PORTAGE | Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg shook hands, patted backs and exchanged stories with diners at Cappo's restaurant Wednesday on a sweep through the region, which also included stops in Merrillville and Gary.
"Northern Indiana is essential to us winning the governor's race. There are a lot of good Democrats, Independents and Lugar Republican's here," said Gregg about choosing Portage as a stop.
He was joined by former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh and his running mate, Vi Simpson. Local government officials, including State Rep. Chuck Moseley and Democrat members of the city council and Clerk-Treasurer Chris Stidham also stopped by during the more than an hour visit to the restaurant.
Many members of Ironworkers Local 395 came out to meet and support Gregg during the stop.
"He's our guy. That's our governor. He's a regular guy. He's not aloof. I could see him carrying a lunch pail," Lake Station resident Rich Hertaus said.
"It is important to get to know the people running for office and get to know the issues," said David Kerbs, of Crown Point and an apprentice with Local 395.
Gregg said he loves stopping by small businesses during campaign tours and said, while he's from southwest Indiana, he can relate to the northwest corner of the state.
"People feel disconnected. All four corners of the state feel left out, but we are all Hoosiers," Gregg said.
Cappo's owner Dolly Cummins said she was honored someone recommended her restaurant for the event. She said Gov. Mitch Daniels also stopped for lunch once when he was in the area.
"I'm honored to have anyone who walks in our door," said Cummins.