The governor’s mansion is wide open for 2024 with a limited-time incumbent in Governor Eric Holcomb, and former two-term governor Mitch Daniels hasn’t denied his interest in seeking a third term. Eric Doden, a Fort Wayne businessman and former government economic development official at the time. Mike Pence is the only declared gubernatorial candidate in the race, having raised more than $1.3 million since last year. Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch is also reportedly building a team to run for governor in 2024.
A Senate champ, meanwhile, could include retired Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, who kicked the tires during a gubernatorial bid and spoke with Braun about his future, according to a person familiar. with the deliberations of Hollingsworth. And Attorney General Todd Rokita, who lost to Braun in 2018, could also be in another Senate race.
Still, Spartz supporters view her as a serious contender in the still unofficial battle to succeed Braun.
“Rep. Spartz would consider running for the Senate if Braun ran for governor, and she would be well-positioned to win the GOP nomination from a name identification, fundraising and advocacy standpoint. ideology,” said a Republican close to her, speaking on condition of anonymity about an undefined race, as did other interviewees for this story.
Inside the Capitol, Sparta struggles to find her place. She’s had to deal with massive staff turnover, leading a nonpartisan group’s list of “worst bosses” in Congress. More than half a dozen former staff raised concerns with POLITICO earlier this year about its tendency to berate and undermine aides. His later response to these complaints in an interview with local media: Staff members need to toughen up.
Sparta also caused headaches for Republican leaders during Russia’s war against Ukraine, his native country. Early in the Russian invasion, the GOP conference highlighted Sparta’s emotional accounts of his family and friends bombed in air raids. However, as the war progressed, she became an active critic of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy even as his defense of Moscow gained support around the world, including most other Republican lawmakers.
A Spartz spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.
In 2020, the conservative Club for Growth spent over $3 million on its run. After a competitive general election showdown with Democrat Christina Hale, Indiana state lawmakers earlier this year redrew its suburban Indianapolis seat to safer red territory.
Indiana was once a Senate battleground, but those days may be over. Former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) lost a bid to join the chamber in 2016, Braun beat former Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) in 2018 and Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind. ) is heavily favored for re-election this fall.
And if Spartz joins the Senate GOP primary, it would also likely trigger a wide-open contest in the 5th congressional district.
“It’s going to be a great few years for opposition research centers,” said another influential Republican Hoosier operative.