Can Hoosier Democrats win back this statewide seat?
Locked out of the secretary of state's office for more than three decades, Democrats look to Destiny Wells—and Libertarians.
Photo courtesy of Destiny Wells.
An Indiana Democrat has not been elected to the secretary of state's office since 1989. Destiny Wells—former deputy attorney general and a Lt. Col. with the Army Reserves who did a combat tour in Afghanistan—thinks she can change that. Later this week, at their state convention, her party will nominate her for November’s general election.
In a wide-ranging interview, Wells called the Electoral College “inherently anti-Democratic.”
“If we think how this election mechanism influences Hoosiers’ voting behavior, it’s negatively,” Wells told me. “We know Indiana has a huge turnout issue, and a lot of people have told me they don’t think their vote counts. But if a presidential election weren’t just a case of Indiana being the first state to ‘go red,’ I’m guessing Hoosiers would be more incentivized to turn out because they would see their vote equally matters to say, someone’s vote in a swing state.”
Wells talked about which two Indiana Republicans she thinks have “good hearts,” her strategy to win over libertarians and “donut county moms” and sizes up Hoosier Democrats’ chances this November.
“Look, Indiana is not a red state, is not a blue state,” Wells told me. “It's a purple state with a turnout problem.”
The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Nationally, Democrats are eyeing secretary of state races due to the election denialism we saw in the wake of 2020. Why are you interested in Indiana's race?
When I think of any office that's on the ballot this year, the secretary of state is the most politically minded office. It has the election division in it. To your point, there is a GOP strategy of putting election deniers into the secretary of state offices to prep for 2024.
Currently, the Republicans have had that office for 30 years now. The last democratic secretary of state was Mayor Joe Hogsett, who came to my campaign kickoff and endorsed me off the bat. I had been a deputy chair for state Chairman Mike Schmuhl, and wanting to do more, so I decided to run for secretary.
It fits my background: I am an attorney by trade, but I'm also a military intelligence Lt. Col. with the Army Reserves. I've deployed to Afghanistan with US Army Intelligence and Security Command. And so that background coupled with this availability, I just could not turn down the opportunity to run and really effectuate change.
Democrats need a spark, somewhere, to ignite. And I think that the secretary of state's office will be that spark. I think we can make a very meaningful, purposeful change that will start to turn the tide in Indiana.