GOP candidate for attorney general offers needed alternative to Curtis Hill

This is the time during the election cycle when candidates begin to declare their intentions to run for elective office.

Sometimes there are surprises. Other times, everything happens as expected. Usually, there is a mixture of both.

The announcement that caught our attention involves a candidate for Indiana attorney general. And it's not a declaration from current Republican Attorney General Curtis Hill. Rather, it comes from a candidate who is challenging him for the Republican nomination.

Zionsville attorney John Westercamp made it known recently that he will campaign with GOP delegates to the state Republican Convention in 2020 to nominate him rather than Hill, who is expected to seek re-election to a second term.

Such a challenge would indeed be a major surprise if not for the fact that Hill is the state's most embattled officeholder since he was accused of groping four women at a late-night party in a downtown Indiana bar in the spring of 2018. The party was celebrating the end of the legislative session, and Hill was accused of being intoxicated and inappropriately touching several women, including a Democratic state legislator.

It's been a public spectacle ever since, with a special prosecutor determining that not enough evidence existed to charge Hill with a crime. But he still faces a civil lawsuit from the women and potential professional sanctions. A number of high-ranking state officeholders, including Gov. Eric Holcomb, have called on Hill to resign.

While he faces no criminal charges, the special prosecutor, as well as an Inspector General's report, clearly found Hill's conduct to be alarming and unacceptable. Some witnesses interviewed labeled Hill's behavior at the party as "creepy."

Compounding the actual behavior has been Hill's refusal to take responsibility for his actions. He remains defiant. He has called the accusations "vicious and false" and the accusers malicious liars.

The emergence of a Republican candidate to oppose Hill for the nomination is a welcome development. Hill should have stepped down, but by refusing to do so, he has invited a challenge to his re-election, even from within his own party.

The Republican Party will now have the opportunity to express itself about the values it embraces for its nominees and officeholders. Hopefully the convention delegates will have the courage to hold Hill accountable for his actions.

Published editorials are the collective opinion of the Tribune-Star's Editorial Board and are independent of the newspaper's news gathering and coverage.

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