ELKHART — After nearly a year of campaigning, Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill soon will find out if he'll be taking on a statewide post, serving all Indiana residents.
The Republican from Elkhart, now in his fourth term as prosecutor, is running for the Indiana attorney general's post against Democrat Lorenzo Arredondo, a former Lake County Circuit Court judge. Election Day is Tuesday.
"It's been busy. I've traveled to much of Indiana," Hill said this week.
The incumbent, Greg Zoeller, didn't seek re-election. Instead, he ran unsuccessfully for the 9th District U.S. House seat in the May GOP primary. Hill, who announced his candidacy last December, won nomination as the GOP attorney general candidate at the Indiana Republican Convention last June.
During his campaign, Hill has attended intimate meetings with small groups, large political gatherings and more.
"My message seems to be well received in all parts of the state," said Hill, who has taken a tough stance at times against suspects processed through the prosecutor's office. Broadly, he puts a focus on "defending freedom," he said, and "protecting family."
The attorney general's race has been overshadowed by the gubernatorial contest between Democrat John Gregg and Republican Eric Holcomb and the U.S. Senate race between Republican Todd Young and Democrat Evan Bayh.
Judging by funding, though, Hill's campaign has been getting plenty of attention.
His campaign finance report filed on Tuesday shows that he had generated $1.4 million in funding for the year through Oct. 24, with $335,301 left at the end of the period. Arredondo had generated $136,916 in the same period, with $65,609 left.
By way of comparison, U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, a Republican from Jimtown and perhaps the highest-profile candidate from north-central Indiana, had generated $1.73 million during the election cycle as of Sept. 30, with $757,762 left.
"Protecting family," one of Hill's campaign messages, is "something near and dear to my heart as prosecutor." By that, he means fighting drugs and drug trafficking.
"There are serious drug problems throughout the state," Hill said, alluding to heroin, opioids and meth. "So many people are wanting to know what type of steps can be taken."
Hill calls for a three-pronged approach – stricter enforcement of laws against trafficking, developing more affordable and accessible treatment options for drug abusers and putting more of a focus on preventing people from turning to drugs and crime in the first place.
Beyond that, his focus on "defending freedom" is a response to what he sees as federal government overreach, that is, federal agencies "bypassing Congress" and imposing their rules and regulations on state government. It's the attorney general's role to counter those kinds of intrusions.
"The attorney general has the responsibility of defending the state's interest in those regards," Hill said.
Beyond that, the attorney general aids in consumer protection, fights Medicaid fraud, protects against identity theft and more.
Some Republicans have long speculated about Hill's potential as a candidate for higher office, beyond the Elkhart County Prosecutor's Office. For now, he says he's focused on the campaign to be attorney general.
"We're taking one day at a time. Let's get past Nov. 8 and do this job," he said.
Follow reporter Tim Vandenack on Twitter at @timvandenack