INDIANAPOLIS | State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, made it official Tuesday — she wants to be the next governor of Indiana.

"I am not thinking about it, I'm not talking about maybe doing it, I'm not going to like let you know next week," Tallian said. "I'm running. I'm in."

Standing outside the Statehouse on a blustery spring day with some three dozen supporters arrayed behind her, Tallian proclaimed it is time to end Republican dominance of Indiana government.

"What we have in this building right now is a one-party government, and one-party government is not always a good thing," Tallian said. "It's a basic, fundamental principle of politics that you need to have a balance of powers."

The 10-year state lawmaker said she decided even before her 2014 Senate re-election campaign that she would run for governor in 2016, especially since the 2012 Democratic nominee, John Gregg, said at the time he wouldn't be running.

Gregg has since declared he wants a rematch against Republican Gov. Mike Pence, who was elected with just 49 percent of the vote in a three-way race.

Tallian said her decision to run was reinforced by actions taken during the recently completed legislative session, including the "religious freedom" debacle, repeal of the common construction wage and approval of a new law reducing the powers of Glenda Ritz, the Democratic state superintendent of public instruction.

"I don't think Indiana is as conservative as this Legislature would have you think," she said. "Somebody needs to speak for the progressive point of view."

Tallian still is organizing her campaign apparatus, but said she's already gotten an overwhelmingly positive response following an exclusive interview in Sunday's edition of The Times that announced her election bid.

Whether it's labor groups, women's groups, health care advocates or even medicinal marijuana supporters, she said they all are craving a choice besides Gregg in the Democratic primary and Pence in the general election.

"The other people in this building just don't recognize that the people of Indiana are ready for a little reform," Tallian said.

Among the supporters standing in the crowd behind Tallian was state Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, a nine-term lawmaker and former leader of the House Democratic caucus.

Lawson said she believes Tallian has at least as good of a chance in the governor's race as Ritz did in 2012 when she ended up outpolling every candidate for statewide office, including Pence.

"I think that people are interested in a change, and they want somebody who's vivacious and exciting and smart and has lots of energy — and that's Karen," Lawson said.


Statehouse Bureau Chief

Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.