INDIANAPOLIS | A Porter County man selected by the Libertarian Party last month to head its 2014 electoral ticket soon officially will have company in the race for Indiana secretary of state.
Karl Tatgenhorst, a Chesterton technology executive who lives in an unincorporated area between Valparaiso and Portage, wants Hoosier voters to choose him for a four-year term as the state's top elections official so he can help make it easier for others to also seek office.
"I'm running to open up the ballots for more than just Libertarians, Democrats and Republicans, but really to make it a more inclusive and representative marketplace of ideas," Tatgenhorst said. "I believe that everyone who is qualified should have the opportunity to present their solutions to the people."
Tatgenhorst believes the state's laws limiting ballot access violate the Indiana Constitution and force candidates to waste time complying with arcane rules, rather than taking their messages to the voters.
The first-time candidate said he plans to use his marketing background and experience in electronic media to reach out to potential supporters in new ways, alongside the familiar candidate tasks of speaking to groups and marching in parades.
While no Libertarian ever has won statewide office in Indiana, Tatgenhorst is certain he'll secure the 2 percent of the popular vote necessary for the party to keep its guaranteed ballot access and is optimistic that he'll do much, much better.
"My chances are as good as the people of Indiana allow me to have," Tatgenhorst said.
Libertarian State Chairman Dan Drexler said Tatgenhorst is the right man to take the party's message of liberty and competition to Hoosiers.
"Karl has been working hard for this nomination over the past year," Drexler said. "I have no doubt he's going to impress voters the way he has already impressed our convention delegates."
To win, Tatgenhorst will have to defeat the Democratic and Republican candidates set to be nominated by their parties over the next two weeks.
The Democratic Party is expected to choose Marion County Clerk Beth White, of Indianapolis, to be its secretary of state candidate during the party's biannual convention Saturday in Indianapolis.
Secretary of State Connie Lawson, a former state senator from Danville, is unopposed for the Republican Party nomination that will be awarded June 6 at the GOP convention in Fort Wayne.
Both parties also will choose candidates for state treasurer and state auditor at their conventions.
Secretary of state is the highest office on the Nov. 4 general election ballot. It'll be the first time since 2002 that Hoosiers go to the polls without a presidential, U.S. Senate or gubernatorial race to vote in.
Besides overseeing elections, the secretary of state enforces state securities regulations, charters new businesses and licenses automobile dealers.
Unlike Illinois, the secretary of state does not issue drivers licenses or vehicle registrations. Those duties are carried out by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, which is led by a governor-appointed commissioner.
Republican Charlie White, a Valparaiso University law school graduate, is the most recently elected secretary of state. However, he automatically lost his office Feb. 4, 2012, when he was convicted of six felonies, including vote fraud.
A Hamilton County jury concluded that while he was running for secretary of state in 2010, Charlie White implemented a scheme to continue serving on the Fishers Town Council, even though he had moved out of the district he represented.
Then-Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican, selected Lawson to finish White's term.
Democratic candidate Beth White is not related to Charlie White or Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.