House Speaker Brian Bosma says opponents of HJR-3, the state‘s proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman, offered someone campaign money to challenge him in a primary, but two Republican Party officials say that is the first they have heard of the claim.
“I haven‘t had any conversations with anyone in regards to a primary challenge for Speaker Bosma,” said Kyle Walker, chairman of the Marion County Republican Party.
Bosma‘s House district covers part of Marion and Hamilton Counties and he is unopposed in both the primary and general elections this year.
“I haven‘t heard anything,” said Hamilton County GOP Chairman Peter Emigh in an email response to questions about Bosma‘s claim.
Bosma first made the allegation more than a week ago during a meeting with reporters, as well as claiming he was twice offered “unlimited” campaign funds if he would shut down the marriage amendment, known as HJR-3, without a vote. Bosma refused to say who made the offer or who his alleged primary challenger would be.
The Associated Press reports that the would be donor was former State Republican party chairman Jim Kittle, an opponent of HJR-3.
Kittle withdrew his offer after Bosma questioned its legality, and it turns out the money wasn’t needed after all. Only four House Republicans targeted by ban supporters face primary challenges, and changes to the proposed amendment’s language will keep the issue off the ballot until at least 2016. But the back-room intrigue illustrates how election-year politics and campaign dollars shape some of the state’s most important decisions.
Bosma calls the offers of campaign funds “most unusual and completely out of line.”
“He is a high profile elected official and has to make decisions that don‘t always make everyone happy, so there certainly could have been someone considering [a challenge],” said Walker. “I don‘t know of anyone who was actually considering a challenge, and frankly I‘d be surprised if it came from someone within our organization.”
There are primary challengers to Representative Eric Turner, R-Cicero, the amendment‘s author, and House Elections Chairman Milo Smith, R-Columbus, who brought the amendment to the floor after Bosma reassigned it to his committee in mid-session.