Democrat Hill weighs run for governor

Jackson County residents heading to the polls to pick a new governor Nov. 8, 2016, might see a familiar name on the ballot.

Seymour native Baron Hill, a Democrat, recently said he has been giving serious consideration to the idea of running against incumbent Gov. Mike Pence.

Pence, a Republican from Columbus, has not announced a decision about the 2016 governor’s race and is one of several potential Republican

presidential candidates in 2016.

“I’ve been getting around talking to people, potential contributors and party folks around the state,” Hill said.

Hill represented Indiana’s 9th Congressional District from 1999 to 2005 and 2007 to 2011. The district includes Seymour and Jackson County.

He now lives in Indianapolis with his wife, Betty.

“Our three grandchildren attracted us there,” Hill said. “I miss Seymour. I never thought I would move away from Seymour, but that’s what grandkids will do to you.”

Hill said he knows it will be a challenge for a Democrat running against an incumbent, if Pence opts to run again, but it can be done.

“For me the question is: Does there need to be a different direction for the state of Indiana, and do the people of Indiana need to hear about that different direction?” he said. “I think they need to hear about that different direction.”

Hill said one of the questions he must answer is if he can raise the kind of money it will take to make it a competitive campaign. He believes it’s going to take $12 million to $15 million to mount a campaign for governor, but it’s not an amount that’s impossible to raise, he said.

Hill, who also served as a state representative from 1982 to 1990, said it’s a tough time to be running for a statewide office in Indiana, but other Democrats have done it and won.

He also points to some of the tough campaigns he ran in the past. He won the 9th District seat three times in a row before losing the seat to Republican Mike Sodrel. Hill retook the seat from Sodrel two years later. Bloomington Republican Todd Young won the next election.

From his talks with Hoosiers, Hill said, he knows teachers are disillusioned with the present state of education in Indiana and officials with local governing units are wondering how they are going to keep paying for the services the public expects

because of cutbacks in state funding.

“These are the kinds of things I’m looking at,” Hill said.

If he opts to run, it will not be his first try at a statewide office. In 1990, Hill ran against Dan Coats to serve as the replacement for Republican Sen. Dan Quayle, who had become vice president that year. Coats won with

54 percent of the vote to Hill’s 46 percent.

Baron Hill

Who: Baron Hill

Age: 61

Party: Democrat

Residents: Indianapolis

Hometown: Seymour

Author photo
Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at or 812-523-7051.