Young tech executive could stir Indiana governor’s race

A young tech business executive’s jump into the Indiana governor’s race could lead to a big shake-up in the campaign.

Posted: Sep 21, 2019 1:24 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A young tech business executive’s jump into the Indiana governor’s race could lead to a big shake-up in the campaign.

Josh Owens became this past week the second Democrat who’s formally entered the 2020 race seeking to unseat Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb. The 34-year-old CEO of Indianapolis-based online retail strategy company SupplyKick casts himself as bringing new energy to the campaign with “a bigger, more inclusive vision” for Indiana’s future.

While Owens is a little-known candidate and has never held elected office, he already had hired several experienced Democratic campaign aides before posting an online video Monday announcing his campaign. Health care business executive and former state health commissioner Woody Myers is the other declared Democratic candidate so far for the May 2020 primary.

Holcomb has a big front-runner advantage while he seeks re-election with at least $6 million in his campaign bank account as Republicans hold all statewide elected offices and supermajorities in the Legislature. Holcomb, 51, has touted what he says are record hiring commitments from businesses since he took office in 2017 and numerous infrastructure investments while protecting the state’s top-level credit rating and $2 billion surplus.

But Owens said he would push an aggressive agenda on issues neglected by Holcomb, such as raising teacher pay, decriminalizing marijuana, expanding LGBT civil rights protections and seeking tougher background checks on gun sales.

“I think there’s actually a lot of hunger in Indiana for a diverse set of policies, policies that aren’t just exclusively about balanced budgets and lower taxes,” he said. “I am supportive of our balanced budget structure. I think a lot of what I’m talking about isn’t tax based, it is about our priorities.”

Before joining SupplyKick in 2015, Owens worked in marketing positions for Angie’s List and online retailer One Click Ventures, and taught economics and statistics courses at Butler University. After an unsuccessful 2014 campaign for an Indianapolis Public School board seat, he was appointed in 2015 by Gov. Mike Pence to the Indiana Charter School Board, serving as its chairman before his term ended this summer.

“I do think I bring a different set of experiences than others. That’s partly because I think I have accomplished a lot in a short amount of time,” he said. “I have been an educator, I have helped build a number of businesses and currently run one of the faster-growing businesses in Indiana.”

Holcomb’s campaign declined to comment on Owens, while the Myers campaign voiced skepticism about his entry into the race.

“We look forward to hearing how and why Josh now wants to serve everyday Hoosiers,” Myers spokeswoman Kate Shepherd said. “We have not yet seen him on the campaign trail nor seen him actively engaged with our Democratic Party.”

Owens, who is openly gay and married to his husband, could give the Democratic ballot a fresh face after the party has fallen short among voters with its experienced old guard in recent elections — including former Indiana House Speaker John Gregg’s unsuccessful 2012 and 2016 campaigns for governor and Evan Bayh’s failed 2016 U.S. Senate comeback bid.

The 65-year-old Myers has kept a mostly low profile since announcing his Democratic bid in July, with one of his few public appearances being at the unveiling of a historical marker honoring teenage AIDS patient Ryan White, whose right to attend school Myers defended during his time as state health commissioner in the 1980s.

Another potential younger Democratic candidate is 38-year-old state Sen. Eddie Melton of Gary, who has held several public meetings around the state since announcing in June he was considering a gubernatorial run. Melton has yet to formally enter the race.

Indiana Democratic leaders for many years have worked to avoid primary contests for statewide races, seeking to maintain party unity and preserve campaign cash for the November elections.

The weakened position Democrats face in the state could make this a good time to let more candidates step forward and put themselves before voters, said former Indiana Senate Democratic leader Vi Simpson, who was the party’s 2012 lieutenant governor nominee.

“We don’t have anybody with statewide exposure running, and so a primary kind of stirs the pot and gets people’s name out there in a hurry,” she said. “It forces you to prepare for a general election, for sure.”

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 31715

Reported Deaths: 1984
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9189533
Lake3299167
Cass15826
Allen127766
St. Joseph117034
Hendricks112367
Hamilton109992
Johnson1082104
Elkhart100827
Madison58258
Porter48721
Bartholomew48033
Clark45838
LaPorte40821
Tippecanoe3733
Jackson3611
Howard35618
Delaware35434
Hancock31927
Shelby31421
Floyd31338
Boone28235
Morgan26124
Vanderburgh2482
Montgomery22717
White2268
Decatur22431
Clinton2151
Noble18520
Grant18520
Harrison18521
Dubois1822
Greene16723
Warrick16426
Dearborn16221
Monroe16010
Henry1597
Vigo1477
Lawrence14322
Miami1391
Putnam1337
Jennings1274
Orange12422
Scott1183
Ripley1126
Franklin1068
Carroll922
Kosciusko861
Daviess8216
Steuben792
Newton7410
Wabash722
Wayne695
Fayette654
Marshall641
LaGrange602
Jasper561
Washington521
Fulton471
Rush452
Jay430
Jefferson411
Randolph403
Pulaski390
Clay391
Whitley392
Brown331
Sullivan321
Starke313
Owen311
DeKalb291
Perry270
Huntington262
Benton250
Knox240
Crawford230
Wells230
Tipton221
Blackford201
Switzerland190
Fountain182
Parke170
Posey170
Spencer161
Gibson142
Ohio130
Adams121
Warren121
Vermillion90
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0152

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 112017

Reported Deaths: 4885
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook730973324
Lake7723250
DuPage7207340
Kane5761152
Will5188258
Winnebago195351
McHenry142767
St. Clair99172
Kankakee79942
Kendall71419
Rock Island63622
Champaign5647
Madison53954
Boone39716
Sangamon33126
DeKalb3253
Randolph2593
Jackson22810
McLean21110
Ogle1922
Stephenson1902
Macon18819
Peoria1797
Clinton17716
Out of IL1641
Union1417
LaSalle14012
Whiteside13410
Iroquois1304
Coles1169
Warren1140
Unassigned1100
Jefferson10116
Knox940
Monroe9211
Grundy892
McDonough835
Lee771
Cass670
Henry670
Tazewell673
Williamson551
Marion500
Jasper457
Adams441
Macoupin411
Perry410
Pulaski400
Montgomery391
Vermilion391
Morgan341
Christian334
Livingston312
Douglas270
Jo Daviess270
Fayette202
Ford201
Jersey201
Washington180
Mason170
Menard170
Woodford172
Shelby161
Bureau151
Mercer150
Carroll132
Hancock130
Franklin120
Crawford110
Fulton110
Piatt110
Bond101
Brown100
Clark100
Cumberland100
Logan100
Moultrie100
Schuyler100
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Johnson70
Massac70
Saline70
Effingham61
Greene50
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
Wabash20
White20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
Edgar00
Terre Haute
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 86°
Robinson
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 82°
Indianapolis
Broken Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 81°
Rockville
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 74°
Casey
Few Clouds
80° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 82°
Brazil
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 86°
Marshall
Scattered Clouds
80° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 84°
No Major Changes
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events