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Despite much controversy lingering in his campaign, Republican nominee for Secretary of State Diego Morales emerged victorious on Tuesday night, ending Democrats’ bid for their first statewide election win in a row. decade.
Morales spoke to GOP supporters at the JW Marriott around 9:50 p.m., shortly after Republican Indiana President Kyle Hupfer declared him the winner. At that time, he had about 55% of the vote against Democratic opponent Destiny Wells’ 40%, with about 66% of the ballots counted.
“The Hoosiers have once again shown their confidence in the Republican Party to deliver free and fair elections in Indiana and have rejected Democrats’ efforts to undermine its integrity,” Hupfer said in a statement.
Many political pundits expected it to be a much tighter race due to the long list of allegations against Morales — something the candidate appeared to reference in his address to GOP loyalists.
“The truth always prevails,” Morales told the crowd. “Let me say it again: the truth always prevails.”
The allegations against Morales began piling up when he last ran for public office in 2018, when he lost in a multi-candidate congressional primary to Jim Baird, who ultimately won the 4th congressional district seat.
During this campaign, Morales was criticized for embellishing parts of his resume, including his work as an aide to the then-governor. Mike Pence and his time in the office of Secretary of State. These allegations followed him into this year’s campaign and were joined by a litany of other incidents and accusations:
- Records show Morales was fired from the office of secretary of state in 2009 at the direction of then-Indiana secretary general Todd Rokita for failing to agree to a job improvement plan. When he landed another job at the office in 2011 under then-secretary Charlie White, he was disciplined for not finishing his job.
- Morales was accused of exaggerating his military service. He spent three months and 18 days on active duty as part of his training period and separated from the Indiana National Guard three years before the end of his eight-year enlistment, according to military records.
- In September, two women came forward to accuse Morales of unwanted sexual advances that allegedly happened more than a decade ago. He denied the allegations, calling them “politically motivated”.
- Morales refused to participate in at least two public debates.
- More recently, Morales was charged with voting in Hendricks County during his 2018 campaign while claiming a homestead deduction on his Marion County property.
Instead of debating, Morales said he would rather focus his energy on the state’s 92 counties, which turned out to be a winning strategy.
Morales pledged to bolster the state’s existing voter ID law by requiring absentee voters to provide a copy of their driver’s license with their application to vote. To increase voter turnout, he said he would launch public campaigns to educate Hoosiers about the voting process.
Despite his beleaguered campaign, Morales won the support of several top Republicans, including Rokita, former Secretary of State Ed Simcox, former Vice President Mike Pence and Gov. Eric Holcomb.
Wells’ first campaign
Wells addressed her supporters in a speech Tuesday night in which she urged them to keep fighting for the party in the upcoming election.
“We were on the verge of an incredible opportunity for Indiana with this office,” Wells said. “We were about to flip Indiana blue for the first time in a decade. But we missed a bit. »
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Mike Schmuhl warned that Morales’ victory could undermine the state’s electoral process.
“Republicans nominated someone to their convention who is dangerous to this state,” Schmuhl said. “And sadly, we’re about to see what that looks like.”
In what was his first campaign for public office, Wells often touted his working-class roots in rural Morgan County and his military service. The first in her family to attend college, she joined the Indiana National Guard shortly after 9/11, served in Afghanistan, and later earned the rank of U.S. Army Reserve lieutenant colonel.
Wells volunteered for Democratic campaigns and worked as an associate company attorney for the City of Indianapolis and Marion County and later as Indiana’s Assistant Attorney General under former AG Curtis Hill. .
His campaign for secretary of state officially kicked off Jan. 6, a year after the Capitol uprising.