Governor’s Race Still Up in the Air

As one office-holder told me, “Two years is an eternity in politics.”

As one office-holder told me, “Two years is an eternity in politics”.  That said, for someone running for the state’s top job, will it be long enough?

In December, Democrat Evan Bayh (who our political analyst Peter Rusthoven (R) refers to as “the appointed one”) announced he would not, as some expected, run for Governor in 2012.

That opened the door for three other Dems to rise to the short list:  Rep Joe Donnelly, Former Congressman and Senate hopeful Brad Ellsworth, and Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel.

Over the weekend, Weinzapfel announced he would not run for governor.  I had the chance to talk with him in person about his decision.  Like Bayh, he cited family reasons.  The father of three–an 11 year old and 9 year old twins–he said not only the rigors of the campaign would take its toll–but the office itself.  His family would remain in Evansville–and he would be (as he estimated) in Indianapolis 21 months of the year.    Weinzapfel told me ” I couldn’t see leaving the kids at home when they still call you Daddy …I think I would be miserable doing that”.

As for Ellsworth–(who came to our studios with Weinzapfel–something I didn’t expect)–he said solely and repeatedly “I will not be a candidate for anything in 2012”

It’s an interesting situation for Democrats–especially since the expectation is that Republican juggernaut Mike Pence
“is” expected to run.

Pence, who is not only known statewide–but nationwide (he only recently announced he wouldn’t run for president)–is also according to Rusthoven, “beloved by his party”.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t Dems up for the challenge.  This week Democrat and former speaker of the Indiana House John Gregg told the Terre Haute Tribune Star he’s giving it some serious thought:

And Joe Donnelly is still a possibility.

But no one is committing.  Not yet.  Rusthoven explains it this way, “While the (state) legislature is in session, no one can raise money, so there is no point declaring that your going to run…”  He expects when the session is over in April, the candidates will surface.

With one exception.  Businessman and former Hamilton county councilman Jim Wallace has officially announced he plans to run for the GOP ticket.

There is a little less than two years before the election…but for those hoping to win over voters across the state–this race may be more a sprint than a marathon.

Kris Kirschner