A Democratic state senator from Gary is considering a run for governor next year.
Sen. Eddie Melton said he will announce plans to form a gubernatorial exploratory committee and a statewide listening tour at an event Tuesday night in Gary.
Melton will be joined by teachers, parents and working community members, according to a press release.
Melton, who is serving his first term as state senator in the seat previously held by longtime state Sen. Earline Rogers, works as the manager of corporate citizen and community relations for Northern Indiana Public Service Co. He has worked for NIPSCO since August 2010. Prior to that, Melton worked for the Legacy Foundation, which is Lake County’s community foundation.
During the legislative session this year, Melton advocated for the major gambling bill, which allowed the owner of Gary’s two casinos to close the riverboats on Lake Michigan’s Buffington Harbor and build a new inland casino. Gary officials, including Melton, say there is potential for economic development on the harbor, but only if the casino boats are removed.
Melton also has pushed to increase teacher pay—another big topic at the Indiana Statehouse this year.
His campaign website highlights his work on hate crimes legislation and supporting children with developmental disabilities.
Melton lives in Gary with his wife, Crystal, and their four children.
He is the first Democrat to formally announce a potential run for governor. State Rep. Karlee Macer, D-Indianapolis, also appears to be considering a run for statewide office—her online campaign materials have changed to “Karlee Macer for Indiana” and she recently had a fundraiser in downtown Indianapolis—but she has not made any official announcements yet.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, is serving his first term in office and is widely expected to run for re-election in 2020, although he has not confirmed any plans.
Any Democrat who chooses to run against Holcomb could have an uphill campaign battle. Holcomb's campaign committee had $4 million cash on hand, as of the end of 2018. According to the Indiana Republican Party, that’s higher than any other Indiana governor has had at the end of his second year in office.
Gov. Mike Pence had $3.5 million at the end of 2014, and former Gov. Mitch Daniels had $2.6 million at the end of 2006.
Holcomb’s approval rating has held steady. According to Morning Consult, 49% of Hoosiers approved of the governor after the first quarter this year, while 22% disapproved and 29% had no opinion. The margin of error is plus or minus 1%.