By Max Bomber
INDIANAPOLIS – Superintendent Glenda Ritz officially announced her campaign for governor Thursday, saying she’s “the best candidate to beat Mike Pence.”
Glenda Ritz addresses the crowd at Ben Davis High School, just one of her many campaign stops on Thursday, June 4. Photo taken by Keith Kassen.
Ritz – who joined supporters at Ben Davis High School – also answered critics who claim she doesn’t have the background to become the state’s top elected official.
The librarian-turned-state superintendent said education is key to the state’s future, saying “it will drive economic growth for years to come” and “create opportunities for future generations
“As someone who has seen politics drive the creation of an entirely new agency just to take away the authority from the Department of Education, I am well aware of the need to use tax dollars wisely,” Ritz said.
Ritz faces former House Speaker John Gregg and state Sen. Karen Tallian of Portage in the Democratic primary.
If Ritz wins the nomination, she’s likely to face Pence, the incumbent Republican governor who plans to formalize his reelection bid later this month. The two have battled since they were both elected in 2012 and Pence created an agency to take over some school-related responsibilities, a department he later dismantled.
Still, Ritz said her decision to run for governor is “absolutely not” part of a personal battle between her and Pence. But she said the Republican leaders at the Statehouse are “out of touch” and tearing Hoosiers apart.
Ritz also plans to focus on jobs, economic revival and community revitalization. As superintendent of Public Instruction, Ritz oversees the use of $8 billion of state and federal government spending.
Indiana Republican Chairman Jeff Cardwell said Thursday that Ritz “does not have a successful track record of leading those in her own department, let alone managing contracts or implementing effective policies.”
“Hoosiers have time to decide who will be Indiana’s next leader, and I’m confident they will vote to keep our state on the right track of growth, opportunity and fiscal health,” he said in a statement Thursday.
But Ritz said she knows the needs of Hoosiers and is the candidate that is most in touch with the people.
“Yes, she is an educator, but I believe she will be able to meet the needs of all Hoosiers,” said supporter Susie Jackson, who showed up for the announcement wearing a t-shirt that said “Just let me teach” on the front and “Glenda is great” on the back.
Max Bomber is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College students.