Eric Holcomb: The good apparatchik


Is Eric Holcomb in trouble?

No, not in danger of losing re-election in what is expected to be a presidential-year GOP romp in Indiana. Rather, in trouble as in falling so far behind the ticket that his political clout and that of his senior staff is suspect.

There is an opinion survey that shows Holcomb dropping 16 points since April. We haven’t put much stock in political polls since the invention of the hard-to-profile cellphone. Moreover, in an age of identity politics, respondents don’t answer questions straightforwardly.

There are, however, reasons to worry about Holcomb’s political health.

Those begin with his “appointee” look. Holcomb was pushed on Hoosiers by the Pence machine, an Indianapolis group that has since moved lock, stock and barrel out of state to a richer market. We are left with the assistant to the deputy director. Do we need to mention the plaid sport jacket and Clubmaster glasses?

Then there is the dead ear. When asked on video what he thought about changing the name of racially insensitive “Indiana,” no alarms went off inside a skull full of rehearsed politicisms. He answered the question press-release style trying to mollify the imaginary affronted. It was painful to watch.

Nor has Holcomb’s relish for telling us the bad news from Wuhan gone over well. Indeed, for a Republican, his presumption of extraordinary powers has been uncomely. That has included an illogical and conflicting array of executive orders that closed churches and taverns but somehow left powerful corporations undisturbed.

Particularly hard to forgive in this office is that Holcomb has wound his way through a political career in Washington and Indianapolis without ever getting a handle on the dynamics of private property. His confusing of Chinese CCP influence for “investment” and his negation of rental contracts were without serious thought about long-term property concerns.

All said, though, Holcomb is nobody’s enemy. He is the Lugar-Coats-Daniels-Pence loyalist left standing in a game of political musical chairs — clearly a man of honorable intention, but a man out of place.

The fault? Well, this will sound familiar. Members of Indiana’s GOP establishment had a choice in 2016. They could have welcomed a wide-open, vigorous, all-comers, issue-driven primary battle. That, or they could have padded the way for a company man to protect their personal interests and ambitions.

Surprise, they chose the later, to the detriment of their party and of their state. 

Craig Ladwig is editor of the quarterly Indiana Policy Review. Send comments to awoods@ Send comments to [email protected].

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