Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Opinion

June 16, 2014

MAUREEN HAYDEN: Lawson faces a tough campaign

Connie Lawson had a speech ready for the state Republican party delegates who picked her as their Secretary of State candidate, putting her at the top of an all-female ticket in November.

But she never got to deliver it.

Instead, time was stolen by a fight over same-sex marriage, a contentious contest for the State Treasurer’s slot, and the headline-grabbing remarks of outgoing Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who said the nation was going the way of Nazi Germany.

As the two-day convention ground to end, exhausted delegates retreated for home. Rather than speaking to empty chairs, Lawson graciously said a brief thank you.

“I didn’t get to say what a good job our office has done,” said a clearly disappointed Lawson.

Appointed as Secretary of State two years ago, Lawson replaced her disgraced Republican predecessor, Charlie White, a nakedly ambitious politician removed from his post after being convicted of felony voter fraud.

So this is her first statewide run, but not her first rodeo. Lawson, a grandmother who rides cutting horses, spent two terms as Hendricks County Clerk and 16 years in the state Senate. But coming from a Republican district, she’s never really faced a tough campaign.

Until now. Democrats are preparing to launch an aggressive campaign to recapture an office they haven’t won since 1998.

When Lawson, 63, was put into office, she was generally welcomed by Democrats and Republicans. Never known as a partisan flame-thrower, Lawson had prided herself on being part of a group of hard-working female legislators who took up the causes of neglected children, disabled adults and the mentally ill.

“It was my job to make sure people who didn’t have a voice in the hallway were heard,” said Lawson, referring to the influence-rich lobbyists who pack the hallway during the legislative session.

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