Myers debates Holcomb in first Indiana gubernatorial debate
Crusader Staff Report
Seeking to become Indiana’s first Black governor, Democratic candidate Woody Myers on Tuesday, October 20 went head-to-head with incumbent Eric Holcomb and Libertarian candidate Donald Rainwater in the first gubernatorial debate, with the General Election just two weeks away.
One day after the debate Myers, the state’s former health commissioner, said that he would name Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick his Secretary of Education if he wins the election. McCormick, who is a Republican, endorsed Myers, along with several other Democrats during the campaign season.
Streamed live on YouTube, the debate was hosted by Purdue Fort Wayne University associate professor Andrew Downs, who also serves as the director of PFW’s Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics. Downs also moderated the first debate, which was held at the WFYI-TV studio in Indianapolis.
Myers, a former Indiana State Health Commissioner, criticized Governor Holcomb’s administration for not implementing a mask mandate with teeth during the coronavirus pandemic.
“If I’m your governor, safety comes first,” Myers said.
Myers equated a mask mandate to putting kids in a car seat and telling smokers they cannot light up anywhere they choose. He also said that if he takes office, a mask mandate with consequences will be issued on Day 1.
Holcomb said the civil liberty of Indiana residents need to be guarded, but said a public health crisis is a whole different ball game.
“So, we do have a state-mandated mask requirement throughout the state. It’s a strong statement that says, ‘this works,” Holcomb said.
Rainwater said the U.S. Constitution is there to protect our individual civil liberties and should allow us to make those decisions for ourselves.
“Only you can determine what risks you’re willing to take, and what are the appropriate measures you need to take,” Rainwater said.
“The reality is there is no one size fits all solution for anything.”
Seven months after the pandemic created a public health crisis, candidates were asked if a general assembly should be called to address it.
Myers said he called for a special session to take place when the pandemic began. He said the governor has powers he can use to protect the public when faced with crisis.
“Yes, you can challenge those powers in the courts, but the first thing to do is to protect public safety,” Myers said.
“Let’s do what we can do right now to protect our citizens from this virus until we have a safe and effective vaccine.”
Holcomb defended the actions he has taken while in office, including a mask mandate and limiting large gatherings of people to slow the spread of the virus.
“The governor does have the authority. Again, it was granted to the governor of the state of Indiana by the general assembly,” Holcomb said.
He said he looks forward to meeting with members of Indiana’s General Assembly come January.
Rainwater indicated to voters if he were elected, he would ask the Indiana General Assembly to strip away any unnecessary power to the office.
“The extension of powers to the governor has been a mistake,” Rainwater said.
“I don’t believe the governor is a legislature. The government is supposed to execute the laws passed by the general assembly.”