U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks was not selected by a 22-member committee on July 26 to run for governor of Indiana. Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb was chosen to run in Gov. Mike Pence’s place after Pence was selected as Donald Trump’s running mate in the presidential election.
Brooks, a Carmel resident, was up against Holcomb, U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita and State Sen. Jim Tomes. Holcomb was endorsed by Pence, but Brooks was endorsed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a one-time presidential hopeful.
A caucus meeting is scheduled for Aug. 1 to select the lieutenant governor candidate on the ballot. It’s unknown whether Rokita or Brooks would be interested in that position.
Abdul Hakim-Shabazz, a central Indiana radio show host, columnist and political commentator, said he thinks a Holcomb-Brooks ticket would be pretty strong.
“Susan Brooks is a smart congresswoman and hard worker,” he said. “She’s made the right connections and she’s well respected within the party.”
Brooks said she would like to run for U.S. Congress again if she wasn’t selected as the gubernatorial nominee. She released a statement following the decision but didn’t give any specifics regarding her congressional race or the lieutenant governor opening.
“I want to congratulate Lt. Gov. Holcomb on his selection by the state committee to be the Republican nominee for governor of Indiana and thank the committee for their time and consideration,” she said. “He is a strong representative of our party and is committed to continuing the past 12 years of fiscal discipline, low taxes and conservative leadership of our state that has boosted our economy and brought good jobs for Hoosiers. Over the next 105 days, I will work hard to support Lt. Gov. Holcomb and to ensure that we beat John Gregg in the fall.”
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard expressed interest her in congressional seat, but decided against jumping in, even if Brooks was selected as governor.
“As I considered this new challenge, I also weighed the responsibility to stay focused on what it will take to help our city succeed in the distant future and what could happen if we were to lose that focus,” Brainard said in a statement. “For these reasons and many others, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for the 5th District seat in Congress. In the future, there may be other opportunities that are presented to me that would expand my ability to influence change on a larger scale and I will give each one the careful consideration I gave this opportunity. For now however, I feel the best choice is to continue leading one of the best cities anywhere to live, work and raise a family.”
There are, however, others that have decided to possibly stay in the race for the 5th District even though Brooks might want her seat back. Brooks must be chosen by a caucus of precinct committeemen from her district, and while many — such as Shabazz — consider her the favorite, it’s not a guarantee.
Some local politicians don’t consider Brooks to be conservative enough. The Conservative Review gave her an F score of 28 percent for her votes on their issues. On the other side, CQ Roll Call cites that Brooks votes with Republicans 97 percent of the time. Shabazz laughed off the idea that Brooks isn’t conservative enough.
“Some would say she isn’t crazy enough,” he said.
Hamilton County Councilor Fred Glynn expressed interest in Brooks’ seat, and he believes he’s more conservative than she is. He said it’s possible he could stay in the race even if Brooks jumps back in, but he hasn’t decided yet.
Stephen MacKenzie, a military veteran from Fishers, challenged Brooks in the recent primary and lost but he said he would like to be considered for her spot on the ballot even if she wants to run again.
Terry Henderson, president and owner of Achieva, Inc., announced that he’s entering the race as well. Achieva is based in Carmel and provides government and public affairs expertise and technical educational resources for companies and organizations.
“Together, It’s our time, to make our government work for us,” Henderson said in a statement.
The decision on Brooks’ seat and who will be on the ballot must be decided by Aug. 15.