Crusader Staff Report
With a month before the November 3 General Elections, Indiana Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dr. Woody Myers is stepping up his campaign to become the first Black governor in the state’s history.
He made his pitch for the state’s top job at the dedication of the historic marker at Roosevelt High School’s shuttered building on September 19. Once a long shot, recent polls show that the gap between him and Republican Governor Eric Holcomb has dramatically closed in recent weeks.
A new poll in Indiana shows the race for governor is much tighter than it was a few months ago.
Last month, Change Research and IndyPolitics released a survey of 1,033 likely voters that showed Holcomb leading Myers by just percentage points.
In April, Holcomb led by 20 points in a similar poll. The breakdown was 36 percent Holcomb to Myers’ 30 percent. About 10 percent of likely voters surveyed remained undecided.
Myers may get some help from Libertarian candidate Donald Rainwater, whose appeal is growing among those disillusioned with Holcomb’s leadership during the coronavirus pandemic. The same poll had Rainwater at 24 percent.
Change Research says it appears Rainwater is picking up support from some Republicans who are upset with Holcomb’s mask mandate and other COVID-19 restrictions.
The poll boosted the hopes of Myers and his supporters, but the Harvard-trained doctor still faces a tough battle to unseat Holcomb in Republican dominated Indiana.
This week, Myers sent out several tweets about his goals as the state’s gubernatorial candidate. On Tuesday, he tweeted, “our state needs new leadership that puts people first, not politics. As Governor, I will fight to ensure that all Hoosiers can access affordable health care, students receive a high-quality education, we protect our environment, and workers have good-paying jobs across Indiana.”
In 2019, Myers launched his campaign for Indiana governor.
He would be 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.
Myers 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 to 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 healthcare corporations in Indianapolis. In 2008 he lost to incumbent Andre Carson for Indiana’s 7th Congressional District.
For his campaign for governor, Myers faces a big battle. No Black or minority has served as governor in the state’s 204-year history. All of Indiana’s 51 governors have been white males.
Myers’ running mate for Lieutenant Governor is Linda Lawson, who served in the Indiana House of Representatives for 30 years from 1998 to 2018.
In the latest campaign finance reports, Holcomb has raised $9 million in political donations while Myers has raised $1 million.
But last month, in an extraordinary move, Republican Jennifer McCormick, Indiana’s Superintendent for Public Instruction, endorsed Myers rather than backing the governor from her own party. McCormick cited Myers’ intellect, concern, and commitment to education as reasons for the endorsement.
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. Dr. Myers said he is open to looking at another stay at home order if recommended and Indiana experiences another surge in COVID-19 cases.
Myers said if elected, he will prioritize spending to restore Indiana’s battered economy during the coronavirus pandemic. Myers said he will go through the state budget with a “fine tooth comb” and look at expenses that could wait.
However, Myers said the state needs to make it a priority in spending on K-12 education and increasing teachers’ salaries.
He said he will look at the revenue side of Indiana.
He favors raising cigarette taxes to generate revenue and keep teens from smoking.
Dr. Myers said as a last resort he favors raising the state’s cigarette tax, which is just under one dollar because, “I think Indiana’s cigarette tax is far lower than it should be.”
“The more a pack of cigarettes costs the less likely it is for our teenagers to smoke them.”
He also favors having police in Indiana wearing body cameras considering recent police issues nationwide.