INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – From jobs moving to Mexico, a contested senate race, and governor running for vice president, Hoosier politics made 2016 a year to remember.
Much of this year’s political talk focused on one word, governor. It started in February, when Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann announced her resignation.
On her final day, she hinted it was for another opportunity. “I am very much looking forward to the next chapter of my life,” Ellspermann said. “God opens doors and puts things in front of you, and our job is to say, yes.”
Three months later, we learned the door opened for Ellspermann to become Ivy Tech’s new president. Her resignation, left an opening for Eric Holcomb, who became Indiana’s 51st Lieutenant Governor.
“Having the opportunity to serve this state, the state that I love, is a privilege,” Holcomb said. It’s a position Holcomb didn’t focus on long.
In July, the man who picked Holcomb, Governor Mike Pence, decided not to seek re-election at the last minute, which caused a mad dash to the secretary of state’s office. In all, four people, including Congresswoman Susan Brooks, and Holcomb ran.
“I have decided to withdraw my name from the ballot of lieutenant governor, and seek the office of governor,” Holcomb said.
A Republican committee selected Holcomb. He faced off against Democrat John Gregg. And the person who started serving his first political office in March, became governor eight months later.
“Together, we’re just not going to keep Indiana on the right track, we’re going to keep Indiana on the right trajectory,” Holcomb said. “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”
The governor’s race wasn’t the only unique statewide contest this year. The attorney general’s race sparked conversation with Curtis Hill on the GOP ticket. In November, he became Indiana’s first republican African-American to win a statewide race.
“I first ran for office because I believe in America,” Hill said. “I believe in the promise of America. Where one person can have a vision and share it with a few, and turn it into a mushroom of courage.”
November wasn’t only about state races. Indiana’s ninth congressional district was up for grabs.
Democrat Shelli Yoder faced Republican Trey Hollingsworth. Yoder focused on Hollingsworth’s background living outside Indiana, calling him, “Tennessee Trey.”
She also zeroed in on his financial upbringing. “Trey believes he understands our values, and our issues because he’s a guy who pays and signs the paycheck,” Yoder said.
Hollingsworth went on to win, after getting millions in help from his family.
There was another federal race that had the national parties watching. Democrat Evan Bayh re-entered politics this summer. The former governor, and United States senator, decided to run against Republican Todd Young for senate.
“I’m not in love with congress, and I was fed up with the dysfunction, and I’m still, like a lot of Hoosiers, and Americans, mad at the dysfunction, but we’ve got to try and change it,” Bayh said.
But Hoosiers didn’t buy it, because Young won by more than 260,000 votes.
“I learned in the Marines, to put people before politics,” Young said. “And tonight you proved that Indiana’s senate seat belongs to the people of Indiana. This is your seat.”
2016’s focus wasn’t only on November. Despite having one of the final state primaries, Indiana played a crucial role in picking the presidential nominees.
For democrats, the Hoosier State was good to Hillary Clinton eight years ago as she beat Barack Obama in the 2008 primary. But this time around, it was Bernie Sanders capturing Hoosiers’ attention.
“As of today, we have now won 17 state primaries and caucuses, and if you can help us, bring out a large voter turnout tomorrow, Indiana will be the 18th victory,” Sanders said.
He won, helping him keep the race going, but the Hoosier State essentially ended the GOP contest. This was Ted Cruz’s final stand against Donald Trump. Cruz had Governor Mike Pence’s support, and he even picked a vice president prior to Hoosiers voting.
“Donald Trump is such a narcissist that Barack Obama looks at him and goes, ‘dude, what’s your problem?’” Cruz said. But it didn’t work, as Trump won Indiana big, knocking Cruz out of the race.
“Lyin’ Ted does not have the temperament to be doing this,” Trump said. He’s choking like a dog because he’s losing so badly.”
A reason why Trump won was his focus on companies looking lay off Indiana workers, and move to Mexico. In February, Carrier told its employees they would be out of a job. Days later, during a GOP debate, Trump made it one of his signature campaign promises.
“I’m going to get consensus from Congress, and we’re going to tax you when those air conditioners come,” Trump said. “So, stay where you are, or build in the United States because we are killing ourselves with trade pacts that are no good for us, and no good for our workers.”
Ten months later, Trump followed through. After winning the presidency, the Indiana factory became Trump’s first campaign promise to be fulfilled.
The republican president-elect visited the plant in December, and announced a deal to keep 800 jobs in Indianapolis. “Companies are not going to leave the United States anymore without consequences,” Trump said. “It’s not going to happen. It’s not going to happen.”
As much attention as Trump gave Carrier, it can’t overshadow the word of Indiana’s 2016 political year, governor. This is because the GOP nominee shocked the country when he tapped Indiana Governor Mike Pence in July to be his running mate.
“I accept your invitation to run, and serve as Vice President of the United States of America,” Pence said.
Pence might have been known in the Hoosier State, but he spent the next several months trying to introduce himself to Americans. “I’m really just a small town boy, who grew up in southern Indiana,” Pence said.
From July to November, Pence took part in nearly 130 solo rallies spreading the Trump message. A stump that carried him from Capitol Avenue in downtown Indianapolis, to the United States Capitol, where next month he’ll end Indiana’s wild political year by becoming sixth vice president from the Hoosier State.
“It’s almost hard for me to express the honor that I, and my family feel,” Pence said.