INDIANAPOLIS - A slew of top Indiana Republican Party officials are leaving their posts just five months into new Gov. Mike Pence’s administration.
The departures include state GOP chairman Eric Holcomb, as well as his executive director, Justin Garrett, and Becky Skillman, the former lieutenant governor who became a Republican National Committeewoman just a year ago.
Also leaving are state GOP vice chairwoman Sandi Huddleston and treasurer Peter Deputy – moves that will leave three of the party’s four top officers’ seats open.
The departures give Pence a chance to shape the leadership of the state party he has taken over and install his own choices.
Garrett is leaving to take a private sector job on Thursday, and the others are departing after the party’s annual summer dinner on July 9.
In a statement announcing the moves, Holcomb – who was a top aide and key political adviser to Daniels – said the summer of a non-election year was the “right time” and that more details about his next role will come “sooner rather than later.”
“These changes will give Gov. Mike Pence a wonderful opportunity to charge forward and write our party's next chapter of success,” Holcomb said.
“For quite some time now I have been contemplating the next steps in my professional career. With the support of Gov. Mike Pence and the confidence that our state party’s debts are paid off, we have surpassed our recent fundraising goals, our staff is smaller and more efficient than ever and we've already completed our biggest technological upgrade in a decade, made now the right time.”
Pence praised Holcomb, saying he was glad the chairman who was appointed to replace Murray Clark in 2011 was willing to stay on through the early stages of the new governor’s tenure.
“Eric's selfless service to Indiana and the Republican Party is a big reason why Indiana is the envy of the nation. Eric is a true servant leader who is leaving the Party in a strong place. I wish him every success in the next chapter of his career,” Pence said.
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody said in a statement that he wishes “all the best” to Holcomb and his leadership team.
“It's true we don't agree on much politically, but anyone who's ever worked in these jobs knows the challenges are many,” said Zody, who took over state Democrats’ helm in March as he replaced eight-year chairman Dan Parker.
“While I haven’t served as Chairman Holcomb’s counterpart for very long, I have appreciated our constructive, professional relationship and look forward to the same with his successor.”
It’s not yet clear who Pence will ask Republicans to elect on July 9 to replace Holcomb. The governor is all but certain to get his first choice.