Fourth gubernatorial candidate added to Warsaw forum after criticism

By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw

WARSAW — An abundance of Republican candidates running for governor this year in Indiana has caused challenges for those trying to organize forums.

On Friday, the issue touched Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce when it fell under criticism for not inviting all six of the candidates to a forum scheduled for Monday at the Performing Arts Center.

The chamber had originally set out to have the top four candidates participate in a forum based on a straw poll.

But that was complicated when US Mike Braun, viewed by some as the frontrunner, declined to participate.

The Chamber then announced the forum would have three participants – Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, Eric Doden and Brad Chambers.

That apparently did not sit well with some Republicans who complained that the two other candidates, former Attorney General Curtis Hill and Jamie Reitenour, were not given an opportunity to participate.

Chamber CEO Rob Parker told reporters Friday about the complication.

In response to the criticism, the chamber said it would reach out to Hill and Reitenhour to see if they would participate.

Parker said Hill responded and accepted the invite but that the chamber did not hear back from Reitenour.

Crouch said she reached out to the Chamber and was told they based the selection on the top four candidates.

Crouch has also openly criticized other recent forums that limited participation. Two of those were in central Indiana.

“From my standpoint, it’s about who qualified to get on the ballot and these candidates have thousands of Hoosiers all over Indiana that supported them and signed petitions to get them on the ballot and they deserved to have their voices heard also,” Crouch said.

They can choose their own criteria, she said, “but we shouldn’t be about excluding people,” she said.

Parker said Sunday that Hill is expected to attend and that they never heard back from the Reitenour campaign.

Parker said he heard from one other person who was upset with having just four candidates.

He maintained again on Sunday that six candidates is too unwieldy for a forum.

The large field is in part because of the open seat created with Gov. Eric Holcomb who is  term-limited.

Parker said they didn’t invite Democrat Jennifer McCormick or Libertarian Donald Rainwater because neither are facing a challenge this summer.

Indiana Capital Chronicle published a story on March 18 in which Reitenour complained about other forums that excluded her.

The ICC story read:

“Underdog Jamie Reitenour, a faith-based candidate running to succeed Gov. Eric Holcomb, made her debut appearance on the stage with other candidates last week but is objecting to being excluded from another three events for contenders in the coming days.”

“My exclusion from these important events in the democratic process is an injustice that needs to be corrected! Are the requirements of the Indiana Constitution to run for statewide office so disrespected that those in power must find other ways to direct the electorate?” she implored in a press release.

The Warsaw forum is open to the public and starts at 6 p.m.

Questions will come from News Now Warsaw, the Times-Union and InkFreeNews.