Glenda Ritz formally announces run for governor

Glenda Ritz announces her bid for governor (WTHR photo)
Governor Mike Pence went after State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz's job and Thursday, she made it official that she's going after his.

Ritz announced her candidacy for governor Thursday morning at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis.

"Today in Indiana, out-of-touch Republican leadership at the Statehouse embraces policies that tear Hoosiers apart, rather than bringing them together. These realities are why, today, I am announcing my candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the Governor of Indiana," Ritz told the small crowd gathered to hear her announcement.

Her campaign is focusing on connecting education with the economy.

"We are 38th in the nation in per capita income. We earn 86 cents to the dollar in Indiana. We have 29% of our people in low-paying jobs. We have a lot of work to do. We have to make those connections in a broad spectrum," she said to reporters after the announcement.

She said Gov. Mike Pence supports policies that divide us. As the "Crossroads of America," Ritz said six million Hoosiers need to know Indiana cares about all communities.

"We must respect the rights of all Hoosiers. I am asking you to support my candidacy. We need to move forward to make tomorrow better than today," she said.

The focus of her campaign will be education and the economy. Ritz and the governor have been battling for years over the state Board of Education. Earlier this year, Republicans passed a law that would allow the board to remove her as its chair in 2017.

Thursday's announcement in front of the Career Center at Ben Davis was in sharp contrast to John Gregg's announcement on social media.

"I just say, 'I am the guy who almost beat Mike Pence in 2012'," John Gregg said.

And State Senator Karen Tallian, who held her announcement outside the Statehouse.

"Somebody has to speak for the progressive point of view," Tallian announced.

Ritz says handling an $8 billion budget for a million Indiana school children has prepared her for this race, but there is little doubt that Pence gave her the opportunity. He created, as Ritz points out, another government agency to get around her and now he may have to face her in a general election because of it.

"We are not happy with where Indiana education stands right now in our state. I don't believe we truly have the best interest of children at heart and I believe Glenda can take it back to where it really needs to be with the focus on the child," Susie Jackson, a teacher from South Montgomery High School, said after listening to the Ritz announcement.

"The reputation of Indiana nationwide took a real beating earlier this year. That is unfortunate and something that Glenda will help Indiana with is that national perception," Mike Schlemmer from Crawfordsville added.

Both Jackson and Schlemmer were wearing blue t-shirts with white lettering that read "Just Let Me Teach" on the front and "Glenda is Great" on the back.

Ritz says she's the best Democrat in the race, because she can win.

"Ma'am, you have our support," one man in the crowd said to Ritz while shaking her hand.

"Thank you. Thank you very much," she responded.

Ritz says she will keep her current job as Superintendent of Public Instruction while she campaigns for governor. She says the voters elected her to that job and she plans to do it.

She will also hold several campaign announcement events at schools around the state on Friday.