Crouch snags key endorsements in gubernatorial bid
A full year before the 2024 primary contest, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch has been slowly rolling out more than a dozen endorsements from conservatives backing her bid to be Indiana's next governor.
Why it matters: The endorsements, by everyone from sitting congressmen like Rep. Greg Pence to state officeholders such as Sen. Ryan Mishler, signal to donors that Crouch is a viable candidate and a worthwhile investment.
- It's a message she needs people to buy into as she faces a primary against Sen. Mike Braun and businessman Eric Doden — two wealthy candidates able to self-fund their campaigns.
Driving the news: Crouch has announced a new endorsement almost every day since early May and shows no signs of slowing down.
- April Gregory, Crouch's campaign spokesperson, said momentum has been building over the past few months.
- "Hoosier leaders from across the state have lent us their support and encouragement because Suzanne Crouch is the type of conservative leader that has been fighting for Hoosiers and they want to see her elected as the next governor."
Be smart: The endorsements are primarily from party insiders, but those are the people most likely to influence donors and have an organized ground game to lean on as campaigning heats up next year.
Between the lines: Mike O'Brien, a Republican operative who managed Gov. Eric Holcomb's 2016 campaign, told Axios the early assumption was the race was Braun's to lose because of his name recognition and money.
Yes, but: Crouch shouldn't be underestimated.
- She has decades of experience in state and local politics and a proven track record as a fundraiser — she raised the most out of the three candidates in campaign finance filings that were due in January.
What they're saying: "You can't sleep on Suzanne," O'Brien said.
- "I think she has a shot at it," he continued. "And I don't think these people would be lining up behind her if they didn't think so, too."
Reality check: "Braun is going to be a formidable opponent," said Chad Kinsella, associate professor of political science and director of the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University.
- "He has the name recognition. He's a sitting U.S. senator. He's already run a statewide race in a very crowded Republican primary and won. He's going to be tough to beat."
The intrigue: An endorsement from former President Donald Trump could change the course of the primary. At the NRA convention in Indy last month, Trump snubbed Braun from the stage while giving a shout-out to Crouch.
Of note: Holcomb, who is term-limited, has not endorsed a candidate yet but is expected to soon.
The other side: Doden's campaign said he's "focused on fixing the problems that failed politicians like Joe Hogsett create, not getting their endorsement."
- Hogsett, the Democratic mayor of Indianapolis, hasn't endorsed anyone in Indiana's GOP gubernatorial primary.
- Braun's campaign declined to comment.
What's next: Aaron Dusso, associate professor and chair of the political science department at IUPUI, said Crouch will need to continue her run as a successful fundraiser so she can spend enough to combat Braun's edge in name recognition.
- "What's clear is she hasn't rolled over and died," he said. "She went to work."
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