Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jennifer McCormick, who announced the launch of her campaign Thursday morning, walked into the back of Switchyard Brewing Company on Thursday night to the cheers and chants of supporters. Among the sea of blue and gold “Jennifer McCormick for Governor” signs were Democratic nominees for mayor and City Council District 5 representative — Kerry Thomson and Shruti Rana — as well as members of College Democrats at IU and the Monroe County Democratic Party.
McCormick is the first and only Democrat to announce a run for governor in the 2024 election. McCormick was Indiana’s former superintendent of public instruction, an executive position that oversees public education. When she held the position, McCormick was a Republican, but she occasionally broke with fellow Republicans as she pursued a platform of charter school accountability and expressed more support for public schools.
Serving in the role from 2017 to 2021, McCormick chose not to run for reelection. Shortly after, the state legislature passed a bill to replace the elected Superintendent of Public Instruction position with an appointed secretary of education position.
McCormick began endorsing Democratic candidates in 2020 and officially became a Democrat in 2021. If she wins the Democratic primary in 2024, she could be up against one of the current Republican contenders in the general election — current U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch and businessman Eric Doden. A November poll showed Braun leading the others by a wide margin.
At Switchyard, McCormick was introduced by Monroe County Democratic Party Chair David Henry, Rana, Switchyard founder and President Kurtis Cummings and College Democrats at IU President Mia Seifers.
Henry said that Indiana had Democrats in the U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress and the governorship just two decades ago. However, Democrats have not won a statewide race since Joe Donnelly became a U.S. senator and Glenda Ritz became superintendent of public instruction, both in 2012.
McCormick’s speech centered around a desire to return to common-sense politics and unite people across party lines. She emphasized the importance of allowing women and LGBTQ people to make their own decisions about their healthcare and expressed support for affordable healthcare, childcare and universal pre-K. She also focused on the economy, promoting fiscal transparency and creating good-paying jobs.
In her conversations with people across Indiana, McCormick said people were focused on infrastructure, common sense governance, reproductive rights and quality public education.
“Hoosiers do not recognize the out-of-touch divisiveness that is coming out of the statehouse,” she said.
McCormick described herself as a fourth generation Hoosier, military mom and the wife of an educator.
In an interview, McCormick said her path to her victory would include a focus on shared values, having the resources to ensure her campaign reaches all 92 counties and launching a team effort — what McCormick referred to in her speech as a “boots on the ground” approach.
McCormick acknowledged the difficulty of running as a Democrat but maintained confidence in her ability to win. If faced with a Republican majority in the state legislature as governor, she said she would work to reach across the aisle.