Curtis Hill.

Her campaign for secretary of state officially launched on Jan. 6, 2022, one year after the insurrection at the Capitol.

Wells was critical of her opponent, pointing to his earlier position that the 2020 election was a “scam.” Morales has since said that Joe Biden won the election.

She has said Indiana “is a purple state with a turnout problem,” noting that Hoosiers typically rank in the bottom 20 percentile of states when it comes to voter turnout.

To increase turnout, she advocated for removing restrictions on absentee mail-in voting. Currently, Hoosiers must provide one of 11 excuses when requesting a mail-in ballot, which can include senior citizen status, military service or being sick or disabled.

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27 thoughts on “Beleaguered Morales emerges victorious in secretary of state race

    1. Generally, wing men aren’t fired for incompetence…

      What Morales does is make Rokita look like a serious politician by comparison.

  1. It’s ridiculous beyond compare. An election denier in charge of our elections. He knew he didn’t even have to debate. He could rely on Hoosier suckers.

    1. Don’t worry…y’all got Mears in Indy as prosecutor. Maybe he can harness the additional crime he will encourage–by letting hardened criminals back out on the streets–to “pick off” some of the most inconvenient GOPers. It was certainly the tactics of the Bolsheviks that the donkey party today increasingly models itself after–use absolute scum-of-the-earth humans to intimidate votrs.
      But then, most of us who used to support Dems have since recognized that violence is the order of the game for the “party of compassion” and “intellectualism”.

    2. Lauren what on Earth are you going on about? Dems violence? Humans are violent unfortunately regardless of political persuasion but I do appreciate the laugh that you’ve given me with your ludicrous comment. I can’t imagine with your obvious intelligence (and I mean that sincerely) that you think January 6, 2021 was a peaceful protest with a noose just as a sweet innocent prop. Jesus Christ.
      PS I’m no Mears fan.

  2. Certainly a sad state of affairs as Indiana voters believe this one is the most qualified. Very disappointing in fact that voters cannot elect qualified candidates, regardless of parties. We need to get back to individual exerience and qualification.

    1. By reporting on the failings (and worse) of a flawed candidate? That’s their job! Any candidate that lies about their military service record, embellishes their job history, votes illegally and makes unwanted sexual advances on colleagues should expect those issues to be covered by the media.

    2. LOL Mike. Their job is to report. The failings of Mears are obvious to anyone who can read a line graph, yet IBJ and the Star didn’t devote a fraction of attention to that.

      They were slobbering over Destiny Wells “I’m alarmed by the GOP because of their stance on the transformer community”. Such a winning ticket.

  3. It blows me away that people simply vote straight ticket. You can’t have a worse candidate for office, running against a really strong non controversial candidate and its not close.
    Hoosiers get what they vote for

  4. Suck it up, you crybabies.

    How about this quote: “During that campaign, Morales was criticized for embellishing parts of his resume…”

    Hell, that consummate idiot Joe Biden proved you can become President of The United States of America despite doing the same thing to a greater degree for his entire life, so bug off criticizing Morales for doing far less.

    1. Please excuse Bob P., as he didn’t have a very good night watching the election returns come in with a promised Red Wave turning about to be nothing more than a Red Drip. Tsk tsk.

    2. Morales did do far less… that’s why he got fired twice from the SOS office. Now he’s in charge of it. Boy, I bet the morale in that office is something today.

      Behold the new Indiana Republican Party. The era of Mitch Daniels and Eric Holcomb is over, the era of Todd Rokita and Diego Morales is upon us.

    3. Don’t worry Brent. The big joke is on the American public.

      While we all know the Jim Crow Party rigs elections as a matter of course (even I joked about the way Dems get dead voters back when I mostly voted Dem), the Red Drip will at least still stop some of the excesses.

      It’s common knowledge that you need a 52-53% success rate among Republicans to overcome Democrat shenanigans. Always have.

      But there’s enough Blue in American cities that they will continue to lurch toward the conditions that made them cesspools in the 70s and 80s. Blue back then, blue today. Keep murdering one another in the name of equity and inclusion.

      These haven’t exactly been the roaring twenties so far, have they? Unless, of course, you’re a billionaire–and the Dems are most certainly the party of billionaires….all while continuing to delude themselves into thinking they’re standing up against the establishment. Identity politics has distorted the party of the common man into turning what was a class struggle into a race/gender/sexuality struggle…leaving a clearly defined persona non-grata, just like the Dixiecrats and Germans under a certain mustachioed Austrian painter. It needs to come back to being a class struggle. Leave it to what remains of the inner Marxist in me to point this out.

    4. Post all the links to all that common knowledge … and all those links to those superior news sources, too.

      0-60 in 2020 election court cases. Even Jim Irsay had a better record as Colts GM.

  5. In all fairness to Curtis Hill And Charlie White , Diego Morales must be investigated for doing the same violations they were removed from office for committing. We probably can’t count on Attorney General Todd Rokita to act as he is a Morales ally. So Maybe Marion county prosecutor Ryan Meers will act to enforce the voting laws the public record shows Morales violated in 2018. And investigate the sexual harassment allegations by the 2 Republican women who reported his behavior to Republican power brokers prior to Morales nomination at their convention. The #tag me too movement should demand that the truth shall prevail.
    Morales quote the truth always prevails at his victory speech may be more biting than he thought.

    If this action is taken quickly enough Gov Holcomb can reappoint current Secretary of State Holli Sullivan again to replace a second unqualified candidate elected by his party to the Secretary of State Office.

    1. If he does it that will be the first law Ryan Mears enforces. Maybe the King of Catch and Release will put an ankle monitor on Diego.

  6. Hilarious that there are still talks of fraud without evidence. Maybe volunteer for an election to see how they actually work, then get back to posting.