Indiana governor attacked from both sides over coronavirus actions

AP FILE - In this Thursday, April 30, 2020 file photo, Gov. Eric Holcomb wears a mask in Kokomo, Ind.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb has huge campaign fundraising and organization advantages over Democrat Woody Myers and Libertarian Donald Rainwater that he’s built leading the Republican-dominated state government without a well-known election foe.

Posted: Oct 17, 2020 8:23 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb hears lots of criticism over how he’s led Indiana during the coronavirus pandemic over the past seven months.

The two challengers to Holcomb’s reelection bid split on whether he’s been too passive in attacking the virus spread or that he’s trampled people’s rights with the statewide stay-at-home order early in the outbreak and the mask mandate first issued in July.

Holcomb has huge campaign fundraising and organization advantages over Democrat Woody Myers and Libertarian Donald Rainwater that he’s built leading the Republican-dominated state government without a well-known election foe.

While Indiana has seen recent sharp increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations and new infections, Holcomb’s message has gone between chastising those who resist wearing masks and touting his actions.

When asked recently what he would have done differently in responding to the pandemic, Holcomb replied: “I don’t say this arrogantly, but not too much.”

“Our economy is open. So, it’s really balancing the lives and the livelihoods,” Holcomb told WXIN-TV.

Some conservatives around the state are angry with Holcomb deciding which businesses were nonessential and forced to close during the early weeks of the pandemic, which many maintain shut down many small businesses while large national retailers stayed open and busy with customers.

Rainwater is appealing to those voters with a message that “all Hoosiers are essential” as he flatly opposes the mask requirement and pledges to undo Holcomb’s executive orders.

Myers, a physician and former state health commissioner, maintains Holcomb should reinstate capacity limits in bars and restaurants and lower the maximum crowd sizes — especially as Indiana’s COVID-19 hospitalizations have reached levels last reached in May — heading into the influenza season.

Myers said the mask mandate should be altered so that violators could face fines as a way for spurring “hardheaded Hoosiers” resisting their use into understanding their importance.

“Instead of swift action, we’re seeing a governor frozen in the intensifying spotlight choosing the politically convenient path of doing nothing,” Myers said. “It is clear to me that Indiana is now losing the battle against COVID-19.”

Myers, a 66-year-old with degrees from Stanford and Harvard, is the first Black person to be a major party nominee for Indiana governor.

He’s talked about his experiences having a gun pulled on him while growing up in Indianapolis and facing racial discrimination as a medical student.

Myers says he would use experiences to tackle issues of racial injustice and police reform.

He gained prominence as Indiana’s state health commissioner in the 1980s by advocating for teenage AIDS patient Ryan White’s right to attend a public school that sought to keep him out due to his illness.

Myers later held string of corporate health care executive positions across the country.

Myers faults Holcomb and the Republican-dominated Legislature for inaction on many fronts, leaving Indiana near the bottom national rankings in health and education.

“I want people to know that there’s fairness and diversity and inclusion,” Myers said.

Holcomb maintains Indiana’s economy is strong and bouncing back quickly, pointing to the state’s 3% unemployment rate before coronavirus shutdowns started in March and how it has dropped from a high of 17.5% to 6.4% for August.

Holcomb also argues that Indiana will recover from the economic downturn better than other state governments because of the $2.3 billion in cash reserves built up over several years.

“We had a very attractive economic architecture in January, February going into the pandemic — that’s still there,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb has been able to far overshadow Myers and Rainwater across the state thanks to the $12.5 million his campaign has raised.

Some labor unions that typically back Democrats have endorsed Holcomb and none has given Myers large contributions.

That’s been among some of the troubles Myers has faced in raising about $1.2 million, including some $300,000 he’s loaned to the campaign, and leaving him unable to air TV and radio commercials and rely, instead, on social media.

Recent Libertarian governor candidates have topped out at 4% of the vote in the 2012 election, but discontent with Holcomb’s coronavirus orders could boost Rainwater higher.

Rainwater, a 57-year-old information technology manager, said he takes COVID-19 seriously but argues state officials should have been better prepared for the outbreak.

“Hollywood has been making movies about global pandemics and zombie apocalypse for decades,” Rainwater said. “How did we have no idea how to prepare our citizens to make the right choices and right decisions on their own? Why did we feel the need to react by mandate?”

Rainwater’s platform includes calling for elimination of the state’s individual income tax, which is expected to bring in nearly $6.4 billion, or about 40%, of the current year’s state budget, second only to sales tax revenue.

Rainwater argues Florida and eight other states function without individual income taxes and that economic growth and elimination of waste and abuse in state spending will make up for the revenue loss. Some Republicans and economists have scoffed at his stance, saying it isn’t realistic.

Through it all, Holcomb keeps talking up what he calls the state’s success from the past 16 years of Republican governors.

“We’re in good shape when we get to the other side of this,” he said.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 306538

Reported Deaths: 5435
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion41953849
Lake26872453
Allen17621295
Elkhart16905219
St. Joseph16524223
Hamilton12696167
Vanderburgh9552115
Tippecanoe844927
Porter813785
Johnson6231165
Vigo597979
Hendricks5944156
Monroe530349
Clark504077
Madison4858121
Delaware4820103
LaPorte457194
Kosciusko455739
Howard334975
Warrick319572
Floyd311477
Bartholomew308462
Wayne301367
Cass295831
Marshall293744
Grant262949
Noble249846
Hancock246551
Boone240254
Henry240237
Dubois234631
Dearborn215730
Jackson212633
Morgan204443
Gibson181725
Knox181419
Shelby178254
Clinton177821
Lawrence174047
DeKalb172829
Adams166422
Wabash158020
Miami157814
Daviess154643
Fayette147733
Steuben143513
Jasper142111
Harrison141824
LaGrange140129
Montgomery139027
Whitley133412
Ripley128114
Decatur124643
Huntington123510
Putnam123027
Randolph120719
Wells120428
White120321
Clay119822
Posey119616
Jefferson116216
Scott103219
Greene101353
Jay96413
Starke90621
Sullivan88916
Fulton83518
Jennings83214
Spencer8198
Perry81521
Fountain7738
Washington7417
Franklin68626
Carroll67913
Orange66628
Vermillion5993
Owen5987
Parke5606
Newton55312
Tipton55226
Rush5317
Blackford51912
Pike50318
Pulaski37710
Martin3515
Benton3362
Brown3353
Crawford2881
Union2671
Switzerland2555
Warren2382
Ohio2307
Unassigned0266

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 371840

Reported Deaths: 6100
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin50231667
Cuyahoga36047741
Hamilton29931372
Montgomery20065228
Butler14769146
Lucas14317414
Summit13388316
Stark8792197
Warren819175
Mahoning7276299
Lake682666
Lorain643499
Clermont577248
Delaware556436
Licking549276
Fairfield538464
Trumbull5305147
Greene522364
Clark511464
Allen465485
Marion465251
Wood4491107
Medina447756
Miami425867
Pickaway399348
Columbiana347297
Portage344872
Tuscarawas328658
Wayne318793
Richland316638
Mercer289945
Hancock241337
Ross240759
Muskingum240210
Auglaize231031
Putnam224749
Erie224266
Darke223559
Ashtabula223253
Geauga203351
Scioto195915
Union19118
Shelby190615
Lawrence189438
Athens18864
Seneca180018
Belmont164929
Madison158918
Sandusky154229
Preble152621
Huron152318
Defiance139522
Holmes139139
Logan127816
Knox126318
Fulton124525
Washington121927
Crawford121516
Ottawa121130
Clinton106714
Williams10579
Ashland105222
Highland101317
Jefferson10124
Henry100023
Brown9925
Champaign9475
Jackson93112
Hardin91019
Fayette90317
Van Wert8976
Morrow8882
Guernsey83914
Coshocton82613
Perry78712
Adams78313
Pike7451
Gallia73513
Wyandot71216
Paulding64611
Hocking62616
Noble60223
Carroll45710
Meigs39012
Monroe31821
Morgan2575
Vinton2195
Harrison2023
Unassigned00
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