The Democrats have a new official 2020 gubernatorial candidate. Yesterday, state Sen. Eric Melton (D-Gary) formally announced his candidacy at a campaign event. Introducing the Senator to his supporters was State Education Superintendent Jennifer McCormick, a Republican who has been at odds with her own party leadership. Many believe that Sen. Melton will attempt to form a unity ticket with Ms. McCormick since Indiana is a ticket state, and Sen. Melton did not rule out such a possibility.
The Gary area state legislator joins former state Health Commissioner Woody Myers and online retail company owner Josh Owens in the Democratic field. The winner of next May’s partisan primary will undoubtedly face first term Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) who is seeking a second term.
Former state Rep. Steve Braun, the brother of freshman US Senator Mike Braun (R-IN), lost a 2018 congressional primary in the open 4th District to now-Congressman Jim Baird (R-Greencastle). On Friday, Steve Braun announced he is returning to campaign in another district as he declared his candidacy for the open 5th District, from which Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) is retiring. Mr. Braun becomes the first name candidate to enter the CD-5 Republican primary. Democrats will likely coalesce behind former state Representative and Lt. Governor nominee Christina Hale.
The 5th District covers all or parts of eight counties north and east of Indianapolis, including a large number of the capital city’s northern suburbs. The region is reliably Republican, not electing a Democrat to the US House since the 1980 election. President Trump carried this district, 53-41%, slightly under Mitt Romney’s 2012 margin of 57-41%.
As has been surmised for the past few weeks, Indiana Republican state Treasurer Kelly Mitchell yesterday announced that she will enter the open 5th District congressional race. Ms. Mitchell is vying to replace retiring Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel), and likely begins as the most credible Republican in the field. The 5th is a reliable Indianapolis/Marion County suburban GOP district that stretches to include an additional four counties north and east of the city and parts of three others.
Former Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard (R) said he will not enter the open 5th Congressional District race from which Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) is retiring. Many believed that Mr. Ballard would be the Republicans’ strongest candidate, but the party will still be favored to hold the seat with a different nominee.
First term Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) made official what virtually everyone in Indiana expected: he will run for a second term next year. The Governor looks to have clear sailing in the Republican primary. At this point, former state Health Commissioner Woody Myers and state Sen. Eric Melton (D-Gary) are announced candidates. Former 2012 and 2016 gubernatorial nominee John Gregg is again a potential candidate. At this point, Gov. Holcomb looks to be in strong position for re-election.
In a signal that the Democrats are going to make a play for Indiana’s open 5th Congressional District now that Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) has announced she won’t seek re-election, the party leaders have successfully recruited a candidate.
Yesterday, former state Representative and Lt. Governor nominee Christina Hale confirmed that she will run for the open metro Indianapolis US House seat. She will have opposition in the Democratic primary, but Ms. Hale should be able to command
sufficient resources to build a credible campaign even though she will be a general election underdog.
Four-term GOP Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) announced on Friday that she will not seek re-election in 2020, saying she wants to devote the next part of her life to interests outside of elective politics. Her decision means the open seat count grows to ten, including the two North Carolina seats that will be decided in special elections on September 10th. The 5th District is reliably Republican but could become competitive in an open seat situation in a strong Democratic year.
Yesterday, state Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Gary) announced that he is forming a gubernatorial exploratory committee to test his viability against first-term incumbent Governor Eric Holcomb (R). At this point, Sen. Melton is the first Democrat to come forward to take any official action. Two-time nominee John Gregg is mentioned as a possible candidate as is former Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel, but neither of them look to be making any discernible move toward entering the race.
A small sample We Ask America poll was conducted among selected likely Indiana Democratic primary voters (4/29-5/5; 280 likely Dem primary voters) and the results found former Vice President Joe Biden leading, but the margin was closer than in most other polled states. The WAA data finds the ex-VP with 33% support compared to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) 23%, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg who posted 20%.
Former state Sen. Mike Delph (R), who had previously considered several runs for US Senate but then lost his seat in the state legislature last November, is reportedly considering either a primary challenge to Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) or entering an open seat contest. Speculation is brisk that Rep. Brooks may challenge Attorney General Curtis Hill (R) in the GOP primary or if the seat is open. Mr. Hill faces sexual harassment accusations and disciplinary proceedings but has not resigned.
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