IN Focus: Holcomb files for re-election, awaits Hill ruling

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — As Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s re-election campaign officially kicks off, Democrats call him the least known Governor in the country.

But a political science professor says that’s not necessarily a bad thing in Holcomb’s case.

“Not a lot of people know him necessarily, but he’s certainly not disliked,” said Laura Wilson, a political science professor at the University of Indianapolis. “And he’s been fairly effective in his term in office, I think it’s going to be challenging for opponents to argue otherwise.”

She said Indiana’s booming economy is expected to help him.

“And of course, you can make an argument that’s not just a state or a Governor but regardless, he will benefit from that, the state has been doing incredibly well there,” said Wilson.

Governor Holcomb filed for his second term on Tuesday morning.

“We want to continue to grow in Indiana, grow opportunity most importantly, we want Hoosiers to know that they can go as far as they are willing to work to go,” said Holcomb.

So far, Holcomb’s biggest criticism has revolved around the issue of teacher pay and education funding. His opponents say last year’s increase and Holcomb’s plan for 2021 isn’t enough.

“I think that’s going to be the best argument for challengers against Eric Holcomb because you’ve had the Red for Ed push, you’ve had this movement challenging higher teacher salaries this concern about teacher turnover and a shortage in terms of education,” said Wilson. “And they can make an argument that the Governor hasn’t done enough or hasn’t been willing to do enough to change that for education.”

So far, Josh Owens and Woody Myers are the two candidates considering a democratic run for Governor. They’re still working to collect enough signatures to get on the ballot.

Owens sent this statement Tuesday:

“We got into this race because we believe Indiana needs bold leadership and fresh ideas. As we travel the state, we’re hearing that Hoosiers agree with us that our teachers need and deserve support now, not later and that we need to do more than simply maintain a status quo when it comes to the environment and ensuring that Indiana is a state that welcomes all. We don’t just need more jobs, we need good-paying jobs and ways for Hoosiers to get the skills and training needed for them. We’re in the final stages of qualifying for the ballot and will soon be turning our full energy to listening to Hoosiers everywhere and fundraising to support spreading our message to every corner of the state to win this election."

Both candidates say they are confident they’ll get the required signatures by the early February deadline.

Wilson says their biggest challenge now will be fighting for donations and support from Senator Eddie Melton’s supporters. He dropped out of the race two weeks ago.

Myers said he has been traveling to Melton’s area and working hard to earn their support.

Owens says he received 650 donations that were under $100 across the state.

“That is grassroots support you know for a new candidate in the election cycle, that’s exciting to see,” said Owens.

But neither Democratic hopeful is anywhere near Holcomb’s $7-million mark. Wilson says that’s not abnormal for an incumbent to have such a significant lead.

“In part because of the war chest, that’s the money that he had leftover from the last campaign,” said Wilson. “But you also expect because incumbency advantage is so high and the incumbent is most likely to win in an American election that people are considering where they want to put their support, they want to support a winner.”

Holcomb was also asked about another dynamic looming over the upcoming election- whether attorney general Curtis Hill will be able to keep his law license and regain the Republican nomination as Hill seeks re-election while also fighting allegations that he groped four women in 2018.

Hill is awaiting a ruling from the Supreme Court's disciplinary commission.

"I'm not going to interfere with a co-equal branch of government while they do their work, and I'm just as anxious to see what steps they take before I take mine," said Holcomb.

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