Dec 14, 2023 - News

Indiana's GOP gubernatorial candidates take aim as primary nears

From left: Doden, Hill, moderator Toby McClamroch, Crouch and Chambers on stage below Braun on screen. Photo: Arika Herron/Axios

The five Republicans vying to be Indiana's next governor got together* Wednesday to try and set themselves apart.

Why it matters: Five months out from the May primary, in what is expected to be the most expensive gubernatorial campaign in state history, candidates in the crowded GOP field have started throwing elbows to carve out a lane of their own.

State of play: In addition to Braun, candidates Eric Doden and Brad Chambers are businessmen — the latter two have both been executive directors of the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

  • Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and former state Attorney General Curtis Hill are also running.

How it worked: It was a panel, not a debate.

  • All five candidates made an opening statement and answered the same questions about public safety, economic development, taxes and education.

Between the lines: The candidates checked many of the same boxes, either because they believe in the policies or know the Republican base does.

  • ✅ Qualified immunity
  • ✅ Lowering taxes
  • ✅ School choice

Yes, but: A question about the LEAP District — the IEDC project launched under Chambers' tenure that's caused an uproar over plans to divert billions of gallons of water from Lafayette to Boone County — gave the other four candidates an opening to jab at their well-funded opponent.

What they're saying: "LEAP is the best example of what's wrong with government," Hill said.

Of note: Hill had his law license suspended for a month related to charges he groped several women at a party celebrating the end of the 2018 legislative session.

  • He denied the allegations.

Separately, several candidates also took aim at Crouch's campaign promise to eliminate the state's income tax, which brings in roughly $8 billion annually.

  • "When it comes to that proposal, I think it was probably done without maybe thoroughly thinking through that it's one-third of our state revenue," Braun said.

The other side: The winner of the GOP primary is expected to face Democrat Jennifer McCormick and Libertarian Donald Rainwater in the November 2024 general election.

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