McCormick officially enters governor’s race
Jennifer McCormick is traveling the state to announce her bid for governor in 2024. (Photo by Casey Smith/Indiana Capital Chronicle)
After teasing a run for months, Democrat Jennifer McCormick announced Thursday she is entering the race for governor in 2024.
“Everywhere I visit, no matter where I go, one thing is clear — Hoosiers do not recognize the out-of-touch divisiveness coming out of the statehouse. They expect a leader who believes in using common sense and bipartisanship to solve problems. They believe in someone who’s going to make Indiana the best state that she can be,” McCormick said from the Two Lions restaurant and wine bar in downtown New Castle.
“I love Indiana. I love our potential and I love our successes,” she continued. “I love our common sense and our sense of civility. We need the promise that those values will be reflected and upheld. That is why I’m ready to serve our people of Indiana again.”
She is hosting press conferences across the state today and Friday and also released a campaign video.
Back in her hometown
McCormick’s official announcement in New Castle was small, however. No supporters were present in the locally-owned bar. She was joined by the local mayor, her father, her husband and a handful of campaign staff.
The city 44 miles northeast of Indianapolis is McCormick’s hometown. She noted Thursday that she’s a fourth generation Hoosier and grew up on her family’s nearby farm.
Over the next year, McCormick said she plans to visit all 92 counties to meet with Hoosiers from across the political spectrum.
“I’m running because it’s time Hoosiers are put first, protecting our rights and our freedoms. It’s time Hoosiers have a voice, and a leader who believes in empowering them to make their own decisions,” she said, also emphasizing Indiana’s need for “a champion for a high quality education system.”
That means increased access to childcare, universal pre-K, better K-12 funding and “beyond high school training and education.” She also vowed to expand “accessible and affordable health care,” and to focus on “safe streets” and “safe neighborhoods.”
In her official announcement video, McCormick additionally spoke about how she pushed back against GOP state leaders when she was superintendent of public instruction from 2017-2021. She was a Republican then, but officially joined the Indiana Democratic Party in June 2021.
“Too many of our statehouse politicians were focused on their own agendas. They were putting politics before our people. They pushed their extreme ideas … I spoke up then and I am speaking up now,” McCormick said. “I won’t play politics with our kids, our rights or our freedoms.”
She joins three Republicans and one Libertarian already in the race. On the GOP side, U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and Fort Wayne businessman Eric Doden are seeking the nomination. Libertarian Donald Rainwater is also back for a second run.
McCormick said Thursday that — unlike her high-profile GOP competitors — she expects her campaign will be largely supported by small donations.
“I am a working person. I’m not a self-made millionaire. I know the cost of gas and the cost of eggs and why that’s concerning. I also know it’s going to take a lot of work to get the resources and support secured to run a great competitive campaign,” she said. “Part of that is making sure that we are getting out and people understand what our platform is going to be — they get to know us, and they get to believe in us … I am committed to making sure that we can secure those resources that are going to be needed.”
Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer was quick to take a swing at McCormick following her gubernatorial race announcement.
“We would like to officially welcome Democrat Jennifer McCormick to the 2024 gubernatorial race and presume that she is seeking the Democrat nomination,” he said in a statement Thursday morning.
“With her campaign launch today, Democrat Jennifer McCormick has decided to continue her well-known streak of misleading Hoosiers. But they have come to know that’s just who she is — someone who will say or do anything to get elected,” he continued. “But Hoosiers also know this — Democrat Jennifer McCormick believes that teachers and administrators know what’s best for our children and that parents should have no say in what happens in our schools.Hoosiers have rejected that position, and they will reject her too.”
McCormick began her career as a special education teacher before working as a school principal and later superintendent of Yorktown Community Schools. The former educator was chosen by the Indiana Republican Party as the nominee for the superintendent of public instruction position in 2016. Her platform emphasized a need for Indiana to reject national Common Core learning standards and “reckless” standardized testing. She went on to defeat incumbent Glenda Ritz that November.
Her tenure ended after Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill in 2019 to eliminate the elected position and create an appointed secretary of education position instead. Holcomb appointed Katie Jenner to the office, where she still currently serves.
McCormick’s party switch was foreshadowed by an earlier agreement in 2020 — while still in state office — to stay on at the Department of Education if Woody Myers, a Democrat, was elected governor and won the right to appoint the first Indiana secretary of education.
McCormick said she’s “not hearing people getting hung up by the situation of parties.”
“What I’m hearing from Hoosiers is they are ready for change. They’re ready for common sense and bipartisanship,” she said.
Last year, McCormick toured the state alongside other Democrat former elected officials, including Joe Donnelly and John Gregg, touting the benefits of the American Rescue Plan for Hoosiers.
McCormick then established an exploratory committee for governor. Much of McCormick’s public commentary since then has come from her social media presence, especially on Twitter, where she’s often critical of GOP policies concerning Indiana education. Recent posts from her personal account also hint at a 2024 gubernatorial run.
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