Indiana state Superintendent Glenda Ritz said today she’s mulling a run for governor in 2016, arguing that efforts by Gov. Mike Pence and Republican legislators to strip her power might make it her best option to fight back.
“After this session, there’s absolutely nothing off the table,” Ritz told reporters Thursday. “The first priority is getting through this school year. But after that I’m going to sit down with my family to determine what’s best for the children and families of Indiana.”
Ritz, the only Democrat holding statewide office in Indiana, was the target of several political showdowns in the legislature this year, many of which were centered around Republicans’ aims to remove her as chairwoman of the Indiana State Board of Education, made up of 10 other members all appointed by the governor.
Ritz’s statement is a departure from her previous comments. She’s said in numerous media appearances that she wasn’t considering a gubernatorial run. But she said this legislative session changed her mind.
She said she would announce her final decision to run in June. Running for governor would mean giving up the superintendency.
“After viewing the outcome of this general session, it’s caused me to have pause and actually look at how I might want to reframe what I might want to do to move education forward,” Ritz said.
She went on to blast a series of new education laws created by the 2015 legislature.
Ritz said she couldn’t name a single legislative change that she was proud of, and said she was disappointed that some of the neediest schools will receiving less funding as the result of school funding formula changes.
“It was all about seeking power, changing power and moving power,” Ritz said. “It really wasn’t an education session.”
She said the numerous fights further “eroded” the morale of Indiana teachers.
“Despite what he claims, Gov. Pence’s only education agenda is to prevent me from doing the job that voters elected me to do,” Ritz said. “The governor has brought his Washington-style politics to Indiana to accomplish his agenda.”
The competition for governor could be stiff.
Pence said today he will decide soon if he is running again in 2016, but added that “we’ve been preparing to seek re-election for two years.”
His 2012 opponent, Democrat John Gregg, was expected to announce today that he will seek the Democratic nomination again next year.
Pence had little reaction to the idea of potentially having Ritz as a direct competitor in a statewide election. Ritz supporters often delight in pointing out that she got more votes than Pence in 2012.
Pence said he will spend the next several days reviewing the bills he has been asked to sign before thinking about his future.
“We are focused on the task at hand we will leave politics for down the road,” he said.