INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Republican Todd Rokita has staged a political comeback in winning the Indiana attorney general’s office.
The former congressman defeated former Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel in a race that Democrats had targeted in hopes of winning their first statewide election since 2012.
Rokita’s campaign announced Tuesday he had tested positive for COVID-19 after developing “some symptoms” but was doing well.
Rokita lost the 2018 Republican U.S. Senate primary but started his comeback by defeating current Attorney General Curtis Hill for the GOP nomination after Hill was tarnished by allegations that he drunkenly groped four women during a party.
Rokita cast himself as an unabashed President Donald Trump supporter with an aggressive law-and-order and anti-abortion agenda that will continue Hill’s tactics of joining Republican lawsuits against what they regard as federal overreach, such as the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.”
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.
Former U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, the Republican candidate for Indiana attorney general, has tested positive for COVID-19 after developing “some symptoms," his campaign announced Tuesday.
Rokita, who faces Democratic candidate Jonathan Weinzapfel in Tuesday’s statewide election, had been quarantining with his family after he was informed “by a person unconnected to any campaign activities that he was exposed to COVID-19,” Rokita’s campaign said in a statement.
“Todd just recently tested positive after developing some symptoms. He is doing well and working from home,” the campaign said, adding that Rokita would watch Tuesday’s election returns at home with his family.
The race for the Indiana attorney general’s office was the most-contested statewide campaign for this year’s election ballot.
Democrats looking to break the stranglehold Republicans have over state government spent months castigating current Republican
Attorney General Curtis Hill over allegations that he drunkenly groped four women during a party, only to see Rokita narrowly defeat Hill for the GOP nomination in July.
Weinzapfel, a former Evansville mayor, said during the campaign he wanted to tone down partisanship in the office of state government’s top lawyer.
Rokita countered as an unabashed President Donald Trump supporter with an aggressive law-and-order and anti-abortion agenda that will continue Hill’s tactics of joining Republican lawsuits against what they regard as federal overreach, such as the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.”
Weinzapfel said he saw no difference between Rokita and Hill over what he called “gross politicization of the office.”
Rokita avoided defending Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb against conservative critics of the coronavirus-related executive orders he’s issued since March, including restrictions on personal movement, forcing some businesses to close and a statewide mask mandate.
Rokita won statewide elections as secretary of state in 2002 and 2006 before he held a central Indiana congressional seat for eight years. He lost a 2018 bid for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination to Mike Braun and unsuccessfully sought the party’s 2016 nomination for governor after then-Gov. Mike Pence became Trump’s vice presidential running mate.
Rokita has faced several controversies, including allegations that his congressional staffers often felt obligated to do political work to help his campaigns. And a 2018 Associated Press analysis of state and congressional spending records revealed that Rokita had spent more than $3 million in public money on advertising campaigns that often coincided with his bids for office.
With Holcomb holding big fundraising and organization advantages for his reelection campaign, Weinzapfel was trying to break the streak of Democratic defeats in statewide races that stretches back to the 2012 election. Republicans also hold commanding majorities in the Legislature, giving Democrats little influence in state government.