By: Tom LoBianco, Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana governor’s race that was looking like a runaway win for Republican Mike Pence seems to be tightening days before the election, with Democrat John Gregg seeking to capitalize on the national furor over a tea-party backed Senate candidate’s comment about pregnancy resulting from rape.
Gregg has worked to paint Pence, a six-term congressman who built his career on pushing social issues in the Capitol, as an extremist whose campaign platform focusing on jobs attempts to hide his social agenda. Gregg only recently has gotten any traction in this deep-red state, in part by narrowing his campaign message.
“For us to move Indiana forward you have to look at who’s delivered results, not at the rhetoric, not at the slogans,” Gregg said in his closing argument during the final gubernatorial debate last week. “There’s no place in Indiana for tea-party rhetoric and that extremism. That’s what my opponent, Congressman Pence, has been all about.”
The political winds still favor Pence, but Gregg has gained some ground thanks to the firestorm over Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s comments in a televised debate that pregnancy resulting from rape is something “God intended.” Since then, the Gregg campaign has launched ads depicting Mourdock and Pence as extremists and received support from the Democratic Governors Association that had once written him off.
Even recent polling done for the Pence campaign has shown the race tightening. Pence previously held double-digit advantages over Gregg, a former speaker of the Indiana House.
The Democratic Governors Association, which has focused mostly on tight races in New Hampshire, North Carolina and Washington, has spent $295,000 here in Indiana in the week since Mourdock made his remark, pouring much of that money into Gregg’s latest ad. It sent another $100,000 Gregg’s way earlier in October.
Gregg also is getting a boost from a Democratic-aligned super PAC, Believe in Indiana, started by Indiana State Building Trades director Pete Rimsans that is spending $530,000 on ads replaying footage of Pence rallying tea partyers in Washington and labeling him an extremist.