GOP candidate Morales a no-show at secretary of state debate

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The two candidates who participated in an Indiana Secretary of State debate Monday night—Democrat Destiny Wells and Libertarian Jeff Maurer—differed sharply on election security, with divergent viewpoints that led to disparate signature policy stances.

Maurer repeatedly highlighted proposals to print “receipts” for voters and conduct pre-certification audits for all 92 Hoosier counties to boost voter trust in elections, while Wells emphasized her confidence in Indiana’s systems and accused Maurer of perpetuating Trump-esque election fear-mongering.

“I can’t tell you how many of our neighbors I’ve met out campaigning who say, ‘My vote doesn’t count. My vote doesn’t matter. The system is rigged,’” Maurer said. “… Our opportunity here in this election [is] to restore trust in our elections with common sense solutions: receipts and audits.”

Wells said “we must be operating from a fact-based, evidence-based place. Yes, we do have a voter trust problem, but that is because we have been living through the last years of perpetuating a Big Lie. … We can’t further add fuel onto the fire and say that your vote doesn’t matter or count, and that we’re going to have a 92-county audit.”

Maurer said his audit idea would require an independent company contracted by the state to conduct the audits, comparing the task to what large Wall Street companies do quarterly.

Wells said political candidates can already request recounts, demonstrating that Indiana already has “safeguards” in place.

Diego skips out

Republican nominee Diego Morales didn’t respond to debate invitations and both candidates lambasted him for not participating.

Wells implied Morales didn’t want to face ongoing controversies regarding work performance, campaign finance, military service, policy reversals and sexual assault allegations.

Maurer said Morales’ absence indicated he was overconfident he would win, and compared him to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

“There’s a candidate who refused to debate in 2000, 2004, 2012 [and] 2018; his name is Vladimir Putin,” Maurer said. “And for candidates who refuse to debate, the company you keep is Vladimir Putin.”

The League of Women Voters of Indiana hosted the debate, moderated by University of Indianapolis professor Laura Merrifield Wilson. It was broadcast by WFYI, local PBS and NPR stations and streamed on WFYI’s webpage, and is available for replay on Youtube.

Other ideas

While Maurer stood by Indiana’s voter identification laws, Wells said she’d advocate for policies that ease access to the polls, like longer polling hours, plus “less restrictive” voter registration and mail-in voting laws.

In a post-debate media availability, Maurer said his dual policy proposals aren’t alarmist, but are instead “telling voters that we’re doing everything right.”

“When you maintenance and service your car, you get the oil change before the light comes on. Or you change your brakes before they stop working. So this is good preventative maintenance on our election system,” Maurer told reporters. “… We’re taking proactive steps to anticipate that this could be a problem and we’re going to solve it now before it becomes a real problem.”

Wells, who at the end of the debate called herself the “only pro-democracy candidate on the ballot this year,” urged caution.

“Indiana, I think, is one of about six states that has a specific election denier candidate, and while Jeff may not be an election denier candidate, he is still perpetuating a lot of the falsehoods around the Big Lie,” Wells said. “He is wanting to make a 92-county audit to assure voters that their vote is being counted. I’m here saying your vote has been counted.”

The Indiana Capital Chronicle is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that covers state government, policy and elections.

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10 thoughts on “GOP candidate Morales a no-show at secretary of state debate

    1. That he’s incapable of standing on a stage for a debate is yet another example of his deficiencies as a candidate.

      I need some Republicans to explain to
      me what was so awful about Holli Sullivan…. and how Diego is an improvement.

    2. You are assuming the Republican Party you thought you knew still exists. It doesn’t it was taken over by TRUMP and his minions like Diego Morales andTodd Rokita.

    3. This is what happens when established R’s decide to take aim at the governor because they are unhappy with his efforts. Holly Sullivan should have been the choice, but she was unfortunately in the crosshairs. So, congratulations to those established R’s on making our choice lean towards the Libertarian party…..seeing how the R on the ballot is not a serious candidate.

    4. I disagree this is solely due to “established” Republicans, but they have their own role to play.

      This has everything to do with the crazy pants Republican primary voter. The 11% who voted for Don Rainwater. The folks who believe the nonsense on the Internet.

      These are the folks that Diego Morales, to his credit, figured out he could revive his political career by sucking up to. They’re the folks who showed up and voted for him in their convention.

      Now, establishment Republicans? They are the ones who will tell you their privately think Morales is an awful candidate. None of them had any interest in employing Morales. They know their base voter is, let’s be charitable, nuts. But they like power! So they go out there and fundraise for Diego. Even when, in the case of Todd Rokita, HE FIRED HIM FROM HIS OFFICE BECAUSE HE WAS AWFUL AT HIS JOB.

      The Republican Party has created a monster and lost control of it.

  1. Quote: Wells said she’d advocate for policies that ease access to the polls, like longer polling hours, plus “less restrictive” voter registration and mail-in voting laws.

    Yeah, like make it easier for us to cheat. Many permanent residents of Crown Hill are anxious to vote Democrat.

    1. Funny you say “us”, Bob. Maybe you should move to The Villages in Florida. That’s the hot bed of Republican election cheaters. Here in Indiana? Not so much.

      It’s amazing the lengths that people go to in order to make Donald Trump feel better about himself. That the destruction of American democracy is one of them amazes me on a daily basis.

    1. By that logic – only things that are part of the job description matter – Morales should have never been nominated SINCE HE GOT FIRED TWICE FROM THAT SAME OFFICE. Now he should run the place?

      He’s a guy you wouldn’t hire to work for your business, spend your money wisely, be around any of your female relatives, or expect to tell you the truth about his resume. But he’s a Republican, and that’s all that matters. Local chiropractors and orthopedic surgeons have to be making a killing from all the people hurting themselves to excuse Diego.