The 2004 Indiana gubernatorial election took place on November 2, 2004, to elect the Governor of Indiana.
Incumbent Democratic Governor Joe Kernan was defeated by RepublicanMitch Daniels. Daniels' victory was the first time the Republican Party had held the Governor's office for 16 years and gave the party control of all the important statewide offices. It was also the first time an incumbent Governor had been defeated since the Constitution of Indiana was amended in 1972 to permit governors to serve two consecutive terms.
Former White House Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mitch Daniels easily defeated conservative activist Eric Miller in the Republican primary on May 4, 2004. The Republican candidate for Governor in 2000, David M. McIntosh, had earlier dropped out of the race after PresidentGeorge W. Bush gave his support to Daniels. Daniels had quit as White House budget director in 2003 so he could return to Indiana and run for Governor. President Bush came to South Bend, Indiana before the primary to support Daniels, and the President's nickname for Daniels, "My Man Mitch," became his campaign slogan.
Frank O'Bannon had been re-elected governor of Indiana in 2000 and was prevented from running for Governor again by term limits. His Lieutenant GovernorJoe Kernan in December 2002 said that he would not be a candidate for Governor.State SenatorVi Simpson and Joe Andrew then vied for nomination for the next ten months. However in September 2003 Frank O'Bannon had a stroke and died, resulting in Joe Kernan taking over as Governor. Kernan decided two months later that he would run for Governor in 2004 and was unopposed in the Democratic primary after both Simpson and Andrew dropped out.
Daniels campaigned by travelling throughout Indiana in his RV visiting all 92 Indiana counties at least three times. Kernan fell behind in the polls in May 2004 and never caught up, despite closing the gap in September after attacking Daniels plan to sell an Indiana utility to an out of state firm. The economy of Indiana was a major issue in the campaign with Kernan, as incumbent, facing pressure over the states budget troubles.