By Brian Howey
State Affairs Indiana (Pro)
WARSAW, Ind. — The rumor mill surrounding Commerce Secretary Brad Chamber’s Republican run for governor had been churning for months, until early August when he resigned his $1-a-year post after 24 months. He loaned his campaign $5 million, hired the state party’s political pros and made a $1 million TV ad buy.
HPI conducted this interview with Chambers following the Q&A. It has been edited for length and clarity.
HPI. What have you learned about Indiana in the past two years since you took the helm of IEDC, and what have you learned in a political sense over the past two weeks of your campaign for governor?
Chambers. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve looked under the hood of this state we call Indiana. I’ve looked at its economic engine. I’ve looked at its universities and its workforce, quality of place and just the value proposition of Indiana. I’m incredibly impressed and optimistic about Indiana’s potential. This engine I call Indiana; this race car I call Indiana can run faster and it can win a lot of races.
Q. When Steve Goldsmith ran for governor in 1996 he said the state needed a “CEO” at the helm. What’s your pitch to voters going to be on that front?
A. My pitch is that I’ve never done this before, but I’ve run a business for 40 years that was founded in Indiana from nothing. I’m an Indiana entrepreneur. I’ve been running a business, hiring people, inspiring people, leading, planning, measuring performance for a very long time. That’s what a governor is. The No. 1 job of a governor is to grow the economy.
Q. It wasn’t always that way. Being the state’s economic driver began to take shape under Gov. Robert Orr in the 1980s. But now it is the No. 1 job.
A. It’s required to do it successfully. It funds all the other needs of the government of Indiana, the taxpayers of Indiana, whether it’s education, health care or public safety. Being the CEO, running this corporation, running this state of Indiana’s business is fundamental. It is critically important to do it well. It funds all the other services.
Q. Since you’re a novice in running for governor, what have you learned from Govs. Holcomb, Mike Pence and Mitch Daniels?
A. I’m going to be a Brad Chambers style of governor. I’m going to be authentic. I’m going to pull from my 40 years of experience. But, of course, I’m a lifelong learner. So you look at Mitch Daniels and his playbook, and you look at Mike and Eric Holcomb, all good governors, and you pull their successes and meld that into your life’s history and your experience and you try to create a plan and a vision for Indiana. I’m excited about what that vision can look like. I am going to pull from Mitch the policy-focused approach to this campaign. That’s the way I would do it anyway, I’m not going to do it just because Mitch did it. I want a plan for the state’s future. We’re articulating that plan through my policy team right now. I’m going to roll that policy out over the next two quarters.