Updated Sept. 17, 2019 at 3:30 p.m.
Indiana’s first openly gay major party candidate for governor announced his bid Monday.
Indianapolis tech CEO Josh Owens will seek the Democratic nomination.
Owens is the CEO of SupplyKick, an Indianapolis-based online retailer. The 34-year-old, who’s never before run for elected office, announced he’s filed for governor.
Owens says Indiana needs a governor with the vision to lead the state into the future - and he believes he's the man to do it. Getting on the statewide ballot is no mean feat – it takes 4,500 voter signatures, 500 from each congressional district. Owens says he’s already begun the process, one which he says serves a dual purpose.
"Both to show kind of the seriousness of the campaign but also to make sure that we are talking with Hoosiers all across the state about our message and how I think we can move Indiana forward," Owens says.
Owens cites teacher pay as a top focus of his message. But he's also pushing issues that are unpopular with the GOP-controlled legislature: marijuana decriminalization, LGBT rights, and universal background checks for gun purchases. Still, Owens says his experience in the business world will help him fight those battles.
“Listen, every day I bring a diverse set of stakeholders to the table and we have conversations about what can and can’t get done – but also, how do we set that priority so that we can move that discussion forward and move it faster towards what we actually want to achieve,” Owens says.
Owens is also the first openly gay major party gubernatorial candidate in Hoosier State history.
The Indianapolis Democrat previously served as the chair of Indiana’s Charter School Board, appointed by then-Gov. Mike Pence.
Owens is the second Democrat to officially launch a bid to unseat incumbent Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb – former State Health Commissioner Woody Myers announced his candidacy earlier this year.
This story has been updated.