State Superintendent Glenda Ritz says the legislature changed her mind, and she is now considering a run for governor next year.
“After this session, there is absolutely nothing off the table,” Ritz said when asked by the Indianapolis Star‘s Tom Lobianco whether she would run for the Democratic nomination in 2016. Ritz has repeatedly said in the past that she would seek re-election to the superintendent‘s office, as her name has often been mentioned as a possible challenger for Governor Pence. When I asked when she changed her mind, Ritz reiterated that this year‘s session was her breaking point. “It‘s caused me to have pause and to actually look at how I might want to reframe what I do to move education forward.” Ritz says she will discuss a run with her family before making a final decision by June.
Before saying a run for governor was a possibility, Ritz again complained about what she believes are efforts to reduce the power of her office and that of her Department of Education, efforts she says began soon after she upset Tony Bennett in the November 2012 election, the same election that put Pence in the governor‘s office. “Despite what he claims, Governor Pence‘s only education agenda is preventing me from doing the job that voters elected me to do,” Ritz said. “The governor has brought his Washington-style of politics to Indiana to accomplish his agenda.”
This year, the legislature passed a bill (SB 1) that initially sought to remove Ritz as chair of the State Board of Education – Indiana is one of two states where the elected superintendent automatically chairs the board. While the bill was amended to delay having the board elect its own chair until after the next election, it did create a vice-chair position and also reduced some of Ritz‘s authority over the agendas of board meetings.
Another measure that was eventually abandoned was language in the state budget that would have shifted rulemaking for the state‘s school voucher program from Ritz‘s office to the State Board. Ritz was originally a plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the legality of the voucher program before she was elected – the state Supreme Court eventually ruled the program was legal. Some conservatives don‘t trust her to operate the program effectively. The planned shift was removed from the budget before lawmakers passed it, despite Pence‘s support of the change. “In the last few days, the governor has made it a priority to bring back language in bills that had already been voted down. He has ignored his fellow Hoosiers and worked to centralize control of education in one unelected and politically-appointed board,” Ritz said.
No other Democrats have formally announced a run for governor. John Gregg, the 2012 nominee who narrowly lost to Pence, Tweeted Wednesday night that he would “have some news to share” on Thursday. Other Democrats believed to be considering a run include former Congressman Baron Hill and House Minority Leader Scott Pelath. Pence is almost assuredly running for re-election.