First published November 3, 2020 in TheStatehouseFile.com
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb will lead Indiana for a second term.
Holcomb, while serving as lieutenant governor to former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, took office when Pence left to serve as President Donald Trump’s running mate in 2016. He’s since led the state through the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic and through several contentious debates around teacher pay and the state’s first hate crimes bill.
“We have so much work to do, and I’m eager to get it done,” Holcomb said after taking a stage at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis Tuesday evening during the Indiana GOP’s victory party. Spectators welcomed him with chants of “four more years.”
Holcomb is now poised to lead Indiana for another four years, including during the next legislative session in 2021. There, lawmakers will face the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and likely make tough choices about funding as they draft the state’s next two-year budget.
After several months marred by a challenging pandemic, Holcomb has faced criticism for his administration’s response to COVID-19. Indiana is now in Stage 5 of the reopening plan, the least restrictive toward business operations and public life.
Indiana remains in Stage 5 despite the fact that COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have risen sharply in the month since moving into the new stage. The Indiana State Department of Health reported Tuesday a record number of hospitalizations related to the pandemic since the department began collecting data in March.
Holcomb won re-election by securing some 63% of the vote, according to the Associated Press. Voters chose Holcomb over Democratic candidate Dr. Woody Myers, a physician and former state health commissioner who led Indiana’s approach to the AIDS epidemic, and Libertarian candidate Donald Rainwater, who ran a campaign on constitutional liberty that blasted many of the restrictions Holcomb introduced by executive order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Myers conceded to Holcomb during the Indiana Democratic Party’s Election Night livestream around 9:30 p.m., when the Associated Press reported he had secured around 28% of the vote.
In a speech where he thanked his father and mother, Myers said he knew his campaign would be tough, given he was running in a state dominated by Republicans.
“About two years ago when this journey began, I knew it was a long shot and that the battle was entirely uphill,” Myers said. “But that did not deter me.”
Myers said the events of 2020, including renewed movements for racial justice nationwide — which he spoke to repeatedly during the campaign as the only Black gubernatorial candidate — invigorated his campaign and encouraged him to keep going.
“I announced my candidacy before we’d ever heard of COVID-19, and before we’d ever seen the murder of George Floyd,” Myers said. “Both intensified my desire to offer an alternative to the status quo for all Hoosiers.”
Former Indiana state representative Linda Lawson, Myers’s running mate, said Indiana still demands strong leadership that will focus on the lives of Hoosiers.
“This is a place that we need to be proud of and that we need to work for every day,” Lawson said.
Despite Myers being one of Holcomb’s most vocal critics, particularly when it came to his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Holcomb led his victory speech by thanking Myers for his work to add to the debate about how to make Indiana better.
“I thanked him for stepping up and stepping forward and offering an option, offering a real contribution to the conversation we’re having as Hoosiers, for where we want to leave this state, a state we both love dearly,” Holcomb said. “I look forward to the next chapter in Dr. Myers’ life.”
At a victory party in Carmel around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Rainwater said he remains positive about the results and is waiting until all the ballots are counted to assess how he performed. At the time, the Associated Press reported he had won 12% of the vote. He also said he believes Hoosiers across the state will carry on his campaign’s message far after Election Day.
“The citizens of Indiana are showing they are concerned about limited government and individual freedom,” Rainwater said. “I think that we’re going to see a much higher result than what people expect.”
Douglas McNaughton, the chair of the Libertarian Party’s Marion County branch who ran for Indianapolis mayor in 2019, praised Rainwater’s campaign and said he hopes, even without winning the office, it will show voters they can have confidence in independent parties.
“I think Donald did a good job, considering for us it’s always an uphill battle,” McNaughton said. “This shows the party is a viable option.”
Unlike his two opponents, Holcomb has not named who he would appoint as Indiana’s next secretary of education in 2021, the first time the governor will be able to do so. Indiana lawmakers changed the office from an elected post to one appointed in 2019, with support from Holcomb.
In October, Myers and Rainwater announced their picks on the same day. Myers said he would re-appoint Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick, the incumbent and last person elected to the office. Rainwater announced he would appoint Dawn Wooten, who ran for the office as a Republican in 2016. Wooten lost to McCormick.
Sydney Byerly, LaMonte Richardson Jr., Thomas Samuel and Taylor Wooten contributed to this story. They and 2020 Russell Pulliam Student Editor Erica Irish report for
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