Joe Kernan (politician)

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Took a city that had lost thousands of factory jobs and helped diversify its economy, attracting new manufacturing as well as corporate jobs. [27]

Kernan worked on long-term job creation efforts as mayor. [5] [6] [16] Kernan came to office shortly after a number of companies had left the city or closed, [38] such as South Bend Toy in 1985 [39] and Wheelbrater-Frye. [38] Kernan took credit for stopping companies like Allied Products' South Bend Stamping from leaving the city. [38] He also took credit for attracting other jobs to the city, arguing that as mayor he had been able to create or retain 4,000 manufacturing jobs. [38] Another example that illustrates Kernan's work in this area was his successful work in 1993 to keep the Hoosier Lottery's 15-employee regional headquarters in South Bend. After they began looking for a new location, eying sites outside of South Bend, Kernan worked directly with them to find a new location for their offices within the city. [40]


The construction of a new South Shore Line station took place during Kernan's tenure as South Bend mayor South Bend Airport train station 2006-01.jpg
The construction of a new South Shore Line station took place during Kernan's tenure as South Bend mayor

The loss of $20 million annually in federal funds which the city had received prior to Reagan and Bush budget cuts to urban programs had taken its toll on South Bend's infrastructure. [41] Nevertheless, a number of infrastructure projects took place under Kernan's mayoralty.

Among the infrastructure projects that took place during Kernan's tenure as mayor was the shifting of South Bend's South Shore Line station from a facility shared with Amtrak to a new location at the city's airport, which opened in 1992. [42] In 1993, Kernan testified before congress that this move had been partially responsible for a 73% increase in ridership from South Bend, attributing this to the fact that the previous location of the station was in an area, "isolated and very difficult and perceived to be unsafe" [42] Plans to move the South Shore Line station to the airport, creating an air, bus, and rail intermodal terminal, had dated back to the 1970s. [43]

South Street Station, the result of efforts to construct an intermodal transit center which began during Kernan's tenure 20060128 08 South Bend Public Transportation Corp. South St. Station (13342584075) (a).jpg
South Street Station, the result of efforts to construct an intermodal transit center which began during Kernan's tenure

Kernan and others would work to see a new intermodal transit center built in Downtown South Bend, which would feature a new station for Amtrak and a new transit center for South Bend Transpo. [44] [42] [45] [46] Efforts planning this station date back to 1992. [47] It ultimately opened in 1998, after Kernan's mayoralty had ended, as the South Street Station, but only as a bus center without an Amtrak component. [44] [47] [48]

Parks and Recreation

During Kernan's tenure many changes were made to South Bend's parks. Several new facilities opened, including Blackthorn Golf Course in 1994. [49] In 1993, for the first time, non-reverting funds were established to create money for capitol improvements to the parks. [49] Additionally, a City-County parks merger was studied in 1993, but ultimately not implemented. [49] In 1995, South Bend's recreation commission was dissolved, and the Department of Parks took over management of recreation programs and was renamed the Department of Parks and Recreation. [50]

National politics

Kernan greeting President Ronald Reagan in 1988 Reagan Contact Sheet C45772 (cropped2).jpg
Kernan greeting President Ronald Reagan in 1988

In 1989, Kernan considered, but ruled out, running against Republican Dan Coats for the United States Senate in the 1990 special election for the seat that had vacated by Dan Quayle upon becoming vice president. [51] While Kernan was considered a strong prospective candidate among the possible Democratic contenders, commentator James Grass observed prior to Kernan making his decision not to run that, "to run a successful campaign," a Democratic nominee would likely need, "statewide name recognition, a good reputation, and the ability to raise lots of money. All the Democrats still considering a candidacy lack at least one of these qualifications." [52]

In 1992, Democratic presidential nominee Bill Clinton proposed a $200 billion ($20 billion annually) plan for infrastructure. Mayor Kernan declared to the media that under Clinton's plan, in which a city of South Bend's size would have received at least $5 million annually, South Bend would have been able to complete critical road construction and complete reclamation on hundreds of acres of former industrial property. [41]

In 1993, Kernan campaigned in support of President Clinton's deficit reduction and economic stimulus proposal. After meeting with Clinton when accompanying Governor Evan Bayh to the Democratic Governors Association quarterly meeting in March 1993, Kernan declared that he had been persuaded by Clinton that it was necessary to pass both deficit reduction and economic stimulus in a singular piece of legislation rather than separating them into separate bills. [53] Kernan declared,

It must be viewed as an entire package. If you begin peeling away pieces, the whole thing will fall apart. Combined it has something for everyone. As a whole, it has great benefit for the country. On balance it is extreme fair. [53]

To promote the legislation to Indiana's federal representatives and their constituents, Kernan pointed to an analysis that had found that Indiana would be one of only five states that would benefit fiscally from the proposal, as Indiana, at the time, had typically received less in federal funding than it contributed in federal taxes. Kernan also touted the prospect of South Bend receiving sever million dollars in one-time federal funding through the legislation. He also argued that the stimulus portion of the legislation was needed to generate jobs. [53]

Kernan also argued that it was past time for legislators to cease considering alternative proposals, as several Republican alternative proposals had already been voted down. Kernan remarked, "This is the only game in town. While there may be some folks who disagree with some party of it, it's the only economic package in the country that has a change of passage." He argued that failure to pass the proposal without a viable alternative would worsen federal legislative gridlock and hurt the chances of Clinton achieving his target of implementing a significant economic change. [53]

Other matters

As mayor, Kernan worked to create a better working relationship between South Bend and the nearby University of Notre Dame. [54] [55]

In December 1988, a fire that destroyed the Morningside Club Residence, an apartment hotel, displaced more than a hundred residents. [56] [57] [58] Kernan was able to persuade the then-unopened Center for the Homeless to rush its opening in order to accommodate some of these displaced residents. [54] [56]

Kernan refinanced Coveleski Stadium The Cove (89407987).jpg
Kernan refinanced Coveleski Stadium

In 1988, taking advantage of a decline in interest rates, Kernan refinanced Coveleski Stadium through the newly created South Bend Redevelopment Authority. [59]

Kernan instituted a mayor's night out/mayor's night in to provide an opportunity for his constituents to better meet with him and share their concerns with him. [60] He held his first such event in January 1988. [61] This practice was also continued under his successor, Steve Luecke. [62]

Kernan was involved in the creation of Indiana's Vietnam and Korean War memorials. [16]

1996 election as lieutenant governor

In 1996, Kernan was elected as Indiana's lieutenant governor on the Democratic Party ticket with then-lieutenant governor Frank O'Bannon topping the ticket as the gubernatorial nominee. Kernan had been reluctant to accept O'Bannon's offer to run with him, initially desiring to instead continue to serve as mayor. [2] [63] Others who had been rumored to have under consideration by O'Bannon for a running mate included Tom DiGuillio, Mike Gery, Baron Hill, John Walda, and Jill Long Thompson. Pamela Carter had ruled herself out of consideration. [63] [64] There has been some reporting that O'Bannon may have first offered the running mate position to Long Thompson and that she had rejected. [65]

Kernan, the mayor of a Northern Indiana city, brought geographic balance to the ticket headed by O'Bannon, a native of the Southern Indiana city of Corydon. [26] O'Bannon had previously signaled that he was exploring choosing a running mate from Northern Indiana in order to provide that geographic benefit. [14] Kernan and O'Bannon had a strong preexisting acquaintanceship. O'Bannon had developed a working relationship on issues of economic development since O'Bannon oversaw the Indiana Department of Commerce as lieutenant governor. [14] [26] Kernan had developed a particularly strong camaraderie with O'Bannon six years earlier in 1990, when Kernan and other Indiana mayors accompanied O'Bannon on a trade mission to Poland, Soviet Union, Ukraine, and Yugoslavia. [2] [38] O'Bannon's selection of Kernan was announced June 3, 1996 with a press release followed by press conference in South Bend and Indianapolis. in its press release, the gubernatorial campaign promoted Kernan as having had a record of success in attracting businesses to the city of South Bend. [14]

While campaigning for lieutenant governor in 1996, Kernan continued to fulfill his duties as mayor. In part to facilitate this, Kernan operated his end of the campaign out of a separate campaign office from O'Bannon, located in South Bend. [66] Despite starting the general election as underdogs, [67] O'Bannon and Kernan's ticket to defeat overcame a deficit to defeat the Republican ticket of Steve Goldsmith and George Witwer.

Upon being elected Lieutenant Governor, Kernan was involved in the process of helping guide the selection of a successor for mayor. [27] [68] Kernan involved St. Joseph Democratic Party Chairman Butch Morgan and South Bend City Council President Roland Kelly in the interviewing of prospective successors. [27] By law, his successor was appointed by the city's 120 Democratic Party precinct committeemen and committeewoman, and it was required that a successor be appointed within thirty days of Kernan leaving office as mayor. It was anticipated that Kernan's endorsement would be heeded by them. [27] Kernan ultimately endorsed Steve Luecke to be his successor, and Luecke was thereafter voted unanimously to serve the rest of Kernan's term. [68] Other candidates that had been reportedly considered included St. Joseph County Prosecutor Mike Barnes, Portage Township Assessor John Voorde, St. Joseph County Auditor Joe Nagy, City Councilor Sean Coleman, City Councilor John Hosinski, Carter Wolf, and City Controller Kevin Horton. [27] [69] [70]

Lieutenant governorship

From January 1997, until assuming the governorship in September 2003, Kernan served as lieutenant governor of Indiana. As lieutenant governor, Kernan built a reputation as a skilled orator. [71] Kernan was regarded to be a popular lieutenant governor. [72]

First term

Kernan was sworn-in as lieutenant governor by his own father. [73] As lieutenant governor, Kernan served as the President of the Indiana Senate, the Director of the Indiana Department of Commerce, and as the Commissioner of Agriculture. [3] [24]

In 1998, Kernan headed the Insurance Industry Working Group, a group aiming to boost the economic fortunes of the state's insurance industry. [3] [24] The group succeeded in getting a reduction to the insurance premium tax rate, securing the passage of a new demutualization law, and getting Ivy Tech to create a new associate degree focusing on the insurance industry. [24]

In 1998, Kernan was involved in the formation of the Pork Crisis Working Group, which later became Agricultural Crisis Working Group. [24] Kernan chaired this group. [3]

In 1998, Kernan was made chair of the new Hoosier Farmland Preservation Task Force. [74] It presented recommendations for farmland preservation and additional land use issues to O'Bannon and members of the Indiana General Assembly, and Laos provided information and advice to communities dealing with problems regarding these issues. [74]

During Kernan's tenure at the head of Indiana's Department of Commerce, the state recorded what were the second-highest export numbers in its history in the second quarter of 1998. [3] [75]

In 1999, Kernan launched the Veterans Outreach Initiative, which was an effort to urge veterans to capitalize upon state and federal benefits available to them. [3] [24]

Kernan was the chairman of the Indiana 21st Century Research and Technology Fund, which was formed in 1999. [3]

Second term

O'Bannon and Kernan were re-elected in 2000, defeating the ticket of David M. McIntosh and J. Murray Clark.

In October 2001, Kernan unveiled the O'Bannon administration's plan for a comprehensive overhaul to the state of Indiana's tax system. [24] [3] [76] The plan was entitled the 21st Century Tax Plan. [76] Kernan had developed this plan alongside a bipartisan group of tax experts. [24] A tax reform plan based upon this proposal was passed in the Indiana General Assembly in June 2002. [24]

In July 2002, Kernan announced a reorganization of the Indiana Department of Commerce. It moved from dividing the department in the thirteen divisions to instead dividing into two teams (program operations and professional services). The reorganization also included the creation of twelve regional offices (including a central office in Indianapolis). [77]

In December 2002, O'Bannon and Kernan proposed a broad job-creation plan entitled "Energize Indiana". [3] [78]

In 2002, a rift arose between Kernan and Governor O'Bannon over O'Bannon's selection of Peter Manous as Democratic State Chairman. [79]

Acting governor

On September 10, 2003, Kernan began serving as acting governor. O'Bannon had been hospitalized after suffering a stroke two days earlier. This was the first time that Indiana had ever implemented their state constitution's clause for handing over the authority of governor in the instance that the governor is unable to perform their duty due to disability. Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives B. Patrick Bauer and Indiana Senate President pro tempore Robert D. Garton had consulted with O'Bannon's counsel, medical treatment team, and family before making a request on September 10, 2003 to Indiana Supreme Court Chief justice Randall Shepard for the court to issue a ruling on O'Bannon's ability to perform his duties. After just over an hour of private discussion, the court ruled that Kernan would become acting governor. [80]


Kernan assumed the governorship following the September 13, 2003 death of Frank O'Bannon. [81] Kernan would receive praise for what was regarded to have been a smooth transition into the office. [82]

Appointments and personnel

For his lieutenant governor, Kernan appointed Kathy Davis, making her the first female lieutenant governor in Indiana's history. [16]

Early into his governorship, Kernan made some key hires and appointments. This included hiring Marshall Michael Carrington to conduct a thorough probe of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and appointing Cheryl Sullivan to head the Family and Social Services Administration. [83] Kernan was credited with strengthening the cabinet style of government of Indiana's executive branch, which had dissipated in its functionality in the later years of O'Bannon's tenure. [83]

Economic matters

Kernan assumed office amid an economic downturn in the state, with state revenue decreasing and unemployment rising. [81] During his governorship, the state struggled with budget deficits and job losses, which Republicans faulted Kernan for, but which Democrats blamed on the lingering aftermath of the early 2000s recession and the dot-com bust. [82] In 2004, the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute (IFPI) found that the state was facing a $824.3 million structural deficit, a deficit equivalent to more than 7% of the state's existing revenues, with the deficit anticipated to significantly grow every year under the existing budget priorities. [84] On a positive note, in 2004, the state began to experience notable increases in revenue in mid-2004. [84]

In November 2003, Kernan and Davis unveiled the Opportunity Indiana initiative, which would aim to optimize how the state conducts business and would aim to increase opportunities for Indiana companies. [85] Under this program, they created a working group to review how the state of Indiana deals with purchasing goods and services, and to provide recommendations to adjustments. [85]

In his 2004 State of the State address, Kernan outlined the Indiana@Work program, an expansion of the state's new jobs initiative. [85] By the end of 2004, 30,000 Hoosiers would receive skills assessments through this program. [86]


In January 2004, Kernan announced the Early Learning Trust, which was an initiative with the goal of providing every child in Indiana with access to voluntary full-day kindergarten by the year 2007. [87] It would also create pilot programs for early learning opportunities for at-risk children. [85]

In March 2004, Kernan requested to the state's public colleges and universities that they cap tuition and fee increases at 4% for the 2004–05 academic year. [86] [88] In October 2004 he unveiled plans to expand the state's community college system from having ten campuses to having 23 in time for the fall of 2005, [86] [89] which would mean that every state resident would live within a 30-mile radius of a community college's campus. [86]

Through executive order, Kernan created the Early Learning and School Readiness Commission. [86]

As co-chair of the Indiana Education Roundtable, Kernan took charge in work to adopt the P-16 Plan for Improving Student Achievement. [86]


Kernan took actions as governor to address rising healthcare costs. [86] Changes were made to HoosierRx to allow senior citizens twice the discount when it was utilized in conjunction with the new federal Medicare prescription drug benefit. Kernan signed legislation which created the state's prescription drug purchasing pool. [86] Kernan pushed forward with the Hoosier Health Plan. [86] On December 1, 2004, Kernan convened a prescription drug summit aiming to develop an "Indiana solution" to drug affordability concerns. [86]

Highway infrastructure

Kernan supported a controversial project extending Interstate 69 from Indianapolis to Evansville, which had earlier received O'Bannon's support. [90] Kernan also pursued upgrades to U.S. Route 31. The Indiana Department of Transportation estimated that Kernan's proposed projects for U.S. Route 31 would cost more than $1 billion. [84]

Other matters

In his 2004 State of the State address, Kernan announced the Peak Performance Project, in which he delegated lieutenant governor Davis with overseeing a review of state government performance. [85] The Peak Performance Project would ultimately result in the creation of a broad plan for overhauling the state's government. [86]

On March 17, 2004, Kernan signed House Bill 1349, which provided protections for gun owners whose firearms were stolen from being sued for injuries or deaths resulting from misuse of those stolen firearms. [91]

In 2004, Kernan became the first governor of Indiana in 48 years to spare the life of an inmate on death row, when, just days before his scheduled execution, Kernan commuted the sentence of Darnell Williams to life in prison without parole. [82]

Campaign for a full term

2004 Indaina gubernatorial election results by county:
Daniels:      50-60%      60-70%      70-80%
Tie:      40-50%
Kernan:      40-50%      50-60%      60-70% 2004 Indiana gubernatorial election results map by county.svg
2004 Indaina gubernatorial election results by county:
Daniels:      50–60%     60–70%     70–80%
Tie:      40-50%
Kernan:      40–50%     50–60%     60–70%

In December 2002, whilst lieutenant governor, despite previous widespread anticipation that he would seek the governorship, [77] Kernan made the surprise announcement that he would not run in the 2004 election. [81] However, two months after assuming the governorship, he reversed this decision, declaring himself a candidate. [92]

In their bid for a first full term as governor and lieutenant governor, Kernan and Davis outlined their vision for what he would seek to accomplish in their prospective continued tenure in the state's top two offices in a plan entitled "Action Indiana". [93] Kernan and Davis were ultimately defeated by the Republican ticket of Mitch Daniels and Becky Skillman. At the time, the election was the most expensive gubernatorial election in the state's history, in regards to campaign spending. [82] The Republicans have controlled Indiana's governor's mansion since Kernan's departure.

One of the things Kernan criticized his opponent, Daniels, for was Daniels' decision in 2000, as a member of the board of the Indianapolis Power & Light Company, to vote to sell the utility company to an out-of-state company. Kernan characterized it as "terribly bad judgement". [94] [95]

Kernan pledged to pursue upgrades to U.S. Route 31 calling it, "one of my top priorities since I first took office as lieutenant governor in 1997, and...still among them today." He declared that there had progress in the pursuit of improvements, and that the plans had been made in a "fiscally responsible manner" Kernan also voiced opposition to the prospect making the thoroughfare a toll road, declaring, "I will not make hoosiers – or the people who are driving through on business or pleasure – pay a toll to travel this roadway." Daniels criticized Kernan's proposals, characterizing them as fiscally irresponsible, claiming, "The gap between the cost and the available funds in the Indiana Department of Transportation's budget is more than $3 billion in the next six years. For a state that is broke by every measure, the governor's promise list is impossible." [84]

Post-gubernatorial career

Kernan returned to private life in January 2005, and moved back to South Bend in 2006. [12]

He served as a volunteer acting director for the St. Joseph County Red Cross. [16] He worked at the University of Notre Dame as an adjunct professor. [5]

Kernan served on the Indiana University South Bend Chancellor's Advisory Board, and was a member of the Chancellor's 100 of Indiana University. [6]

Partnering with his gubernatorial successor, Kernan worked with the Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation. [96]

Kernan was the president and owner of the community and business development consulting firm South Bend Enterprises, Inc. [5]

South Bend Silver Hawks

In 2005, Kernan became president and managing investor of the South Bend Silver Hawks baseball club, after convincing approximately 50 others to invest in the team. This kept the team in South Bend, amid rumors that they were eying a move out of the city. [97]

Kernan's tenure with the South Bend Silver Hawks team ended in 2011. [16] Kernan then agreed to sell the team to Andrew Berlin, of Berlin Packaging, so that he could develop the Silver Hawks further and keep the team in the South Bend area. [98] The team has subsequently been the renamed the South Bend Cubs.

Political involvement

In July 2007, Kernan and Indiana Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard, a Republican, were appointed by Daniels to co-chair the bipartisan Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform. [99] [100] [101] The commission published its report in December 2007. [102] It recommended making broad changes to the structure of local government in the state. [103] The report recommended having county argument mimic state government by having a single executive act that acts the chief executive officer and a legislative body which deals with fiscal and policy matters. The report also recommended saving costs bay eliminating township governments and having other levels of government assume services currently provided by townships. It also recommended having a unified county library system within each of the state's 92 counties. It also recommended decreasing the expenses of elections by moving municipal elections from off-years to even-numbered years. [100] The state acted on a recommendation to eliminate township assessors, merging their responsibilities with county assessors. [104] A state law was passed allowing townships to vote on whether to retain or abolish their assessors. [105] In October 2008, Kernan and Shepherd co-authored an op-ed urging voters to vote to abolish assessor positions in their townships in the November elections. [104] That November, 30 townships abolished their assessors, while thirteen retained their's. [106]

In 2008, Kernan and his wife Maggie were Indiana co-chairs of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign [107] and actively campaigned for Clinton leading up to the state's May primary. [108] Ahead of the state's April primaries, Kernan also endorsed Jim Schellinger's gubernatorial campaign. [109] [110] [111] Like Kernan, Schellinger originally hailed from South Bend. In his endorsement, Kernan stated that he had personally known Schellinger for years prior and considered him a friend and a great prospective governor. [112] Breaking with her husband, Maggie Kernan endorsed Schellinger's primary election opponent, Jill Long Thompson. [113]

Kernan endorsed Pete Buttigieg during the 2011 South Bend mayoral election. [114] [115]

In 2014, Kernan and several other city leaders, including his mayoral successor Steve Luecke and former South Bend fire chief Luther Taylor and Republican CEO of the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce Jeff Rea, held a press conference in which complained about visible infighting on the South Bend Common Council. [116] Kernan also cited lewd social media posts by then-5th district council member Henry Davis, Jr. to have been an embarrassment to the city. [116] At the press conference, Kernan levied the possibility that he would work to help remove problematic members of the council from office in the 2015 election. [116] Immediately after, in comments to the South Bend Tribune , Kernan criticized Common Council Vice President Derek Dieter as being "poison in the well", alleging that he had been "behaving like a bully". [116] Kernan criticized the leadership of Common Council President Oliver Davis, arguing that he believed Davis was a, "good guy," who was, "reluctant to make decisions". [116] Kernan's harsh rebuke of the council earned support from council member Fred Ferlic. [116]

In 2015, Kernan served as campaign manager and treasurer for Kareemah Fowler's campaign for South Bend City Clerk. [117] [118] [119] Fowler had a landslide victory in capturing Democratic nomination in a competitive primary, defeating veteran Common Council member Derek Dieter, [119] and was elected clerk in the general election. [120]

During the 2016 United States presidential election, Kernan appeared in a Priorities USA Action-funded television advertisement criticizing Republican nominee Donald Trump as “unfit to be president.” [121] In the ad, he also referred to comments Trump had made deriding John McCain's military service, in which, like Kernan, he was a prisoner of war in the Vietnam war, as, "disgraceful". [122] The ad was run in nine swing states. [122]

In 2017, along with Republican former Ohio Governor Bob Taft, Kernan co-authored an op-ed arguing in favor of abolishing the death penalty for mentally ill criminals. [123] [124]

Kernan endorsed Tim Corbett in his unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination in the 2018 St. Joseph County Sheriff election. [125] [126]

Honors and awards

For his military service, Kernan was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Purple Hearts and the Navy Commendation Medal. [3] [8] [10] He was among the second-ever class of inductees into the Indiana Military Veterans Hall of Fame when he was enshrined in 2015. [127]

Kernan was awarded an honorary doctorate by his alma mater the University of Notre Dame in 1998, when he served as the university's commencement speaker. [2] [5] In 2012, the Notre Dame Monogram Club awarded Kernan the Edward “Moose” Krause Distinguished Service Award. [12] [128] Six years later, the University of Notre Dame Alumni Association presented Kernan with the Rev. Edward Frederick Sorin, C.S.C., Award, regarded to be one of the university's highest honors. [16]

A park in South Bend was named for Kernan in 2017. The park, located along the St. Joseph River, had previously been named Viewing Park. [129] That same year, Kernan received an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from Indiana University. [6]

Personal life

Kernan was the eldest of nine children. He had one brother and seven sisters. [2]

Kernan married Maggie McCullough in April 1974. [2] [3] Since 1976, they resided on the north side of South Bend, Indiana, [5] where Maggie works as a marketing specialist for 1st Source Bank. Maggie is a Purdue University graduate and was active in community service. [24]

Kernan was Catholic. [130]

Kernan and his wife never had any children. [82]

Kernan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease several years before his 2020 death. However, his family did not disclose his condition until early July 2020, weeks before his death, when they disclosed that Kernan was afflicted by the condition, was living in a care facility, and had lost his ability to speak. [131] [132]


Kernan died on July 29, 2020, from complications of Alzheimer's disease at a care facility in South Bend. [131] [133] [134]

Political positions

Kernan stated that he was "personally opposed" to abortion, but was strongly pro-choice. [130]

While lieutenant governor, Kernan commented on President Bill Clinton's misconduct outlined in the Starr Report, stating that the president had "gone too far," and further commenting on a sense of disappointment in Clinton by saying, "We've all had some feelings over the last few weeks and the past seven months. Some of us are angry, disappointed, ashamed, bitter, sad. For all of us, one or more of these emotions have come together." [135]

As governor, Kernan was not opposed to providing special subsidies for large employers to move jobs to the state. He responded to criticisms of this feeding into a race to the bottom by declaring, "I understand the argument that taking jobs away from Boston and putting them here is nationally a zero-sum game. But Indiana, like virtually every other state, is not going to unilaterally disarm". [136] [137]

In 2017, along with Republican former Ohio Governor Bob Taft, Kernan co-authored an op-ed arguing in favor of abolishing the death penalty for mentally ill criminals. [123] [124]

Electoral history


Joe Kernan
Joe Kernan (1).jpg
Kernan in 2008
48th Governor of Indiana
In office
September 13, 2003 January 10, 2005
1987 South Bend mayoral election [138]
Democratic Joe Kernan 17,030 53.00%
Republican Carl Baxmeyer15,10447.00%
Total votes32,134 100
1991 South Bend mayoral election [139]
Democratic Joe Kernan (incumbent) 16,134 76.49%
Republican Sylvia Shelton4,95823.51%
Total votes21,092 100
1995 South Bend mayoral election [140] [141]
Democratic Joe Kernan (incumbent) 14,309 82.17%
Republican Mike Waite3,10617.84%
Total votes17,415 100

Lieutenant gubernatorial

1996 Indiana gubernatorial election
Democratic Frank O'Bannon/Joe Kernan 1,087,128 51.52
Republican Stephen Goldsmith/George Witwer986,98246.78
Libertarian Steve Dillon/Leona McPherson35,8051.70
2000 Indiana gubernatorial election
Democratic Frank O'Bannon (incumbent)/Joe Kernan (incumbent) 1,232,525 56.56
Republican David M. McIntosh/J. Murray Clark 908,28541.68
Libertarian Andrew Horning/Mark Schreiber38,4581.76


2004 Indiana gubernatorial election [142]
Republican Mitch Daniels/Becky Skillman 1,302,912 53.21%
Democratic Joe Kernan (incumbent)/Kathy Davis (incumbent)1,113,90045.49%
Libertarian Kenn Gividen/Elaine Badnarik31,6641.29%
Turnout 2,448,49857%

See also

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The 1996 Indiana gubernatorial Election was held on November 5, 1996, alongside the election of both houses of the Indiana General Assembly. Incumbent Governor Evan Bayh, a Democrat, was ineligible to run for a third consecutive term due to term limits established by the Indiana Constitution. He was succeeded by Lt. Governor Frank O'Bannon, who won election over Republican Stephen Goldsmith with 52% of the vote.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2020 Indiana gubernatorial election</span> Election for the governorship of the U.S. state of Indiana

The 2020 Indiana gubernatorial election was won by incumbent Republican Eric Holcomb on November 3, 2020. The election was held concurrently with the 2020 U.S. presidential election, as well as elections to the United States House of Representatives and various state and local elections.

Maggie McCullough Kernan is a former First Lady of the State of Indiana, having served in that role from September 13, 2003, to January 10, 2005, during the administration of her husband Governor Joe Kernan. Prior to her time as First Lady, Kernan worked as an executive at 1st Source bank and was active in numerous community initiatives in her hometown of South Bend, Indiana.

Michael Schmuhl is an American political figure serving as the chair of the Indiana Democratic Party. Schmuhl previously managed the Pete Buttigieg 2020 presidential campaign. Schmuhl worked for more than a year as Buttigieg's chief of staff during Buttigieg's South Bend, Indiana mayoralty. Schmuhl has also been involved in the business sector.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2011 South Bend mayoral election</span> 2011 South Bend, Indiana mayoral election

The 2011 South Bend, Indiana mayoral election was held on November 8, 2011.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2015 South Bend mayoral election</span> Election in Indiana

The 2015 South Bend, Indiana mayoral election was held on November 3, 2015. The election was won by the incumbent mayor, Pete Buttigieg, who was reelected with more than 80 percent of the votes, defeating Republican Kelly Jones. The election coincided with races for the Common Council and for South Bend City Clerk.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2019 South Bend mayoral election</span> 2019 mayoral election in South Bend, Indiana

The 2019 South Bend, Indiana mayoral election was held on November 5, 2019 to determine the next mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

Roger O. Parent is an American politician who served as the 29th mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2010 Indiana State Treasurer election</span> Election in Indiana

The 2010 Indiana State Treasurer election was held in on Tuesday, November 2, 2010, as part of the 2010 Indiana elections, held during the 2010 midterms.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mayoralty of Pete Buttigieg</span> Mayor of South Bend, Indiana

Pete Buttigieg served as mayor of South Bend, Indiana from 2012 to 2020. Elected in 2011 as a Democrat, he took office in January 2012 at the age of 29, becoming the second-youngest mayor in South Bend history, and the youngest incumbent mayor, at the time, of a U.S. city with at least 100,000 residents. During his mayoralty, he acquired the nickname "Mayor Pete". Coming out as gay in 2015, Buttigieg became the first elected official in Indiana to come out while in office, as well as the highest-ranking Indiana elected official to come out. Buttigieg won reelection in 2015. Buttigieg opted against running for reelection in 2019, instead launching a campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in the 2020 United States presidential election.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mayoral elections in South Bend, Indiana</span> Elections for the mayor of Providence, Rhode Island

Elections are held in South Bend, Indiana, to elect the city's mayor. Such elections are regularly scheduled to be held every four years, in the year immediately preceding that of United States presidential elections.


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Political offices
Preceded by Lieutenant Governor of Indiana
Succeeded by
Governor of Indiana
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Indiana
1996, 2000
Succeeded by
Democratic nominee for Governor of Indiana
Succeeded by