AP NEWS

Holcomb turns to Daniels’ aides

November 10, 2016 GMT

INDIANAPOLIS – Republican Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb on Wednesday announced a 16-person transition board with a heavy Mitch Daniels influence to make for a smooth transition into the governor’s office in January.

Holcomb defeated Democrat John Gregg on Tuesday night and immediately jumped into action by choosing two former agency heads under previous Republican governor Daniels to co-chair the group.

But Holcomb said his reliance on people he worked closely with for the last 12 years doesn’t mean new energy and blood won’t come to his management team.

“Those are people I obviously have deep relationships with,” he said. “And over the course of the last 106 days out on the trail, I’ve met a lot of new faces, a lot of energy and intellect that we intend to incorporate in this new administration as well.”

Earl Goode and Kyle Hupfer will co-chair the group, and Holcomb said the team will evaluate every state agency starting today.

Goode started as head of the Indiana Department of Administration in 2005 under Daniels but then served six years as chief of staff. Hupfer was head of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Former Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman – Daniels’ second-in-command – is also on the transition team.

Holcomb worked in various capacities for Daniels in both the campaign and official offices.

The only person with northeast Indiana ties on the transition team is Brian Bauer, CEO of Lutheran Health Network in Fort Wayne.

Holcomb said his first phone call after learning he won was to Gov. Mike Pence, who is now vice president-elect.

“Had a great conversation with him and was able to talk to President-elect Donald Trump as well, and I have high hopes for the future of Indiana,” Holcomb said.

He also acknowledged that the Trump-Pence team drew people out to vote who might never have voted before.

“I think Hoosiers all over the state of Indiana said last night that they want to keep this state moving forward,” he said. “They like the direction the state is heading. They did not want to do a U-turn.”

Holcomb also announced the creation of Next Level Indiana Inc., a nonprofit entity formed to manage the transition and inaugural activities. It was another throwback to Daniels, who did something similar in 2004.

Back then, more than $826,000 was raised from a variety of Hoosiers as well as out-of-state companies. The contributions are not required to be public though Daniels was transparent with the donors at the time. There are also no limits on donations like there are for campaign or political action contributions.

Daniels spent about $558,000 on inaugural events and the remaining amount was transferred to Aiming Higher Inc. That money was then used to pay for polling and ads pushing Daniels’ political agenda though it was set up as public advocacy.

It was later changed to a political action committee and still exists today with a $161,000 balance.

nkelly@jg.net