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Watch/Listen/Read: The final 2024 GOP Indiana Gubernatorial Debate

(Photo supplied/Indiana Debate Commission)

Issues in the past, present, and future were discussed by Republican candidates trying to become Indiana’s next Governor during a debate Tuesday night at Hine Hall Auditorium on the IUPUI campus.

The debate was moderated by Jon Schwantes, host of PBS’s “Indiana Lawmakers” and organized by the Indiana Debate Commission. Indiana Republican Senator Mike Braun was in Washington DC for a vote, so he did not participate.

DEBATE VIDEO BELOW / DEBATE AUDIO BELOW

The five other GOP candidates were there.

-Brad Chambers, a real-estate businessman and former head of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation under Governor Eric Holcomb

-Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch

-Eric Doden, founder of a private equity firm and former head of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation under Governor Mike Pence

-Curtis Hill, former Indiana Attorney General

-Jamie Reitenour, a former compliance officer who is now a stay-at-home mother of five

Government efficiency

Schwantes asked all candidates what they would do to make state government more efficient and if there would be any agencies they would eliminate.

“We want to remove rules and regulations that add to the cost of doing business and don’t make sense. We want to have outside, independent audits so we can determine how to do a better job,” said Crouch.

Reitenour said she is a person of the people and would do all she can to eliminate wasteful spending. She also says she would de-centralize diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Hill took it a step further.

“We need to eliminate diversity, equity, and inclusion in our state government. Diversity is a wonderful thing, but not at the cost of excellence. Inclusion is a wonderful thing, but not at the cost of competence. Equity is a wonderful thing, but not at the cost of fairness.

“You need a CEO in this state. We need someone to run things like a business, to shrink government, to get regulation out of people’s lives. That’s going to take someone from outside government. It’s not going to take a legislator to do that,” said Chambers, who says he is a self-made businessman, conservative and political outsider.

Doden says he has a team of experts that have already looked at where things go to waste.

“Our experts suggest that there’s about 15% of waste right now that we can get out of the system. That’s going to be the focus of my administration. That’s bringing the most talented people to bear to make sure these agencies serve the people of Indiana,” said Doden.

The role of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation

“The IEDC was, under our leadership, a place where businesses that could come from all over the state to deal with the bureaucracy of government. That is the role the IEDC will play with my leadership,” said Doden.

Chambers says Doden only focused on bigger cities in Indiana when he worked with the IEDC. He claims his work with the IEDC speaks for itself.

“Wages in Indiana are below U.S. average. That’s unacceptable to me. We went out and solved that bringing in $51 billion worth of high wage jobs transforming communities from all over the state from Kokomo to St. Joseph County to Allen County to Vigo County,” said Chambers.

Hill says the IEDC is a “shadow government” and is not transparent.

“We will empower our local and regional economic development organizations so we can have true collaboration and partnership. That’s how we’re able to grow our economy,” said Crouch.

Reitenour said there are many vacant buildings in Indiana that we can “occupy.”

“There are many Hoosiers losing their land because the IEDC came in and courted them for pricing that was way above the value of the land, which makes it hard for people to compete with that land. We can expand and rebuild, but also save taxpayer money,” said Reitenour.

Education in Indiana

All five candidates in attendance expressed concern over test scores among Hoosier children. Doden says Indiana also has a teacher crisis. He says he’ll institute a teacher investment program.

“They are income and property tax free. It’s about a $5,000 pay raise for the average teacher,” said Doden.

Crouch says she wants to create a lifetime education system focused on reading, writing, arithmetic, and reason.

“We will teach our children how to think, not what to think,” said Crouch.

Chambers said too many children are having trouble passing iLearn tests, but also emphasized the need for education to be “individualized to the kid” because “kids learn differently today than they did 20 or 30 years ago.”

Reitenour emphasized the need for teaching kids more of a trade to build their skills. She also mentioned bringing in experts from the private sector to teach kids about technology that’s advanced, like artificial intelligence.

Hill says too many schools are failing and he wants Indiana’s government to not rely too much on federal money and “entanglements.”

2020 Presidential Election

Schwantes asked all candidates if they thought the 2020 Presidential election was stolen. None of them said it was stolen, but Reitenour and Hill said it’s not that simple.

“That’s not a yes or no question,” said Hill.

“That’s funny because I asked it as a yes or no question,” said Schwantes.

“What happened in the 2020 election that everybody should agree on is that it wasn’t properly adjudicated, so they should have spent more time investigating that election and it was not investigated. That’s an unfair question,” said Reitenour.

Since Braun already has former President Donald Trump’s endorsement as Governor, Schwantes also asked the candidates if they would have welcomed Trump’s endorsement as Governor. They all raised their hands indicating that yes they would have.

“Why wouldn’t we? Maybe that’s a better question. It seems like you’re really trying to set us up and cause division in our party and we don’t appreciate it,” said Reitenour.

The primary is May 7.

Former Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick is running as a Democrat.

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