Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch running for Governor
Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch at the annual AIM summit. (Photo from Lt. Governor’s Office)
Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch threw her hat into the ring for governor in 2024 Monday morning, putting an end to speculation and joining U.S. Sen. Mike Braun and Fort Wayne businessman Eric Doden in the race for the Republican nomination.
“I’m very proud of (the Gov. Eric Holcomb) administration and the work we’ve done in terms of creating jobs,” Crouch said. “We have had a record amount of investment in Indiana… we can unlock even more and give better opportunities to every Hoosier across our state.”
In a video launching her campaign, Crouch appealed to primary voters by promising to uphold public safety laws, keep parents involved in the classroom and condemning President Joe Biden for “wide open” southern borders that encouraged drug trafficking.
In particular, she highlighted a vote during the special session that “toughened” Indiana’s abortion laws “to protect the unborn,” in which she voted to require an affidavit for rape and incest victims seeking an abortion. The House overturned that requirement in a later vote.
Crouch started her career in politics in Vanderburgh County, first as county auditor and then as county commissioner. Spurred by the state’s dismal financial condition at the time, including delayed payments to educational institutions and local governments like hers, Crouch decided to run for state representative and won in 2005.
“I wanted to be a part of turning this state around and over the past 17 years we have done just that,” Crouch said. “Today we have a balanced budget, we have low taxes and we have healthy surpluses… The next chapter of Indiana’s history… is going to be quality of life.”
Because if we want to have a legacy of excellence in this state, we have to take all of those Hoosiers and lift them up... Only when we do that will we be able to measure our success as a state.
– Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch
That means continuing to grow the economy, investing in Indiana’s education system, strengthening families and communities, and transforming government – all pillars of her campaign for governor, Crouch said.
“It used to be that people followed businesses but today, businesses are following people. And people want to live where they have that quality of life,” Crouch said.
Pivotal to that would be improving Hoosier health, including mental health and addiction treatment as well as opportunities for Hoosiers with disabilities.
“Because if we want to have a legacy of excellence in this state, we have to take all of those Hoosiers and lift them up,” Crouch said. “Only when we do that will we be able to measure our success as a state.”
Crouch’s path to Lt. Gov.
Throughout Crouch’s political career, increasing Hoosier access to government has played a role. While in Vanderburgh County, she pushed to publish meeting minutes online and livestream commissioner meetings.
In the General Assembly, Crouch highlighted her legislative efforts to create a one-stop shop for businesses registering with the Secretary of State’s office and expand electronic meetings for government bodies.
“But I think probably the bill that I remember most… was a bill that I introduced to stop the governor from rolling out the welfare eligibility modernization system,” Crouch said.
Then-Gov. Mitch Daniels, wanting to reduce cost and paperwork, proposed moving welfare applications entirely online, introducing the new system to counties starting in 2008. However, Crouch and Sen. Vaneta Becker – both of Evansville – pushed the governor to halt the rollout, citing numerous problems and disrupted access.
Timeline of Crouch’s political offices:
- Vanderburgh County Auditor: 1994-2002
- Vanderburgh County Board of Commissioners: 2002-2005
- Indiana House, District 78: 2005 to 2014
- State Auditor: 2014 to 2017
- Lieutenant Governor: 2017 to present
“(Welfare modernization) sounds great unless you’re poor or elderly or disabled. You may not know how to use the computer or you may not have access to a computer,” Crouch said. “It was probably the most difficult thing I ever did because (I was) a Republican legislator introducing a bill against my Republican governor… quite honestly, I was the political leper for that season.”
After former Gov. Mike Pence became vice president, then-Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb stepped up as the GOP nominee for the state’s highest office. For his lieutenant governor, Holcomb selected Crouch, then the state auditor and a former Evansville representative. Holcomb and Crouch won their election in 2016, clinching re-election in 2020.
Holcomb is term limited and cannot seek a third consecutive term as governor.
As lieutenant governor, Crouch serves as the Senate president and oversees four agencies: the State Department of Agriculture, the Housing and Community Development Authority, the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) and the Indiana Destination Development Corporation.
Through OCRA, the state has spent $268 million connecting 73,000 Hoosier families and businesses, Crouch said, allowing more of rural Indiana to participate in a changing economy.
“Rural Indiana is our next great economic frontier,” Crouch said. “But we have to unlock that potential by having rural Indiana connected.”
Challenges for the Crouch campaign
Indiana is one of 18 states to never elect a female governor, nor has a female candidate ever won the Republican nomination for governor. On the other side of the aisle, Democrat Jill Long Thompson ran, but lost, in 2008.
Nearly every other executive office has had a female leader, including Crouch’s current office, where she is the fourth female lieutenant governor. But for Crouch, that wasn’t a defining feature of her campaign.
“I’ve never defined myself as a woman; I’ve defined myself as a hard worker… so I don’t confine myself in that manner,” Crouch said. “I truly believe that Hoosiers are looking for the right kind of leader – whether that leader is a woman or whether that leader is a man.”
The average age of governors at the time of their election is 50, with the oldest being James D. Williams at 69, according to the 2006 book The Governors of Indiana. Crouch would be 72 at inauguration, while Braun would be 70. For comparison, Holcomb was elected at the age of 48.
“I’m proud of my age; I have boundless energy and I will outwork all of my opponents,” Crouch said, rebuffing any criticisms.
Crouch faces a tough road to win the Republican nomination, with two other candidates formally in the race and rumors that others may still join.
“I’m focused on my race and what I’m going to be able to do and what I want to do for Hoosiers,” Crouch said. “It’s a long way from now to the election and I will continue to be lieutenant governor and be preparing myself for that next step.”
Last week, Braun released results from an internal poll showing him up 37 points over Crouch in a hypothetical matchup among Republican voters. Though Braun hasn’t formally announced his intention to run, submitting a filing to create a campaign finance committee could have been an attempt to clear the field of other competitors.
Doden became the first to announce his candidacy for governor last year, releasing the race’s first ad campaign last month shortly after the November elections.
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