Governor candidates address local Tea Party

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Jan. 19—PENDLETON — Two Republicans seeking to become the party's gubernatorial nominee delivered differing messages to the local tea party.

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and Jamie Reitenour discussed their campaigns Thursday with a large crowd in Pendleton.

They are two of the six candidates seeking the party's nomination in the May primary, along with U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, former Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers, former Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill and Fort Wayne businessman Eric Doden.

Crouch is running on a campaign pledge to phase out the state's income tax.

"I hope to eliminate the income tax by the end of my first term," she said in comments to The Herald Bulletin. "It can't be done overnight. We have to prepare for a future economic downturn."

Crouch said the state currently has a $6 billion surplus, a portion of which should be returned to taxpayers. She said the income tax rate is scheduled to be reduced in 2027.

"Hoosiers want someone to stand up for them," she told Tea Party members. "I want to eliminate the income tax and fight the drug cartel in China."

Crouch said last year 100,000 Americans died from fentanyl.

"I have the passion and experience to work for Hoosiers," Crouch said.

She said people are being crushed by high costs of inflation.

"We have an opportunity to put money back in their pockets," Crouch said. "The average Hoosier pays $2,000 in income taxes."

Crouch said she wants to limit government growth and wasteful spending.

Crouch said the Indiana Department of Agriculture is doing a study on the loss of farmland in the state from 2010 to 2020.

"What's the economic impact of the lost farm land?" she said. "We also want to know who is buying that farmland."

Reitenour said she carries a Bible with her on a daily basis and has submitted the necessary 4,500 signatures in the state's nine Congressional districts to appear on the primary ballot.

"Having faith is not a bad thing," she said. "I was called to run for governor six years ago.

"I'm not a career politician," Reitenour added. "The belief systems of the candidates are important whenever there is a squeeze in government."

She said there are people targeting children through education and that 38% of students in the third grade failed a standardized test.

"Where will our workforce come from in the future?" Reitenour said.

She wants to implement an apprenticeship program for all high school students before they graduate to determine a career path.

"We need to focus on the essentials in kindergarten to fifth grade," Reitenour said.

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