Ken de la Bastide: Ken de la Bastide column: Chambers candidacy shakes up GOP race for governor

Sep. 9—The biggest shoe in the race for the Republican Party's gubernatorial nomination in 2024 has dropped.

Brad Chambers, who recently stepped down as chairman of the Indiana Economic Development Corp., announced last month he is a candidate for the nomination.

He joins a field that includes Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, Fort Wayne businessman Eric Doden and former Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill.

The reality in Indiana is that the person who captures the GOP nomination next May will, in all probability, be the next governor.

Chambers jumped in with both feet, loaning his campaign $5 million on Sept. 1.

Braun and Doden have already pledged $1 million to their campaigns and Crouch has been fund raising and securing endorsements from party leaders around the state for several months.

But Chambers brings some major players within the Indiana Republican Party to his campaign.

Kyle Hupfer, who stepped down as the state party chairman a day before Chambers' announcement is heading up the campaign.

Luke Thomas left the GOP state party as public relations director to take a similar role this week with Chambers campaign.

They are joined by Matt Huckleby and Jennifer Hallowell, both of whom have worked on numerous state and federal campaigns in the Hoosier State.

Chambers' funding and his recruiting of a powerhouse campaign team has to have sent ripples throughout his opponents' campaigns.

The actions of the past few weeks definitely make Chambers a player for the nomination — a fact highlighted by a television ad that was broadcast this week.

Is Braun willing to pump more of his own money into his campaign in an attempt to capture the gubernatorial nomination in light of the fact that Chambers has deep pockets and the ability to raise funds?

Crouch, who is completing her second term as lieutenant governor, has to be concerned that so many state party officials have left the organization to work for Chambers.

Doden has little name recognition outside of the Fort Wayne area, and his ability to raise the necessary funds to get a message out is an unknown.

Hill has a solid base among conservatives, but there is the stigma remaining from his tenure as attorney general concerning sexual harassment allegations.

Chambers' name recognition is not high at the moment, but with $5 million in his campaign war chest, the funds are there to get his message out.

The one certainty is that lots of money will be spent to secure the gubernatorial nomination.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.