Differences show in Indiana debates

(Anderson) Herald Bulletin

The candidates in the race for Indiana governor are beginning to catch on.

Hoosiers needed to know their differences, the areas where they differentiate on policy.

In fact, many of us could have predicted how the candidates would respond to questions about jobs, environment and LGBT rights. On Oct. 3, character began to emerge, as did clarifying policy.

The race is clearly between Democrat John Gregg and Republican Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb. Libertarian Rex Bell, who means well and should be respected for his offer to serve Indiana, seems trapped in his party’s refusal to let a few government entities play a role in Hoosiers’ lives to the point where he is sounding mediocre on issues.

Primarily, Holcomb and Gregg showed major differences in their approaches to LGBT rights and Syrian refugees.

Earlier on Oct. 3, the Seventh Circuit Court in Chicago ruled against Gov. Mike Pence’s attempt to ban Syrian refugees from Indiana.

Holcomb, who never mentioned Pence’s name Monday night and only wants to identify with Mitch Daniels’ more populist image, said he would go along with the court’s ruling. He said he would allow refugees to find “safe haven” in Indiana.

That gave Gregg the chance to jump back, reminding voters that Indiana is often “embarrassed” by Republican-led litigation.

LGBT rights is perhaps the chief reason Holcomb won’t align himself with Pence, whose push for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act yielded a national outcry.

Holcomb said the debate might better be discussed among local communities who can decide how to approach LGBT rights. RFRA, he noted, didn’t hurt tourism.

Gregg said RFRA has hurt the economy from businesses refusing to locate here due to the act. Gregg said he would sign an executive order to give civil rights protections for state employees and pursue hate crime legislation.

None were direct on target — given the time limit to respond — in showing how the development of jobs will keep workers’ pay on the rise. Holcomb said programs currently in place are still good. Gregg said his focus would be on high-growth jobs in sciences and logistics. The status quo, he said, “isn’t getting it.”

As the evening wound down, the Second Amendment brought out Gregg’s down-home Hoosier style noting that guns in the hands of criminals affect “old John’s” rights to “own a gun.”

Holcomb brought up protecting his family and acknowledged that his wife became a handgun instructor after their home had been broken into twice.

As we hoped, the second debate allowed Hoosiers to get more acquainted with their gubernatorial candidates who worked harder to define their differences Monday night.

But soon it’s going to be up to Hoosiers to make the difference.

Send comments to awoods@tribtown.com.

More debates

  • The Indiana Debate Commission will sponsor one finale gubernatorial debate at 7 p.m. Oct. 25 at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville. The debate will focus on health and social issues.
  • Also, the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian candidates for U.S. senator in Indiana have agreed to meet on Oct. 18 in a televised debate broadcast from a studio of public television station WFYI in Indianapolis. The debate among Democrat Evan Bayh, Republican Todd Young and Libertarian Lucy Brenton will start at 7 p.m.