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Suzanne Crouch highlights term as Lt. Governor as she runs for state's top office in exclusive interview with WVPE

Jakob Lazzaro / WVPE

From expandinginternet access to mental health fundingto a more recent increase in funding for Indiana food banks, Suzanne Crouch is proud of her time as Lt. Governor.

But now she’s looking to parlay that record into winning a crowded Republican primary to become the state’s next governor.

In a Wednesday interview with WVPE, Crouch said she’s running for governor to lead Indiana into the future.

“I’m running for governor because I want to boldly lead Indiana into the future and I have the passion, the commitment, the courage and the experience to be able to deliver results,” Crouch said.

As Lt. Governor, Crouch touted the approval of funding for mental health resources in the most recent legislative session. In an unusual move, Crouch testified in favor of the funding in front of a Senate committee as the topic is personal to her.

“My mother struggled with depression her entire life. We buried my older brother Larry last year. He was an alcoholic and he drank himself to death. My younger sister Nancy died in her early twenties by suicide and my daughter is 15 years sober,” Crouch explained. “So when you live with Hoosiers who have faced those challenges because of the genes they inherit, you know. You know there’s more we can do.”

With the passage of the bill, $100 million will be set aside to fund the suicide hotline and mental health crisis teams.

Crouch also pointed to expanding internet access for rural Hoosiers as a major accomplishment of her time in office. And more recently, Crouch helped oversee a $1 million increase in the budget for Indiana food banks in her capacity as Secretary of Agriculture. In 2024, the Food Bank of Northern Indiana will get $233,000.

“We’re finding more and more demand from Hoosier families to be able to have a little assistance to get by,” Crouch said. “We want to be sure in Indiana we do not have families and children going to bed hungry.”

Now Crouch turns her eyes towards the governor’s race where is she is competing with U.S. Senator Mike Braun, Fort Wayne businessman Eric Doden and former Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill.

Though she’s the sitting Lt. Governor, Crouch said she wants to reimagine state government and to change the current “top-down approach,” adding she knows what it’s like being an political outsider coming from Vanderburgh County near Evansville.

Crouch is liked by many in the Republican Party establishment as evidenced by the slew of county executives, sheriffs and state representatives who have officially endorsed her so far. Notably, however, Crouch’s boss Gov. Eric Holcomb has not endorsed any candidate in the primary — a fact Crouch said doesn’t bother her as she said she’s not seeking Holcomb’s endorsement.

Crouch’s messaging has led with her goal of growing Indiana’s economy through fewer regulations, but Crouch has also spoken on more hot-button social issues since announcing her candidacy in December. She’s consistently bashed the Biden Administration’s border security policies on social media and said she wants to fight left-wing ideologies coming into Indiana.

“As governor, I would be the kind of governor who understands that it’s economic opportunity that becomes absolutely critical to people. But then again, being able to represent and to preserve and stamp our conservative principles is going to be extremely important,” she said.

Crouch attended Purdue University and served as a Vanderburgh County Commissioner and then a state representative before being selected as state auditor and then Lt. Governor in 2017.

If elected, she would be Indiana’s first female governor. No woman has even won the Republican Party’s nomination for the office, but Crouch said that’s not something she thinks about on the campaign trail.

“I know that other people perhaps focus on that. I’m certainly proud to be a woman. It’s not something that defines the job that I do,” Crouch.

Marek Mazurek has been with WVPE since April 2023, though he's been in Michiana for most of his life. He has a particular interest in public safety reporting. When he's not on the radio, Marek enjoys getting way too into Notre Dame football and reading about medieval English history.