By David Denson
State Senator Eddie Melton recently announced that he is withdrawing from the 2020 governor’s race.
Melton, in making the announcement on Monday, January 6, said that he will instead focus on the 2020 legislative session.
In a prepared statement, Melton said, “Over the past six months, I have had the privilege of traveling our state and engaging with thousands of Hoosiers, hearing their concerns about educational funding, economic mobility, draconian laws oppressing women’s ability to make their own health care decisions, and failure to honor the sacrifices of our Veterans.
“The ability to engage my fellow citizens in frank conversations has been a true privilege and honor.
“But unfortunately, politics today requires way too much of a candidate’s time being spent on the phone chasing dollars. Fixing our system of elections will take the work of all of us.
“As I look to address this issue and the many other challenges we as a state face, I know that my time and energy will be best spent fully engaged in the 2020 legislative session.
“So, with renewed commitment, I have chosen to devote my full time and energy to our fight in the Capitol and announce my withdrawal from the gubernatorial campaign.”
With his two Democratic opponents who have the potential to self-fund their campaigns, and Governor Eric Holcomb sitting on an $8 million war chest, Melton faced seemingly insurmountable odds in his fundraising.
In June 2019, Melton announced the formation of a gubernatorial exploratory committee and that he would embark on a statewide listening tour called, “Hoosier Conversations.”
Melton was joined by Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick.
Enlisting McCormick, a Republican, was an indication that if elected governor, Melton would seek bipartisanship in state government.
Melton announced his candidacy at the Gary Public Library on October 8, 2019.
Regarded as an effective legislator, Melton during his first term sponsored several pieces of legislation that were enacted into law. It was legislation spearheaded by Melton that led to Gary being able to have a land-based casino and creating an intermodal facility at Buffington Harbor.
With Melton exiting the race, that leaves Carmel businessman Josh Owens and Dr. Woody Myers, former state health commissioner, as the two Democratic challengers.
Upon learning Melton’s decision, Owens said, “I have a great deal of respect for State Senator Melton and I really enjoyed getting to know him as we traveled the state these last few months. I know he will continue to be a tireless advocate for public school teachers and all Hoosiers in this legislative session.”
Commenting on Melton’s departure from the race, Myers offered praise for Melton’s dedication to the state and the citizens. “Senator Melton is a talented public servant who has served the citizens of his district and the State of Indiana with distinction in the Indiana State Senate. Although he is no longer running for Governor, I know he has a long and bright future focused on making Indiana better for Hoosiers,” said Myers.
With the anticipation that Melton’s Senate seat would be vacant, State Representative Ragen Hatcher, and local attorney Darnail Lyles had expressed interest in running for the seat. Melton’s decision to remain in the Senate has changed the dynamics with regard to campaigns for his Senate seat. Neither Hatcher nor Lyles were available for comment regarding their plans.