[Editor's note: The Statehouse File's Lacey Watt also contributed to this story.]
State Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, announced the formation of a gubernatorial exploratory committee on Tuesday, June 4 at the Gary Teachers Union. The first-term legislator also announced a statewide listening tour at the event.
Melton represents the 3rd District in the Indiana General Assembly. His resume includes positions at the Legacy Foundation, State Board of Education, and President Barack Obama’s “My Brothers Keeper Initiative.”
He serves as the Ranking Minority Member on the Senate Education and Career Development Committee and in 2017 was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party. He is also manager of Corporate Citizen and Community Relations for Northern Indiana Public Service Company.
Melton is 38 years old, and is married to his wife, Crystal. They have four children.
During the most recent legislative session, Melton introduced a bill that would address teacher compensation.
Also during the 2019 session, Melton authored 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 move inland 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.
In response to Melton's announcement, Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer scoffed at his criticism of the administration of Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.
“As Eddie Melton explores a potential campaign for governor he will keep hearing the same refrain: Governor Eric Holcomb is one of the nation’s most popular governors,” stated Hupfer. “That’s because Governor Holcomb is delivering real results for Hoosiers in every corner of the state, including, as Senator Melton knows well, in his own hometown of Gary. No town, city, county or region of Indiana is forgotten as Governor Holcomb leads Indiana to record job commitments, record infrastructure investments and new opportunities for all Hoosiers to build their skills and their careers. It’s happening everywhere, and Governor Holcomb is leading the charge.”
Holcomb ended 2018 with $4 million cash-on-hand, a number that exceeds the cash-on-hand totals of all previous governors at the conclusion of their second year in office.
Holcomb's campaign war chest will come in handy as the governor, currently unopposed, eyes a potential run for a second term in 2020.
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.