- Associated Press - Monday, December 12, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Incoming Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced on Monday his pick to run the state Republican Party, choosing a former state agency director and party official to replace outgoing chairman Jeff Cardwell.

Indianapolis-area attorney Kyle Hupfer is expected to be formally made chairman at a meeting of the state GOP in February.

Hupfer, who is the party’s regional chairman for the 5th Congressional district, must be voted in by state committeemen but is not expected to face opposition. The district he currently oversees extends north and east from Indianapolis.

“I know Kyle Hupfer is prepared to manage the robust statewide grassroots, finance and communications organization that is the Indiana Republican Party well into the future,” Holcomb said in a news release, noting that Hupfer is a longtime friend who served as his campaign treasurer and is one of the officials in charge of his gubernatorial transition efforts.

Hupfer previously led Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources under former Gov. Mitch Daniels and is well regarded by many who are active in party politics. He was also chairman of the Indiana State Fair Commission.

While serving as DNR chief under Daniels, he led an unsuccessful push to build out and privatize amenities at Indiana Dunes State Park along Lake Michigan.

Environmentalists and many local residents opposed the proposal at the time, which included plans for a hotel. But the idea was later revived by politically connected GOP developer Chuck Williams, who hired Hupfer to negotiate a long-term lease at the park with officials at the agency he once led. The resulting deal - which is slated to bring restaurants, bars and an event center to the park - was approved despite considerable local opposition.

Williams is a member of the state committee that will vote on Hupfer’s nomination as chairman.

Cardwell, who was appointed in 2015 by Gov. Mike Pence, previously served as a special adviser and director of faith-based initiatives for Pence.

Earlier this year Cardwell raised eyebrows after the Indianapolis Star reported he used GOP email lists to promote an Indianapolis hardware store he owns.

Cardwell told party officials that he plans to resign as chairman in early 2017.

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