A major – and unexpected – bummer for Democrats:
Jonathan Weinzapfel has opted not to seek the Democratic nomination for Indiana governor in 2012 because, he said, the rigors of a statewide campaign are too much right now while his children are young.
The two-term Evansville mayor told the Courier & Press this morning that he wants to remain active in Democratic politics and might eventually run for office again. For now, though, he said, he wants to remain close to his wife and three children.
This comes as a surprise given that last month, Weinzapfel said he wouldn’t seek another term as Evansville mayor, which led us (among others) to think he’d probably make the governor’s race instead. But Weinzapfel didn’t just face the likelihood of a contest against the formidable Mike Pence; he also would have been dogged by what opponents have branded a “secret tax hike” – a “2008 meeting in which Weinzapfel and other local leaders agreed to let a local property tax credit lapse – without telling anyone at the time,” according to the Evansville Courier & Press. Indeed, Weinzapfel had already drawn a primary challenger last year (Vanderburgh County Treasurer Rick Davis) on account of this.
After Weinzapfel’s announcement, former Democratic state House Speaker John Gregg (who served from `98-`02) said he is “taking a very serious look at the race.” Weinzapfel praised Gregg in his own “exit interview” with the C&P, saying “I would be as supportive as I could” of a Gregg candidacy. Weinzapfel has a big warchest left over ($750K), and at just 45, he very likely has a future in Indiana politics.