FORT WAYNE, Ind. — You may already be asking yourself who the front-runner is in the race for governor when it comes to next year’s election.
The reason why you may be asking that is because all five Republican candidates are already diligently campaigning, yet we haven’t even finished with the mayoral and municipal election season yet.
If you are asking the question, “Who is the front runner?”, Andy Downs, the director emeritus with the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Purdue-Fort Wayne will tell you it’s “way too early” to be asking that question.
“We’ve had nothing hard-hitting yet from anybody,” Downs said on Indy Politics. “We’re not even into October yet. It’s maybe too early to talk about who’s ahead, who’s behind, but we can certainly talk about what they are doing.”
Downs said that Brad Chambers, for Secretary of Commerce, and Eric Doden, a businessman from Fort Wayne, are in a peculiar spot since they have a taller task of building up their name recognition with Hoosier voters. He says Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, Sen. Mike Braun, and Curtis Hill already have that.
“When you think about Chambers or Doden running the commercials to raise their name ID, that is really cutting into the advantage that you find with Braun, and with Crouch, and with Hill,” Downs said.
He reminds you that in primary elections, it is a plurality vote that decides elections, not a majority vote per se. That means the winning candidate could only get 40-percent of the overall vote, for example. Downs said that might be the case if the lesser-known candidates are able to raise their profile.
At this point in the campaign though, Downs said each of the candidates have been “polite” to each other, mostly just introducing themselves to voters. He doesn’t expect the rhetoric to really start cranking up until the beginning of 2024.
Downs especially took note of Crouch’s ardent push to eliminate the state’s income tax if she is elected. He said Crouch must be careful how she sells that if she wants that to play into her favor.
“That’s going to resonate well with a lot of people because they will say ‘my taxes are going down’, but, even as spending gets cut, that revenue has to be replaced somehow,” Downs said. “It sounds good to say ‘I’m going to lower your taxes’ or I’m going to get rid of a tax’ … we all like the sound of it, but the details matter and they matter a lot.”
He also called Curtis Hill the “most authentic” when it comes to traditional conservative values and that he likely has the “most secure” base when it comes to voters considering who they will select in the primary.
The only person to announce a campaign for governor in the Democratic primary so far is Dr. Jennifer McCormick, Indiana’s former state superintendent of public instruction.
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