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A far-right pastor is challenging the Indiana GOP gubernatorial candidate’s choice of running mate

INDIANAPOLIS — Republican delegates from Indiana will meet Saturday at the party convention to nominate a candidate for lieutenant governor, and in a decidedly unconventional situation, they will have multiple choices this time.

Traditionally, delegates agree to the choice of gubernatorial candidate, and Sen. Mike Braun has endorsed State Rep. Julie McGuire as his running mate. But she is challenged by an ultra-conservative Christian preacher, Micah Beckwith.

Braun, who is leaving the U.S. Senate, announced his choice in May, a day after winning the primary with about 40% of the vote. Braun was endorsed by former President Donald Trump and campaigned largely on national issues such as immigration.

Trump made a surprise endorsement for McGuire Thursday evening ahead of the convention, indicating that Beckwith’s campaign has some teeth. The endorsement is a major victory for McGuire in a state where Trump won the 2020 election by 16 points.

McGuire, from Indianapolis, was a policy analyst for Senate Republicans until 2022, when she unseated a representative who had angered other Republicans in part by repeatedly pushing for a complete ban on abortion. Current Indiana law allows exceptions in rare and limited circumstances.

Braun said he picked McGuire because of her deeply conservative legislative and policy record, despite her short tenure. If she is ultimately elected by voters in November, she would be the latest in a line of women to reach the second-highest office in a state that has never seen a female governor.

The lieutenant governor heads four state agencies, solemnly presides over the Senate and would break tie votes there if that ever happened in a chamber where the Republican Party enjoys a supermajority.

Beckwith, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress from central Indiana in 2020, actively campaigned for lieutenant governor for a year, courting delegates months before the convention. He co-hosts a podcast called ‘Jesus, Sex and Politics’ and is known for his far-right views on gender, sexuality and abortion. He cast himself as a political outsider who would control the governor’s office, limit property taxes and oppose schools’ efforts to support the LGBTQ+ community.

Delegates sometimes resisted their leaders’ choices: In 2022, they defied Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s support of the incumbent secretary of state for a second term and instead elected Diego Morales, who went on to win the general election.

Whoever wins this nomination will join Braun against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jennifer McCormick, a former state education director, and Libertarian candidate Donald Rainwater. Democrats haven’t won a state seat in Indiana since 2012.