Early life & family
Luke was born outside of Evansville, Indiana near the Nichols family farm, though much of his childhood and teenage years were spent in Indianapolis. His paternal grandfather Robert Nichols was elected the 40th President of the United States in 1980 when Luke was only four. Robert took his grandson to Camp David during summer and winter breaks from school, though he would sleep at the White House on occasion. While on a state visit to the United States in 1982, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher had told President Nichols that Luke would one day become President in his own right.
Nichols' maternal grandfather, Elias Munoz (1926-1976) was once the owner and operator of one of the largest slaughterhouse chains in the American Southwest. When Elias turned 50, he sold off the entire chain and used the money to purchase a large property where he spent the last few months of his building the home that would house his family.
Luke's father, Matthew Nichols (1956-), served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983 until 1995. In late 1993, Matthew announced that his current House term would be his last and he would be running for an open seat in the U.S. Senate for Indiana. During the 1994 election, Matthew campaigned vigorously before finally losing to his Republican opponent. He had once been discussed as a potential candidate for President or Vice President in 1996 or 2000. The loss effectively ended Matthew's political aspirations and on January 3, 1995, he was a private citizen once again. Matthew became a full-time television correspondent and novelist.
He attended his family's alma mater, Indiana-Purdue University. There he joined IPU's Navy ROTC program signing onto its eight-year service obligation. He double-majored in political science and civil engineering earning a BS in political science in 1998. While serving in the U.S. Navy, he earned his MS from Columbia University in 2000 and completed his Doctoral dissertation from Yale University in 2002. He originally wanted to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard.
Later, Luke volunteered for the SEAL program and became quite proficient in combat and command. He became a local celebrity when he returned from the Vilkovian War. He had been wounded in combat and earned a Purple Heart and Navy Cross for his actions on the field of battle. Following in the traditions of his grandfather and great-grandfather. After he had recovered from his injuries, Nichols began teaching at IPU. After his first year of teaching, he married his college sweetheart Allison and bought their first house by 2005.
Career in politics
In 2008, Nichols had become quite involved in local politics and was elected to the Indiana State Senate representing parts of the Indianapolis Metropolitan area. He challenged longtime Republican State Senator Cecil Gadsden. During his election, he ran as a centrist Democrat who was offering a series of reforms to his State Senate district's infrastructure that had been lacking for decades. He presented himself as a stern leader and an inspiring skilled orator.
A change came during the 2010 election, Nichols changed his strategy and goals. Instead shaping himself from a centrist Democrat into a center-left populist. In 2012, he announced that he would not be running for re-election to the State Senate and instead for the Governorship of Indiana. He coincidently challenged his 2008 opponent, Republican Cecil Gadsden, once again. Commentators often commended Nichols for his oratory and ability to speak to the common folk and more affluent without belittling either. He portrayed himself as a uniter and as a fighter for all Hoosiers. He was re-elected in 2016.
Nichols' first term as Governor of Indiana led to a complete revamp of the state's education system and state-wide healthcare market tied to other interstate compacts in Democratic states circumventing MorCare provisions. He also signed into law legislation making Indiana a state that would protect non-criminal illegal immigrants and deport illegal criminals. As well as, signed controversial bullet control legislation while enforcing gun control laws. In addition, he signed an executive action banning capital punishment in the state.
During the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Nichols was asked to give the keynote speech. Critics lauded his presentation and the overall attitude of the speech. One critic called it, "a refreshing shirtsleeves approach to politics that has been missing on the Republican side and to be fair, on the Democratic side for some time." After the loss of the 2016 Democratic nominee, Luke Nichols was successful in retaining his Governorship in one of the largest landslides in Indiana history. This has caused discussion of Nichols being a potential Democratic candidate for U.S. President in 2020.
The 2016 Indiana Gubernatorial race included several state-wide ballot initiatives, one of which was Nichols' new state-wide curriculum plan as well as his state-wide single-payer plan, both of which passed with over 65% of voter support.
In early 2017, Nichols was elected to serve as the Chair of the Democratic Governors Association, signaling a party shift in a new direction, working to craft the strategy to help the Democratic party retake several Governorships held by Republicans.
Nichols has been discussed as a potential presidential candidate in the 2020 U.S. President.
Luke Nichols is a composite character that takes elements from Bernie Sanders, Justin Trudeau, Barack Obama, and Pete Buttigieg.