Republicans square off over lieutenant governor nomination

Micah Beckwith, left, and Rep. Julie McGuire. (Credit: Beckwith campaign; Indiana House Republicans)

Key Points
  • McGuire touts herself as a “partner” for gubernatorial candidate Braun
  • Beckwith appeals to convention delegates as a “conservative insurance policy”
  • Some 1,800 delegates meeting June 15 in Indianapolis will decide Braun’s running mate

Republican Mike Braun touts first-term state lawmaker Julie McGuire as an ideal running mate in his campaign for the governor’s office.

Braun’s audience the past few weeks has been the 1,800 or so delegates to Saturday’s Republican state convention in Indianapolis who will decide whether to confirm McGuire as the party’s lieutenant governor nominee or go with Noblesville pastor Micah Beckwith.

Beckwith’s campaign upends the tradition of allowing the party’s gubernatorial candidate to pick who will fill the No. 2 spot. Beckwith promotes himself, however, as a “conservative insurance policy” who won’t be a rubber stamp for any governor.

Indiana’s lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate and may cast a tiebreaker vote if needed. The position also fills in if the governor becomes incapacitated or dies.

Braun is the heavy favorite to become Indiana’s 52nd governor against Democrat Jennifer McCormick and Libertarian Donald Rainwater. So whoever wins the Republican bid for lieutenant governor will likely join Braun in the Statehouse in January after Gov. Eric Holcomb completes his second and final term. 

The new lieutenant governor will replace Suzanne Crouch.

McGuire’s quick rise to prominence

Braun named McGuire as his running mate pick the day after clinching the Republican nomination in the May 7 primary.

Until early 2022, McGuire was a former church business manager working in a largely anonymous Statehouse job as a policy analyst for Indiana Senate Republicans. 

That is when she jumped into the race for an Indiana House seat on the southside of Indianapolis with the support of House Republican leaders in their bid to oust then-Rep. John Jacob from office.

Jacob had antagonized House leaders with his hard-line stances seeking a total abortion ban and  to void all state COVID-19 restrictions amid the pandemic. The House Republican Campaign Committee spent more than $500,000 for McGuire’s 2022 primary campaign , in which she defeated Jacob with 61% of the vote.

Republican Rep. Jake Teshka of North Liberty has served on two House committees with McGuire and said he quickly became “supremely impressed” with her abilities and knowledge of state policy issues.

“It’s just been really great to watch her work … jumping in with both feet,” Teshka told State Affairs. “She’s become very quickly somebody who’s respected broadly, whose opinion is sought.”

McGuire’s most prominent work in the Legislature was a proposed bill to block a new tax district in downtown Indianapolis meant to pay for city services. A compromise was ultimately reached to allow the plan. McGuire removed herself as the bill’s author and voted against it as the measure passed in an 89-4 vote. 

Braun said he considered at least 20 possible lieutenant governor picks before selecting McGuire.

“The number of people that wanted to be lieutenant governor, none of them were focusing on the most important thing — how do you work with the Legislature?” Braun told reporters during a Fort Wayne stop. 

“Do you understand the process and are we going to be synced up on what we need to do?”

McGuire said she would be a collaborator with Braun and lawmakers.

“The governor needs a partner who can work well with him, who is aligned with him on his agenda, who knows how to move legislation and who knows how to get things accomplished in state government,” McGuire told State Affairs. “And he needs a partner he can trust.”

Beckwith stirs controversy, loyalty

Despite his position to be a check on the governor, Beckwith does not criticize Braun and says he expects a very successful administration. Braun, in turn, hasn’t criticized Beckwith, saying he welcomed the convention competition, “so if he pushes, that’s fine.”

Beckwith, the pastor of Life Church in Noblesville, first gained a political following with his 2020 Republican primary run for the 5th Congressional District seat where he finished third. 

He built an appeal among conservatives through a mix of evangelical Christianity and Donald Trump-like political stances.

Beckwith launched his lieutenant governor bid in May 2023, looking to capitalize on conservative discontent with Holcomb’s COVID-19 restrictions by arguing he would be an independent voice who could hold the next governor accountable.

Beckwith makes no criticisms of Braun and says he expects a “very successful” Braun administration. He promotes himself, however, as a “conservative insurance policy” who won’t be a rubber stamp for any governor.

“I very much support a good working relationship between the governor and lieutenant governor, but the lieutenant governor is not the secretary of the governor,” Beckwith told State Affairs.

Beckwith resigned from the Hamilton East Public Library Board in Fishers after pushing for a policy of reviewing teen section books for “age appropriateness” that drew criticism from best-selling author and Indianapolis resident John Green. Beckwith stepped down in January, saying he wanted to focus on his lieutenant governor campaign.

Beckwith also gained attention in 2021 for giving out religious exemptions to people who didn’t want to get COVID-19 vaccine shots. He says he eventually wrote exemptions for 4,500 people.

Convention delegate Brandon Harnish, a County Council member in northeastern Indiana’s Wells County, said he liked McGuire but would vote for Beckwith as a protest to Holcomb and in hopes of pushing the state government further to the right.

“I know that I’m not going to regret voting for Micah,” Harnish said. “I’m going to say, ‘Look, this is what the Republican Party deserves. You can’t betray your voters so consistently and never endure consequences.’ And it’s a shame that [Braun] is walking into this environment. He didn’t ask for this.”

Beckwith kindles that sense of dissatisfaction.

“The establishment does not like what I’m doing and they are making it clear to anybody who stands with me that there will be consequences and repercussions,” Beckwith said. 

Convention floor uncertainty

The delegates to recent Republican state conventions have shown themselves willing to reject the picks of party leadership.

That was demonstrated in the 2022 convention when delegates picked Diego Morales over Holcomb appointee Holli Sullivan as the secretary of state candidate and Daniel Elliott defeated establishment favorite Elise Nieshalla for the state treasurer nomination.

But past Republican gubernatorial nominees David McIntosh, Mitch Daniels, Mike Pence and Holcomb have had their running mate picks confirmed by delegates since the 2000 convention.

Neither McGuire nor Beckwith gave a number of delegate votes they expected to have secured ahead of Saturday’s convention. 

McGuire said of the hundreds of delegates she’s spoken with, “90% are coming my way.” Beckwith promoted candidates who were supporting him ahead of the primary when delegates were elected and said “we are feeling very good about our count.”

Many elected Republicans — including 2022 convention winners Morales and Elliott — have endorsed McGuire.

Teshka, the state legislator supporting McGuire, said he believed Republican delegates would support Braun’s choice as the state party’s new leader.

“I don’t have anything personally against Micah, but I know Julie, I’ve watched her work,” Teshka said. “At the end of the day, that’s who our gubernatorial nominee said he wants to serve with, so I think we should honor that.”

Read the State Affairs Q&As with Rep. Julie McGuire and Micah Beckwith.

About Julie McGuire
  • Age: 51
  • Residence: Indianapolis
  • Education: Indiana University, political science degree
  • Family: Husband Mark and four children, one grandchild
  • Job: State representative, 2022-present
  • Work history: Policy analyst for Indiana Senate Republicans; business manager at St. Roch Catholic Church in Indianapolis
About Micah Beckwith
  • Age: 41
  • Residence: Noblesville
  • Education: Huntington University, business and economics degree
  • Family: Wife Susan and two children
  • Job: Pastor for Life Church Noblesville campus
  • Work history: Unsuccessful candidate for 2020 Republican nomination in 5th Congressional District; former member of Hamilton East Public Library Board; student ministry worship pastor at Northview Church in Carmel
What does a lieutenant governor do? 
  • Indiana’s lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate and may cast a tiebreaker vote if needed. The position also fills in if the governor becomes incapacitated or dies.
  • The lieutenant governor oversees four state agencies: the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority, the Indiana Office of Tourism Development and the Indiana Office of Community & Rural Affairs. 
  • The position also chairs the Indiana Mental Health Roundtable, the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Task Force and the Civics Education Commission.

Tom Davies is a Statehouse reporter for State Affairs Pro Indiana. Reach him at [email protected] or on X at @TomDaviesIND.

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