OPINION: Hey Mayor Pete, stay in Indiana and run for governor


South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg looks out at the crowd June 11 at the IU Auditorium. Buttigieg talked about his values and global issues such as climate change. Alex Deryn Buy Photos

As Democrats around the nation prepare for the arduous campaign season to take the Oval Office back from President Donald Trump, a battle is beginning to play out right here in Indiana. Governor Eric Holcomb will face Democrats in 2020 to maintain his governorship in the Statehouse. 

Democrats have fought nobly in the past to paint the walls of the governor’s office from red to blue but have consistently failed since the 2004 defeat of Democratic governor Joe Kernan during his bid to retain his office. 2020 will be the year that trend can change.

There is one Hoosier Democrat equipped to accomplish the task of flipping the governorship from red to blue, and that Hoosier Democrat is Mayor Pete Buttigieg. There’s one small hiccup, however. Mayor Pete is running for President. With that in mind, it is in the best interest of the state of Indiana, and of Mayor Pete, to withdraw his candidacy for president and declare his intention to run for governor. 

Defeating the incumbent Gov. Holcomb is a challenge that’s bound to require millions of dollars in the bank, thousands of miles traveled and hundreds of doors knocked. Eric Holcomb’s political capital and campaign war chest have grown to a point that’s nearly unbeatable by a Democrat in a widely conservative state.

The Associated Press reported Holcomb’s campaign received a $1 million contribution from Suzanne Crouch, the current lieutenant governor of Indiana. A contribution of that magnitude would surely leave Holcomb feeling comfortable and confident with his chance of reelection and would leave Democrats in Indiana equally confident with their chance of losing the battle against the governor.

In a crowded field of 24 Democrats running for president against Donald Trump, Mayor Pete has made quite a name for himself, raising a whopping $24 million in the second fundraising quarter. This haul demonstrates Mayor Pete’s ability to deliver a message that resonates with voters across the country and his talent at securing funds to pay for a large-scale campaign. This is the well-funded campaign Indiana needs to see if Governor Holcomb is to be defeated in 2020.

It’s fair to suggest that qualified Democrats not already engaged in a campaign would be ideal challengers in the race. State Rep. Karlee Macer and State Sen. Eddie Melton, both Democrats, have indicated interest in running for governor in 2020. What makes Mayor Pete stand out from these Hoosier Democrats, however, is his impressive ability to raise funds and build a large, national profile in such a short amount of time.

A Democrat with Hoosier values, a presidential profile, a long track record of leadership experience and a campaign war chest sizable enough to battle an incumbent governor is a political nightmare for Holcomb and the Indiana GOP. 

Scott Wong wrote an article for the Hill that exposed Indiana Republicans' fears of a Buttigieg gubernatorial campaign, suggesting the Indiana Republican Party specifically worked to target Buttigieg out of fear that a declaration of candidacy for Indiana Governor would hamper Holcomb’s ability to win reelection.

This is a feat that Macer and Melton have yet to achieve and one that Buttigieg has already done. This demonstrates Buttigieg is a clear and present danger to the Republican stronghold in the governor’s office and can build the momentum needed to win the race against Holcomb.

With the large field of qualified Democrats eyeing the Oval Office, it would be in the best interest of Indiana and the United States for Buttigieg to challenge Holcomb, paving the way for a Democratic victory in Indiana and leaving the door open for an additional Democratic victory against Trump. 

The final day to file to run for governor is Feb. 7. If Buttigieg is in the race for president to truly restore the Democratic values to the country that have been lost under the Trump Administration, he must recognize the need to win back his own state first. His candidacy for governor would be the best shot Democrats have to defeat Holcomb in 2020. Now is the time for Mayor Pete to stay in Indiana and run for governor.

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