Democrat Destiny Wells enters race to challenge Republican Attorney General Todd Rokita in 2024

Destiny Wells speaks during a Statehouse news conference during her 2022 campaign as the Democratic nominee for secretary of state. (Credit: Tom Davies)

Destiny Wells speaks during a Statehouse news conference during her 2022 campaign as the Democratic nominee for secretary of state. (Credit: Tom Davies)

The gist

Destiny Wells, the 2022 Democratic secretary of state nominee, announced she is running for the Indiana attorney general’s office next year, hoping to oust Republican incumbent Todd Rokita. 

Earlier this year Rokita, a vocal supporter of social conservative causes, announced he was seeking reelection. 

This race could be among the more competitive races on the ballot in Indiana in 2024. But any Democrat running for a statewide office in Indiana is starting at a disadvantage. 

What’s happening

Wells said she is running because she wants to make sure the attorney general’s office is serving Hoosiers “the best way it can.” 

She pointed out that the current and former attorneys general, both Republicans, have been reprimanded by the Indiana Supreme Court for violating professional rules of conduct.

“The population does not have the time for the sideshow,” she said. “We want to make sure we are using our resources the best way that we know how, that we are supporting the line deputies within the office, and that we are not using the office simply as a platform for national talking points. We want to get back to serving Hoosiers.”

If she is elected, she wants to ensure medical privacy for all Hoosiers, devote a division of the office to workers’ rights and “restore the highest ethical standard to the office.”

Wells ran for secretary of state in 2022 against Republican Diego Morales in what was supposed to be a close race after Morales faced a glut of controversies. She still lost by nearly 14 percentage points. 

Wells, an attorney and veteran, worked in the Office of the Indiana Attorney General under former Republican Attorney General Curtis Hill from the end of 2018 until 2019. She also briefly served as the associate corporation counsel for Indianapolis and now serves as deputy chair for coalitions and expansion for the Indiana Democratic Party.

Rokita’s campaign declined to comment, instead pointing to a statement from the Indiana Republican Party.

“After being overwhelmingly rejected by Hoosier voters in her bid for Secretary of State in 2022, Democrat Destiny Wells is now running for the next available statewide office — Attorney General,” Chairwoman Anne Hathaway said in a statement. “Time and again, Democrat Destiny Wells has used her leadership position in the Indiana Democrat Party to try and push the radical Joe Biden agenda across the state. Indiana Republicans are looking forward to a robust campaign in which we will continue to support the rule of law and the Indiana Constitution.”

Why it matters

Democrats typically have an uphill battle in Indiana, a state that hasn’t elected a Democratic statewide official in more than a decade. 

But some Democrats view Rokita as an easier target than other candidates because his tenure hasn’t been without controversy. The state Supreme Court reprimanded him earlier this month over his public comments about Dr. Caitlin Bernard, a doctor who talked about providing an abortion to a 10-year-old Ohio rape victim. 

A majority of the justices said that when Rokita spoke on Fox News he violated attorney profession conduct rules “by making an extrajudicial statement that had a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding and had no substantial purpose other than to embarrass or burden the physician.”

Rokita for his part called his own comments “truthful” and lashed out at the “failed attempt to derail our work.”

Still, Rokita is starting with a fundraising advantage. As of the end of June, Rokita had $890,000 in his campaign coffers, and since then he’s amassed $91,000 in large contributions. Wells will be starting from scratch, in a state where Democrats often have a more challenging time fundraising. 

Rokita, a former U.S. congressman, easily won election in 2020 over Democrat Jonathan Weinzapfel, claiming 58% of the vote, compared to Weinzapfel’s 42%. 

What’s next?

Other candidates could still jump into the race. Indiana Democrats and Republicans will both choose their attorney general nominees at their respective state party conventions next summer. 

There’s still almost a year until election day, so there’s still plenty of time for both candidates to raise money and make their case for the November 2024 general election. 

Contact Kaitlin Lange on X @kaitlin_lange or email her at [email protected]

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Header image: Destiny Wells speaks during a Statehouse news conference during her 2022 campaign as the Democratic nominee for secretary of state. (Credit: Tom Davies)

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