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By Marilyn Odendahl

The Indiana Citizen

October 18, 2023

Two people known in Indiana GOP political circles will be vying in a Republican Party caucus on Wednesday to fill the Statehouse seat left vacant by the unexpected death of Sen. Jack Sandlin, R-Indianapolis.

Cyndi Carrasco, who served as deputy general counsel and ethics officer for Gov. Eric Holcomb and ran unsuccessfully for Marion County prosecutor in 2022, and John Jacob, former Republican representative in the Indiana General Assembly, are the only two candidates on the caucus ballot, Indiana Republican Party leaders confirmed. The winner will serve the remainder of Sandlin’s term, which ends in 2024.

Sandlin served Senate District 36, which includes portions of Marion and Johnson counties. He died suddenly in September.

The caucus will begin at 7 p.m. at the Atrium Banquet and Conference Center, 3143 E. Thompson Road in Indianapolis. Precinct committee members from District 36 will vote after hearing the speeches from Carrasco and Jacobs. The candidate who gets 50% plus one vote will win the caucus.

Carrasco is an attorney and has served in several state positions, including as executive director of the Indiana State Ethics Commission and inspector general for Indiana. In the Holcomb administration, she assisted in coordinating the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as serving as policy director and liaison for multiple state agencies.

In July, she became vice president and general counsel at the University of Indianapolis. She represents the university in all legal matters and serves as legal adviser to the president, board of trustee and senior administrators, according to a press release from the university. She also oversees the university’s police department and office of human resources.

Carrasco challenged Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears last year. She made the city’s escalating homicide rate a central theme of her campaign but fell short, with 41% of the vote.

 She is a graduate of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

Jacob entered the legislature after upsetting Republican Dollyne Sherman in the June 2020 primary for the Indiana House District 93 seat by 71 votes. He went on to defeat the Democrat in the November election by capturing 61% of the votes.

After his house district was redrawn, he lost the 2022 Republican primary, gaining only 39% of the vote.

None of the bills Jacob authored as a state representative gained any traction but some did foreshadow legislation the Statehouse passed later. In 2021, Jacob authored a constitutional carry bill calling for the repeal of the law that required Hoosiers to obtain a license to carry a handgun and he authored a bill prohibiting medical professionals from providing gender transition treatment to minors.

The legislature passed a constitutional carry law, authored by Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, in 2022 with Jacob among the “yes” votes. Also in 2023, the legislature passed a law prohibiting physicians from providing gender transition procedures to individuals under 18.

A staunch anti-abortion advocate, Jacob co-authored bills with former Rep. Curt Nisly, R-Milford, that banned all abortions. During the 2022 special session, Jacob voted against the state’s strict new abortion law because it included exceptions for the health of the mother, rape, incest and fatal fetal anomalies.

“I’m voting ‘no’ because it is a weak pathetic bill that still allows babies to be murdered,” Jacob said during the debate of the abortion bill on the House floor. Several times during his remarks, he invoked his faith, quoted from the Bible and told his colleagues who would vote “yes” on the bill “to repent before God and trust Christ for forgiveness.”

Dwight Adams, a freelance editor and writer based in Indianapolis, edited this article. He is a former content editor, copy editor and digital producer at The Indianapolis Star and IndyStar.com, and worked as a planner for other newspapers, including the Louisville Courier Journal.

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