Sen. Mike Braun formally announces governors run
Sen. Mike Braun announces his campaign for governor in 2024 from an Indianapolis steakhouse. (Whitney Downard/Indiana Capital Chronicle)
U.S. Sen. Mike Braun announced his campaign for governor in downtown Indianapolis Monday at a pricey steakhouse surrounded by supporters and donors, joining Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and Fort Wayne businessman Eric Doden in the 2024 race.
“I’m here today because I truly believe Indiana’s best days are before us,” Braun said. “… this state does so many things correct but I think we can get a little better; I’ve been a believer that there’s always room for improvement.”
Braun’s announcement came the same day as Crouch’s campaign launch, and others are rumored to be considering the open seat. Gov. Eric Holcomb is term-limited and cannot run again in 2024. Doden announced his campaign nearly a year ago and released this cycle’s first ad campaign shortly after the November election.
Crouch gave individual reporters one-on-one interviews while Braun gave a ten-minute speech before ushering media out and declining to take questions.
Harvard-educated Braun co-founded Crystal Farms in Jasper in 1979, which grew to become one of the largest turkey operations in the Midwest, according to his campaign biography. Two years later, Braun started the Meyer Body Company, an auto parts distribution company, which fuels much of his wealth – estimated to be $136,831,124 in 2018 – making him one of the richest members of Congress.
“I built the American dream in my own hometown over those 30 years from a little business that only had 17 employees for 17 years,” Braun said. “My office was a used mobile home – literally – for those first 17 years. (We now have) hundreds of employees, over 1,000, across the country.”
Braun joined the state legislature as a representative in 2014, jumping into the 2018 race for U.S. Senate and winning over incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly. Braun emerged from a tough primary in which Luke Messer and Todd Rokita, now attorney general, spent millions attacking each other, allowing Braun and his self-funded war chest to emerge unscathed.
Throughout his time in Congress, Braun has closely aligned himself with former President Donald Trump, consistently approving his agenda.
If elected, 68-year-old Braun would be one of Indiana’s oldest governors. According to the 2006 book The Governors of Indiana, the average age of governors at their time of election is 50, with the oldest being James. D. Williams at 69.
For comparison, Holcomb was elected at the age of 48.
“I don’t think leaders in (Washington) D.C. are going to be the ones that solve our problems. The founders never intended it to be a system of seniority; they wanted merit, they wanted things to get done,” Braun said.
Following a dismal showing in the 2022 midterm elections, Braun supported Florida Sen. Rick Scott over Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, who is the longest-serving Republican leader in Senate history.
Main issues for Braun campaign
Braun called for “bold leadership” in Indiana to make the state a “national leader for freedom, opportunity and prosperity.” His 2024 campaign launching at the Prime 47 steakhouse in downtown Indianapolis, in front of roughly 70 donors, is in stark contrast to his 2018 campaign where he cast himself as an average Hoosier.
“I’m a Main Street businessman that became a politician… and that’s the reason I’m running for governor,” Braun said.
I’m going to do the things that are easy, like making sure that the budget is balanced and that we keep a good business climate... (But) I’m going to tackle the tough issues that you’re going to need somebody that’s going to stick their neck out (and) take a little risk.
– Sen. Mike Braun
In particular, Braun said he wanted to fight to reduce the high cost of healthcare and said the state had “failed” to address the high rate of infant and maternal mortality. He pushed to increase Indiana’s spending on education, of which K-12 composes 52% and post-secondary composes 15% of the $17-billion budget.
He also proposed increasing pay for state troopers, claiming that the law enforcement officers get the lowest pay in the Midwest.
“I’m going to do the things that are easy, like making sure that the budget is balanced and that we keep a good business climate,” Braun said. “(But) I’m going to tackle the tough issues that you’re going to need somebody that’s going to stick their neck out (and) take a little risk.”
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