Audience members tried to climb onto the stage for hugs and handshakes and to get a closer look at their new governor, Eric Holcomb.
Holcomb won the race to become the 51st governor of Indiana with 50.5 percent of votes, defeating Democratic candidate John Gregg and Libertarian candidate Rex Bell, according to the Indiana Daily Student’s results as of press time.
“If you are still up watching, I can’t wait to be in your neighborhood soon and you know I will be,” Holcomb said. “I want to personally thank each and every one of you who poured your heart out over these last hundred days.”
Holcomb was born and raised in Indianapolis and previously served in the U.S. Navy for six years, stationed in Florida and Portugal. He started his political career in 1997 when he worked for Congressman John Hostettler. Holcomb is currently the lieutenant governor under Mike Pence. He was an adviser to Gov. Mitch Daniels, R-Indiana, beginning in 2003 and Chief of Staff to Sen. Dan Coats, R-Indiana.
“Do not give up, we fought the good fight, we got into the arena,” Gregg said. “I’d rather be in the arena and know we gave it our best shot than have not gotten off the couch.”
Holcomb said at the gubernatorial debate at the University of Indianapolis in October that his economic plan would build off the momentum from Pence’s governorship.
“We need to continue what we’ve been doing on steroids,” Holcomb said at the debate.
Under Holcomb’s economic plan, which is focused on retaining, retraining and recruiting the best and brightest in the state, he hopes Indiana will continue to grow annual wage increases.
Also, through a $1 billion investment in innovation and entrepreneurship, Indiana’s job growth would expand by making investments in startups, high-growth companies, co-working spaces and university partnerships, which would encourage high school students to become involved in the entrepreneur community in the state.
Under the plan, the state will also lead the nation with infrastructure investment by continuing to fund state and local road construction — in particular, completing Interstate-69 between Evansville, Indiana, and Indianapolis.
Holcomb’s education and workforce development plan is devoted to ensuring every child in Indiana has access to “exceptional” early education and a safe learning environment, according to Holcomb’s website.
Holcomb hopes every high schooler will be ready to enter the workforce or obtain a higher education to develop the skills necessary to compete in the job market. Under the plan, the state’s priority should be to improve graduation rates and expand Indiana’s first state-funded pre-K program to students with the greatest financial need.
However, Holcomb said at the gubernatorial debate that the program is not yet ready to be enforced statewide because of financial costs.
The Holcomb plan also supports a family’s right to choose their type of school, whether it be a public school, charter school, private school or home schooling program.
Indiana schools will remain on top by retaining the best teachers in Indiana by treating them as professionals and role models.
By controlling tuition growth, higher education will become affordable to the masses.
“Tonight, we have to acknowledge we did not get our message out,” said Christina Hale, Gregg’s lieutenant gubernatorial candidate. “We were not clear enough, but I’ll tell you we love the people of Indiana and John Gregg and I are determined that these things must be put forward.”
Gregg had tears in his eyes as he addressed the Indiana Democratic Party Election Night Watch Party in his concession speech. The crowd cheered when he walked onstage, despite the loss.
Charles Montgomery, New Palestine, Indiana, resident and campaign coordinator for the Holcomb campaign in Hancock County, said he was worried because Gregg is a popular guy in his eyes.
“I don’t start celebrating until the fat lady sings, and clearly she sang tonight,” Montgomery said. “Eric is the real deal.”
Holcomb thanked Daniels and Pence in his acceptance.
“Mike Pence built the foundation, Mike Pence added a few stories,” Holcomb said. “And Suzanne Crouch and I are going to add story after story after story as we take Indiana to the next level.”
Holcomb said no corner of the state nor no Hoosier will be ignored.
“We’re not just going to keep Indiana on the right track, we’re going to keep it on the right trajectory because, folks, you ain’t seen nothing yet,” Holcomb said.
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