The candidates for secretary of state. Left to right: Republican Diego Morales, Democrat Destiny Scott Wells and Libertarian Jeff Maurer. (Photos from campaign websites.)
Democratic Secretary of State candidate Destiny Wells had a sliver of a lead over Republican Diego Morales in a poll of 800 likely November voters released Wednesday evening. Illinois-based boutique consulting firm ARW Strategies conducted the poll on behalf of Indianapolis-based political commentator Abdul-Hakim Shabazz.
About 31% of respondents went for Wells, while 28% supported Morales. Another 7% wanted Libertarian Jeff Maurer, while 34% were undecided. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.46% — enough to wipe away Wells’ lead, or give her another boost.
Democrats see a rare statewide opportunity in Morales, a controversial figure who’s expressed 2020 election skepticism and was twice fired from the office he now seeks to lead.
Republicans are split, ARW Strategies founder Andrew Weissert told Shabazz, noting that just 59% went for Morales and another 33% were undecided.
“This race looks like it could be very close entering the fall. … Under normal circumstances, Morales can expect most, if not all, Republicans to ultimately come home but if I’m advising him, I’m not taking chances and he needs to make sure he unites the party behind him,” Weissert said. “… [Wells]’ll need to win nearly all independents and/or peel away a significant chunk of Republican votes from Morales to pull off the win, neither of which are a small task.”
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Morales’ campaign said his “sole focus” was visiting voters in all of Indiana’s 92 counties.
“When voters meet Diego, they see his work ethic and background set him apart from other candidates,” wrote campaign manager Kegan Prentice in an email. “He came to the U.S. not knowing English, graduated college, earned both an MBA and an international MBA all while working multiple jobs to pay for school. Diego is a U.S Army veteran, public servant and small business owner. He will continue to work hard every day to earn Hoosiers’ votes in November.”
In a statement, Indiana Democratic Party spokesman Drew Anderson called Morales “an extremist who intends to dismantle Hoosier democracy and use the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office as a political pawn for dangerous insurrectionists like Steve Bannon,” referring to Morales’ participation on the former Trump adviser’s podcast.
Anderson said Wells “would be a champion for Hoosiers and will continue the integrity and security of Indiana’s elections.” Wells is a Democratic party executive, lawyer and military intelligence officer in the U.S. Army Reserve.
Wells led in the Chicago, Indianapolis, Lafayette and South Bend areas, while Morales did better in the Cincinnati, Evansville, Fort Wayne and Louisville areas, according to Shabazz.
Maurer, meanwhile, celebrated the results.
“You’re seeing a competitive race as exhausted Hoosiers are looking for competent, impartial leadership to audit our elections, and provide voters with printed receipts,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “This race is a jump ball, and my solutions continue to get respect and gain traction among common-sense Hoosiers.”
Maurer’s campaign noted that if he earns at least 10% of the vote statewide in November, Indiana voters would be able to participate in Libertarian primaries for four years after. If he’s a county’s second-highest vote-getter, the the Libertarian Party of Indiana could appoint a party member to the county’s election board for four years.
ARW Strategies conducted the poll July 19-21 via phone calls and text messages.
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