Republican Candidate Eric Doden discusses campaign for Indiana Governor

It’s Eric Doden’s first time running for statewide office. But it’s not his first time crossing all 92 Indiana counties to meet with Hoosiers. 

In 2013, then-Governor Mike Pence appointed Doden as President of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation to help spearhead the Regional Cities Initiative. The program pumped millions into local communities building regional partnerships to attract businesses and workers. The position sent Doden across Indiana to evaluate economic proposals, and the RCI now serves as a blueprint for one of Doden’s campaign platforms.  

“We can't be a place where just one, or two, or three or four of our communities are thriving. we have to be a place where all 92 counties are thriving,” Doden said. 

Doden was the first candidate to enter his name into the 2024 Indiana gubernatorial race. His current opposition consists of Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, and US Sen. Mike Braun. 

In a one-on-one interview with ABC57 News, Doden said the number one priority for Indiana should be attracting and retaining workforce talent.  

“We know the statistics, that half of our counties are losing population in real terms,” Doden said. “And that makes it difficult to grow your economy when that's occurring."

Doden's campaign calls for "Regional Cities 2.0"; a rebirth of the RCI that would dedicate $200 million annually to help build regional partnerships between Hoosier communities. His "Indiana Main Street Initiative" would commit $100 million a year to help rebuild downtowns in rural communities.

"We have a lot of older factories that have been left in disrepair. The factories have moved on. we have different things that need to be fixed and corrected," Doden said.

The Fort Wayne businessman also wants public school teachers to be exempt from state income tax, waive the cost of adoption, and make changes to improve transparency in healthcare.

"We have been a place that has jobs, and we want to continue to have a jobs strategy, but we also have to be a place where we can attract and retain our talent. Specifically, our kids and grandkids," Doden said.

Following Gov. Eric Holcomb's State of the State address, Chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party Mike Schmuhl released a statement blaming much of the challenges facing shrinking communities on the Republican leadership in Indiana.

"Our state faces a poor quality-of-life assessment, a worsening brain drain crisis, an inadequate education system, and dismal maternal mortality rates and pollution ratings - and it all falls on Republicans’ shoulders," Schmuhl wrote in part.

Doden says he feels "called" to serve.

Gov. Holcomb is term limited from running again. ABC57 is reaching out to all of the Indiana gubernatorial candidates for one-on-one interviews.

Watch ABC57's full interview with Eric Doden here: 

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