By Jess Seabolt
In convention voting that lasted all afternoon, Republicans picked Kelly Mitchell to be their nominee for treasurer over two better-known candidates who had campaigned longer for the position.
Mitchell, who works in the treasurer's office now, won on the third ballot, nabbing votes from Don Bates of Richmond, whose name had been dropped after two ballots failed to produce a majority for any of three candidates.
In fact, the first ballot had Mitchell, Bates and Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold within just a few percentage points of one another.
"Our delegates really do the research, they really care about who they elect and they appreciated a candidate with experience in the office and in local government," Mitchell said about how she narrowed out Seybold and Bates.
Mitchell - a Logansport native who works now in the treasurer office as the director of TrustINdiana - now faces Democrat Mike Boland, who won that party's nomination a week earlier.
Earlier in the convention, the delegates also nominated Connie Lawson to run for secretary of state and Suzanne Crouch as auditor. Both women already hold those offices. It's believed to be the first time Republicans have nominated an all-female, statewide ticket.
In the treasurer's race, the candidates' supporters wore shirts, buttons, and stickers throughout the convention to show their allegiances - but they were forced to take the buttons and stickers off when they voted.
After the first ballot, there was no majority: Seybold had 35 percent, Mitchell 33 percent and Bates 31 percent. That led to a second ballot with all three candidates. The candidates' sent out teams to try to convince delegates to switch their votes.
"You've got people in every single one of these campaigns trying to get people to cut a deal for the second ballot and then the third ballot because everybody's confident that they're either going to stay the same or there might be some movement," said former Indiana Republican Chairman Mike McDaniel as he watched delegates back to the voting machines.
McDaniel said that campaign workers were trying "make a deal" with delegates who supported Bates - who had come in third in the first round - to switch to Mitchell or Seybold. "If people start leaving you never know how those numbers might change," he said.
"All of human nature takes effect. Some people just get tired of being here for so long or have other things to do or long ways to travel and some of them will just switch so we have a winner," said McDaniel.
After the second ballot, Bates had 27 percent, Mitchell 39 percent and Seybold 34 percent. With his third place visit, Bates dropped off the ballot for a third round of voting.
That gave Mitchell the edge.
Bates and Seybold represent opposite ends of the party. Bates' supporters generally came from the tea party wing of the Republicans while Seybold backers were party stalwarts.
When Bates dropped off the ticket, his support appeared to go almost entirely to Mitchell, who had not been identified with either faction. In fact, Bates' supporters were carrying signs for Mitchell as delegates headed to the machines for the third vote.
One of Bates' supporters, John Myers of Bryant, switched to support Mitchell by the end of second ballot.
"I don't think we should be basing an entire campaign on the fact that somebody was in the Olympics 15 years ago," Myers said, referring to Seybold, who had been an Olympic skater.
On the third ballot, Mitchell won with 63 percent of the vote.
Mitchell appeared emotional when she came to the stage to accept the nomination, saying she was "truly, deeply honored" to have won.
"I am so proud, so proud to represent you as your Republican nominee for state treasurer," she said.
Meanwhile, party leaders called for unity.
Gov. Mike Pence said voters need to elect a Republican ticket to "continue to lead boldly and creatively." Pence said conservatives are offering "real world answers to the problems in our state."
"We need the right leaders in the right positions to carry those ideas forward," Pence said.
Jess Seabolt is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.