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Republican Indiana schools chief endorses Democratic candidate for attorney general
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Republican Indiana schools chief endorses Democratic candidate for attorney general

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The Republican state schools chief is crossing party lines to endorse the Democratic candidate for Indiana attorney general.

Jennifer McCormick, the state superintendent of public instruction, announced Thursday she's backing former Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel over Republican former U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, a Munster native, in the Nov. 3 election for attorney general.

"This isn't about politics," McCormick said. "This is about who has the experience, the integrity and the vision to best represent all Hoosiers, especially our children."

"Jonathan has a well-earned reputation for bipartisan problem solving, for listening and for making a real difference in every job he's had. That's why I am supporting him and that's why I am calling all Republicans to join me in supporting him."

Weinzapfel said in a statement he welcomes the endorsement by McCormick, who taught special education and middle school classes, was a school principal and superintendent of Yorktown Community Schools, prior to winning the 2016 Republican nomination and election for state superintendent.

"Crossing party lines is never easy, so I am truly honored to have earned Dr. McCormick’s support," Weinzapfel said.

"Like Dr. McCormick, I will always put people over politics. I will be an independent voice who will stand up for Hoosier families, who will work with anyone willing to work with me and who will seek common sense solutions to the many challenges that face us as a state."

Statehouse Republicans have been less than thrilled with McCormick's leadership of the Indiana Department of Education, and, in fact, last year approved a law eliminating the elected post of state superintendent of public instruction in favor of a governor-appointed secretary of education beginning in 2021.

Jake Oakman, director of strategic communications for the Indiana Republican Party, said he's not surprised by McCormick's Weinzapfel endorsement after she last year toured the state with the unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign of state Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary.

"Jennifer endorsed a Democrat candidate for governor and is now endorsing a Democrat candidate for attorney general. As for party affiliation, her actions speak for themselves," Oakman said.

"Todd Rokita is far and away the best candidate in this race to defend our constitutional rights and deliver on the issues Hoosiers are most concerned about."

Hoosier Republicans dumped incumbent Attorney General Curtis Hill in favor of Rokita at the party's state convention in June, due in part to the Indiana Supreme Court temporarily suspending Hill's law license for professional misconduct.

Weinzapfel also was endorsed this week by the Indiana State Teachers Association's Political Action Committee for Education.

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