Crouch leads opponents in cash-on-hand for final stretch

By Whitney Downard
Indiana Capital Chronicle

INDIANAPOLIS — As the six Republican candidates round the final bend before the May 7 primary in the 2024 governor’s race, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch leads the pack in terms of money on hand, according to the new campaign finance reports filed Monday.

Others vying to succeed the term-limited Gov. Eric Holcomb include: U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, businessmen Brad Chambers and Eric Doden, former Attorney General Curtis Hill and Jamie Reitenour.

Combined, the candidates have nearly $5 million left to spend and have spent a jaw-dropping $20 million in the first quarter of 2024. In 2023, the six potential nominees spent nearly $14.5 million, almost certainly making this race the most expensive gubernatorial nomination in Indiana history with another few weeks to go.

As of March 31st, Crouch had over $3 million on hand and no debts.

The next leading contender, in terms of money on hand, is Braun, with $946,000 followed by Chambers with $761,000 and Doden with $250,000.

Hill and Reitenour have lagged behind their competitors in terms of fundraising and spending, both reporting less than $35,000 in terms of money on hand with less than a month to go. Hill had $34,000 — according to the reports — compared to Reitenour’s $6,000.

Both Chambers and Doden have campaign debts, with Chambers owing himself $8 million compared to Doden’s debt of $1 million to his parents.

In a statement, Braun campaign senior advisor Josh Kelley criticized the two campaigns for “self-funding.”

“With 21 days until Election Day, Mike Braun raised more money than anyone else without self-funding his campaign.  On March 31, Braun reserved $3.6 million in television ads for the final six weeks, he’s the only candidate with the cash to make that reservation, and now in the final three weeks he has the largest presence on any of the candidates currently on television,” Kelley said.

Though she leads in funds remaining, Crouch has been slower to use her money when compared to the other candidates, spending just $1.8 million in 2023. For comparison, Chambers, Doden and Braun each spent $5.3 million, $3.9 million and $3.2 million, respectively.  All three men are independently wealthy entrepreneurs and Braun has additionally built a sizable fund during his term in Congress.

Hill spent $270,000 in 2023 and Reitenour spent $27,000.

But that amount of spending pales in comparison to what’s been spent in 2024’s first quarter.

Chambers outpaced the other contenders after spending $6.6 million, with Braun close behind at $6 million. Doden rounded out the top three with $5.1 million.

Crouch reported $2.1 million spent in 2024 while Hill spent $289,000. Reitenour spent $48,000.

The cash on hand will be critically important to purchase campaign advertising and sway voters in the upcoming election in which polls have identified a swath of voters who are still undecided, though Braun leads by double digits across five polls compiled by Five Thirty Eight.

The latest poll, from SurveyUSA for State Affairs/Howey Politics, puts Braun at 44% of the vote, followed by Crouch with 10% while both Chambers and Doden got 8%.

Hill and Reitenour each had 2% but over a quarter of those polled, 26%, were undecided.

The undecided portion is closing. A poll from Emerson College for The Hill and Nexstar released about a month ago found that 43% of the surveyed Republican voters were undecided.

Braun at that time had one-third of the vote followed by Crouch and Doden around 7% and Chambers at 5%. Again, Hill and Reitenour got 2%.

The primary winner only needs a plurality vote — meaning that they don’t need to get 51% of votes to win, just the largest share. In a theoretical race where all candidates got nearly the same percentage, that means that someone could win with as little as 17% of the vote so long as their competitors got less of a share.

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The Indiana Capital Chronicle is an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to giving Hoosiers a comprehensive look inside state government, policy and elections. The site combines daily coverage with in-depth scrutiny, political awareness and insightful commentary.

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