Why Glenda Ritz dropped out of Indiana governor’s race

Democrat who struggled with fundraising says she will instead run for re-election to state superintendent of public instruction in 2016.

IndyStar.com
By Tony Cook and Chelsea Schneider
8/7/15

Glenda Ritz ended her run for Indiana governor on Friday, dropping out of the race just two months after announcing she’d seek the office.

The announcement comes after Ritz’s campaign struggled to raise money in her bid for the Democratic nomination.

Instead of running for governor, Ritz will seek re-election to state superintendent of public instruction in 2016, according to a statement released early Friday evening.

“Now is not the right time for me to run for governor,” Ritz said. “Under my leadership, I have brought the discussion of public education into the public discourse and have started to fundamentally change how we support schools. My work is not finished, and my passion is stronger than ever. I am resolutely dedicated to educators, students, and families from Pre-K to graduation.”

Fundraising was a major hurdle for the Ritz campaign. She raised about $30,000 during the first half of the year – a fraction of the more than $1.6 million each raised by Democrat John Gregg and Republican Gov. Mike Pence.

All three Democratic candidates met with the Indiana State Teachers Association’s political arm on Saturday for a potential endorsement. But the union, where Ritz was once a board member, took no action. In the run-up to her state superintendent win in 2012, the teachers union was one of Ritz’s heaviest supporters, giving nearly $180,000 to her campaign.

On top of her relatively meager fundraising, Ritz was facing an election complaint alleging that she raised more than $90,000 during the past two legislative budget cycles. State law bars fundraising activities during legislative sessions when a new state budget is written. Ritz dismissed the allegations as “clerical errors.”

As recently as late July, Ritz told the Indianapolis Star that she was still committed to running for governor, saying her campaign was in the “organizational phase.”

“I plan to do fundraising that will actually be able to run a quality campaign, because that’s really what it is all about,” Ritz told the Star in July. “The people in Indiana deserve to have a campaign that’s going to be of high quality, and so I plan to raise enough money to do just that.”

Gregg said he’ll support Ritz’s re-election efforts as state schools chief in a statement released following her decision.With Ritz out of the race, two Democrats remain, including 2012 gubernatorial candidate Gregg and state Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage. Former Bayh aide, Tom Sugar, of Zionsville, announced this week he is also considering a run.

“Glenda Ritz has always put the best interests of our school children first and this decision is another example of that. I look forward to supporting her re-election to the office of superintendent and to working with her as governor to further strengthen public education in our state,” Gregg said.

Tallian said she looked forward to continuing to work with Ritz.

“Superintendent Ritz has been a champion for students, parents, and educators and I know that she will continue her outstanding work to ensure all Hoosier students have access to a high-quality education in our state,” Tallian said.

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody said he respected Ritz’s decision.

“With her leadership at the Statehouse, Hoosier families can have the confidence that she and other Statehouse Democrats will work to solve the problems facing our state,” Zody said.

Pence’s re-election campaign declined to comment.

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