INDIANAPOLIS – In the final days of an unconventional campaign, a doctor and two Navy men are trying to sway voters in debates, with television advertising and small speaking engagements.
But they aren't kissing any babies and handshaking comes with sanitizer.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, 62, started the year as one of the most popular governors in the country and many thought he would have wrapped up the race by now. But then the coronavirus hit, allowing his competitors to gain a bit of traction.
Democrat Dr. Woody Myers, 66, is a former state health commissioner and doesn't think the governor has gone far enough to protect Hoosiers – especially as cases have surged in the state the last few weeks.
And Libertarian Donald Rainwater, 57, thinks the governor went too far and infringed on individual liberties when he shuttered much of the state.
“It is completely different than any campaign that I have ever been around,” Holcomb said. “The events are structured differently.”
And there are fewer campaign events as he has had to focus almost completely on his official duties.
A lifelong Hoosier, Holcomb is a veteran of the U.S. Navy. The governor's office is the first election he ever won – previously being appointed as lieutenant governor. He was also a trusted adviser to former Gov. Mitch Daniels and Sen. Dan Coats, worked for Congressman John Hostettler and is a former state chairman of the Indiana Republican Party.
Holcomb is a history buff who collects presidential signatures and lives with his wife, Janet, and miniature schnauzer, Henry.
Myers is also an Indianapolis native – earning degrees from Stanford and Harvard universities. At age 30, he became the youngest Indiana State Health Commissioner and held his appointment under both Democratic and Republican administrations.
Over his career, Myers served as the medical director for Indiana's largest health care company, and as chief health care officer for Ford Motor Company. He runs a consulting company and lives with his wife Stacy.
Myers didn't say whether the pandemic has helped or hurt his campaign.
“More importantly it has impacted the Hoosier population – almost all negative. The only helpful thing is it highlighted the problems we have not solved yet in our public health infrastructure, schools and economy. Hopefully this will finally allow us to get to solutions.”
Rainwater is an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Navy after growing up in Indianapolis. He spent several years teaching computer courses and working as a manager of several small businesses. He has spent the past 20 years in software engineering, including the past seven in information technology management. He and his wife have a blended family.
“My political philosophies have always been Libertarian but traditionally I've voted more Republican than anything else,” Rainwater said. That switched after becoming frustrated with the GOP supermajorities in the Indiana House and Senate raising taxes and increasing the size of government.
“I decided to get involved and looked around for a party which most closely agreed with my concepts of limited government,” he said.
Holcomb has had a massive fundraising lead the entire race – raising $10.9 million. He has been on television since August with a run of warmhearted ads.
Myers has struggled in fundraising – around $1.2 million for the year. But he loaned his own campaign more than $200,000.
Rainwater has picked up some of the support for those unhappy with Holcomb's actions – raising $200,000 for the year. But almost all of that came in the most recent quarter. And he just went up statewide on television this week. Myers still isn't airing television ads – instead focusing on social media advertising.
Myers has had the lowest profile of the three candidates during the pandemic – having a few in-person press conferences but mostly interacting over Zoom. He has attended a few small events.
Rainwater has gotten out more – including doing meet-and-greets and joining a protest against Holcomb's executive authority.
Holcomb just attended a Lincoln Day dinner this week – fully masked up and with no hugs.
The incumbent governor is still comfortably in the lead according to several recent surveys, including an internal GOP poll. But Rainwater is poised to receive the most votes ever for a Libertarian in a governor's race. In 2016, Libertarian Rex Bell received 3.2% and in 2012 Rupert Boneham received 4%.
The winner receives a four-year term paying more than $120,000.