Candidate who wouldn't denounce Moms for Liberty chapter after Hitler quote wins Indiana mayor race

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (AP) — A Republican candidate who refused to denounce a local chapter of Moms for Liberty that used a quote by Adolf Hitler in a newsletter has won her election as mayor of Carmel, Indiana, a wealthy suburb of Indianapolis.

City Councilwoman Sue Finkam defeated Democratic candidate and fellow city councilman Miles Nelson in Tuesday’s municipal election, according to unofficial returns from the Hamilton County election office. The election closed a contentious and at times bitter race to lead the city of about 102,000 people and succeed its longtime mayor.

The race received widespread attention after Nelson called on Finkam to denounce the Hamilton County chapter of Moms for Liberty, the conservative group that used a quote from Adolf Hitler in its inaugural newsletter earlier this year. Moms for Liberty, a group classified as an “anti-government extremist group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is a national organization that champions “parental rights" and efforts against diversity, equity and inclusion in school districts.

Both candidates denounced the use of the quote earlier this summer, but Finkam did not answer when Nelson asked her to denounce the group during a public debate in October. Finkam later accused Nelson of inflaming the race with national politics to distract voters.

“I thought this election would be about the best way to lead the city, but it turned into something louder, nastier and negative when my opponent attacked me and painted Carmel in a negative light nationally,” Finkam said in her victory speech posted to social media by WTHR-TV.

While the office of mayor does not have administrative power over the school district, The Associated Press asked Finkam to clarify what she believes the role of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts are in other areas of local government. Her senior advisor did not immediately reply to a request for comment Wednesday.

Nelson argued that speaking out against the group was essential to support the local school district, a feature of the town that attracts new residents and businesses. The Associated Press left a voicemail with Nelson on Wednesday seeking a comment on the results of the election.

Carmel's economic development was otherwise at the heart of the race and both candidates campaigned on largely continuing with outgoing Mayor Jim Brainard's strategy for the growing city. Brainard, who held the office for seven consecutive terms, endorsed Finkam in October after backing a different candidate in a contested Republican primary.

Nearby, Democratic mayor of Indianapolis Joe Hogsett won reelection against his Republican opponent Jefferson Shreve, ending an expensive campaign season.