GOP gubernatorial candidates share a friendly spotlight in Carmel

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Five of the Republican candidates for governor shared the stage at the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre in Carmel, Jan. 25, 2024 (Peter Blanchard/IBJ photo)

Save for a few moments of friction, it was a cordial atmosphere at the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre in Carmel Thursday, where the five leading Republican gubernatorial candidates shared their platforms with a conservative-friendly crowd in a friendly forum.

The candidates—U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, former Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, Fort Wayne businessman Eric Doden and former Attorney General Curtis Hill—were mostly in agreement when asked for their thoughts on border policy, school vouchers and COVID lockdowns, but sought to differentiate themselves by highlighting their qualifications and personal experience.

Braun frequently invoked his small-town Jasper roots and pointed to his entrepreneurial success as founder and former CEO of Meyer Distributing.

Chambers, who was appointed secretary of commerce by Gov. Eric Holcomb but has never held elected office, painted himself as a political outsider while touting his own record as a businessman.

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch pointed to her decades of experience as a public servant and repeatedly plugged her “axe the tax” proposal, which calls for eliminating the state’s income tax.

Doden touched on his Christian roots in northeast Indiana and promised to bring more economic opportunities to rural communities.

Hill, the former Indiana attorney general who lost reelection after the Indiana Supreme Court suspended his law license for 30 days over allegations that he drunkenly groped women at a party in 2018, said he was a proven conservative leader who could defend Hoosiers’ hard-fought freedoms.

When asked whether all students should have access to an education savings account, all of the candidates expressed their support for school choice and said parents should be the ones driving their children’s education.

All stood behind Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in his fight against the Biden administration over border authority. Holcomb was one of 25 Republican governors to sign a joint agreement in support of Abbott, who wants to install razor wire fence at the Mexican border.

While the candidates found alignment on most policy issues, they did share a few barbs.

In his closing remarks, Hill accused Braun, who will leave the Senate after one term, of giving up.

“We send people to Washington, D.C. and they let us down. We sent Mike Braun to Washington, D.C. on his request, and he gave up and said, ‘I can’t get the job done, so I’m coming back to Indiana,'” a remark that elicited oohs from the crowd.

Braun didn’t take the bait, saying he never strayed from his principles during the past five years on Capitol Hill.

Internal polling from the Braun campaign shows the senator leading the race with 40% of the vote, followed by Crouch at 13%, Chambers at 5%, Hill at 5%, Doden at 3%. Thirty percent of respondents said they were undecided.

The candidates are seeking the Republican nomination for governor in the May 7 primary.

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6 thoughts on “GOP gubernatorial candidates share a friendly spotlight in Carmel

    1. So, JS, you support taking 100 percent tax money allocated for the public school system to support the schooling of your choice, be it :
      Parochial/religious based vs. separation of church and state?
      Appointed vs. elected school boards?
      Unaccountable for learning requirements unlike public schools?
      For profit entities not beholden accountability as are public schools?
      For-profit entities acquiring for $1, schools built with taxpayer funds?
      Reducing school budgets to the point it affects school learning programs?

      Hmmmm.

      BTW: Should that include home schooling, also?

  1. Chambers needs to be able to run his company. He touts all his qualifications, but check his track record with complaints against his company “BUCKINGHAM “ Our daughter and son in law were absolutely devastated financially due to their dealings with being forced to move from 2 of his projects within the past year. While he’s too busy to know what’s going on with his company at IEDC & now campaigning on those track records. Sad folks. We don’t need a guy who treats people with disdain. Check it out.

    1. Please elaborate on the specifics behind your daughter & son-in-law’s “dealings” with Buckingham, seems a bit vague…I’ve had several friends that live in Buckingham properties and have nothing but good things to say about the management.

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