Republican Diego Morales claims victory Tuesday night in the Secretary of State race. (Casey Smith/Indiana Capital Chronicle)
Embattled Republican Diego Morales claimed an easy victory in Indiana’s Secretary of State race Tuesday night — overcoming a slate of controversies in a race that was less competitive than expected.
“My commitment to you is that I will work as hard as I have been doing to make you all be proud, and take this office — the legacy of former secretaries of state — to the next level. That is my commitment to all of you,” Morales said Tuesday evening at the Indiana Republican Party’s election night event.
“Hoosiers have once again shown that they trust the Republican Party to run free and fair elections in Indiana and have rejected Democrats’ efforts to reduce the integrity of them,” Indiana Republican Party Chair Kyle Hupfer said in a statement.
As of 11 p.m., Morales had earned nearly 59.1% of the vote, to Democrat Destiny Wells’ 35%, according to the Indiana Election Division.
The typically sleepy down-ballot race was in the spotlight this election cycle because, in an era of increasing election skepticism, the secretary oversees elections in Indiana.
But Morales compounded that by racking up dozens of headlines throughout his campaign involving numerous allegations. Days before the election, for example, he was accused of committing voter fraud in 2018.
“The truth always prevails,” Morales said Tuesday. “Let me say that again — the truth always prevails, always.”
Democrat hopes for statewide victory dashed
Democrats saw the race as a rare opportunity for statewide victory. The party hasn’t won a statewide race since 2012, and hasn’t installed a Democrat Secretary of State in more than 30 years.
But Wells fell short — indicating that the large percentage of undecided voters in polling last month ultimately went for Morales.
Wells warned of trouble to come with Morales in office, though she didn’t mention him by name, at the Democrats’ election night event in Indianapolis. She had previously accused Morales of denying the results of the 2020 presidential election; Morales had dubbed it a “scam,” according to the Associated Press.
“It is upon you, Hoosiers, who will be charged with securing our elections, because our next Secretary of State is going to need all of our help in a very big way,” Wells said.
“We need to make sure that we are all coming together to guard that [electoral] system because it is going to be put to the test with every effort by election deniers to continue with the Big Lie,” Wells continued. “It will not stop after this year. Make no mistake. We must slay every effort to tear down our democracy.”
Libertarian misses mark
Democrats weren’t the only ones with high hopes for the secretary of state’s race, which is also Indiana’s party ballot-access race.
Libertarian Jeff Maurer needed to win at least 10% of the votes cast statewide to give Libertarians primaries for the next four years, and 10% in specific counties to get Libertarian representation on local election boards.
By 11 p.m., he’d racked up about 6% of the vote.
A Libertarian has earned more than 10% of the vote for a statewide race recently – Donald Rainwater won 11.4% in 2020’s race for governor – but that didn’t count for ballot access.
Other Republicans claim victories for statewide offices
Incumbent State Auditor Tera Klutz, a Republican, claimed an overwhelming victory over two challengers Tuesday. By 11 p.m., Klutz had earned 65% of the vote to Democrat ZeNai Brooks’ 31% and Libertarian John Schick’s 3.5%, according to The New York Times.
“Upon assuming office in ‘17, almost six years ago … we got straight to work,” she said Tuesday night at the Indiana Republican Party’s election night event. “But I’m telling you, there’s a lot more to do, and I’m super confident with the team that we have … we will continue to build on those successes, making sure Indiana is fiscally strong and resilient, and most important, keeps Indiana working for you.”
Klutz, a certified public accountant, first won election in 2018 after Gov. Eric Holcomb appointed her in 2017. She was previously Allen County’s auditor.
Republican Daniel Elliott also emerged victorious in his bid for Indiana Treasurer of State. By 11 p.m., he’d won 66% of the vote against Democrat Jessica McClellan, who earned about 34%.
“Republicans have a message that matters that Hoosiers are responding to across the state,” he said Tuesday evening at the Indiana Republican Party’s election night event. “I am excited for what we have done and what we will do in the future.”
The Capital Chronicle’s Casey Smith contributed reporting.
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