By Andi TenBarge
Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, formally announced Tuesday that she will be running in Indiana’s 2016 gubernatorial race so she can be “progressive voice” for Hoosiers.
“I don’t think Indiana is as conservative as this legislature would have you think,” Tallian said. “I think that most of Indiana is in the middle of the road and I think our governor is way far out on one side of that road.”
Talking to reporters outside the Statehouse, Tallian wants to see Indiana provide higher paying jobs for more Hoosiers. She also said she believes in equal pay for women.
Tallian was first appointed to the state Senate in 2005 after her predecessor stepped down to become a town clerk-treasurer. Since then, Tallian has been re-elected to the Senate three times, and currently serves as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The announcement makes Tallian the second Democrat to say she’ll seek the Democratic nomination. Former House Speaker John Gregg announced last month he would run in the gubernatorial race for the second time. Gregg first ran against current Gov. Mike Pence in 2012, when Pence narrowly defeated him.
Last month, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said she is also considering a run for the state’s highest office, but hasn’t officially declared her candidacy. House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, also said he has not ruled out the possibility of running for governor.
Hailing from Northwest Indiana, Tallian said she brings a different perspective to the race – particularly to discussions about social issues including urban poverty, diversity, and women’s issues, especially health care coverage and abortion rights.
Tallian is widely known for her stance on decriminalizing marijuana and said she doesn’t see that as a roadblock in the campaign. She said that’s what many people are most interested in talking to her about and polls have found that Hoosiers are increasingly open to the discussion.
Tallian’s announcement comes weeks after a national uproar over the Indiana General Assembly’s passage of a religious freedom law, the repeal of the common construction wage, and a battle over the control of the Indiana State Board of Education. Democrats hope those issues will propel them to victory in a state that leans Republican.
“I don’t think you have to go too far to find a couple issues to run against,” Tallian said.
But she says running for governor was a decision long in the making and she had decided she’d launch a campaign even before the 2015 session.
“It took a couple of years to make this decision but finally I said it’s just time,” Tallian said. “Somebody needs to step up and be a progressive voice in Indiana.”
Andi TenBarge is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students.