Gov Debate: Pence vs Dem "Horse with No Name"
Tonight is the first gubernatorial debate between Mike Pence and John Gregg. The third candidate is famous for appearing on a tv reality show and is available for those desiring to throw away their vote or demonstrate lack of seriousness about governing.
John Gregg has run what is probably the worst campaign that was well-funded in modern Indiana history. His first theme - the guy with two first names - was stupid (what does it have to do with anything about being Governor?). No ideas, no experience and not even a way to remember his name. Mitch Daniels is sort of two first names, and many Indiana governors had two first names so the idea isn't even unique. Every time I hear it, I think of the song by America "A Horse with No Name" which is what he has left the Democrats with.
Gregg John compounded his problem by over-doing the small-town thing. I certainly raised the fact that I was from Grabill in my campaigns. But here are some differences. In this area, Grabill was better known than I was. In fact, surveys had shown that Souder's of Grabill was more recognized than any local politicians, so I was logically tying in. Furthermore, I had been marketing director for our furniture store and publicity director for a decade for the Grabill County Fair, and played a major role in creating the Grabill country image in the media. Most importantly however, I used my Grabill identity as a supplement to tie-in images, ideas and my experience - not the whole thing. Even the slogan I used in 1994 - "More of Grabill, less of Washington" - had specific meaning in the context of the 1994 Republican Revolution.
Gregg John has used everything from ladies in curlers, to empty gas station tables, to dumping water on him from a root and failed to connect a theme beyond that he apparently came from a small town.
Then there's the moustache on his bumper sticker tagline. Perhaps it will help among the barbershop quartet singers, but otherwise what was attempted cleverness trying to make him distinctive instead just looks stupid.
So, as John Gregg sunk further and further behind, a little over a week ago he changed his ads. Now he's wearing a suit, looking like the lobbyist he has been. Finally he attempts to say why he is running for governor (by making false claims). Other than the barbershop quartet logo, it has no links to the other ads.
Then, showing even more desperation, there is a nasty attack ad on Mike Pence distorting his record. The Democrats are calling Mike an extremist, which is like calling about 2/3 of Hoosiers extremists. Many of those may vote Democrat out of tradition or lack of understanding who they are voting for, but Mike's ideas match up with most Hoosiers.
Pence ran an early campaign establishing his Hoosier roots knowing that panicking Democrats would try to tie him to Washington. They will fail. I believe he has established his Indiana roots. Senator Lugar was solidly Hoosier as well, but waited too long to make that point. Mike was in Congress a relatively short period so certainly does not have a Lugar comparison at all.
Mike also is a solid conservative. Gregg tried to say he was then tied himself to abortion, the unions and Democrat policies. Plus, and this is the most important point: Mitch Daniels reformed Indiana. He will go down in history as the best governor in Indiana's history because he transformed us from a mess. (Pence may be as good but doesn't have a mess like Daniels faced.)
Whose mess did Mitch Daniels reform? John Gregg was Speaker of the Indiana House in the last Administrations before Mitch took over. In other words, Daniels fixed the mess that Gregg helped create.
As a footnote, Gregg basically ruined Vincennes University in the dumb, expensive, and failed attempt to create a junior college system. IVY Tech was our form of such a system.
The gubernatorial debates are likely to be the least meaningful ones this state has ever had. Gregg has blown it whereas Mike Pence is an extraordinary candidate. On debate points, Pence could lose all three debates and still win easily. This race was over long ago. Pence will be a great governor.