4 top Hoosier Republicans quitting party posts

2013-06-19T18:00:00Z 2013-06-19T23:54:08Z 4 top Hoosier Republicans quitting party postsDan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
June 19, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | The chairman of the Indiana Republican Party and three top GOP leaders unexpectedly announced Wednesday they are each quitting their party jobs over the next few weeks.

Eric Holcomb, who has led Hoosier Republicans since January 2011, revealed at the end of a regular meeting of the party's state committee that he plans to pursue other opportunities.

"While there is never a perfect time for these types of transitions, I believe this year, being an off-election year, is the best time." Holcomb said. "In addition, and most importantly, these changes will give Gov. Mike Pence a wonderful opportunity to charge forward and write our party's next chapter of success."

He did not detail his future plans, saying only: "An announcement regarding my next assignment will come sooner rather than later."

Also departing is Justin Garrett, the party's executive director, and former Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, who serves as a national committeewoman.

Current Republican Vice Chairwoman Sandi Huddleston will become acting chairwoman after Holcomb's resignation takes effect July 9, the date of the annual GOP summer fundraising dinner.

Huddleston also plans to resign after she oversees the mid- to late-July election of a new party leader.

Valparaiso's Chuck Williams, a Northwest Indiana representative on the Republican state committee, said he and others at Wednesday's meeting were surprised when Holcomb announced the leadership changes, but he believes it's just a coincidence that several top Republicans are leaving their posts at the same time.

"I think this was out of deference to the process," Williams said. "Typically a new chairman will come in with their team."

Williams said no one expected Holcomb, who ran the 2004 and 2008 campaigns for Gov. Mitch Daniels and helped elect a Republican supermajority to the Indiana House in 2012, to serve much beyond Pence's first legislative session, which ended in April.

He believes Pence "will play a major role" in the selection of a new chairman.

"The governor is the leader of the party in the state of Indiana as far as I'm concerned," Williams said.

In a statement effusively praising Holcomb, Huddleston and Skillman, Pence gave no hints about who he wants the state committee to elect chairman.

Former state Rep. Dan Dumezich, of Schererville, who hosted several major fundraising events for the state and national Republican Party during the 2012 campaign season, told The Times he's not interested in the state chairman post.

"I'd love to — unfortunately, I have to work for a living," said Dumezich, a Chicago attorney. "I'm not saying that (chairman) isn't a load of work and a ton of responsibility and a great position, but I still have kids in high school, you know what I mean?"

Hoosier Democrats last elected a new state chairman in March, with John Zody replacing Dan Parker after his eight years at the helm of their party.

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