Editor’s Note: The author and owner of this blog has weighed in on the Republican nomination race for Indiana Attorney General. The Indiana State GOP Convention, which will decide between the two candidates is June 2nd.

By: Brian Sikma

With the Indiana Attorney General’s race heating up on the Republican side, here is a look at where Jon Costas and Greg Zoeller differ on critical points. Issues of electability are important, but with both candidates about even on that front (Jon Costas did win one contested mayoral race with the help of labor unions and trial lawyers, so perhaps he’s slightly ahead on that front) what it comes down to is experience and philosophy.

Experience

Greg Zoeller has significant experience working in the Attorney General’s office as chief deputy to the Attorney General.

Virtually all of Jon Costas experience has little relation to the duties of the Attorney General.

Fiscal Conservatism

Jon Costas has strong ties to the big Indianapolis law firms that benefited from the millions of dollars in contract work awarded to them by Attorney General Karen Wilson. During his 2003 and 2007 mayoral campaigns, Jon Costas received over eleven thousand dollars in campaign contributions from three of largest law firms in Indianapolis.

Under the leadership of Attorney General Steve Carter and chief deputy to the Attorney General Greg Zoeller, the Indiana Attorney General’s office has spent less money on contract work and saved Hoosier taxpayers millions of dollars. Greg Zoeller is a proven fiscal conservative.

Smoking Bans

As mayor of Valparaiso, Jon Costas proudly fought for the passage and implementation of one of the state’s toughest big-government smoking bans. The ban not only impacts government buildings and publicly owned places like parks and sidewalks, it also mandates how private businesses and restaurants should conduct their business.

Greg Zoeller has consistently stood up for the principle that the private sector should not be run by big-government. Hard working business owners need to be free to make judgments about what works best for their business.

Legal Philosophy

In 2005 the United States Supreme Court declared that government jurisdictions could take private property away from one citizen and give it to another private entity if such a redistribution of wealth is for a broadly defined “public purpose.”

Inspite of the fact that the new approach to eminent domain was contrary to an originalist interpretation of the Constitution, Jon Costas abused his power as mayor of Valparaiso to successfully lead the city’s effort to take a shopping complex from one private company and sell it to another private company that wanted to redevelop the site. When Jon Costas had an opportunity to demonstrate a more conservative approach to the Constitution he chose to follow a liberal philosophy that trampled on freedom.

Greg Zoeller strongly believes that private property rights are essential to the organization and maintenance of a free society. Greg Zoeller is the only Attorney General candidate who will cons istently respect the constitutionally protected rights of the people, regardless of what judicial whims may allow.

Political Philosophy

Jon Costas styles himself as a “progressive” leader. The term “progressive” is often used by those on the left who seek greater government interference in the lives and businesses of the American people. When you consider his hearty support for a government imposed smoking ban and his work to remove the private property rights of a landowner, it’s easy to see that Jon Costas likes more government interference in the lives of Hoosiers.

Greg Zoeller is a solid conservative who has dedicated his professional life to the principles of limited government and a respect for the rights and responsibilities that go with freedom. His approach to public policy is based on principles that empower people and do not increase the size and scope of government. Greg Zoeller is prepared to put Hoosiers, and not government desires, first.

Campaign Style

Those supporting and advocating for the nomination of Jon Costas have not only attempted to make the case for their candidate, they have also taken the extra step of twisting arms and bullying those they want to support their candidate. It is unfortunate that Jon Costas has failed to repudiate the tactics of his supporters.

At the start of the campaign for the Attorney General nomination, Greg Zoeller declared that the race would be “a gentleman’s race.” While his opponent’s supporters have disgraced themselves, the party, and the process, Greg Zoeller has continued to campaign on substantive issues that really matter.

The Republican party doesn’t need a third-grade school yard fight style approach to the Attorney General’s office.

Unions

Jon Costas has accepted over ten thousand dollars from unions during his 2003 and 2007 mayoral campaigns. He has publicly boasted about his close ties to labor leaders.

Greg Zoeller recognizes the right of workers to join unions while simultaneously supporting the view that unionization should not be forced on any worker as a condition for his or her employment.

At the end of the day, one has to conclude that Greg Zoeller is the most conservative and most experienced candidate running for the Republican nomination to be the next Attorney General of Indiana. I encourage the delegates to the Indiana Republican Convention to cast their ballot for the conservative, bold, and principled, Greg Zoeller.

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