By Lacey Watt
INDIANAPOLIS — Gary Sen. Eddie Melton is the first Democrat to announce that he’s seeking his party’s nomination to challenge Gov. Eric Holcomb in 2020.
Melton is expected to announce his foray into the race in his hometown before a group of teachers, parents and others in the community on Tuesday with a focus on education funding, healthcare and good paying jobs.
Sen. Eddie Melton, pictured earlier this year, is running for the Democratic nomination for governor. Photo by Eddie Drews, TheStatehouseFile.com
Melton, currently in his first term as senator, is also manager of Corporate Citizen and Community Relations for Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO).
One of the keys issues Melton focused on during the 2019 session was a gambling bill, House Enrolled Act 1015, that allows sports wagering but could change the gaming landscape in the Gary region.
The legislation allows two Gary casinos to moveinland from where they currently sit in Buffington Harbor to a new site near Interstate 94. It also approves a new casino for Terre Haute and legalizes sports betting for ages 21 and up, including via mobile devices so long as they register with one of the state’s casinos.
Melton has support the gambling bill with expectations that it will bring job opportunities to his community. And, in a news release, he said the legislation was passed in anticipation of a gambling expansion in neighboring Illinois.
“There is obviously a significant potential impact on the city of Gary,” Melton said. “We believe both these endeavors will do much to strengthen our regional casino value as well as protect, and even grow Hoosier jobs.”
Education has been another area where Melton has focused his energies, criticizing the governor’s new committee examining teacher pay issues for meeting in secret.
“While I understand this commission, by law, does not need to meet under the public’s purview, it does not seem a smart idea to make decisions or even brainstorm a topic as important as how to raise teacher pay behind closed doors,” he said in a statement.
In his community, Melton has been involved with programs for youth mentoring since 2005. For one of his more recent projects, Melton worked on “My Brother’s Keeper,” with former President Barack Obama. “My Brother’s Keeper” is a program that addresses opportunity gaps for boys and young men of color and help ensure their optional is reached.
Phil Johnson, communications director for the state Democratic Party said that Rep. Karlee Macer, D-Indianapolis, and former state health commissioner Woody Myers are also considering running for governor in 2020.
Currently, there are no Republicans running against Holcomb in the 2020 primary, said Holly Lawson, press secretary of the communications for the state Republican Party.
Holcomb is finishing his first full term as governor.
Lacey Watt is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.