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Wednesday, October 09, 2019 1:00 am

Gary senator 3rd Democrat to seek gubernatorial bid

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – The Democratic field for governor got a little more crowded Tuesday when Sen. Eddie Melton made his bid official.

Melton, a state senator from Gary, held community meetings over the summer to gauge interest in a run and has officially threw his hat in the ring.

“I have heard directly from Hoosiers across Indiana about how they feel left behind by our state government,” Melton said. “I feel a sense of responsibility to be a voice for those who have felt voiceless and to lead Indiana into a future which creates opportunity for all. I will take the thoughts and dreams shared with me over the years and over the past few months across the state, as I offer myself in service as Indiana's next governor.”

Melton also released a campaign video that highlighted his mom working 12 hours a day to raise two kids and touched on how football and church gave him direction growing up.

“They call me a success story because I made it out – earned a scholarship to college. My story shouldn't be the exception. It should be the norm,” he said. “So I came back home to mentor at-risk kids – to help them figure out a game plan for their future. But to really set them up for success, I knew I had to do more.”

He is the third Democrat to seek the 2020 nomination for governor.

The first was Dr. Woody Myers – a health care consultant and former state health commissioner. Next came tech executive Josh Owens, who is openly gay and married.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb is seeking a second term. He has a decided lead in money and approval rating.

Myers welcomed Melton to the race and said he looks forward to having a conversation on the issues that matter most to Hoosiers.

“The Indiana voters will benefit from hearing real debate on the issues from all three of us,” he said. “I'm looking forward to a competitive and spirited primary focused on Democratic values.”

Melton made his announcement in Gary alongside Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick. She appeared at several public meetings with Melton and many have theorized that she could be his running mate. But no announcement was made Tuesday.

McCormick introduced Melton as a wonderful husband, proud father, great state senator and all-around good man. 

“This is about loyalty to Indiana. This is about loyalty to our voters. This is about loyalty to our kids,” she said, noting Melton showed her how working together in a bipartisan way can help children.

Melton's fourth-grade teacher also spoke; education will be a major theme in his campaign. In the video, Melton highlighted investing in schools and valuing teachers, as well as paying a living wage and access to health care.

Melton was elected in 2016 to the Indiana Senate and is in his first term. Depending on how long his campaign lasts, he likely will have to give up his Senate seat because his term is ending and his name can't appear in two places on the ballot.

He is an executive with NIPSCO and before that was a grant officer for Lake County's community foundation. He also served on the Indiana State Board of Education.

As a senator, Melton serves as the ranking minority member on the Senate Education Committee and in 2017 was appointed deputy chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party. Melton lives with his wife and four children.

nkelly@jg.net