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Thursday, June 13
The Indiana Daily Student

city politics

Bob Kern drops out of gubernatorial race, leaves uncontested Democratic primary


Bob Kern announced Thursday he is dropping out of Indiana’s 2024 gubernatorial race and endorsed Jennifer McCormick, a former Republican Indiana superintendent of public instruction turned Democratic candidate. He said he would be seeking the office of lieutenant governor instead, which no other democrats have declared for so far. 

Candidates still have until noon on February 9, 2024, to submit their primary candidacies along with the required signatures. 

Originally running against McCormick in the Democratic primary, Kern said medical issues including losing his eyesight, which he is slowly regaining back, have prevented him from making progress in gathering the 500 signatures from each of Indiana’s nine congressional districts needed to qualify for the primary ballot.  

Rather than going forward with his campaign, he said he wanted to take a backseat to McCormick, now running to be her lieutenant governor. 

“I think it's time for the next governor of Indiana to be a woman,” Kern said. 

Kern said he admired her time serving as Superintendent of Public Instruction in state government, even though she was a Republican at the time. Through battles with her party, she gained his respect as a Democrat. 

An Indianapolis native, the almost 60-year-old Kern has run in Indiana elections and been involved in Hoosier politics for decades. He said he got into politics at an early age, working his way up through Democratic politician and Reverend Jesse Jackson’s operation People United to Save Humanity for Excellence.  

Back then, Kern said he felt people got along with each other better, a point he returned to frequently.  

“People knew how to conduct themselves in a proper way,” Kern said. “People had their differences in their opinions, but nothing ever broke out in a violent way, it was very respectful.” 

Kern said he was a paralegal in the 1980s and 1990s, becoming more politically involved afterward. In 1996, he said he ran for the House of Representatives but lost in the Democratic primary. In 1998, he successfully won the Democratic primary for the 6th District, but ultimately lost to Republican Dan Burton in the midterm election by a 56% margin. 

Recently, he has conducted several campaigns in Indiana including running for Indianapolis mayor in 2023, though he lost in the primary against incumbent mayor Joe Hogsett. He has perennially run for governor, highlighting the legalization of recreational Marijuana and restoration of reproductive freedom as priorities for his now-lieutenant gubernatorial aspirations. 

Though he does not have any specific policy on abortion, which a near-total ban has heavily restricted in Indiana, he said he wants men to stay out of women’s bodily autonomy.  

“I don’t believe that I could tell a woman that under no circumstances they couldn’t have an abortion,” he said. 

Furthermore, Kern placed heavy emphasis on the legalization of recreational marijuana in Indiana, as three out of four of Indiana’s bordering states have now legalized the drug. He said many Hoosiers cross state lines to purchase legal marijuana from bordering states, losing Indiana potential tax revenue.  

If legalized, he wants the money gained by its taxation to go to rehabilitative centers for those addicted to opiates, methamphetamine, among others. He also wants to expunge convictions from the drug, which he says had led people into the revolving door of Indiana’s prisons.  

McCormick said she supports the legalization of medical marijuana in an interview with the Indiana Daily Student but wants to build up the industry in the state before looking into legalizing the drug recreationally. 

Kern has not been able to get in contact McCormick’s campaign so far but hopes he will be able to run on a ticket with her against the Republican nominee in November 2024. Seeing the mostly male Republican primary, outside of lieutenant governor Suzanne Crouch, he thinks McCormick will have a unique edge going into the race. 

“Her leadership as superintendent of public instruction and loving and nurturing our children, was out of this world,” Kern said. “This woman is amazing, and that’s what Indiana needs.” 

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