After being rumored for months, it was officially announced on Tuesday that Sue Ellspermann will be stepping down as Lt. Governor to possibly become the new President of Ivy Tech College. In her place, Governor Pence has picked Eric Holcomb to be the next Lt Governor. “Eric Holcomb is ready day one to assume the duties of Lt. Governor. He knows the executive branch, he knows the legislative branch, but most of all he knows Indiana,” said Pence. But does he know agriculture? In Indiana the Lt. Governor is also the Secretary of agriculture, yet Holcomb left that off the list in his remarks, “In the role that I will play in tourism, in rural and community affairs, in energy, in defense, in homeland security, I am going to hit the ground running.”
Ted McKinney, Director of the State Department of Agriculture, told HAT he is not worried in the slightest about Holcomb’s ability to serve and work with the Hoosier farm community, “He is a good listener and will ramp up quickly on ag policy issues.” He said that Holcomb has met with many Indiana farmers and local farm organizations during the past 10 months of his Senatorial campaign. “Besides that he wears cowboy boots,” McKinney added.
Holcomb, who, until Monday, had been running for the Senate seat vacated by Dan Coats, said his travels around the state have put him in touch with what Hoosiers are concerned about, “They are concerned about infrastructure and education.” He said his goal is to build on the great work that the Governor and Sue Ellspermann have done.
Jane Ade Stevens, CEO of Indiana Soybean Alliance, Indiana Corn Marketing Council, Indiana Corn Growers Association, said that Indiana farmers appreciate the job Sue Ellspermann has done and look forward to working with Eric Holcomb if he is confirmed by the legislature. Her statement read: “Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann has been a tireless advocate for Indiana agriculture. As the state’s Secretary of Agriculture, she recognized agriculture as a major economic driver for our rural communities. During her time in office, she has worked to build international exports for Indiana ag products and provided support to our industry and our farmers. We thank Sue Ellspermann for her service and look forward to working with her in future endeavors. We applaud Governor Pence’s nomination of Eric Holcomb as Lieutenant Governor. In this new role, Eric has a commitment to the farmers in our state, and, if confirmed by the General Assembly, we look forward to working with him to promote Indiana corn and soybean farmers.”
Reaction by Republican leaders has been generally favorable. House Speaker Brian Bosma calls Holcomb a consensus builder and says Pence made a “sound choice” in picking him to replace current Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann. Holcomb has never before held elected office, although he has also been a top aide to former Gov. Mitch Daniels and U.S. Sen. Dan Coats. Senate President Pro Tem David Long says Holcomb “a highly competent and effective leader.” Long says Ellspermann has been a capable and effective lieutenant governor.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg’s campaign says Pence is shoving aside an accomplished businesswoman in current Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann in favor of a longtime political operative in Eric Holcomb. State Senate Democratic leader Tim Lanane says Indiana residents are losers in the sudden change as the leadership of state government will be less diverse.