The 2024 Republican nomination for the Indiana governorship is no longer a two-man race, as Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch announced Monday she will be running.
Crouch was an Indiana state representative a decade ago before taking the position as state auditor and then becoming current Gov. Eric Holcomb’s right-hand woman.
So far, the other GOP competitors to replace term-limited Holcomb are Eric Doden, former Indiana Economic Development Corp. president, and current U.S. Sen. Mike Braun.
Doden got the jump on everyone, announcing his candidacy last year, while Braun mirrored Crouch, officially announcing Monday.
Crouch released a campaign video that outlined some of the issues she’d focus on as governor: giving parents more control of education, funding police, lowering taxes, and addressing the increase in fentanyl deaths, among other things.
Crouch also touched on her experience as auditor and her anti-abortion stance.
“As Indiana’s auditor of state, I made government transparency a top priority, helping prevent corruption and ending wasteful spending, leading Indiana to be rated a national leader,” Crouch said in her video.
“I’ve been a relentless protector of Hoosier values that say we will always be there for the most vulnerable and never compromise on protecting our faith, families and freedoms,” Crouch said. “That’s why I cast a critical vote to toughen Indiana’s abortion laws, helping to protect the unborn.”
The abortion ban—which is currently on hold—includes exceptions for rape and incest but require a signed affidavit. The “critical vote” is likely in reference to her tie-breaking vote for an amendment that said the affidavit must be notarized.
Braun held a press conference Monday, saying Indiana “does many things correct,” but adding, “I’ve been a believer that there’s always room for improvement.”
Braun said he’s returning to Indiana because “you cannot solve the issues of today with career politicians out east,” and he mentioned health-care costs, infant and maternal mortality, affordable housing, and the workforce.
“When you look at the issues that I think are important to most Americans—most Hoosiers—I’m going to weigh in on them and I’m going to do it in a way that is entrepreneurial and going to maybe push the envelope a little bit,” Braun said.
Braun, who criticized Holcomb’s veto of a bill requiring children to compete on teams based on their biological sex earlier this year, also suggested he’d be different than past holders of the office.
“So, I’m going to do the things that are easy like making sure that the budgets are balanced and that we keep a good business climate—those before me have set the stage on that,” Braun said. “I’m going to tackle the tough issues that you’re going to need somebody that’s willing to stick their neck out, take a little risk. If you don’t do that, you’re in that broad band of mediocrity.”
Mike Schmuhl, Indiana Democratic Party chairman, released a statement on Braun’s candidacy: “As a so-called businessman, Mike Braun has done very little to improve Indiana as a U.S. senator and he surely won’t do it as governor.”
“A Mike Braun administration would do nothing to improve the state’s dismal quality-of-life, workforce, and education rankings, and coming up on 20 years of Republican state administrations, Hoosiers deserve honest leadership that will put an end to extremist politics and chart a course for a modern and better Indiana where everyone has the freedom to thrive,” Schmuhl said.
Doden is also a businessman and has never been elected to a political office. His campaign website includes policies such as “revitaliz[ing] core assets” in rural cities, creating zero-cost public adoptions and “repealing the state income tax for K-12 teachers.”
Braun’s decision opens up his senate seat come 2024—a fact U.S. Rep. Jim Banks jumped on Monday, releasing a press release that said, “I am strongly considering running for the open Indiana Senate seat in 2024, and I will spend the upcoming holidays praying and talking with my wife, family and close friends about how I can best serve Indiana.”
Last week, after it was reported Braun had filed paperwork to run for governor, another member of Congress, Rep. Victoria Spartz, released a statement that said she’s “been asked to consider” Braun’s seat.
“I love our Republic dearly and understand how important these times are for our nation, but I need to decide if I am ready to commit at least eight more years to Washington D.C.,” Spartz said. “As some of you might know, I am not a huge fan of it.”
It has also been reported that former governor and soon-to-retire Purdue University President Mitch Daniels may seek the Senate seat.
When Holcomb was asked earlier this month if he’d run for Senate, he replied, “There’ll be time for me to think about the future in the future.”
No Democrat has officially announced a run for governor, but former superintendent of public instruction Jennifer McCormick has strongly hinted at running.