3rd Democrat joining Indiana governor's race with GOP backer

A Democratic state senator is formally entering the Indiana governor's race with the state's Republican schools chief expected by his side.

Posted: Oct 8, 2019 4:02 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A Democratic state senator is formally entering the Indiana governor's race with the state's Republican schools chief expected by his side.

First-term state Sen. Eddie Melton has a campaign announcement event set for Tuesday evening in his northwestern Indiana hometown of Gary. He filed state documents creating a gubernatorial campaign committee on Friday.

Melton is the third Democrat to enter the race for the party's nomination to challenge Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb in next year's election.

Republican state schools Superintendent Jennifer McCormick will join Melton at Tuesday's event, according to his campaign. McCormick drew a rebuke from top Republicans when she joined Melton at several public meetings over the summer as he considered entering the governor's race.

Melton maintains that the Republican-led state government isn't doing enough on issues such as improving education funding, teacher pay and health care access.

"Most folks feel that state government is not paying them any attention, is not focused on the issues that matter to them the most," Melton told The (Northwest Indiana) Times ahead of his announcement. "We have to prioritize these issues. These have to be issues that are at the top of our agenda as a state."

Holcomb has a big front-runner advantage while he seeks re-election, with at least $6 million in his campaign account and Republicans holding every statewide elected offices and supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature. Holcomb has touted what he says are record hiring commitments from businesses since he took office in 2017 and investments in numerous infrastructure projects that were made while managing to protect the state's top-level credit rating and $2 billion surplus.

Melton, 38, was appointed to the state Board of Education in 2015 by then-Gov. Mike Pence and was elected to the state Senate the following year.

He has become the point person for Senate Democrats on education issues, pushing a plan during this year's legislative session that sought to guarantee a minimum 5% pay raise for teachers by reducing state funding for vouchers for students to attend private schools, eliminating proposed funding increases for charter schools and stretching out state payments toward a teacher pension fund.

The proposal was rejected by the Republican-dominated Senate, which backed a new state budget that boosts base school spending by 2.5% in each of the next two years.

McCormick's participation with Melton lays bare her split from Holcomb and GOP legislative leaders since she was elected to be state schools superintendent in 2016 with Republican Party support. She has disagreed with Republicans legislators on issues including the use of standardized testing to rate schools and teachers, and her support for increased scrutiny of charter and voucher schools that receive state money.

State GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer, who is Holcomb's campaign manager, blasted McCormick in July as "auditioning" for the Democratic lieutenant governor nomination and questioning whether she is still a Republican.

McCormick said in a recent interview that such reaction was "comical" and "disappointing."

"We see all that happening at the federal level, where it is so polarizing that it's disgusting," she told The Associated Press. "I was hoping at the Indiana level, the state level, that we could at least be a model to show that you can come together in thought, and come together and reach across the aisle in support."

Also seeking the Democratic nomination are Woody Myers, a 65-year-old health care business executive and former state health commissioner, and 34-year-old tech business executive Josh Owens.

Myers and Melton are black, and if either is nominated, he would be the first African American on the Democratic or Republican ticket for Indiana governor or lieutenant governor. Owens is trying to become the first openly gay gubernatorial nominee.

Indiana Democratic leaders for many years have worked to avoid primary contests for statewide races, seeking to maintain party unity and preserve campaign cash for the November elections.

Democratic state Rep. Robin Shackleford, of Indianapolis, who chairs the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, said that although that group is endorsing Melton, she doesn't think a contested primary would divide African Americans or other Democrats.

"I don't think this race will create any more controversy within the party just because we have three qualified candidates there," she said. "Whoever comes out and wins, I don't think it's going to leave a tear between the Democrats."

West Lafayette
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 18°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 16°
Rensselaer
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 25° Lo: 12°
Feels Like: 18°
Fowler
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 13°
Feels Like: 18°
Williamsport
Cloudy
26° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: 17°
Crawfordsville
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 16°
Frankfort
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: 16°
Delphi
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 17°
Monticello
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 16°
Feels Like: 17°
Logansport
Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 18°
Decreasing clouds this afternoon with slightly warmer temperatures
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1130719

Reported Deaths: 17736
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1468762242
Lake732391255
Allen68004883
Hamilton51739488
St. Joseph50459650
Elkhart40619547
Vanderburgh34963497
Tippecanoe31212276
Johnson27963467
Hendricks26585385
Porter25969387
Madison21318457
Clark20392279
Vigo19244309
LaPorte17405261
Delaware17004303
Howard16942315
Monroe16794220
Kosciusko14447167
Hancock13259186
Bartholomew13180191
Warrick12320190
Wayne12200269
Grant12181247
Floyd12096226
Morgan10552192
Boone9966124
Noble9429123
Marshall9295147
Henry9268169
Dearborn9053100
Dubois8877140
Shelby8402130
Cass8241128
Lawrence8134185
DeKalb7933109
Jackson779993
Huntington7761116
Montgomery7213123
Gibson7179118
Harrison7031100
Knox6958116
Steuben676589
Miami6675114
Whitley667260
Putnam651286
Clinton633179
Wabash6323111
Jasper622192
Jefferson5946105
Ripley565994
Adams547981
Daviess5124118
Scott498980
Wells4894106
White486069
Greene4749101
Clay468662
Decatur4659110
Fayette462597
Jennings457167
LaGrange432291
Posey412944
Randolph4010107
Washington393656
Fountain382264
Fulton368374
Spencer365147
Starke361474
Owen358577
Sullivan351155
Jay336450
Orange335272
Rush314833
Carroll301639
Franklin295244
Perry292853
Vermillion285958
Tipton253367
Parke251630
Pike251244
Blackford224944
Pulaski213759
Newton185052
Brown179750
Benton171717
Crawford170729
Martin152619
Switzerland149412
Warren137816
Union125116
Ohio92913
Unassigned0599

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events