Multiple national news outlets have projected Republican incumbent Eric Holcomb as the winner in the Indiana governor’s race with less than 10% of the vote counted.
The Associated Press and The New York Times both made the calls even before votes in Democratic strongholds including Marion and Lakes counties were counted, although Holcomb was expected to win the race easily.
According to The New York Times—with 6% of ballots counted—Holcomb had 64% of the vote, while Democratic challenger Woody Myers had 24% and Libertarian candidate Donald Rainwater had 12%. It wasn’t clear whether those totals included votes cast before Election Day.
The governor’s race largely revolved around Holcomb’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, with Myers criticizing the governor for not doing enough to protect Hoosiers and Rainwater arguing the opposite—that Holcomb infringed on the personal freedoms of individuals with the mask mandate and economic restrictions.
Despite the attacks from both sides, Holcomb, 52, maintained a lead in the polls leading up to Election Day. He also had a significant cash advantage with more than $6 million in his war chest for the final weeks of the campaign, compared to Myers who had only $80,500 and Rainwater who had $131,000.
During his first term as governor, Holcomb focused on workforce and economic development, education and infrastructure. One of his more successful initiatives has been aligning training programs to workforce demand, particularly through two new programs—the Workforce Ready Grant and the Next Level Jobs Employer Training Grant.
Holcomb has said that skilling up Hoosiers to fill open jobs will continue to be a priority with a second term.
Prior to being elected governor in 2016, Holcomb briefly served as lieutenant governor under Republican Gov. Mike Pence, who is now the vice president. He also worked as deputy chief of staff to former Gov. Mitch Daniels, chief of staff to former U.S. Sen. Dan Coats and chairman of the Indiana Republican Party.
Despite being the state’s first Black gubernatorial candidate from either major political party and a former state health commissioner, Myers, 66, struggled to gain traction and pull in big donations. He wasn’t on air with a TV ad until Friday, while Holcomb went up on TV in August and Rainwater managed to fundraise enough money to be on TV earlier in October.
In addition to his time spent as Indiana state health commissioner under Gov. Robert Orr, Myers has spent time as chief medical officer for Anthem Inc., director of health care management for Ford Motor Co., CEO and vice chairman of Corizon Health and New York City health commissioner.
Rainwater, 57-year-old a software engineer, gained more attention than third-party candidates typically do as he was able to attract support from conservatives who were unhappy with Holcomb’s mask mandate and economic restrictions in the spring to try to slow the spread of COVID-19. Rainwater opposed the mask mandate and any government-mandated business closures. He also criticized Holcomb’s workforce development plans and during one debate compared those programs to U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ free college for all proposal.