Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is credited with cultivating strong grassroots support among GOP faithful. (Photo/Marilyn Odendahl)


By Marilyn Odendahl

The Indiana Citizen

June 14, 2024


Four years ago, Todd Rokita warned Republicans that the conduct of then-Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill would be a drag on the entire state GOP ticket in the 2020 general election.


Hill had just had his law license suspended for 30 days by the Indiana Supreme Court after accusations of groping four women at a 2018 party of state legislators and staff members. The incident caught the nation’s attention and remained in the public eye for years as Hill’s fight against the allegations culminated in a hearing before the state Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission.


In the summer of 2020, Rokita asserted that Hill’s behavior could cost the Republicans the attorney general’s office.


“This was no impeachment Pelosi clown show,” Rokita said of the Indiana Supreme Court’s disciplinary action against Hill. “This was the highest court in our state, five impartial, conservative judges condemning our attorney general’s behavior. This messaging against Hill will be so intense, we will not only lose the attorney general’s office, but will lose other elections, including local races that we care about.”


Rokita went on to capture the GOP nomination from Hill and win the 2020 election to become the 44th attorney general of Indiana. Now, as he runs for reelection, he, himself, is carrying the stigma of a disciplinary action. He was publicly reprimanded by the Indiana Supreme Court in 2023 for going on FOX News and calling Indianapolis OB/GYN Caitlin Bernard an “abortionist activist acting as a doctor – with a history of failure to report.”


Also, the combative statement Rokita released after he was reprimanded has caused the disciplinary commission to open another investigation into his conduct. Instead of accepting the reprimand and apologizing, Rokita, essentially, defended his actions, saying he had “evidence and explanation for everything I said.”


However, while Hill’s troubles induced multiple attorneys to challenge him for the party’s nomination, Rokita does not have any opponents. At the Indiana Republican Party Convention on Saturday, Rokita will get his name on the November ballot without having to do much more than simply show up. And, he is widely predicted to win the general election, even though the Indiana Democratic Party has two candidates vying for its attorney general nomination.


The reason has to do with the math and his strong support – the party faithful can serve as convention delegates for decades and a vast amount of the Republican delegates are loyal to Rokita, according to Republican insiders. Candidates for attorney general do not run in a primary, but rather compete for delegate votes at the party’s convention. Anyone challenging Rokita, insiders said, would probably not be able to convince enough delegates to switch their votes.


Tom John, former Indiana Republican State Committee member and manager of Rokita’s 2002 campaign for Indiana Secretary of State, said Rokita has long cultivated the support of delegates. When he started the run for secretary of state – a position which is nominated at the party convention instead of chosen in the primary – John remembered that Rokita traversed the state to begin the day at a 7 a.m. meeting with a delegate over coffee and continued through 9 p.m., shaking hands after a Lincoln Day dinner.


Rokita understood, John said, the importance of meeting delegates and connecting with them, so they felt comfortable with him as a person. John credited the delegate loyalty Rokita had built with propelling him into the secretary of state’s office and enabling him to oust Hill for the attorney general nod.


“Todd had created that very direct grassroots relationship and maintained that throughout his time as secretary of state,” John said. “And when he came back (to run for) attorney general, he had that reservoir of goodwill from all the work he had done over the years.”


Publicity-winning stances, potential disciplinary action

Rokita has courted controversy throughout his tenure as the state’s top attorney.


His investigation and public comments about Bernard, for disclosing in June 2022 that she had performed an abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim, drew the ire of many in the Indiana legal community and caused a trial court judge examining Rokita’s conduct in the matter to find he had “clearly violated Indiana law when discussing the confidential investigations in the media.”


Rokita subsequently assigned Shaerr Jaffe, a Washington, D.C., law firm, to help litigate a complaint he filed against Bernard before the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana and to defend him in his own disciplinary case. Indiana taxpayers paid the legal bills for that work.


In addition, Rokita was brushed aside by the Indiana Supreme Court, after he tried to insert himself into a legal dispute between Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Indiana General Assembly over which entity could call a special session. The Eyes on Education online portal his office launched in February to collect complaints about classroom instruction has been criticized as having a “chilling effect” on teachers and a report on the COVID-19 pandemic compiled by his staff, that criticized Indiana’s coronavirus statistics that helped justify lockdowns and mask mandates, was panned by Holcomb as having zero validity.


Also, to derail a lawsuit that sought information on the private-sector job Rokita initially kept after he was sworn in as attorney general, his office drafted an amendment that the legislature then passed in 2023, which made the state inspector general’s informal advisory opinions confidential retroactively – which thereby covered cases like Rokita’s private employment issue. And, most recently, Rokita sent a letter to four Indiana municipalities threatening legal action if they did not rescind their sanctuary city policies.


Rokita has touted his agenda as protecting personal liberty, as he staked out a conservative agenda. When he filed for reelection in April, he highlighted what he described as “the many successes from his first term.” The list included securing more than $1 billion in legal settlements; “safeguarding women’s sports from unfair male competition”; and defending Indiana’s near-total abortion ban and protecting the Second Amendment rights of Hoosiers.


Also, he said in the announcement that his office “must continue standing up for Hoosier’s (sic) rights and liberties, defend our citizens from criminal who wish to be set free, protect consumers and challenge President Biden and his allies who want open borders, job-killing red tape, and extreme woke ideology in our classrooms.”


Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said he supports Rokita’s policies, but he still convened an exploratory committee to consider a run for the 2024 attorney general nomination because of concerns about the ongoing disciplinary investigation. Cummings said he planned to become a candidate if another disciplinary complaint was filed against Rokita before the filing deadline for the state GOP convention.


Absent an actual complaint, Cummings said, overcoming Rokita’s popularity among the convention delegates would be very difficult. However, he is certain the current disciplinary investigation will not end with a whimper, saying he “would be astonished” if another complaint is not filed.


“I think the potential for increased sanctions against Mr. Rokita is much greater and I think there’s a potential he may not be able to hold office or stay in office,” Cummings said.


Full war chest, strong endorsements

Rokita will be entering the state convention with almost $1.2 million on hand as of March 31, according to his latest campaign report. He has garnered endorsements from several officials who are popular with the Republican base, such as U.S. Rep. Jim Banks from Fort Wayne and Indiana Secretary of State Diego Morales.


In early June, Rokita also received an endorsement from presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, perhaps the most coveted recommendation a GOP candidate can get in the red state Indiana has become.


Adam Krupp, former Indiana Department of Revenue commissioner, learned first-hand of the work required to court convention delegates, when he ran for the GOP Indiana Attorney General nomination in 2020. The COVID shutdown in the spring of that year forced him to forgo his plans for in-person conversations and meetings with delegates and eventually led him to withdraw from the race.


However, he did see the loyalty of the delegates, which he suspects, is now playing in Rokita’s favor. Krupp said challenging an incumbent like Rokita is an uphill climb, especially when the office holder has proven to be a staunch conservative who prioritizes issues that are important to Republican base.


“Delegates need a reason and it needs to be a really good reason to go against an incumbent,” Krupp said, explaining how convincing delegates to change their loyalties can be a monumental task. “Even with (Curtis Hill’s disciplinary) situation in 2020, I engaged with many folks that said, ‘I think you’re great. You have the most experience in the field but I’ve been with Curtis for four or five years and he’s my guy.’”


The loyalty of the delegates was underscored when Rokita needed three rounds of voting to defeat Hill for the nomination at the 2020 convention.


Krupp saw Rokita’s grassroots style during the early days of the 2020 race for attorney, when, he said, Rokita was running a “shadow campaign” and waiting until the last minute to file his candidacy. Rokita, Krupp said, would sit in the back of the room at every Lincoln Day dinner, taking notes on the speeches of all the other attorney general candidates and shaking hands with the delegates.


Watching Rokita work a room, Krupp said the attorney general is personable in “short, sweet, abrupt” encounters, where he hits on a key talking point to remind his base of his conservative principles. Also, Krupp said, Rokita – and all the other AG candidates – were given a little boost by the party’s encouragement of challengers to Hill. The mantra, he said, was “the more the merrier” and “anyone but Curtis.”


Differing viewpoints over Rokita

Yet, despite winning in 2020 and walking to the nomination in 2024, Rokita is a politican, Krupp acknowledged, who seems to be disliked by many. Krupp attributed that to Rokita running the attorney general’s office in a way that rubs some people wrong and to not always working well with others, even those from the same party.


“At the end of the day, when you’re elected, you need to serve the whole state to be able to uphold the duties that you raise your hand to and swear by when you take an oath,” Krupp said. “I think a lot of people see that he has no intention doing that, nor has he done that throughout his tenure.”


John described Rokita as having a “very good, genuine side” and recalled the notes of appreciation Rokita wrote to him throughout the 2002 campaign. A 2017 report by the Indianapolis Star portrayed Rokita, then serving in Congress, as a micromanager who mistreated his staff, but John rebutted that article. He said Rokita is a “focused, driven person” who, especially when on the campaign trail, is actively preparing for the next meeting or call to a delegate and scheduling does not allow much time for chitchat with staffers.


“He is somebody who does what he thinks is right and you may or may not agree with what his view of what’s right is but, at the end of the day, he is behaving with integrity,” John said. “I don’t think he gets up in the morning and says, ‘Oh, will this make me popular or unpopular?’ I think he just has a viewpoint of the things that he’s trying to do in the office.”


Among the delegates who will be attending the state Republican convention and voting for the attorney general will be Cummings. Speaking a little more than a week before the convention, he said he was undecided if he would support Rokita.


The concern was not Rokita’s conservative stance on the issues, he said, but rather Rokita’s behavior in office. Particularly, Cummings said, Rokita often goes on the attack, when he could “accomplish much” if he took a different approach.


“I think his number one issue is running to Fox News,” Cummings said. “First chance he can, he’s generating reasons to get publicity and run to Fox.”


Dwight Adams, a freelance editor and writer based in Indianapolis, edited this article. He is a former content editor, copy editor and digital producer at The Indianapolis Star and, and worked as a planner for other newspapers, including the Louisville Courier Journal.


The Indiana Citizen is a nonpartisan, nonprofit platform dedicated to increasing the number of informed and engaged Hoosier citizens. We are operated by the Indiana Citizen Education Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) public charity. For questions about the story, contact Marilyn Odendahl at



Related Posts