IN Focus: Bipartisan alliances forming in race for governor, race for mayor?

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INDIANAPOLIS – An unusual partnership is creating buzz around the race for governor in 2020.

The newest candidate to enter the race, State Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Gary), appears to be getting support from a key Republican.

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick attended Melton’s announcement to run for governor and introduced him at the event.

“It is very unusual,” said University of Indianapolis political science professor Laura Wilson.

She said if McCormick decides to be Senator Melton’s running mate, it could be advantageous for Melton's campaign.

“Having someone like Jennifer McCormick there could appeal to those Republican, maybe more moderate slightly conservative voters who like her, they like what she stands for and see him as an attractive candidate,” said Wilson.

Melton is one of three Democrats looking to run against incumbent Governor Holcomb in 2020. His opponents include former state health commissioner Dr. Woody Myers and businessman Josh Owens. Senator Melton said if elected, he will focus on expanding economic growth and opportunity, healthcare and education. Melton also expressed interest in legalizing marijuana, raising the minimum wage, and making college more affordable.

We asked him if McCormick will join his ticket.

“It’s too soon to make a determination on where we will go, but I will know this, that she and I will continue to work together in a bipartisan fashion,” said Melton.

Wilson said voters will let us know if that is a smart move for Melton.

“I think when you look at Hoosier voters, there is a concern about this lack of bipartisanship and how it feels like we have a lot of legislative gridlock,” said Wilson.

We asked Governor Holcomb about the possibility of McCormick joining his opponent.

"Her decisions are her decision alone. I'm going to continue to do my job," said Holcomb. "We are going to continue to enact good policy. We'll see how they do in their intramural competition. They have a long way to go until next May. "

Another potential bipartisan alliance made headlines this past week in the Indianapolis mayoral race, as State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) announced he would select Democrat Bill Benjamin as police chief if elected mayor next month.

“There can be no question that Chief Benjamin is the right man which is why I will reach across the aisle to seek his leadership,” said Merritt.

Benjamin said he was honored by Merritt’s offer and that he would, “pray on it,” before issuing his public response next Tuesday.

Merritt’s invitation to Benjamin would indicate that, if elected, he would not keep current IMPD Chief Bryan Roach at the head of the department.

Mayor Joe Hogsett named Roach as chief at the end of his first year as mayor.

“Chief Bryan Roach has decades of experience within IMPD,” read a statement issued by the Hogsett campaign. “The data shows that we are making encouraging progress over the last two years. Mayor Hogsett continues to believe there is no better person to lead our police force.”

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