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State schools chief Ritz to make campaign announcement

May 31, 2015

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, who has said she's considering a run for governor, is expected to make a campaign announcement this week.

Ritz's campaign Facebook page posted a series of messages Sunday saying she would make a "special campaign announcement" Thursday at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis. The posts didn't give any further details. Announcements also were planned for Terre Haute and Evansville later Thursday and in Fort Wayne, South Bend and Hammond on Friday, according to the page.

Ritz, a Democrat, couldn't immediately be reached for comment Sunday.

A former school librarian, Ritz defeated former Superintendent Tony Bennett's re-election bid in 2012 using a powerful grass-roots campaign. She said earlier this year she was considering running for governor after months of battles with a State Board of Education appointed by Gov. Mike Pence — a Republican who's expected to announce he's running for re-election later this month — and after attempts by the Republican-dominated General Assembly to divert power from the Department of Education to the education board.

Ritz would join a Democratic field that already includes former Indiana House Speaker and 2012 nominee John Gregg and state Sen. Karen Tallian of Portage.

Current Indiana House Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, said last week that he would not seek the party's nomination for governor.

Pence captured only 49 percent of the vote in 2012 in defeating Gregg, who received 46 percent of the vote. Many observers regard Pence as vulnerable over his handling of a religious freedom law this spring that critics viewed as discriminatory against gays. Members of the business community were vocal in their opposition to the measure.

Ritz's position as superintendent also is up for election in 2016. But the Democratic nominee is chosen at a summer convention, so Ritz could still seek re-election to that office if she loses in the May gubernatorial primary.

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