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Diego Morales upsets Secretary of State Holli Sullivan at Indiana GOP convention

Republican Secretary of State candidate Diego Morales speaks to reporters at the 2022 Indiana Republican Party state convention. Behind Morales is the convention floor. In front of him are microphones and cell phones being held up to record him speaking.
Brandon Smith
IPB News
Diego Morales's bid for Indiana Secretary of State was viewed by many as a challenge to the governor and the so-called Republican “establishment.”

Former Mike Pence aide Diego Morales upset incumbent Holli Sullivan Saturday to earn the GOP nomination for secretary of state.

Morales’s bid was viewed by many as a challenge to the governor and the so-called Republican “establishment.”

Morales, whose family immigrated to Indiana from Guatemala, has previously pushed the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. He’s criticized Indiana’s election security, arguing the state needs to do more to prevent non-citizens from voting. And he wants to cut in half the number of early voting days before each election, from 28 days to 14.

“First of all, we are going to be efficient. Number two, we are going to save some taxpayers money,” Morales said.

After his win, Morales preached unity among his party. During the convention, many of his supporters booed and heckled current Secretary of State Holli Sullivan.

Indiana GOP Chair Kyle Hupfer dismissed the notion of a fractured party.

“This group will come together and we will do the work that we do on every statewide election and we’ll get our vote out, we’ll get our message out,” Hupfer said.

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Hupfer also rebuffed the idea that Morales's victory was a referendum on Gov. Eric Holcomb's leadership. He attributed the win to Morales's grassroots efforts.

"Diego's been everywhere. He's traveled this state," Hupfer said. "He's built personal relationships around the state for well over a decade. And those folks came out."

Democratic Secretary of State candidate Destiny Wells called Morales a “far right, election denier, conspiracy theorist.”

Indiana Republican Party delegates also chose their nominee for state treasurer by the narrowest state convention margin in memory. Just three votes out of 1,429 cast were the difference as Morgan County GOP Chair Daniel Elliott edged out a victory over Boone County Council President Elise Nieshalla at Saturday’s convention.

Elliott touted his local government experience in his pitch to delegates. He’s served on the county council and is currently president of the Morgan County Redevelopment Commission.

“I am the only person running for this office who’s ever built a road, built a park or brought rural broadband to Indiana,” Elliott said.

Current State Auditor Tera Klutz was unopposed in her renomination bid. She used the convention to hone her pitch to the voters.

“My track record includes making Indiana state government less bureaucratic and more accountable," Klutz said. "I increased transparency, increased communication at every level and developed internal controls for state government.”

Democrats nominated Jessica McClellan for state treasurer and ZeNai Brooks for state auditor at their convention Saturday.

Contact reporter Brandon at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.