Ken de la Bastide: Ken de la Bastide column: Secretary of State race could bring surprise outcome

Sep. 24—Normally, campaigns for the office of Indiana secretary of state don't attract a lot of attention among voters.

This year is certainly different, however, when it comes to the state office that would regularly play second fiddle to the campaign for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Of course, there remains a lot of interest in the Senate race among incumbent Republican Todd Young and Democrat Thomas McDermott Jr. and Libertarian James Sceniak.

An internal poll by state Democrats appears to show that McDermott has at least a chance of defeating Young and winning the seat back.

No matter what polls might show, it seems unrealistic to think McDermott can defeat Young.

But the secretary of state's office might be a different story.

Republican Diego Morales emerged from the state convention in June as the party's nominee, defeating Holli Sullivan, who was appointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb to complete the term of Connie Lawson.

Since securing the nomination, Morales has been a lightning rod for controversy.

First, there is the fact that he was first terminated from positions in the Secretary of State's office for reportedly poor job performance.

It was announced this week that Pence will be appearing at a campaign event for Morales, a former member of his gubernatorial staff, at a cost of $500 per ticket.

This past week, Morales' claims about his military service have also come under examination, with several media outlets quoting documents that he failed to meet his obligation as a member of the Indiana National Guard.

When asked about his service, Morales responded the Indiana National Guard, U.S. Army or Department of Defense could assist with an answer as to why his commitment wasn't completed.

The Indiana Republican Party has mounted a defense of Morales by castigating the media.

As any veteran knows, the document that is reflective of military service is a DD214. There can be no mistake about time of service and where that service took place.

But what is most troubling is that Morales has questioned the validity of the 2020 presidential election.

As the state's chief election official, do we really want him to be in charge of the election process?

He has also called for reducing the number of days when Hoosiers can cast ballots from 28 to 14 — something he has since walked back, but if elected, would that be something Morales would push for?

He is running against Democrat Destiny Wells and Libertarian Jeff Maurer, both of whom quickly released their military records.

No matter the circumstances, it will be difficult for Morales to lose the election. And now he has announced his intention of not taking part in a debate.

The suggested strategy coming out of Indianapolis might be for Morales to lay low until Election Day.

But the Pence visit could make one wonder if the GOP is in danger of losing the office.

Senior Reporter Ken de la Bastide's column publishes Saturdays. Contact him at ken.delabastide@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4863.