Republican candidates vying for Indiana governor to take debate stage

INDIANAPOLIS — Candidates seeking the Republican nomination for Indiana’s next governor will enter the debate Tuesday night, two weeks before the state’s May 7 primary.

Each of the six candidates in the competitive, multi-million dollar primary has cast itself as an outsider in an appeal to conservative voters, despite five at one point serving in statewide roles. Whoever wins the primary will most likely run in the November general election in a state that reliably elects Republicans.

Tuesday is the final televised debate before the primaries for the candidates vying to replace Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, who has not endorsed a candidate. Early voting has already started in Indiana.

U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, who flipped a Democratic Senate seat in 2018, has advantages like name recognition, money and the support of former President Donald Trump. According to the latest summary report, Braun’s campaign has spent more than $6 million in 2024. But he may not be able to attend the debate because of Senate votes starting Tuesday in Washington on aid packages for Ukraine and Israel.

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch — also a household name thanks to her two stints working with Holcomb — has campaigned to cut the state’s income tax and promised to boost addiction and mental illness services. Crouch ended the most recent fundraising period with $3 million – the most money available of any Indiana gubernatorial candidate. But she spent just $2.1 million in the first three months of the year.

Businessman and former Commerce Secretary Brad Chambers’ messaging is more moderate than that of the other candidates, focusing on the economy. Chambers has spent $6.7 million this year and reports indicate he has contributed $8 million to his campaign.

The top priorities of Eric Doden, also a former secretary of commerce, include a plan to invest in Indiana’s small towns. He spent $5.2 million in the first three months of this year and most recently reported having about $250,000 in cash on hand.

Once a rising star in Indiana politics, former Attorney General Curtis Hill has struggled to compete. Hill lost the 2020 Republican delegation nomination following allegations that he groped four women in 2018. Also active is Jamie Reitenour, a mother with no political experience, with support from Hamilton County Moms For Liberty. She has said she would appoint its leader to head the state education department.