Mayor Joe Hogsett is expected to announce a reelection bid Tuesday at the Indianapolis City Market, immediately before a fundraiser for his mayoral campaign committee. Supporters have told IBJ privately that he plans to seek a third term.
A media advisory sent to the IBJ said Hogsett will make a “campaign announcement” at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The event comes on the heels of State Rep. Robin Shackleford’s announcement last week of her mayoral campaign bid, potentially setting the stage for a May 2023 Democratic primary.
Hogsett would be the first Indianapolis mayor since Bart Peterson in 2007 to seek a third term. Peterson, a Democrat, was upset by Republican Greg Ballard, who went on to serve two terms.
The last Indianapolis mayor to serve more than two terms in office was the late Bill Hudnut. Hudnut spent four terms in office (1976-1992), making him the longest-serving mayor in city history.
Hogsett has previously expressed support for term limits. In 2015, he said “Eight years is long enough to accomplish what you want to accomplish,” according to WFYI.
In his seven years in office, Hogsett has lifted a 35-year moratorium on new streetlights, and created a $1.1 billion five-year infrastructure plan and a three-year, $150 million anti-violence plan.
Despite his focus on public safety, critics have raised concerns about rising violent crime in the city. In 2018, the average number of homicides per month in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s jurisdiction was 13. That rate hit a peak in 2021 with nearly 21 homicides per month. As of September, this year’s monthly average was 17.
Before becoming Indianapolis mayor, Hogsett served as Indiana Secretary of State from 1989 to 1994 and chair of the Indiana Democratic Party from 2003 to 2004. He also ran unsuccessfully for three positions: U.S. Senate in 1992, Indiana’s Second Congressional District in 1994 and Indiana Attorney General in 2004. From 2010 to 2014, Hogsett was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.
Going for a third term would put Hogsett in competition against Shackleford, who is vying to be the city’s first female mayor and first Black mayor.
Shackleford, chair of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, announced her candidacy for mayor Thursday. At her event at the Madam Walker Legacy Center, Shackleford emphasized that Hogsett hadn’t made his intentions clear and said that she and Hogsett have had conversations. They found neutral ground on topics such as ending the process by which the Marion County Democratic Party chooses candidates, she told IBJ.
It wouldn’t be the first time Hogsett is up against a primary opponent. In 2019, he won 84% of the Democratic primary vote to defeat Denise Paul Hatch before beating former Republican Jim Merritt, a former state senator, in the general election. In 2015, he defeated Democrat Larry Vaughn in the primary with 89% of the vote before winning the general election against Republican Chuck Brewer.
Hogsett would have a huge funding advantage: he had $2.4 million on hand and in investments in January, while Shackleford’s pre-election reports show her House campaign has just over $8,000.
The two announcements seem to already be drawing lines within the Marion County Democratic Party. While Shackleford, chair of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, was supported Thursday by most of her caucus, Sen. Greg Taylor is slated to appear at Hogsett’s event.
Also among the attendees will be newly-appointed county party chair Myla Eldridge, former chair Kate Sweeney Bell and City-County Council President Vop Osili. Osili has been rumored to be a potential Democratic candidate for mayor.
Shackleford was part of a group of Black Democrats that advocated for Bell’s resignation as party chair. She eventually did. Shackleford also led a group of candidates in the May 2022 primaries who chose not to participate in the county party’s slating process in protest of so-called discriminatory practices.
On Thursday, Shackleford told IBJ the Marion County Democratic Party “is in the process of healing.”
Marion County Democratic Party spokesman Jeff Harris said Wednesday that Shackleford had not shared her plans to run for mayor with party officials. On Thursday, Shackleford said she’s met with party officials and had discussions with Hogsett about her run. A spokesperson for Shackleford said it’s possible Harris was not aware of these conversations.