INDIANAPOLIS | John Gregg appears to be sticking with his folksy, corn-prone campaign commercials despite a new poll showing the ads aren't connecting with many voters, especially in Northwest Indiana.
On Monday, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate released his fifth ad featuring residents of Sandborn, Gregg's hometown of 415 people located between Terre Haute and Evansville in southwestern Indiana.
The new commercial features the local auctioneer and claims that even with his fast talking he couldn't sell the federal tax cuts for millionaires supported by Mike Pence, the Republican candidate for governor.
"Congressman Mike Pence, God love him, he voted for all of 'em," Gregg says in the ad. "I just disagree and I hope no amount of fast talk will change your mind, either."
While Gregg's commercials stand out as perhaps the friendliest attack ads in the history of political campaigning, a recent statewide survey shows Hoosier voters aren't identifying with the candidate who describes himself as "the guy with two first names running for governor."
In traditionally Democratic Northwest Indiana, Gregg leads Pence by only 4 points, 41 percent to 37 percent, according to the Sept. 27 Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll. Statewide, just 69 percent of Democrats say they'll definitely vote for Gregg, compared to 80 percent of Republicans committed to Pence.
That could prove fatal as just about every route to a Gregg victory requires him to pile up Democratic votes in Lake and Porter counties to offset Pence votes from Republican strongholds elsewhere in Indiana. Statewide, Pence leads Gregg 47 percent to 34 percent.
While Gregg has visited the region dozens of times this year, top Northwest Indiana Democrats tell The Times his downhome TV ads just aren't working among voters more familiar with Chicago and blast furnaces than combines and farmland auctions.
Gregg spokesman Daniel Altman wouldn't say whether Gregg will continue the Sandborn ads as Nov. 6, Election Day, approaches.
"You'll just have to wait and see," Altman said. "The ads have introduced John to voters throughout the state and I think one of things that's important is where he came from and how that shaped his values."