Bid to become first Black Indiana governor ends in defeat
Crusader Staff Report
Democratic candidate Woody Myers’ bid to become Indiana’s first Black governor ended on Tuesday, November 3, in a crushing defeat when voters overwhelmingly backed incumbent Republican Eric Holcomb in the General Election. The big victory reflects the enduring power of the Republican vote during the coronavirus pandemic under President Donald Trump.
Myers publicly did not release a concession statement, but critics say Myers may have helped to draw uninterested voters to the polls and helped Democrats win local races.
Votes were still being counted late Tuesday evening, but with a commanding lead Holcomb was declared the winner just 10 minutes after the polls closed at 6 p.m. As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, Holcomb held 57.5 percent of the vote or 1,394,073 ballots. Myers took 726,589 votes, which is 30 percent of ballots cast so far. Libertarian candidate Donald Rainwater received 12.5 percent of the vote.
In Lake County, Myers came out on top, taking 52.31 percent of the vote. Holcomb took second place with 43.42 percent of the vote. Myers also won Monroe County, where he received 33,028 votes, which is 52.8 percent of the vote. Myers came in second in 58 counties and third in 32 counties, according to an analysis of data from the Associated Press.
Holcomb, however, won 90 counties in Indiana. He led his opponents in opinion polls throughout the campaign season. With a major endorsement from Superintendent of Public Instruction Republican Jennifer McCormick and a rise in opinion polls, Myers was riding a wave of momentum in his quest to take the state’s highest office. In May, Myers picked former Indiana State Representative Linda Lawson as his running mate. In addition to serving in the Indiana House, Lawson spent 24 years as a Hammond police officer and 12 years on the Hammond School Board. She served six years as the chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee.
There was a possibility that Myers would receive help from Rainwater, who threatened to take votes away from Holcomb, as the governor faced criticism from business owners who were unhappy with his leadership during the coronavirus pandemic. However, Indiana’s flourishing economy before the pandemic may have won the grace of voters. It’s the same bond Trump has with his loyal voters, many of whom remember the big economic gains the nation has made for most of the President’s first term in office.
Holcomb has maintained that despite the pandemic, Indiana remains on the right track, with more jobs coming to the state, increased foreign direct investment, and shrinking infant mortality rates. He also said Indiana is blessed with growing adoption rates, more help for Hoosiers working to overcome addiction, and increased funding for education and infrastructure.
Myers launched his campaign for Indiana governor in 2019. He was the first of two Black candidates seeking the state’s top job. Last October, State Senator Eddie Melton launched his campaign for governor at Gary’s main library. Three months later, in January 2020, Melton dropped out of the race. The next month, Democratic candidate and businessman Josh Owens dropped out, leaving Myers as the only Democrat in the race.
In an interview with “All INdiana Politics” on WISH-TV in Indianapolis, Myers said Holcomb failed during the coronavirus pandemic. He said the state’s testing program and mask mandate should have come sooner to save lives.
Myers, who is a physician, has two degrees from Stanford University and one from Harvard Medical School. He served as a staff member for Democrat Ted Kennedy.
In 1987, Myers was appointed to serve as Indiana’s state health commissioner. He gained national attention and criticism for supporting teenager Ryan White during his battle with AIDS.
In 1990, President Ronald Reagan appointed Myers to serve on the President’s Commission on the HIV Epidemic. In 1990, David Dinkins, New York City’s first and only Black mayor, appointed Myers as the city’s health commissioner. A year later, Myers resigned after drawing opposition to his AIDS policies.
Since then, Myers has made millions while serving in several executive positions in health care corporations in Indianapolis. In 2008 he lost to incumbent Andre Carson for Indiana’s 7th Congressional District.