Could Hogsett’s personal life decide close Indianapolis mayoral race?

Joe Hogsett speaks at Indy HobNob

News broke Saturday that Indianapolis mayor Joe Hogsett’s wife has filed for divorce, which could impact the impending mayoral election. According to public records, they are scheduled to appear in court Oct. 19, only 19 days before the Nov. 7 election.

Joe Hogsett and his wife, Stephanie, Courtesy of Current

Early voting begins Oct. 11, leaving Hogsett with little time to prepare for or lead a get-out-the-vote drive, which could be a problem for his campaign.

With municipal primaries reaching the highest turnout since 2011, it is likely that the race will be closer than the average municipal election, and that every vote will make a difference.

“Like so many families in Indianapolis, the last few years have been trying in ways that neither of us could have imagined,” said Hogsett in a prepared statement, “and the demands of life in public service have been felt not only by Steph and me, but by every member of our family.”

Historical Precedent

The last Democratic mayor of Indianapolis to run for a third term was Bart Peterson. He was defeated in a close race with Republican Greg Ballard in 2007, despite spending around thirty times more than Ballard in the last month of the race.

Bart Peterson, Courtesy of Wikipedia

The factors that seemed to most heavily contribute to Peterson’s loss were a tax hike passed shortly before the election and a crime wave that hit the city in the last years of his administration.

Hogsett, on the other hand, has opposed tax increases to fix infrastructure problems, setting him apart from his primary challenger Robin Shackleford. He also included a property tax credit for most Indianapolis homeowners in his 2023 fiscal plan.


While there appears to be some decrease in violence in Indianapolis since 2021, there have already been more than 157 homicides this year, which is roughly on pace with 2022 rates.

At the HobNob event held by the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce last month, Hogsett’s opponent Jefferson Shreve emphasized that the solve rate for violent crime was only 30 percent, compared to 80 percent during the Ballard administration.

Greg Ballard, Courtesy of WFYI

“You can get away with murder in this city, and that is no way for our citizens to live,” he said.

The county prosecutor, Ryan Mears, has also been criticized for refusing to prosecute certain cases in the past.


Shreve, however, has also said he would not direct Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department resources to prosecute certain cases, including abortion-related crimes, much like Mears.

“I will absolutely not dedicate IMPD resources to prosecuting cases of abortion,” he said in a campaign ad.

Other Factors
Hogsett campaign ad clarifies his stance on abortion

Shreve’s more left-leaning positions such as marching in the Indianapolis pride parade earlier this year and reversing course to take a stance in favor of firearm restrictions, may be setting him up on the path of earlier successful Republican candidates for mayor in Indianapolis.

Shreve has also been a big spender, which may help him as the race comes to a close.

When combined with the electoral history of Indianapolis and the potential complications to Mayor Hogsett’s campaign coming from his personal life, these factors likely make this an extremely competitive election.

Hogsett’s divorce may or may not have an impact on his ability to campaign, but it could create enough confusion to shift voter perception of the race, which may impact turnout on Election Day.

Whether you are a native resident or a student living in Indianapolis, make sure to register to vote by Oct. 8 to choose the next mayor of Indianapolis.

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