Five Of Six Gop Gubernatorial Candidates To Meet Tuesday In Final Debate

As the Republican primary race for Indiana governor enters the home stretch, five of the six GOP gubernatorial candidates will take the stage Tuesday for their final pre-primary debate. This high-stakes event could prove pivotal in swaying undecided voters before they head to the polls.

The debate, hosted by the Indiana Debate Commission, will feature:

  • Dr. Woody Myers, former State Health Commissioner
  • Eric Doden, former Indiana Economic Development Corporation president
  • Fort Wayne businessman Eric Halcomb
  • U.S. Sen. Mike Braun (pending his attendance after Senate voting)
  • Former U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth

Conspicuously absent will be Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, who declined the commission’s invitation citing a previously scheduled campaign event.

Who’s Showing Up (And Who’s Not)

The five participating candidates represent a wide range of backgrounds and positions:

  • Dr. Woody Myers – The most progressive candidate has made healthcare access and investments in education his top priorities.
  • Eric Doden – A fiscal conservative, Doden wants to cut business taxes and regulations to spur job growth.
  • Eric Halcomb – A political outsider, Halcomb has campaigned against the “Indianapolis elite” and promised sweeping ethics reforms.
  • Sen. Mike Braun – The wealthy auto dealer-turned-politician has touted his business bona fides and championed “America First” policies.
  • Trey Hollingsworth – The young, wealthy former congressman has branded himself as a fresh conservative voice for a new generation.

While Lt. Gov. Crouch’s absence draws criticism from opponents who view it as ducking accountability, her campaign defended the move as honoring a long-standing commitment.

What to Watch For – The Stakes & Clashing Viewpoints

With early voting already underway and election day less than a month away, this debate could be a make-or-break moment for candidates looking to break through a crowded field. Here’s a glimpse at some of the likely friction points:

Tax Social
CandidateCuts Issues Ethics Experience
Myers ✘ ✔ ✔ ✔ 
Doden ✔ ✘ ?✔ 
Halcomb ✔ ✘ ✔ ✘ 
Braun ✔ ✘ ?✔ 
Hollingsworth ✔ ✘ ?✔ 

Observers expect clashing viewpoints over hot-button issues like taxation, abortion, and ethics reform to produce heated moments and potential for drawn daggers between candidates jockeying for momentum.

Can Anyone Catch the Front-Runner?

While opinion polls show a tight race, most have Dr. Woody Myers narrowly leading thanks to his decades of experience and focus on broadly popular policies like improving education and healthcare access. However, candidates like Braun and Hollingsworth have the resources to bludgeon him in ad blitzes painting him as too liberal for conservative Indiana.

“Myers has run a smart, disciplined campaign, but the guns are aimed squarely at him now. This debate could expose his vulnerabilities in a way millions of Hoosier viewers can see for themselves,” said Brian Howey, publisher of the nonpartisan Indiana Capital Chronicle.

With the front-runner label also comes heightened scrutiny. Rivals will likely try to rattle Myers and land damaging blows that could shake up the race’s dynamics. Authoritative poll data and analysis source

Wildcard Factors That Could Shake Up the Race

While political theatre like awkward gaffes or fiery personal attacks often generate heat rather than light, they can still go viral and sway large voting blocs reacting emotionally rather than on substantive issues.

“In this circus-like atmosphere, you can’t rule out an ‘April Surprise’ that could turn the whole race upside down,” said Indianapolis-based political strategist Amanda Gunch. “All it takes is one inadvertent hot mic moment or meme-worthy implosion to instantly reshape the narrative.”

From veering wildly off-script to leveraging last-minute opposition research, anything seems possible as candidates make their final pitches to convention delegates and voters statewide.

How to Watch & What Happens Next

The gubernatorial debate will be held Tuesday at 7:PM ET at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. It will be broadcast live statewide on the following channels:

  • WPTA Fort Wayne (ABC)
  • WXIN Indianapolis (FOX)
  • WVUT Vincennes (PBS)

Audience members must be seated by 6:45 PM. Weapons, signs and other campaign “paraphernalia” aren’t permitted at the venue, the commission said.

Major underwriters for the debate are AARP Indiana and the Indiana Broadcasters Association, according to the commission.

After the debate, candidates will make their final pushes ahead of the May 3rd Republican primary. The commission said if voting concludes early enough Braun could potentially still make it to the 7 pm. event from Washington D.C.

The Republican primary victor will face Democrat Woody Myers and Libertarian nominee Donald Rainwater in November’s general election on November 5: including for governor and U.S. Senator.

In conclusion, this eagerly anticipated debate holds the potential to solidify or scramble the Republican gubernatorial primary landscape just days before voting begins. With contrasting visions for Indiana’s future, the five candidates will have one final chance to make their cases directly to Hoosier voters hungry for substantive solutions.

While front-runner Myers aims to maintain his polling lead, underdog challengers will be swinging for the fences, hoping a strong performance or damaging exchange could turn the tide. No matter the outcome, the debate promises to be a gripping preview of the robust political discourse Hoosiers can expect through the general election on November 5.

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