Indiana News

Lawson Appointed by Daniels To Be Secretary of State

Former state senator to fill remaining two years of Charlie White's term

3/16/2012

 

Connie Lawson is sad to leave the State Senate after more than 15 years, but she also says she is thrilled to serve in a new office, though it comes under less than ideal circumstances.

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Lawson (R-Danville) was appointed Secretary of State by Governor Daniels to serve the remaining two years of Charlie White's term. Her appointment came after the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that only Daniels could name White's successor following his conviction for voter fraud and other felonies. "She is just superbly ready, and I'm just so proud to have the opportunity to appoint her," Daniels said.

First elected to the Senate in 1996, Lawson served as Majority Leader for Senate President Pro Tem David Long this year. She also served on the Senate Elections Committee, which allowed her to help write some of the election laws she'll now oversee.

"I guess this means the family's Spring break trip may be off," Lawson joked with Daniels after she was sworn in by her longtime friend, Lt. Governor Becky Skillman.

White was removed from office following his felony convictions, though there is a chance he could be reinstated if he successfully appeals. Lawson says she isn't thinking about that. "It's been a long process, and I'm going to focus on moving the Secretary of State's office forward," Lawson said. "One thing we need to keep in mind; it's time to do that. We have a primary election in 53 days in a major election cycle."

Lawson also isn't thinking about whether to run for a full term as Secretary of State in 2014. "It's too early to say that. But what I do plan to do is position myself to run that if that's what I'd like to do."

Though other candidates for the position came to mind, Daniels said the choice was easy. "Connie's was always the first name I thought of, and there was never really a rival," Daniels said. "Look at her credentials for this job. Look at her repuation for legislative integrity. She's well regarded on both sides of the aisle."

Both Daniels and Lawson praised the work of Jerry Bonnet, who served as interim Secretary of State since White's conviction. "All the staff there that really performed, as far as I know, superbly throughout under less than optimum circumstances," Daniels said.

Following White's conviction, Democrats tried to have the man who lost to White in 2010, Vop Osili, named Secretary of State. They argued that White was ineligible for the 2010 ballot because of questions about where he lived when he registered to vote. But the state Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Democrats waited too long to challenge White's residency, giving Daniels the power to appoint his successor.

Lawson would have been up for re-election to her Senate seat this year, and her name will remain on the May 8th primary ballot. Republican precint committee members will meet next month to elect someone to serve the rest of Lawson's Senate term. A second caucus will take place after the primary to name a candidate for the November general election.

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