Ken de la Bastide: Ken de la Bastide column: State GOP elected officials in turmoil

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Jan. 1—The Indiana Republican Party is in turmoil, with Gov. Eric Holcomb and Attorney General Todd Rokita entangled in the political web.

At the center of the dispute is Holcomb's ability as governor to declare public health emergencies in the midst of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

During a press conference this week, it could be said that Holcomb took Rokita to the proverbial woodshed.

Holcomb was critical of statements made by Rokita in which he proclaimed the statistics being provided by the state concerning the pandemic are false.

Rokita in a press interview proclaimed that deaths being attributed to the virus are not the real causes of death of Indiana residents.

Holcomb is facing a challenge in the Republican Party-dominated Indiana General Assembly concerning the emergency declarations.

Some Republicans in the Legislature have introduced bills that would require a special session of the lawmakers be convened to authorize the governor's actions.

It certainly seems to be short-sighted by the lawmakers to require a governor to call a special session before declaring an emergency.

If enacted, it would certainly limit Holcomb and any future governor to declare an emergency in an unforeseen event.

There should be little doubt that Rokita is eyeing a run for the governor's office in 2024.

His actions and statements as Attorney General certainly are undoubtedly being engineered to cater to the voting block that supported former President Donald Trump.

Since 2002, Rokita has attempted to be on the state ballot in every election.

He served two terms as Secretary of State, winning elections in 2002 and 2006. Rokita won four elections as a member of the U.S. House.

In 2016 he dropped his re-election bid to Congress and attempted to be the party's candidate for governor when Mike Pence resigned to become Trump's vice president.

Rokita made a bid for the party's nomination for the U.S. Senate, but lost to Mike Braun in the primary election.

Rokita was then elected attorney general in 2020.

In seeking the gubernatorial nomination in 2024, Rokita would enter an anticipated strong field of candidates.

Current Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch is planning to run for the nomination, and there are rumors that Braun will not seek re-election to the U.S. Senate to seek the gubernatorial nod.

Crouch has over $1 million in her campaign fund and Fort Wayne businessman Eric Doden reported close to $1 million in July.

Rokita's campaign had about $350,000 in July.

Congressman Jim Banks, 3rd District, is also expected to consider running for the state's highest office.

Should both Rokita and Banks decide to enter the 2024 primary, they could both be trying to woo the same block of voters.

At this point, there are no Democrats expressing an interest in the governor's race.

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

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