Anne Hathaway, the state’s new Republican party chair, makes history. But who’s surprised? 

Indiana Republican Party Chair Anne Hathaway. (Credit: Brian Howey)

Indiana Republican Party Chair Anne Hathaway. (Credit: Brian Howey)

INDIANAPOLIS — Last August, Anne Hathaway's phone lit up with a call from Gov. Eric Holcomb. Nearly a quarter-century before, Hathaway had recruited the future governor to run for an Indiana House seat in the only race he lost.

With the resignation of Indiana Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer in hand, Holcomb asked Hathaway to lead the Indiana Republican Party, and in doing so was tapping the first women to hold the role. 

For the past 15 years, Hathaway had led the Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series, an organization inspired by U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar and created by Teresa Lubbers and Judy Singleton to develop a gender bench for the GOP.

“I encourage women every day to take a risk, be willing to lose; go out of their comfort zones and run for office or serve on a board or commission,” said Hathaway, who serves as Indiana’s national committeewoman on the Republican National Committee, during a recent, exclusive Howey Politics/State Affairs interview. 

“I couldn’t continue to do that unless I was willing to do that myself, willing to take the risk, willing to lead by example,” she said, adding, “When the call came for me, I jumped. Yeah, I’m in. Let’s go.”

Holcomb said in making this historic nomination: “Here are several key reasons I believe Anne is the right person at the right time for this role. Anne’s resume of service to the Republican Party is as extensive as just about anyone’s in the country, having served with distinction at the local, state and national levels throughout her entire career. Furthermore, with experience in running campaigns at every level of government, she has the knowledge and relationships to not only keep our party moving forward, but to continue to take it to the next level.”

Hathaway's roots are in the tiny Illinois town of Galva just north of Peoria. After graduating from high school with a class of 77, and then from the University of Illinois, she decided to spend a year in Washington, D.C., where she began as a typist at the Department of Treasury. 

Hathaway served in the White House as assistant and director of scheduling for former Vice President Dan Quayle, was program director for the 2012 Republican National Convention, and was executive director of the Indiana House Republican Campaign

Committee.

Following Hathaway's resume is a lesson in stewardship and power. 

“Sen. Lugar would be more excited about me being state chair than I am just because, Judy Singleton and Teresa Lubbers were ecstatic," said Hathaway.

She now helms the party at (or nearing) its historic apex. The Indiana GOP holds all the state constitutional offices, nine of 11 congressional seats, maintains General Assembly super majorities, more than 90% of county offices, and as of the municipal elections earlier this month, 76 mayors. If a Republican is elected governor in 11 months, the party will increase its historic dominance to five consecutive terms.

Hathaway will lead the party through the five-way gubernatorial primary. Following next June's Indiana Republican Convention, she will head to Milwaukee, where Republican National Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tabbed her to head the RNC’s Arrangements Committee.

Hathaway has committed to serve only through the May primary. “At that time, she will work together with the gubernatorial nominee and you all to decide who is best to finish out the remainder of the term,” said Holcomb.

Asked if there was a chance to continue as chair beyond the May election, she said, "That's a conversation to be had.

“I have agreed to stay at least through the state convention. I believe the gubernatorial nominee should have his or her own political partner here. I'm just focused on the time between now and then, she said.

Senior reporter and columnist Brian Howey sat down for a 45-minute, wide-ranging interview with Hathaway where she discussed what it means to make history as the first female state Republican chair, how her work at the Lugar Series prepared her for this new role, the Republican party’s diversity programs and other topics. Read the full conversation on State Affairs Pro here.

Brian Howey is senior writer and columnist for Howey Politics Indiana/State Affairs. Find Howey on Facebook and Twitter @hwypol.