Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb clinches Indiana governor's race for GOP

Posted at 9:21 PM, Nov 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-08 21:21:47-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- No matter the results of Tuesday's Indiana gubernatorial race, the Hoosier state was going to have a new governor in January.

Voters selected Lt. Governor and GOP nominee Eric Holcomb over Democratic challenger John Gregg, according to projections reported by the Associated Press.

This was Gregg's second run at the governorship, being defeated by now-incumbent and vice presidential nominee, Mike Pence, who ran on the GOP Trump ticket and was first elected in 2012.

The gubernatorial race was briefly thrown off track in July 2016, when Pence, who had already filed for the GOP nomination for re-election to the office, accepted a vice presidential bid from GOP presidential nominee, Donald Trump. Holcomb had been running as Pence's lieutenant governor running mate prior to Pence's exit.

The GOP's scramble to find a replacement ultimately led to Holcomb's selection and questions over campaign finance contributions: Pence, who came out in support of and donated to Holcomb's campaign, became subject to federal campaign contribution regulations.

Another central point of contention in the race revolved around the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed into law by Pence in 2015, an act for which he garnered criticism on the national stage. Supporters of the bill argued it provided direction for judges when weighing discrimination cases involving claims to religious freedom, while critics argued it opened the door for business owners to refuse service due to a person's sexual orientation or gender, in addition to other personal characteristics.

Gregg advocated strongly for its repeal on the campaign trail and called it a "stain on Indiana's reputation" on his campaign website, while Holcomb -- perhaps recognizing the law as one of the most divisive issues to come out of the capitol -- shied away from taking a strong position on the law, often redirecting his attention to other issues and saying he has "zero tolerance" for discrimination.

Not long after the bill's passage by the Indiana legislature, Pence signed an amendment stipulating that "a provider -- including businesses and individuals -- to refuse to offer or provide services, facilities, goods, employment, housing or public accommodation to any member of the public based on sexual orientation or gender identity, (etc.)."

Read more about the candidates' stances on other issues at WCPO sister station WRTV in Indianapolis.

WCPO will update this story as it develops.