Crouch calls for all Republican governor candidates to be in televised debates

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch participates in the gubernatorial candidates panel at Dentons Legislative Conference. (Credit: Mark Curry)

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch participates in the gubernatorial candidates panel at Dentons Legislative Conference. (Credit: Mark Curry)

Mar 18, 2024

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch on Monday argued that all Republican gubernatorial candidates should be allowed to participate in upcoming televised debates.

In a news release, she said fellow candidates Jamie Reitenour and Curtis Hill are “being denied an opportunity” despite having collected enough signatures to qualify for the May primary.

Crouch also asked the campaigns of Mike Braun, Brad Chambers and Eric Doden to echo her request. Spokespeople for the Chambers and Hill campaigns told State Affairs they welcomed all candidates to the stage. Spokespeople for the Braun and Doden campaigns did not immediately respond to State Affairs’ request for comment.

“Indiana stands for fairness, not a Washington, D.C.-style insiders club where only certain people are popular enough to get on stage,” Crouch said in the release.

Crouch’s comments come as televised debates are scheduled for March 26, March 27 and April 23. But not all of the six Republican candidates have qualified for them.

Fox59 and CBS4 reported that Hill and Reitenour will not be on the stations’ debate stage March 26 after failing to poll over 5% in a recent poll published by Emerson College Polling and The Hill (the poll found 43% of respondents were undecided). Reitenour’s campaign says she was also required to meet a $100,000 fundraising stipulation outlined by the stations’ parent company.

CJ Hoyt, the stations’ news director, said they adopted “objective and nondiscriminatory criteria to govern who was eligible to participate.” He added that the candidates were informed of the criteria “well in advance of the debate.”

WISH-TV indicated Reitenour did not qualify for its March 27 debate. The Reitenour campaign says she was disqualified for not meeting a $300,000 fundraising stipulation by December. WISH-TV did not immediately respond to State Affairs’ request to confirm the fundraising criteria.

Reitenour raised less than $50,000 in 2023, according to the Indiana Election Division. Hill amassed more than $300,000 last year, far behind the other candidates’ millions.

The Republic reported all six candidates are invited to the Indiana Debate Commission’s April 23 debate. The commission did not immediately respond to State Affairs’ request to confirm that all candidates were invited.

On March 14, Reitenour said in a news release that action is needed to “fix a systemic bias and injustice.”

“Despite satisfying every requirement of the Indiana Constitution to run for the office of Governor, I have learned that I will be excluded from certain future gubernatorial debates due to election stipulations — ‘stipulations’ that ironically raise diversity, equity, and inclusion concerns as well as systemic bias questions,” Reitenour said. “I have never used the shade of my skin in any circumstance, for anything. This is not the typical, virtue-signaling D.E.I., where merit is wrongly penalized for the sake of demographics. Rather, this is a case where a non-political citizen, who also happens to be a minority woman, without the benefit of family wealth or political donors, defied the odds by meeting the same high standards as the other candidates.”

Reitenour said in the release that she was not offended or surprised by her exclusion from multiple televised debates. But she did say she was disappointed.

All six Republican candidates participated in a debate hosted by Current Publishing earlier this month.

April 8 is the voter registration deadline to cast a primary ballot in Indiana. Early in-person voting will start April 9 and continue on various schedules set by county election officials over the following four weeks.

The primary day is May 7, after which attention will turn to Election Day on Nov. 5.

Contact Jarred Meeks on X @jarredsmeeks or email him at [email protected]

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