2022 Indiana election: Garrison with wide lead in race for Hamilton County prosecutor

2022 Indiana election: Garrison with wide lead in race for Hamilton County prosecutor

Updated: 2 months, 23 days, 1 hour, 59 minutes, 2 seconds ago

2022 Indiana election: Garrison with wide lead in race for Hamilton County prosecutor

Former radio talk show host Greg Garrison appeared headed to victory with a comfortable lead in the race for Hamilton County prosecutor Tuesday.

With 196 of 217 precincts reporting Republican Garrison had tallied 57% of the vote against Democrat Jessica Paxson, as of 8:55 p.m., according to unofficial results provided by the Hamilton County Election Administrator.

Garrison worked on the Marion County prosecution team in the 1990s that convicted former heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson of rape before starting a 20-year career behind the microphone as a conservative host of a WIBC radio show.  

Paxson has been a prosecutor for 11 years, the last seven in Hamilton and County following four years in Tippecanoe County. A Democrat has not held the prosecutor’s office for 36 years and Garrison has wide local name recognition and deep political connections in the Republican-leaning county.

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Long-time conservative Republican radio show host Greg Garrison is running for Hamilton County prosecutor against an experienced deputy prosecutor in a race that features a counter-intuitive claim about which candidate has the right experience to lead the office.

In this instance, it’s the much younger Democrat, Jessica Paxson, who asserts that Greg Garrison, 74, is a little too green for the job.

Paxson’s campaign tried to counter Garrison’s declarations that he’s spent a life-time fighting crime by pointing out he hadn't prosecuted a case in 30 years. Garrison worked on the Marion County prosecution team in the 1990s that convicted former heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson of rape but left the office before starting a 20-year career behind the microphone at WIBC.

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Paxson, 38, has called Garrison’s tough-on-crime image exaggerated and misleading. In contrast, Paxson has been a prosecutor for 11 years, the last seven in Hamilton and County following four years in Tippecanoe County.

It’s uncertain whether that chipping at Garrison’s record is enough to overcome his wide local name recognition and deep political connections in the Republican-leaning county. A Democrat has not held the prosecutor’s office for 36 years and among Garrison’s closest friends are former Vice President Mike Pence, who donated $10,000 to his primary campaign and held a fundraiser for Garrison.

Garrison gained in upset victory in the primary over three-term incumbent D. Lee Buckingham but Buckingham’s not one of his Republican admirers. Buckingham donated $250 to Paxson and he, too questioned Garrison’s experience saying on a Facebook post that he puts the integrity of the office over party politics.

Garrison, though has plenty of other endorsements, including the Carmel Fraternal Order of Police and Fishers Fraternal Order of Police.

Garrison holds a large fundraising advantage over Paxson. For the year, he raised $66,963 with $19,804 in cash on hand, according to Hamilton County Election Office campaign finance reports. His expenses included $4,590 in advertising at WIBC and $8,214 to cater the Pence fundraiser in April.

Paxson raised $12,736 and had $5,101 in cash on hand.

 Garrison said he was urged to run by police officers and “members of the judiciary” and has held regular meetings with officers.  He has promised to bring aggressive young prosecutors into the office who work closely with police if he wins.

Paxson grew up in Westfield, attended Ball State University and earned her law degree from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 2008.

She is a member of the county’s Domestic Violence Task Force and has co-chair of the Sexual Assault Response Team and has made “lasting connection with victims” on cases she has worked.

If elected, Paxson said she would start a separate sex crimes prosecution unit and reduce the case loads for supervisors so they can spend more times training  mentoring mew prosecutors.

The candidates didn’t hold any debates during the campaign or sit on candidate forums together. Garrison declined Paxson’s invitation to four debates and was a no-show at a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

Call IndyStar reporter John Tuohy at 317-444-6418. Email at john.tuohy@indystar.com and follow on Twitter and Facebook.