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Campaign finance reports have big bucks for Republican gubernatorial primary candidates

Gubernatorial primary candidates, specifically Republicans, raised millions of dollars in the race to succeed Gov. Eric Holcomb.
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Gubernatorial primary candidates, specifically Republicans, raised millions of dollars in the race to succeed Gov. Eric Holcomb.

The slew of candidates campaigning for governor raised a combined $12.5 million in the most expensive and competitive Republican gubernatorial primary in the state’s recent history — all according to the most recent campaign finance reports released Wednesday by the Secretary of State’s office.

Fundraising was far more sluggish in the race for attorney general and lieutenant governor, which don’t have public primaries. The reports cover the second half of 2023 and were due Wednesday at noon.

Leading GOP gubernatorial fundraiser Brad Chambers reported $8.3 million in donations but the bulk of that funding included a $5 million personal loan from the wealthy entrepreneur.

“I entered this race clear-eyed about the challenges ahead in a field full of career politicians … We’re just getting started, and I’ve never been more energized to spring through the finish line and bring opportunity and prosperity to Hoosiers across the state,” Chambers said in a statement.

Even without the $5 million loan, Chambers raised the most with $3.3 million. Reports filed with the Secretary of State’s Office show U.S. Sen. Mike Braun raised $2.1 million, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch raised $1.3 million, Fort Wayne businessman Eric Doden raised $398,000 and former Attorney General Curtis Hill raised $374,000.

Chambers’ campaign was the only one to report any debts, which is the $5 million loan from himself

Report details for gubernatorial candidates

The filings detail contributions, expenditures and the amount of cash each candidate has on hand — or how much the individual’s campaign committee has left to spend.

While raising the most, Chambers also spent the most at $5.4 million, followed by Braun’s $2.7 million.

“Being a conservative entrepreneur, not a politician, I’m humbled by the support from every corner of Indiana,” Braun said in a statement. “Our campaign’s remarkable fundraising success, achieved without dipping into my own pocket, underscores Hoosiers’ belief in our mission.”

Multimillionaire Braun reported $99,000 in donations from political action committees (PACs), $125,000 from corporations and $375,000 from other organizations. Chambers reported $53,000 from PACs and $30,000 from corporations but $313,000 from other organizations.

From corporations, Crouch received $65,000 in addition to $54,000 from PACs and $353,000 from other organizations. Corporations gave Doden $24,000 while other organizations gave $141,000. Hill got $10,000 from corporations and $63,000 from other organizations.

“… Our campaign is fueled by Hoosiers and small dollar donors, not lobbyists or special interest groups,” Hill said in a statement to the Indiana Capital Chronicle. “We are feeling the momentum as everyday Hoosiers coalesce behind our proven track record.”

Doden spent the second-most in this reporting cycle at $3.1 million while Crouch spent $1.4 million and Hill spent $270,000.

Doden’s campaign highlighted his total contributions over the last year in a Wednesday release, or $5.5 million since he entered the race just weeks after the 2022 elections. But his fundraising has slowed as more people got in the race.

“Eric Doden has gone from unknown to top tier candidate in the race for governor by raising more than $5.5 million, offering the most robust policy proposals, and establishing himself as the only candidate with a plan to save our small towns, rural communities, and regional cities,” campaign manager Brian Gamache said in a statement.

While Chambers led by a wide margin in terms of fundraising, he ranked behind others when it came to the amount of cash on hand. Braun reported having the most money left, with just over $4 million, followed closely by Crouch, who had $3.8 million. Chambers’ $2.9 million still outpaced Doden and Hill, who reported $1 million and $123,000, respectively.

But Chambers is also the only candidate who has never run for election before and he jumped into the race in August after the last filing deadline, meaning his campaign coffers started at zero.

Comparatively, here’s where his competitors stood in July:

  • Braun with $4.6 million
  • Crouch with $3.9 million
  • Doden with $3.8 million
  • Hill with $19,000

In a release, Crouch reiterated her promise to cut the state’s income tax to zero while highlighting the slew of endorsements she’d received from local and county office holders.

“Our campaign has the boldest ideas, the most miles traveled and clearly will have the necessary resources to fight all the way through to the primary election,” Crouch said in a statement.

Other gubernatorial candidates

The report for underdog candidate Jamie Reitenour, a Republican, was posted on the Secretary of State’s website on Wednesday later than the others and paled in comparison to other Republicans.

According to the 2023 report, Reitenour started with $5,000, raised $24,000 and spent $14,000 with nearly $15,000 left to spend.

The eventual Republican nominee won’t be the only contender on the November ballot for governor and will have to weather a challenge from both a Democrat and a Libertarian to win the office.

For the second half of 2023, Democrat Jennifer McCormick reported starting with $168,000 and raising $150,000 in contributions. The former Superintendent of Public Instruction — and former Republican — spent just under $117,000 and ended the year with over $201,000 in the bank.

Mainstream party candidates, including McCormick and all of the Republicans, need to gather 4,500 signatures to appear on the ballot, including 500 signatures from each of Indiana’s nine congressional districts.

Libertarian Donald Rainwater made state history when he won 11.4% of the vote in 2020 as a third-party candidate, and reported starting with $12,000 cash. He raised nearly $3,000 and spent nearly $2,000, ending with just over $13,000. Libertarians nominate their party contender for governor through the convention process.

Other races on the 2024 ballot

In the other races reporting their campaign finances to the Secretary of State’s office on Wednesday, none have primaries. Both Republicans and Democrats nominate their candidates for attorney general and lieutenant governor in a summer convention.

That hasn’t stopped conservative Noblesville pastor Micah Beckwith from fundraising as lieutenant governor.

He started the second half of 2023 with $17,000, collected nearly $66,000 in contributions and spent $49,000 — leaving him with $33,000 in 2024.

In order to fundraise, candidates create a campaign finance committee with the Secretary of State’s office but contenders file to run in their state conventions with their respective parties.

Incumbent Attorney General Todd Rokita defeated Hill in a 2020 convention upset, following Hill’s license suspension after the disciplinary commission ruled he had committed battery. Rokita faces his own challenges with the disciplinary commission following inflammatory comments about an Indianapolis doctor who provided an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim.

Rokita, who has held several political offices, started the reporting cycle with $893,000 cash and reported nearly $350,000 in campaign contributions. After spending $161,000, he has more than $1 million in cash on hand.

Two Democrats have announced their intention to run for attorney general: Destiny Wells, who lost to Diego Morales in the 2022 Secretary of State election, and Beth White.

Wells reported starting with zero dollars but raised just under $69,000, spent $14,000 and has $55,000 left.

White doesn’t have a campaign finance committee on the Secretary of State’s website.