GARY — State Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, says he's being encouraged by both Democrats and Republicans to consider giving up his campaign for Indiana governor, and instead running to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Gary, in Congress.
But he's not going to do it.
Melton said Friday that while he's "been humbled by the outpouring of bipartisan support" in favor of him pursuing the U.S. House vacancy, he is "firmly committed to becoming the next governor of Indiana and fighting to improve the quality of life of every Hoosier."
"During my time in the Indiana General Assembly, I've seen firsthand how the current administration and Republican supermajority are failing working families," Melton said.
"Indiana remains dead last in the nation in teacher salary growth since 2002, 40th in health care, 37th in infrastructure and 48th in natural environment. These rankings are a disgrace to Hoosiers, and I intend to change the course the longtime Republican supermajority has set."
In that effort, Melton expects to follow the example of Visclosky, who Melton described as "a longtime mentor and friend."
"Rep. Visclosky is a powerful member of Congress with a passion for improving the lives in his district and this nation. I have been lucky enough to have a front seat to his leadership throughout my lifetime, and I couldn’t be more grateful for his work," Melton said.
"Even before I was elected, I worked with Rep. Visclosky to initiate the South Shore Double Tracking Project and then voted to secure funding for it when I became a legislator. Among many achievements, Rep. Visclosky was a champion of the Northwest Indiana economy, fought to protect the steel industry and a champion for public schools."
Melton, 38, is facing two opponents from Indianapolis for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination: Dr. Woody Myers, 65, state health commissioner from 1985 to 1990; and Josh Owens, 34, CEO of SupplyKick, a company that develops digital strategies for retailers, and the first openly gay Indiana gubernatorial candidate.
Already running to replace Visclosky, who announced Wednesday that he will not seek a record 19th term in 2020, are Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. and North Township Trustee Frank J. Mrvan.
At least a half-dozen more Northwest Indiana Democrats also are known or believed to be considering a congressional bid.
According to the secretary of state, filing for the U.S. House race opens Jan. 8 and closes Feb. 7. The primary election is May 5.