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Holcomb Chosen As Gov. Candidate: Meet The Former GOP Chair

Eric Holcomb speaks about his plans for the 2016 gubernatorial race shortly after he is chosen as the GOP nominee.

The Indiana Republican State Committee voted Tuesday to approve Eric Holcomb as the GOP candidate for governor, replacing Mike Pence as he seeks the Vice Presidency as Donald Trump’s running mate.

The 22 members of the Indiana GOP state committee emerged from a nearly three hour, closed door meeting to reveal Eric Holcomb as their new standard-bearer.

The Lieutenant Governor beat out U.S. Representatives Susan Brooks and Todd Rokita and State Senator Jim Tomes. Holcomb, who’s expected to get the bulk of Governor Mike Pence’s gubernatorial campaign funds, says his party is unified.

“I’m going to focus on economic development, community development and making sure that state government provides high quality, good state service,” Holcomb says.

“I’m going to focus on economic development, community development and making sure that state government provides high quality, good state service.”

Minutes after Holcomb was announced as the Indiana GOP’s new candidate for governor, John Gregg released a statement declaring that the issues in the race “remain the same.”

Without mentioning Mike Pence’s name, Gregg sought to link Holcomb with the man he replaced on the ballot, saying the lieutenant governor embraces what Gregg calls the “failed approach” to leading Indiana.

At Holcomb’s introductory press conference, when asked about his position on LGBT rights – a hot button issue for Governor Pence – Holcomb initially sidestepped

“Well, when you speculate about future legislation, we’ll play it as it comes to my desk, should I be honored with being the next governor of this state,” he said.

Yet he did go on to address the topic:

“We have a balance right now of protecting religious liberties while making sure that we’re not discriminating – that’s how I will approach this issue.”

Holcomb says his attention immediately turns to choosing a running mate, which the GOP state committee will officially nominate next week.

“Someone who’s going to be tenacious out on the trail, helping spread of the word of good, conservative government,” he says.

Holcomb says he’ll consider anyone, including the candidates he beat for the gubernatorial nomination. Both Brooks and Rokita say they’d like to return to running for their House seats.

Who Is Eric Holcomb?

Holcomb has served as Lieutenant Governor for five months, since he was appointed by Gov. Mike Pence after Sue Ellspermann resigned from the position. He has never served in elected office, but rose quickly as a politician in recent months.

Holcomb is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and a graduate of Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana.

He worked on the campaign team of U.S. Representative John Hostettler starting in 1997. In 2000, Holcomb ran for office in the Indiana House of Representatives and was defeated by Democratic incumbent John Frenz.

Holcomb worked with Mitch Daniels from 2003 until 2011, first on the campaign trail and then as an adviser and Deputy Chief of Staff after Daniels’ election as governor.

Watch Holcomb’s full speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention:

In 2010, Daniels endorsed Holcomb for the State Republican Party Chair. Holcomb served in that position until he stepped down in 2013.

Shortly after, Holcomb became the Chief of Staff for U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind. He served on Coats’ team for close to two years; in early 2015, Coats announced he would not run for reelection.

Days later, Holcomb resigned from Coats’ staff to join Marlin Stutzman and Todd Young seeking to fill the open seat.

However, Holcomb withdrew from the Senate race before the primary election, just before Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann resigned her position to seek the presidency at Ivy Tech Community College. Pence chose Holcomb to replace Ellspermann as his Lt. Gov. and running mate for reelection in 2016.

Holcomb was sworn in on March 3. When Gov. Pence withdrew his name from the gubernatorial race on the deadline to withdraw from the Indiana ballot, Holcomb withdrew his own name from the ballot and announced his desire to run for governor.

Becca Costell0 contributed to this report.

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