With the general election just over a month away, time is running out for Gary residents to decide Indiana’s next governor and America’s next president. As Gary’s unemployment rate and economy continue to lag behind the state, the Nov. 8 general election is becoming increasingly important for frustrated voters to voice their disappointment on both state and national levels.
At the center of these frustrations is the state’s Republican leadership, particularly incumbent Governor Michael Pence. Under his leadership, Gary has suffered while most cities in the state have flourished with surging job markets and booming economies.
Meanwhile, Gary’s economy and school district are struggling to rebound, and Pence has often been accused of being out of touch with the needs of the working class and ignoring the economic problems that have plagued cities like Gary. Now, Pence is trying to win the nation’s second-highest office. Both the gubernatorial and presidential races have ties to Gary, and voters who have been frustrated with the state’s leadership can help stop Pence from becoming America’s next vice president.
Time is running out to make a difference next month; Oct. 11 is the deadline to register to vote for the general election on Nov. 8.
In the race for president, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is still ahead in the polls against Republican nominee Donald Trump, but sliding poll numbers has her fighting to keep the lead in a race that continues to tighten.
Clinton won favorable reviews after a heated, televised presidential debate on Sept.27. It was the highest viewed debate in the nation’s history. Poised and composed, Clinton persevered as Trump unleashed an onslaught of personal attacks that seemingly backfired and hurt his image in the latest polls.
Both Democrats and Republicans have criticized Trump, who has shown little remorse for not paying millions of dollars in federal taxes over the years. It’s a reality that Clinton reminded a national audience on Monday night. The day after the debate, Trump said the debate was unfair and vowed to unleash harsher attacks in the next presidential debate, which is a townhall format, on Oct. 9.
Trump’s vice presidential nominee, Pence, will debate his opponent, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine on Oct. 4. Since joining the Republican ticket last summer, Pence has expressed the same consecutive views that are at the heart of his policies on abortion as Indiana’s governor.
Those same policies has drawn Pence heavy criticism and made the race to the governor’s mansion easier for John R. Gregg, who is attempting to become the state’s first Democratic governor in 13 years. His opponent, Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb, aims to be the third consecutive Republican to lead the Hoosier State.
On Sept. 27, the candidates squared off in a townhall meeting style debate at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis. It was the first of three gubernatorial debates for the candidates.
Holcomb has proposed an education plan that would largely continue the policies of Pence. He wants to expand a state-funded pre-school pilot program for low-income families; provide incentives to outstanding teachers; and defend GOP-led expansions of the state’s private school voucher program and the growth of charter schools.
Gregg’s platform involves greater support for struggling communities and cities like Gary. He has called for universal, state-funded pre-schools; abandoning the state’s A-F school accountability system in favor of more comprehensive performance measurements; scaling back the state’s private school voucher program; and halting further charter school expansion.
On Sept. 23, the Indiana State Police Alliance’s Political Action Committee became the latest organization representing public safety to throw their support behind Gregg. The announcement followed the Indiana Fraternal Order of Police’s endorsement of Gregg in August.
On the Republican ticket, Holcomb has toned down the highly-charged conservative climate by aligning himself with socially-conservative policies.
In his campaign, Gregg has re-branded himself as the LGBT-friendly alternative to Pence, whose hard-line religious conservatism placed him at odds with big business and its support of gay and transgender rights.
Pence had faced a tough re-election campaign for governor before abandoning those efforts to become Trump’s running mate. His approval ratings fell as he drew criticism for his handling of the state’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act and support of new abortion restrictions that a federal judge has since ruled unconstitutional.
With the state’s Republican majority and rising opposition to Pence’s conservative policies, it will be a heated gubernatorial race when voters throughout Gary and Indiana go to the polls next month.
Secretary of State Connie Lawson reported there’s been a significant increase in online voter registration in Indiana since Face- book posted an online reminder.
Since Friday, Lawson stated 30,000 Indiana residents have registered to vote online. She went on to say that Friday was the highest daily total ever for online registrations with 21,000 people registering. Indiana residents can register to vote by going to Indianavoters.com
In the race for governor, the political climate may be ripe for Gregg to pull off an important victory for Democrats. The stage may have been set July 15 when Pence accepted an offer to run for the White House against Clinton and Kaine.
Although declining in popularity, Pence was viewed as Gregg’s biggest hurdle to the Governor’s mansion. Despite Indiana’s strong Republican electorate, Gregg almost defeated Pence in the 2012 gubernatorial race, grabbing 46.4 percent of the vote to Pence’s 49.6 percent.
In this election, Gregg just may come out on top. If he becomes governor, millions of state dollars could bankroll Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson’s plans to turn Gary into a bustling city once again. A loss could be a significant setback to those efforts.