INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana voters in November will choose a successor to Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who did not seek a third term after losing May’s Republican primary to run for a U.S. House seat.
Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill, a Republican, and retired Lake County Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Arredondo, a Democrat, are vying for the attorney general post, which has been held by Republicans since 2001.
Here’s a look at the race for that office, which defends Indiana when it’s sued, serves as the legal advisor to state agencies and approves state contracts:
DEMOCRAT LORENZO ARREDONDO
Arredondo, 75, was the nation’s longest-serving elected Latino state trial judge when he retired from the bench in 2010, and if elected, he would be Indiana’s first Latino attorney general. He spent 34 years as a Lake County Circuit Court judge, a post he was first elected to in 1976. His parents immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, and Arredondo is the youngest of 10 children. He graduated from the University of San Francisco School of Law.
REPUBLICAN CURTIS HILL
Hill, 55, is in his fourth term as Elkhart County’s prosecutor. He began his legal career working in private practice and as a part-time deputy prosecuting attorney for the northern Indiana county that’s just east of South Bend. Hill was first elected Elkhart County’s prosecutor in 2002. If the Indiana University School of Law graduate wins the election, he would be the first African-American man to serve as Indiana’s attorney general.
Hill holds a significant campaign fundraising advantage over Arredondo, according to campaign finance records. Quarterly finance reports filed in July showed Arredondo with about $17,500 on hand as of June 30, whereas Hill’s campaign had more than $103,000. But campaign finance reports documenting large contributions show that Hill has picked up more than $600,000 from a political action committee affiliated with the Republican Attorney Generals Association since late June. Hill says he has campaign donations from many Indiana residents, but that he’s “pleased to have contributions from a variety of sources.”
If he’s elected, Hill says his first order of business would be reviewing the organization of the attorney general’s office to determine if any of its functions need to be streamlined. Hill says he would monitor new federal rules and regulations “to make sure they’re appropriate and do not usurp the authority of the state” and would challenge those he considers examples of federal overreach. He says he would address Indiana’s growing opioid epidemic and other drug woes in part by working to uphold drug-related convictions.
Arredondo says that if he’s elected, he’d use the office to fight Indiana’s opioid abuse crisis in part by targeting doctors who run so-called “pill mills” through which they overprescribe painkillers to patients addicted to powerful narcotics. He says Indiana’s drug scourge affects “every part of our society.” Arredondo says he would not sue in response to new federal regulations, saying that such challenges “waste a lot of the taxpayers’ money” and have little hope of success.
HILL ON INDIANA BAIL CHANGES
Hill wants Indiana lawmakers to review new statewide bail rules announced this month by the Indiana Supreme Court. Those new rules, set to cover all Indiana courts by January 2018, will permit most people arrested on charges to be released from jail without having to post bail, assuming they’re not deemed a flight or public safety risk. Hill warns that the changes may result in rapists, child molesters or other violent individuals deemed “low risk” from being released from jail pending trial, allowing them to flee justice or pose additional public threats.
ARREDONDO ON INDIANA BAIL CHANGES
Arredondo supports the bail changes, saying “the Supreme Court has spoken.” He says the new rules came after “exhaustive studies” by judges, attorneys, prosecutors, public defenders and lawmakers who considered the state’s existing bail policies. Indiana’s new bail rules don’t apply to people charged with murder or treason, or those on probation, parole or pre-trial release on another charge when arrested on new charges.
Arredondo campaign: http://arredondo2016.com/
Hill campaign: http://www.curtishillforindiana.com/#home