By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett ended the suspense Wednesday, announcing he will seek a second term in 2019. At the same time, informed and reliable sources tell HPI that Hogsett has said he will not challenge Gov. Eric Holcomb in 2020.

“When I took office nearly three years ago, I pledged to focus on public safety, neighborhoods, and the fiscal stability of our city. And together, we’re making progress on these issues, and many more,” Hogsett said at his campaign kickoff at the Phoenix Theater. “We’re investing in our young people, growing our economy, and Moody’s just announced that they’re upgrading the city’s credit outlook. And I’m proud that we accomplished all of this not through divisiveness but through collaboration. This year, my budget proposal passed not just with bipartisan support but with unanimous support from the City Council. I think together we can achieve even more for Indy -- which is why I’m running for a second term. 

“I’ve never before been more confident that our community is capable and committed to doing just that – moving Indianapolis forward as one city,” Hogsett said. “Tonight I stand before you to announce that I will be honored to work with all of you for another four years, as the mayor of the great city of Indianapolis.” 

State Sen. Jim Merritt is expected to challenge the Democrat Hogsett. “Nearly three years ago, and with great fanfare, Joe Hogsett became Mayor of Indianapolis,” Merritt said. “Since then our City has seen our infrastructure crumble and our neighborhoods shaken by record-setting homicides. Sadly the self-described ‘public safety Mayor’ has been anything but. With today’s seemingly reluctant decision to seek re-election, we look forward to a robust discussion on his record and how new leadership can make our city a safer and a more vibrant place to raise a family and pursue your dreams.” 

Republicans Christopher Moore and John Schmitz have declared, but have little experience. Former councilman Jose Evans and State Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer are mulling a run. In 2015, the former secretary of state defeated obscure Republican Chuck Brewer with 62%, winning 92,521 to 56,320. He ran on a law and order platform, though the city has been plagued by record homicide rates during his term. 

Hamilton launches Bloomington reelection

Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton announced he is running for re-election in 2019 before 100 supporters Tuesday.  (Indiana Public Media). “It’s actually kind of in the middle of the holiday season but I felt it was appropriate to step forward to say I do believe were making very good progress as a community,” Hamilton says. “Very privileged to work with wonderful staff and wonderful community and want to keep that momentum going.”

Turnout was 52% in mid-terms

Secretary of State Connie Lawson announced that 51% or 2,308,258 of Indiana’s 4.5 million registered voters cast a vote in the Nov. 6 General Election. The complete 2018 General Election Turnout and Absentee Chart with voter statistics for each county can be viewed by clicking here. “This is the highest midterm turnout in over two decades,” said Lawson. “The last time we saw a midterm with turnout in the 50s was in 1994.” Early voting popularity continues to soar. In 2014, only 16% of voters cast a ballot early. This year, that number was doubled to 32%. Henry County had the highest turnout in the state at 64%. They were followed by Spencer County at 62%.

Crystal Ball rates Holcomb solid favorite

From today’s Sabato’s Crystal Ball: Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota all decided to vote out their incumbent Democratic senators last month, a sign of how all of these states have become more Republican lately. Each also has an incumbent GOP governor whose ascension to the top job in their respective states was at least a little surprising. In North Dakota, Gov. Doug Burgum (R) came seemingly out of nowhere to overwhelm long-serving state Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem (R) in the 2016 primary and then easily win the general, demonstrating once again the appeal of outsider businessmen in GOP primary politics. In the Hoosier State, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R), a former Indiana Republican Party chairman, began the 2016 cycle trying to win the Republican Senate nomination. His campaign never got much traction and he left the race, but he ended up becoming lieutenant governor under then-Gov. Mike Pence (R) after the previous lieutenant governor resigned. Pence then dropped his bid for a second term when he became Trump’s running mate, and the state party replaced Pence with Holcomb, who then won by half a dozen points in November 2016. And in Missouri, now-former Gov. Eric Greitens (R) resigned under duress earlier this year amidst the fallout of various scandals, putting now-Gov. Mike Parson (R), the separately-elected lieutenant governor, in charge. Ultimately, all three of these governors start as significant favorites, although Parson may have the most to prove given that he was not elected to his current job in his own right.