Candidate Gregg tempers Indiana Democrat expectations

October 2, 2012

Indiana gubernatorial candidate John Gregg sought to downplay expectations from fellow Democrats Tuesday about what he might do if he beats the odds and gets elected next month.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Gregg said he wouldn't try to repeal new right-to-work or school voucher laws because of the nearly impossible chance of getting the Republican-dominated General Assembly to reverse course on two of its top priorities.

"I'm not a fan of vouchers, I don't support vouchers. It's in place and the legislature is going to be predominantly and overwhelmingly controlled by the Republicans," said Gregg, who is trailing Republican Mike Pence by a wide margin in the polls. "I don't support them, but it's obvious that's the law and as governor you support the law."

Gregg later said in a statement to The Associated Press that he would sign a repeal of either law if it reached his desk but refused to say whether he would fight to move the repeal through the Legislature.

"I have consistently opposed the so-called right-to-work law as well as the use of taxpayer dollars to subsidize private schools. As governor, I will proudly sign a bill that repeals these misguided laws if such a bill comes to my desk," he wrote.

The two issues have been highly divisive in a state that has tacked further to the right in the eight years since a Democrat controlled the governor's office. Former House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, led a five-week walkout against the issues last year and on-and-off boycotts this year in a last-ditch attempt to block right-to-work.

Bauer called Gregg's comments Tuesday an example of Democrats presenting voters with a watered-down alternative to the Republican party: "Republican Light."

"I think we have to maintain our courage to show where we would make a difference, not how we would be the same. Because the same's not good for people, regular people, working people," Bauer said. "We have to show we would treat people better and treat people differently."

Gregg has danced on the right-to-work issue throughout the campaign. He sparked a fury among union members in the hours after Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the law when he issued a statement saying it was time to move past the issue.

Since then Gregg repaired that relationship, winning financial support from unions more afraid of what could come from Pence if he wins office. But Gregg has avoided saying whether he would fight for a repeal of right-to-work himself, saying only he would sign a repeal if someone else performed the unlikely task of getting a repeal through the Legislature.


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