INDIANAPOLIS – Former White House budget director Mitch Daniels (search) drew on support from President Bush to easily win Indiana's GOP nomination for governor in the first gubernatorial primary of the year.
Daniels, who left the Bush administration to run in Indiana, now faces Gov. Joe Kernan (search), a Democrat who took office in September after the death of Gov. Frank O'Bannon (search) and is seeking a full term in the November election. Kernan ran unopposed in Tuesday's primary.
In a rousing victory speech Tuesday night, Daniels said Indiana deserves better leadership than they are getting from Kernan.
"To the customers of state government and to state employees laboring under bloated, unimaginative leadership, we say, help is on the way," Daniels said to a cheering crowd in Bloomington.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Daniels had 334,741 votes, or 66 percent, against 169,639 votes, or 34 percent, for activist lawyer Eric Miller.
Miller had been counting on backing from Advance America, the organization he founded in 1980 that has lobbied state government on what it calls pro-Christian issues.
Earlier in the day, Kernan said the two major party candidates should detail how any policy proposals would be funded and should negotiate a fair campaign pledge.
"I'm hopeful the Republican nominee will consider and agree to these fair-minded proposals," Kernan said.
Daniels has given many Republicans hope that their party can finally win back the top job in Indiana, a state that has voted Republican in presidential elections since 1968 but has picked Democratic governors for 16 years.
Bush stopped in South Bend on Monday for an appearance with Daniels. The president called Daniels smart and capable and said Indiana "will love this guy as their governor."