Off to the races: GOP gubernatorial candidates on why you should vote for them

Indiana Republican primary gubernatorial debate banner

The Indiana Republican primary gubernatorial debate banner displayed at the Palladium. (Credit: Curtis Hill campaign)

Mar 13, 2024

On Monday, the six Republican gubernatorial candidates gathered for the first debate. In case you missed it, below are their opening statements.

A scheduled gubernatorial forum will be hosted by the National Federation of Independent Business, the Indiana Builders Association and Americans for Prosperity of Indiana. The event will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. March 19 at the Wellington Fishers Banquet & Conference Center, 9775 North by Northeast Blvd., in Fishers. 

Seven of the leading candidates for governor — Braun, Chambers, Crouch, Doden, Hill, Democrat Jennifer McCormick and Libertarian Donald Rainwater — have agreed to participate. 

The next GOP debate will be held at 7 p.m. March 26 on Fox59/CBS4. 

To watch Monday’s entire debate, visit

Jamie Reitenour

“Never in a million years did I see myself on a stage like this. I'm certainly not a politician. I'm a mom, a spouse. Over six years ago I got a calling. It was a whistle in my heart, saying, ‘You're going to be the governor of Indiana.’ That may sound strange to you, but I walk with my savior, Jesus Christ. Over six years later, at Panera, two people approached me in two different places and told me the exact same thing. I had never met them before. So, my friends, it was up to me as to whether I was going to obey. And I did; I said yes. I said yes over two-and-a-half years ago. Good leaders lead with diligence. We're in [a] moral crisis, and it's time for good people to stand. I'm not a leader that speaks at you; I'm a leader who leads.”

Curtis Hill

(He opened by describing himself as a “husband, a father, a lawyer, a career prosecutor.”

“I'm the 43rd attorney general. I'm running for governor because Hoosiers are hungry for proven conservative leadership. By proven, it means what have you done to be able to establish what you'll do going forward? These times are tough. Government has failed us. Individuals we send to Washington, D.C., have failed us. Truth, basic truth, is under attack. We’ve all lost faith in our institutions. We witness the manipulation of justice and the weaponization of race and the sexualization of children. America is in trouble, and we need strong and courageous leadership. 

“Ladies and gentlemen, I believe in the culture of life. But don't take my word for it — look at my deeds. That's why 2,411 babies were found abandoned in Illinois. As your attorney general, I went into Illinois, brought them back and buried them to establish their humanity because I believe in a culture of life. I believe in liberty, in defending liberty, fighting for liberty. That's why in 2020 when the governor issued his mask mandate and said he was going to make it a Class B misdemeanor if you violated it, as your attorney general I fought back and said no.” 

Hill also said that as attorney general, he resisted efforts to create a third “X” gender at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. “I fought back. The truth is, there are two genders, male and female, and that's worth fighting for. This is about leadership, courage and boldness. It's about getting the job done. It's about taking a look at the candidates and determining what … they have done will establish what they will do as governor.”

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch

“As a wife, a mother, a taxpayer I care deeply about Indiana and about Hoosiers. I have the experience to deliver results. We'll do it by focusing on four building blocks: We're going to grow our economy, invest in education, strengthen our families and our communities, and then modernize government. As lieutenant governor, we are modernizing our economy by leading the fight to expand broadband throughout rural Indiana. As governor, I want to continue by leading the fight to eliminate Indiana's state income tax. We're going to ax the tax. I’ve traveled the state. Hoosiers are being crushed by the high cost of living, inflation and Bidenomics. We have the opportunity to put thousands of dollars back into the average Hoosier’s pockets every year. 

“My opponents have joined the spenders, the bureaucrats, saying, 'We can't do it; it's a gimmick.' But we can. As former vice chair of the Ways and Means Committee and as a former auditor of state, we can do it. It has to be phased in, but we’re already doing that. We have to have triggers in place to protect against economic downturns, but if we limit government growth, if we end wasteful government spending and we find efficiencies in government, Hoosiers will benefit and our economy will prosper. 

“I want to create a cradle-to-career education system focused on the four R’s, preparing our children for the jobs of today and tomorrow. As secretary of agriculture I took [steps] to prevent China from buying our farmland. When I saw that lands near military sites can be bought by our adversaries, I stopped it. As president of the Senate, I took a tough vote to strengthen our abortion laws, making Indiana one of the most pro-life states in the country. And as governor, I'll make sure fentanyl dealers are treated as the murderers they are. And Hoosiers struggling with mental illness and addiction, you will be my No. 1 priority. I want to modernize state government, downsizing it, removing rules and regulations and making government more accountable and transparent.” 

Sen. Mike Braun

“It’s very important for anyone who wants to lead our state better be there with a track record. You won't have to figure out what they might do when they say they want to aspire to something like this. You need to be willing to flesh out those ideas. Of anyone on the stage here, I have the most recent track record on what's happened, when you have to vote, what you're really for, not what you say you’re going to be for. 

“For all of us as Hoosiers, we’re lucky we are from communities. I have been blessed to be raised in a place like Jasper. It’s a community based on faith, family, freedom and opportunity. I don’t think you have to go much further than that to know what we're about as a state and what we’re about as Hoosiers. Who has got the track record where you've proven you believe in that, you lived it and you've got a record? 

“In our own state, the things we need to do better at — we have some of the highest health care costs in the country, some of the poorest outcomes. For most families, their well-being, along with their education ... half of our budget has to do with K-12 education. Are we getting our bang out of that buck? We have a large enterprise in our state government: 30,000 employees, 30 agencies. Who’s going to go in there wrestling … are they serving all of us? Who's going to be able to draw out of them better performance? Maybe you can finance a tax decrease by running it better. Look carefully to see who's got a track record of doing that. 

“And then you look at bigger issues like our open borders. Some people say, ‘Why do you mention that?’ It’s the biggest issue in D.C. and it’s gonna determine the election in November in terms of who we put there, along with an economy. … Who would do the best job? Make sure you flesh out the issues and if they've got a record you can trust. Will it be someone with action who practices what they preach?"

Brad Chambers

“I’m not a career politician; I've never done this before. What I have been doing is starting a business from scratch and raising a family. I’m angry at the state of our politics. To me it’s unacceptable that our average wage and economic growth is below that of the U.S. averages. It’s unacceptable that our Medicaid rolls are growing so quickly. It’s unacceptable to me that repeated violent offenders are arrested and back on our streets the very next day. It’s unacceptable that Hoosier kids are falling behind educationally, and it’s unacceptable that Congress has failed to act on the border, which has now become a state problem with fentanyl pouring in. 

“Our Founding Fathers envisioned public service like my two years as Indiana’s secretary of commerce, where I served for just a dollar a year, bringing in tens of thousands of high-wage jobs, investing in communities statewide, bringing in two new industries to fix our problems, grow our economy and improve our quality of life. It’s going to take someone from outside the system. The last time we had a business outsider, it was Gov. Mitch Daniels. That was 12 years ago. It’s time to shake things up; it’s time for a change and fresh eyes. It’s time for a real outsider to become Indiana's next governor."

Eric Doden

“We have four kids ... or five kids between the ages of 23 and 18. I forgot one. We had four kids in four years and 10 months — we don't remember much of the 2000s. But then our daughter from Rwanda joined us six years ago. I grew up in Butler, Indiana, a town of 2,500 people, and when I was 15 we moved to the metropolis of Auburn, a town of 12,500 people. So I was a small-town kid. My grandfather went to Moody Bible Institute late in life and became a pastor. He played a significant role in my life, and he died when I was 11. 

“My grandpa taught me a couple of key principles that have shaped my leadership. He was adamant that you put your faith to work. Without vision, people perish. No matter how big or small his church or community was, he had a bold vision. And that’s what you can expect from me as governor: a bold vision for the people of Indiana. That's what our Indiana Main Street Initiative is about. For 50 years our small towns were forgotten, where two and a half million people live. Our plan restores communities in all 92 counties. We're the only candidate who’s ever had a plan for our small towns and for our regions. And we want all 13 of our regions to be nationally recognized economies and be in the top 100 places to live in the country. 

“What is the point of having a great economy if you don't protect the vulnerable? One of the most important things we do is to protect the vulnerable. That’s why I am ardently pro-life. It’s a human rights and a religious issue for me. We have a zero-cost adoption policy. We’re the first candidate in the country and we’ll be the first state in the country to adopt a zero-cost adoption policy. This adoption policy will not only pay for adoptions but for after care. We have 13,000 kids in foster care that would love to be a part of a loving home. This policy is not just pro-life, pro-mother, but pro family and pro-child. 

“And last, we have 30 agency heads that employ 30,000 people, that spend $22 billion of state money and $22 billion of federal money every year. Every state agency head will have to reapply for their job. We’re going to look for gifted leaders who demonstrate character, chemistry, building competency with others as we serve the people of Indiana."

Brian A. Howey is senior writer and columnist for Howey Politics Indiana/State Affairs. Find Howey on Facebook and X @hwypol.

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