Hill’s defeat, which came after the other two candidates were eliminated through instant-runoff voting, ends what once looked like a promising political career. Hill made history in 2016 when he became the first African American Republican to be elected Indiana attorney general (Democrat Pamela Carter’s win back in 1992 made her the first Black woman to be elected attorney general in any state), and he was quickly mentioned as a potential candidate for higher office.
Everything changed in July of 2018, though, when four women accused Hill of groping them at a party that had taken place a few months earlier. Hill’s fellow Republicans, including Gov. Eric Holcomb, called for the attorney general to resign, but he refused to go anywhere and even announced his re-election campaign the following year.
Hill avoided criminal charges, but he still faced disciplinary proceedings in front of the state Supreme Court. In May of 2020, the justices finally ruled that Hill had “committed the criminal act of battery,” and that they would suspend his law license for a month with an automatic reinstatement afterwards. Hill already faced two intra-party challengers before he was sanctioned, while Rokita announced his bid shortly after.
Hill turned over his duties to a subordinate during his suspension and returned to office on June 17, which was just before ballots were sent out to the convention delegates. But while Holcomb and several other major Indiana Republicans remained hostile to Hill, though, national Republicans still were in his corner. Republican Attorneys General Association donated $11,000 to Hill on June 15, two days before his suspension ended. Ultimately, though, just enough Republican delegates were tired of Hill to permanently end his time as attorney general.
Rokita’s win, by contrast, revives a political career that had seemed over just months ago. Rokita gave up his safely red House seat after four terms in 2018 to wage a bid against Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, and he soon found himself in an ugly primary against his old rival and former college classmate, fellow Rep. Luke Messer. However a third candidate, wealthy former state Rep. Mike Braun, unexpectedly picked up support when he ran ads positioning himself as an alternative to two ambitious political insiders.
Braun ended up defeating Rokita 41-30, and he went on to win in the fall. Rokita’s convention win, though, now gives him a chance to make up for that defeat this November.
Want more great elections coverage like this? Sign up for our free daily newsletter, the Morning Digest.