INDIANAPOLIS – Dr. Woody Myers, a former state health commissioner and congressional candidate, is done thinking about it. He's running for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2020.
“I think it's time for a change. It's been 15 years of one-party rule,” he said in an exclusive interview with The Journal Gazette. “It's time for an overhaul in the leadership of our state and time for new ideas to be given a shot. What we're doing now isn't working like it should.”
At least two others are contemplating a run – Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, and Rep. Karlee Macer, D-Indianapolis.
Myers, 65, said he has been looking for another opportunity to serve since he came in second in the 2008 primary for the nomination in the 7th District congressional race.
“I could never get it out of my system. I knew that I had something to offer. I knew that I wanted to give voters the chance to hire me to help fix things that needed to be fixed,” he said of jumping in the governor's race. “I look at this as a challenge, as an opportunity.”
Though a Democrat, Myers was tapped by Republican Gov. Robert Orr as state health commissioner in 1985, and Myers made national headlines defending young AIDS victim Ryan White of Kokomo. Democratic Gov. Evan Bayh retained Myers when he took over in 1989.
Through his health care consulting company, Myers Ventures LLC, he has also served as chief medical officer and chief health care strategist for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, as CEO of Corizon Health and as a board member and consultant for multiple hospitals, health care firms and provider organizations. He also was New York City health commissioner during the height of the AIDS epidemic.
In addition, Myers has spent time teaching medicine, including emergency medicine at Wishard Hospital (now Eskenazi Hospital) in Indianapolis.
He hopes to face Gov. Eric Holcomb next year. He is making his reelection bid official Saturday.
Myers thinks Holcomb – who ran a 100-day campaign for governor in 2016 after then-Gov. Mike Pence decided to run for vice president – has had difficulty with his own party. Myers said the GOP majorities in the House and Senate “are driving him more than he is driving them” and collaboration and cooperation haven't happened as expected.
Myers listed health care and education as two top issues. He said the entire educational funding system needs to be overhauled. One priority would be reviewing the roles of state versus local in education policy and making sure money goes more directly to teacher pay.
On health care, he thinks more can be done to lower costs and increase access. He does not, however, support the Medicare-for-all approach that many national Democrats espouse. Myers said Medicare should be expanded, along with Medicaid and private insurance.
“I think we have to expand all the various options until we get to 100% coverage,” he said, adding that prevention needs to be more aggressively pushed.
In 2008, Myers put more than $1 million of his own money into the campaign – something he said was necessary because of the short time between a March special election to fill the seat when Julia Carson died and a May primary.
But he said he is not going to do that this time. Instead, he will start working immediately on fundraising. His initial goal is raising $15 million, with an eye toward $20 million.
“I'm going to do my best to convince the people in the state and the people I have known for years and years to invest in this campaign,” Myers said.
Myers, who received his medical degree from Harvard and master's degree in business administration from Stanford, said he is running to make things better for his two grandchildren.