Indiana Capital Chronicle: Chambers seeds campaign with $5 million personal loan; taps campaign team

By Niki Kelly
Indiana Capital Chronicle

GOP gubernatorial hopeful Brad Chambers has brought three recently departed Indiana Republican Party staffers onboard and made a $5 million personal loan to his campaign.

He announced his senior leadership team Wednesday and made the contribution Sept. 1, according to campaign finance records. Chambers also has filed several large contribution reports totaling $535,000 from various Indiana business leaders.

The insider draw shows the Chambers campaign is starting late but with a bang.

“This team brings with it unmatched experience and a record of success that speaks for itself,” Chambers said in a press release. “Together, they’ll help us develop and execute a strategy to share our vision to ensure Indiana holds even more promise and opportunity for Hoosiers for years to come. I’m excited to have them on board and am ready to get to work.”

Kyle Hupfer, who left last week as chairman of the Indiana Republican Party, is now campaign chairman for Chambers. He said he was leaving the party post so he could be more involved in the 2024 race, and said party leaders should stay neutral on their candidates.

In addition to party politics, Hupfer has experience in statewide campaigns, serving as campaign manager of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s reelection bid in 2020, a race that set the state record for total votes cast for a gubernatorial candidate, and as the Marion County coordinator for Mitch Daniels 2004 election bid.

Hupfer is also a partner at Taft Law.

“It took an extraordinary candidate to compel me into this race, and that is Brad Chambers,” Hupfer said. “There’s no one better suited than him to boldly build on the foundation of Republican leadership that has delivered for Hoosiers over the past two decades.”

Several other appointments include:

  • Matt Huckleby as Chambers’ campaign manager. He is the vice president of MO Strategies. Prior to his current position, he served as the executive director for the Indiana Republican Party and as district director for Congressman Larry Bucshon. Huckleby served as political director for then-Gov. Mike Pence’s re-election bid in 2016, and when Pence agreed to become Donald Trump’s running mate, became political director for Holcomb’s first gubernatorial campaign and deputy campaign manager for Gov. Eric Holcomb’s reelection bid in 2020.
  • Marty Obst as senior strategist. He is the founder and president of MO Strategies. Prior to his current position, Obst served as senior political advisor to Vice President Mike Pence and in various positions in politics at the national and state levels. Obst’s previous political experience includes serving as chairman of the vice president’s operation of the Trump-Pence reelection bid in 2020. Obst also served as the campaign manager for then-Gov. Mike Pence’s reelection bid in 2016 before serving as the campaign manager and director of operations for the vice presidential campaign.
  • Jennifer Hallowell as senior communications advisor. She is the president of Hallowell Consulting, LLC, a government relations and communications consulting firm. She has nearly thirty years of experience managing organizations and advising leaders at the federal, state, and local levels. Her extensive campaign history includes serving as the director of political strategy for Gov. Mitch Daniels in his first election, as a consultant for the Michigan Republican Party during the successful 2010 gubernatorial election, and as the executive director of the Indiana Republican Party.
  • Luke Thomas as press secretary. He previously served as the spokesman for the Indiana Republican Party.

Chambers led the Indiana Economic Development Corporation as Secretary of Commerce until last month. While there, he launched the LEAP Innovation District in Boone County and distributed hundreds of millions of state dollars in regional investments known as READI.

He founded his real estate business, Buckingham Companies, as a student at Indiana University in 1984 and now commands a portfolio exceeding $3 billion as the company’s president and CEO. He also founded the philanthropic Buckingham Foundation, Inc., dedicated to causes such as childhood hunger and affordable housing.

The pathway to governor won’t be easy, with political powerhouses raising millions to woo voters in advance of the May Republican primary.

Fort Wayne businessman Eric Doden, U.S. Sen. Mike Braun and Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch have proven to be formidable in the fundraising arena, promising an expensive race. Former Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill joined the contest last month after campaign finance deadlines but could attract — and more importantly, retain — a key segment of the Republican Christian vote.