Braun soundly defeats GOP rivals in race for governor

A cluster of yard signs were seen on Fort Wayne Street in Warsaw Tuesday. Braun's margin of victory in Kosciusko County was very similar to the one seen statewide. News Now Warsaw photo by Dan Spalding.
By Whitney Downard
Indiana Capital Chronicle

INDIANAPOLIS — U.S. Sen. Mike Braun soundly defeated challenges from five other hopefuls to clinch the Republican nomination in the race for governor on Tuesday, winning just after polls in the Central Time Zone closed at 6 p.m.

“I intend to be the most entrepreneurial governor the state has ever had; the most accessible,” Braun told the crowds to chants of “I like Mike.”

“We’re going to take this state to a place we’ve never seen before.”

(See statewide vote totals below.)
U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, left, and his wife Maureen address a crowd at Moontown Brewing Company in Whitestown after he nabbed the Republican nomination for governor. (Whitney Downard/Indiana Capital Chronicle)

The other candidates running in the Republican primary for governor were: former Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, Fort Wayne businessman Eric Doden, former Attorney General Curtis Hill and faith-motivated Jamie Reitenour.

As of 10 p.m., 84% of the votes had been counted and Braun led with 40% of the vote.


In safely red Indiana, Braun is likely to be Gov. Eric Holcomb’s successor in November but faces a challenge from Democrat Jennifer McCormick and Libertarian Donald Rainwater. McCormick was the only Democrat to qualify for a gubernatorial run and Rainwater got the Libertarian nod in a private party convention.

McCormick, in a release, called the choice between her and Braun one of “polarization and division” versus “optimism and opportunity.”

“The primary results are in, setting up a clear choice this November,” said McCormick. “As your governor, I will stand firm in my commitment to the values that define us as Hoosiers. I will fight to restore our reproductive rights and freedoms, champion for our kids, and ensure Hoosiers earn the wages they deserve. Indiana values reflect those of common sense, civility, and bipartisanship. Let’s bring this back to our great state. It’s our time; let’s go!”

Braun said three competitors had called him offering their congratulations during the 8 p.m. speech but didn’t provide specifics. Crouch said she left a voicemail.

In a concession speech around 7:30, runner-up Crouch said she had offered her congrats and support, urging unity to “keep Indiana on the road to victory in November.”

“We ran a positive campaign focused on the issues and focused on Hoosiers and we did everything we possibly could. After that, it’s up to God and the voters,” she said. “They have made their decision and we will get behind it.”

Contenders Doden, Chambers and Hill, in separate releases, also offered their support for Braun.

“Tonight, I called U.S. Senator Mike Braun to congratulate him on his victory and offer my support in the months ahead,” said Chambers. “I entered this race because I believe Indiana is a great state, but that with the right leadership, it could be even better. I hope U.S. Sen. Braun will be the leader Indiana needs and act ambitiously to create more opportunities that will lift up every Hoosier.”

Holcomb’s statement was short and to the point: “Congratulations to Senator Braun on a decisive victory tonight. Now we all unite through November to keep Indiana on the fast track.”

Braun consistently led in several polls leading up to Tuesday’s primary though large blocs of voters appeared to be undecided in the final days of the race.

A group seeking to moderate the extremes of Hoosier politics, Recenter Indiana, endorsed Chambers over Braun and paid for billboards ahead of the May election urging Democrats to pull Republican ballots.

That sort of middle-ground tactic appealed to at least one Marion County voter, who called Chambers the “least controversial.”

“I’m a Democrat. I usually always vote Democratic,” Alan McKibben said outside of the Broad Ripple Park Family Center voting precinct. “I just wanted to make my opinion known.”

However, only Braun nabbed the envious endorsement from former President Donald Trump.

Braun’s win comes nearly six years to the day since he won the Republican nomination for his U.S. Senate seat.

“I remember back to six years ago (Wednesday), the euphoria of winning the primary,” Braun said, recalling the bitterly expensive general election race that followed. “Money, sadly, has become too big a deal … and in a full field like this, with four well-financed campaigns, it’s going to probably be a record for any primary.”

Braun, Chambers, Crouch and Doden have spent tens of millions in the final weeks — with the affluent Chambers and Doden both contributing heavily to their own campaigns. Braun, also a wealthy businessman, has amassed a war chest during his time in public service as has Crouch, who has nearly three decades of political experience.

In Indiana, the lieutenant governor position is filled in a private convention but Braun said he would submit a recommendation for his future running mate.

“We’re going to have, I think, a recommendation for lieutenant governor. You’re probably going to be hearing that soon, provided we get over the finish line,” Braun said.

Braun said he “loved” the competition presented by Noblesville pastor Micah Bechwith, who has launched an unusual public bid to become the state’s next lieutenant governor.

“I think that it’s best for your customers and business if you compete and I think it’s the same thing in politics,” Braun said.