State Sen. Eddie Melton and Supt. Jennifer McCormick during their education town halls last summer.
State Sen. Eddie Melton and Supt. Jennifer McCormick during their education town halls last summer.

INDIANAPOLIS - By the time the Indiana General Assembly gaveled in on Monday, the obvious set in on State Sen. Eddie Melton's nascent and under-funded Democratic gubernatorial campaign: the prohibition on legislator money-raising would doom the effort.

After sunset, the Gary Democrat pulled out of the race, leaving Dr. Woody Myers and gay businessman Josh Owens in the primary race for the nomination to challenge Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb. 

"Over the past six months, I have had the privilege of traveling our state and engaging with thousands of Hoosiers, hearing their concerns about educational funding, economic mobility, draconian laws oppressing women’s ability to make their own health care decisions, and failure to honor our Veterans' sacrifices," Melton said in a statement. "As I look to address this issue and the many other challenges we as a state face, I know that my time and energy will be best spent fully engaged in the upcoming 2020 legislative session. So, with renewed commitment, I have chosen to devote my full time and energy to our fight in the Capitol and announce my withdrawal from the gubernatorial campaign."

Melton had filed his candidate statement of organization on Oct. 4, 2019, but had not posted any donations over $10,000. The most conspicuous part of his candidacy was a series of town halls with Republican Supt. Jennifer McCormick last summer. The pair flirted with the notion of forming a bipartisan ticket, a curious turn of events for McCormick, who had announced she had grown tired of politics.

The stark reality facing Melton, who would have to give up his Senate seat, is his money problem. With Gov. Holcomb and Republicans reporting more than $8 million, and Myers' and Owens' potential ability to self-fund, Melton's inability to raise funds until sine die in mid-March rendered his campaign moot.

Myers said, “Sen. Melton is a talented public servant who has served the citizens of his district and the State of Indiana with distinction in the Indiana Senate. Even though he is no longer running for governor, I know he has a long and bright future focused on making Indiana better for Hoosiers. I thank him for his continued service in the Indiana Senate and look forward to his counsel and advice as my campaign continues.” 

Owens reacted, saying, "I have a great deal of respect for Sen. Melton and really enjoyed getting to know him as we traveled the state these last few months. I know he will continue to be a tireless advocate for public school teachers and all Hoosiers in this legislative session."

Gov. Holcomb also weighed in, with Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer saying, "Indiana is on a roll and Gov. Holcomb’s record of Putting People First is improving the lives of Hoosiers in all corners of the state. As I have said before, when these potential candidates travel the state they will hear the same thing from Hoosiers in communities large and small: They like the direction of the state and look forward to four more years of leadership from Governor Holcomb.”