(NewsNation) — Republican multi-millionaire businessman Jefferson Shreve is challenging the Democratic incumbent in the Indianapolis mayoral race, which is shaping up to be one of the most interesting in the nation.
Shreve’s campaign took a turn over the summer when the former city-county councilor rolled out a gun control plan that closely resembled his Democratic opponent Joe Hogsett’s plan — raising the firearm purchase age to 21, ending permit-less carry and banning assault weapons across the city.
The move defied the National Rifle Association, who called his change of heart “truly pathetic,” according to Politico. Shreve earned the NRA’s backing in 2016 during an unsuccessful Senate run.
“I’m not a career politician,” Shreve said in a statement. “I’m a career chief executive. As a CEO, you have to change course when the facts change or you fail. And the facts on violent crime in Indianapolis have definitely changed. We have to change some policies here in Indianapolis while respecting that different policies will work for other parts of the state.”
He added, “The personal stories from people who’ve been affected by gun violence have had a profound effect on me. The people I’ve heard from, like mothers who’ve lost their children, deserve to feel supported.”
While Indianapolis traditionally votes blue, it has a history of electing pragmatic GOP mayors, including Dick Lugar, William Hudnut, Stephen Goldsmith and Greg Ballard, who opposed Mike Pence’s Religious Freedom and Restoration Act and marched in the city’s pride parade.
If successful, Shreve’s pivot on gun legislation could set a precedent for Republican candidates in urban areas, according to Paul Helmke, the former Republican mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Meanwhile, Hogsett is fighting unfounded claims from the conservative media as he runs for a third term that he was missing or incapacitated when racial justice protests in Indianapolis escalated to riots in May 2020.
During a mayoral debate with Shreve, Hogsett was asked about his whereabouts, saying, “I’ll be glad to answer it again. I worked all weekend long … sometimes that was at home,” reiterating he was “working at home” the evening of Friday, May 29, 2020.”
During the debate, the two discussed public safety, economic development and infrastructure plans.
According to NewsNation affiliate Fox 59, Hogsett and Shreve have both raised and spent millions of dollars for their campaigns in what is expected to be the most expensive mayoral race in the city’s history.
Last year, Shreve sold his self-storage company Storage Express for $590 million. This year, he has financed $13.5 million of the $14.5 million his campaign has raised for the 2023 mayor’s race, according to Fox 59.
Hogsett has raised $6.1 million so far this year, a record amount for the incumbent.