Holcomb, after avoiding stance on GOP’s Biden challenge, condemns Capitol riot

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with a Wednesday statement from Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb condemned riots in the Washington, D.C. by supporters of President Donald Trump, who interrupted the ceremonial counting of electoral votes to elect Joe Biden as president. The governor’s statement came a day after he declined to take a position on some fellow Republicans who challenged the election outcome.

“It’s both saddening and sickening to watch a mob devolve into thinking their rules would ever replace the rule of law. I unequivocally condemn the violence at the U.S. Capitol that we are now witnessing,” Holcomb said in a statement late Wednesday afternoon. “Passion, patriotism and love for our nation should always and only be expressed in constructive ways that seek to honor the ideals on which our nation was founded. Any means of violence runs counter to who we are and is never acceptable.”

The statement came a day after Holcomb, who was Vice President Mike Pence’s hand-picked successor as Indiana governor, said he wasn’t taking a stance on the challenge that’s picked up support from Indiana Sen. Mike Braun and at least two of the state’s seven Republican U.S. House members.

“It’s up to them what they do,” Holcomb said during an interview with The Associated Press and other news outlets. “I spend very little time thinking about other people’s jobs but my own these days, and I’ve never been happier to be serving Hoosiers in the state of Indiana and not in D.C.”

Indiana Republican Sen. Todd Young has not announced a position on the challenge and his office didn’t respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Holcomb has consistently avoided criticizing Trump but has launched a more active response to the COVID-19 pandemic than some other Republican governors such as issuing a statewide mask mandate in July.

Trump won Indiana’s electoral votes, defeating Biden by 16 percentage points in November, and Holcomb easily won his bid for a second term. Those results were ratified Monday by the state Legislature without any objections from Democratic lawmakers.

Trump has gained support from about a dozen Republican senators and dozens more House Republicans to challenge the Electoral College vote when Congress convenes in a joint session Wednesday afternoon to confirm Biden’s 306-232 win. Indiana Reps. Jackie Walorski and Jim Banks have said they will support the challenges.

Pence, who will preside over Wednesday’s congressional session, endorsed Holcomb’s jump from lieutenant governor to replace him as the Republican candidate for governor in 2016.

The Indiana Democratic Party said in a statement that “Eric Holcomb’s silence shows a lack of political courage and is a quiet endorsement of the Indiana Republican Party’s so-called ‘protest vote’ against the U.S. Constitution and American democracy.”

Holcomb said the electoral vote certification is the constitutional duty of Congress.

“I have no influence, by design of our system,” Holcomb said. “Each of us needs to be focused on our job, they are on theirs and they’ll make those decisions and I’ll make mine here.”

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