Former Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel has won the Democratic nomination for Indiana attorney general, the party announced Wednesday night.
Weinzapfel defeated state Sen. Karen Tallian of Ogden Dunes in a close race, which was decided by Indiana Democratic Party delegates who voted by mail during the past month. The vote was 1,057-1,009.
“It was a spirited campaign,” Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody said. “We had incredible turnout for this.”
Weinzapfel, 54, served as a state representative from 1999-2003 and as mayor of Evansville from 2004-11. After his terms as mayor, he was chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College in Evansville from 2014-19. He’s currently a partner at the law firm of Jones Wallace.
“These are unprecedented times and Hoosiers need an attorney general who will focus on us — on our families, on our health and our rights,” Weinzapfel said. “I’ll be an attorney general who fights to protect all Hoosier families.”
A few of his top priorities include protecting access to health care, criminal justice reform, consumer advocacy and protecting senior citizens.
He said he would immediately withdraw Indiana from a lawsuit with 19 other states that challenges the constitutionality the Affordable Care Act.
“The choice in this election will be clear,” Weinzapfel said. “This is a choice between an attorney general who will fight to protect our health care and a Republican candidate who will try to take it away from millions of Hoosiers.”
Even though Weinzapfel’s Republican opponent is still undecided, Democrats have focused the race on embattled incumbent Curtis Hill. Hill has been accused of inappropriately touching four women at a party after the end of the 2018 legislative session and recently had his law license suspended for 30 days due to the accusations. Hill has denied any wrongdoing.
“Tonight, we unite in our effort to defeat Curtis Hill,” Zody said.
Tallian had asserted that Indiana Democrats needed the voice of a strong woman in the race to challenge Hill, whom she likewise took to task for seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
Weinzapfel carried a significant fundraising edge into the race. Records from the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office show that as of mid-April, he had more than $660,000 in campaign funds available, compared to just over $100,000 for Tallian.
Hill faces three challengers — former congressman Todd Rokita, Decatur County Prosecutor Nate Harter and Indianapolis lawyer John Westercamp — for the GOP nomination.
The Republican candidates are scheduled to give speeches Thursday night during the party’s virtual convention, which will be broadcast on WISH-TV Channel 8.
The votes for the Republican candidates will be mailed in by state convention delegates by 5 p.m. July 9. Those results will be announced by the party July 10.
Weinzapfel said even if Hill doesn’t win the GOP nomination, it doesn’t change the race for Democrats.
“The issues are going to be there, and we’re going to talk about the issues regardless of who the Republican nominee is,” Weinzapfel said.
The Associated Press and Indiana Lawyer contributed to this report.