ELKHART, Ind. (AP) - Former Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill is dismissing as "old news" the question of whether allegations that he drunkenly groped four women during a 2018 party could hurt his chances of replacing Republican U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski following her death in a highway crash.
Hill is the most prominent of the dozen candidates who met Wednesday's deadline to enter the Republican caucus vote. The vote, set for Saturday, will choose who will take Walorski's place on the November election ballot in northern Indiana's solidly GOP 2nd Congressional District.
Other candidates for the Republican congressional bid include Rudy Yakym, an executive with Elkhart distribution company Kem Krest, and former Walorski campaign aide who has been endorsed by Walorski's husband.
Hill, who was the Elkhart County prosecutor before winning the 2016 attorney general election, denied wrongdoing but the state Supreme Court ordered a 30-day suspension of his law license after finding "by clear and convincing evidence that (Hill) committed the criminal act of battery" against three female legislative staffers and a state lawmaker during the party.
The allegations were a key campaign issue when he lost the 2020 Republican attorney general nomination for his reelection to Todd Rokita, who took office in January 2021.
Hill said he didn't believe the groping allegations would hurt his chances.
"I'm sure someone's going to bring up all sorts of old business, but that's old news," Hill told WISH-TV. "The folks in this district need somebody who's a fighter, who can take the heat. And if there's one thing that I've proven over the last several years is I can take a licking."
Hill had been seen as a rising African American star among Republicans and worked to build support among social conservatives, touting himself as an anti-abortion and tough-on-crime crusader. He made appearances on Fox News to discuss topics such as San Francisco's troubles with homelessness.
Walorski, who was 58, was a passenger in an SUV with two members of her congressional office staff Aug. 3 when it crossed the median of a northern Indiana state highway and collided with an oncoming vehicle, the Elkhart County Sheriff's Office said. The two staff members and the other driver were also killed.
Walorski was seeking reelection to the seat that she first won in 2012.
The Republican field to replace Walorski also includes former state Rep. Christy Stutzman, the wife of former U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, and state Rep. Curt Nisly, a hardline conservative who lost his reelection campaign in the May Republican primary.