INDIANAPOLIS (AP): Longtime health care business executive Woody Myers on Wednesday became the presumptive Democratic nominee to challenge Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb as the only other expected candidate dropped out of the race.
Tech business leader Josh Owens announced his endorsement of Myers in a statement as he ended his candidacy two days ahead of Friday’s filing deadline for the May primary.
Holcomb has a big front-runner advantage while he seeks re-election and started this year about $7.25 million his campaign account as he’s leveraged leading a GOP-dominated state without any high-profile Democratic challengers.
Owens said in a statement that he believed Democrats needed to avoid a divisive primary.
“During this primary, I’ve had many discussions with Dr. Woody Myers about the future of Indiana and the desperate need for new leadership in the Governor’s office,” Owens said. “While we have some differences, I’m encouraged that like me, he’s not a career politician. Dr. Myers brings an outsider’s perspective to our politics, which is urgently needed.”
Myers, a physician who was Indiana’s state health commissioner in the 1980s, said he was “honored” by Owens’ decision “so that we can all focus on bringing new leadership to the Governor’s office to create solutions to benefit every Hoosier this November.”
“I look forward to working with him to bring access to affordable health care, high-quality education and good-paying jobs to Hoosiers throughout Indiana,” Myers said in a statement.
Myers gained prominence as state health commissioner by advocating for teenage AIDS patient Ryan White’s right to attend a public school that sought to keep him out due to his illness.
Myers later became New York City health commissioner before holding a string of corporate executive positions, including at Indianapolis-based insurer Wellpoint Inc., Tennessee-based prison medical care provider Corizon Health and health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.
Holcomb’s fundraising has dwarfed that of Myers, Owens and state Sen. Eddie Melton of Gary, who ended his bid for the Democratic nomination in early January.
Myers reported raising $180,000, while Owens raised $84,000 in 2019. Myers promised more aggressive fundraising and announced in January he had hired a top fundraiser for Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s successful 2019 campaign.
Myers spent nearly $1.8 million of his own money on an unsuccessful 2008 Democratic primary bid for an Indianapolis congressional seat, when he finished second to current U.S. Rep. Andre Carson. But Myers has said that he wouldn’t be self-funding his campaign for governor.
Myers will be the first African American on the Democratic or Republican ticket for Indiana governor or lieutenant governor.
Owens, the 34-year-old CEO of Indianapolis-based online retail strategy company SupplyKick, had cast himself as bringing new energy to the campaign with “a bigger, more inclusive vision” for Indiana’s future. He was seeking to become Indiana’s first openly gay nominee for governor.