Democratic gubernatorial hopeful: “Look beyond the party label”

Democratic gubertorial hopeful John Gregg comes to Goshen for a pair of appearances, to the Goshen Noon Kiwanis club and at the Goshen Public Library.
Posted on Sept. 19, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

For Democratic gubernatorial hopeful John Gregg, political ideas should be judged on whether they’re sound, not by their seeming place on the political spectrum.

Some gauge ideas on whether they fit the Democratic or GOP mold “but I’m not that way,” he said during a campaign stop Tuesday in Goshen. “So if you think everything’s left or right, I’m not your candidate. I challenge each and every one of you to look beyond the party label.”

Given unemployment, continuing economic jitters and other fiscal concerns, he also doesn’t think it’s the time to focus on hot-button social issues. “They’re important issues, but nobody’s ever going to change their mind on them.”

Rather, the time is ripe for someone who can work equally with Democrats and Republicans, and Gregg said he fits the bill. The lawyer and former speaker of the Indiana House spoke twice here, at the regular meeting of the Goshen Noon Kiwanis Club and then to a crowd at the Goshen Public Library.

“That’s what Hoosiers want. They want people who will reach across the aisle,” said Gregg, who’s from the southern Indiana community of Sandborn and served in the Indiana House from 1986 to 2002.

Indeed, Gregg emphasized his ability to work with Republicans at several points in the two presentations, which were largely similar, and painted himself in fairly conservative terms. He’s a “gun-toting, bible-quoting Democrat from southern Indiana,” he said, noting later that he’d need support of moderate Republicans to win the governor’s race.

Even so, he didn’t shy from criticizing the Republican in the gubernatorial race, Mike Pence, who’s currently serving in Indiana’s 6th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In comments after the Kiwanis presentation, Gregg distinguished himself, saying he, as opposed to Pence, has a record as a state lawmaker of balancing a state budget, improving funding to education and abolishing a tax, Indiana’s inventory tax.

Pence has never authored a bill as a U.S. House member that’s become law, said Gregg, accompanied on his stops by Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman, also a Democrat. Instead, the GOPer has seemed to focus his efforts in Washington D.C. on trying to strip federal funding earmarked for Planned Parenthood.

Here are some other highlights from Gregg’s presentations:

Ÿ Agriculture, energy: Indiana could “change the way we feed the world” and faces a potentially bright future in new agricultural pursuits, like fish farming and large, “40 to 50 acre” greenhouses. “We could grow three different growing seasons inside these greenhouses in Indiana,” he said.

He didn’t outline exactly how to develop new fish farms or large-scale greenhouses, but touched on the option as a means of economic development. Likewise, Indiana’s manufacturing sector has great potential in alternative energy, making things like wind turbines.

Ÿ Education: He put himself squarely behind teachers in the public school system, saying he’d include them, as well as school officials, parents and others in crafting education policy.

The education system can be improved, he said, “but I don’t think we make things better by scapegoating teachers or scapegoating public education.” He also expressed his opposition to 2010 state legislation creating educational vouchers.

Ÿ Ideas: Indianapolis and the statehouse shouldn’t be the sole domain of ideas. Rather, ideas should come from the public.

“We need to do things from the bottom up, not the top down,” Gregg said.

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