Another Kernan surprise
Gov. Joe Kernan has done it again. Another big surprise.
A month after nominating Kathy Davis to be the first female lieutenant governor in Indiana, Kernan did a 180 and decided that he will be a candidate for governor next year. It wasn’t always thus.
When Kernan was the late Gov. Frank O’Bannon’s lieutenant governor and once automatic heir apparent, he dropped a bombshell by announcing that he had decided not to run, possibly to return to private life in South Bend. That hurt or disappointed many Democrats throughout the state because they were looking to him as a gifted, confident and inspiring standard-bearer.
Even after O’Bannon’s shocking death from a stroke in September, when Kernan succeeded him as governor, he said he had not changed his mind. But then a crack appeared when Kernan’s wife, Maggie, said she had urged him to keep his options open. Last Thursday, after talking with his wife and consulting many friends and supporters, Kernan announced he didn’t want to watch things happen on the sidelines; he would indeed be a candidate for governor. This spells the end of the Joe Andrew and Vi Simpson campaigns. They are two extremely capable Democrat leaders with much to offer, and they’re expecrted to throw their support to Kernan and Davis.
Kernan’s announcement was no doubt bad news in the camp of Republican favorite Mitch Daniels, a bright and engaging fellow who left the Bush White House early to come back to Indiana to run for governor.
Kernan is also a very bright fellow who can hold his own in a debate. He is a marvelous public speaker and has a wonderful wit. It will be interesting to see the two (think Notre Dame vs. Princeton) square off in debates about the economy.
Kernan, the former mayor of South Bend, is presently doing everything he can to help Indiana fight its way out of the endless national recession that came with the Bush administration, and Daniels was the White House director of management and budget at a time when the federal budget deficit became astronomical. Daniels has a lot of explaining to do.
Former state Democrat Party chief Robin Winston said Kernan’s change of heart is a ‘tremendous momentum boost for the Democratic Party. It’s fantastic. It’s Christmas early.’
‘This is a great day for all Hoosiers,’ said present Democratic Party Chair Joe Hogsett.
Kernan indicated some of his priorities in a statement Thursday: ‘I look forward to talking to Hoosiers across this state about providing our children with quality health care and education, creating good paying jobs, making sure seniors and people with disabilities have the independence and support they deserve, and protecting the safety of citizens from threats wherever they may originate.’