FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Election year 2024 will be one with a lot of shake-ups of Indiana’s political landscape, says one expert on the matter.
Andy Downs is professor emeritus of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Purdue University Fort Wayne. He tells Indy Politics that Sen. Mike Braun’s intent to return home to Indiana to run for governor carries a lot of weight on who else may run for the chief executive role in Indiana’s government.
“He certainly is more of an executive person,” said Downs. “When you’re in the Senate, it’s a pretty elite club, but your only one of 100. With Mike Braun we absolutely have someone who knows how to be a CEO … but, even when you are the governor, you’re really not the chief executive. Especially with all those other elected officials around you.”
Nevertheless, Downs believes Braun can carry a lot of momentum on name recognition alone throughout the state along with a proven track record as an election official on the state level. That in turn, he says, may weed out a few other people who may have been thinking about a run for governor on the Republican ticket.
“I do think we’re are (still) looking at a relatively crowded field,” Downs said. “Eric Doden’s already sitting on two million dollars last I heard. Suzanne Crouch has been really active, as Lt. Governor, going out throughout the state.”
Downs also said there is a possibility that Attorney General Todd Rokita may throw his name in the hat for governor. If not for governor, then the race for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat which Braun is leaving behind.
Downs believes that race will garner much attention, especially from Republicans like Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN-3rd) and Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN-5th).
“Those are the two names that pop up almost immediately,” said Downs. “They both come from the same end of the Republican party from an ideological perspective.”
And suppose Rokita decides to run for Senate. In that case, Downs believes that will add yet another fracture in the vote amongst far-right Republicans, which he said could open the door for a moderate Republican to step in and possibly steal the GOP nomination by taking advantage of Indiana plurality law when it comes to elections.
“Theoretically, someone could win with just 21-percent of the vote and everybody else has 19 to 20-percent,” he said.
Democrats have been tight-lipped on who they may run to challenge Republicans.
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