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Open Indiana State Treasurer race attracts plenty of Republican candidates

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FILE PHOTO: Tyler Lake/WTIU
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There are nearly half a dozen Republicans vying to become the next Indiana state treasurer, an unusually high number for a statewide office like that.

Current State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell is term-limited, unable to run again. And since no Democrat has won the office in nearly five decades, winning the Republican nomination is where the race likely lies.

But why are so many interested in a position that only pays $89,000 a year and hasn’t, in the past, been a springboard to higher office?

“Why not have a good job for eight years that, quite frankly, should lead to good, private sector employment after the eight years, given what you have to do?” said Andrew Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics.

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Despite having to win a statewide election to be in the office, state treasurer typically hasn’t led to bigger political opportunities – the last two officeholders tried and failed to win federal races.

Downs said that’s probably not a coincidence.

“When you don’t have to run a tough campaign, you don’t know how to run a tough campaign,” Downs said.

Republican candidates for treasurer must earn their party’s nomination at the state GOP convention, not in a public primary.

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

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.