RICH JAMES: Pence provides clear rallying cry for Democrat opponents

2013-09-11T00:00:00Z RICH JAMES: Pence provides clear rallying cry for Democrat opponentsBy Rich James nwitimes.com
September 11, 2013 12:00 am  • 

As Democrats marched home from the Indiana Democratic Editorial Association meeting in French Lick, there was a common theme.

Who will be the party’s nominee for governor in 2016?

While that may seem far off, it isn’t for a party that doesn’t have a voice in the Indiana House or Senate where Republicans hold super majorities.

And Republicans have Gov. Mike Pence. Even though he has been in office just eight months, Pence has given Democrats plenty of reasons to get energized.

John Gregg is giving serious thought to running again. You can’t blame him. Gregg came out of left field last year and lost by a scant 75,000 votes. Had the campaign gone longer, some feel Gregg would have won.

Yet, the hottest topic coming out of the French Lick Springs Hotel was Evan Bayh.

A Lake County veteran who talked to Bayh told me, “He is going to do something.”

That means he’s running. But, for what? It won’t be the U.S. Senate, where Bayh was serving when he abruptly announced in 2010 that he was giving it up.

That leaves governor, where he served two terms. Despite deserved criticism, Evan is still a Teflon kind of guy. And he is a moderate, the way Indiana likes its Democrats. If you need another reason, Bayh has $10 million in his campaign fund.

While Evan angered a lot of Democrats when he quit the Senate, there is a feeling that enough of them would suck it up and vote him back into office. Bayh, who has lost some luster, is a whole lot better than a Tea Partier like Pence, so the thinking goes.

At least that is the feeling coming out of the IDEA conference.

Pence has given Democrats plenty of fodder for their campaign brochures.

Angry teachers led the charge to oust Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett and replace him with Democrat Glenda Ritz last fall.

Teachers are livid that Pence -- through administrative moves -- has stripped Ritz of most of her power. That ought to have union carpenters spitting nails come 2016. Unions are coming back.

What’s really a crime is the way Pence slammed the door on Obamacare, meaning that 330,000 Hoosiers, who could be protected, won’t have health insurance.

The feds would pick up the cost of seeing that all Hoosiers are insured through Medicaid for the first three years. The feds share would decline to 90 percent by 2020. Nice deal.

Even though Indiana has $2.6 billion in the bank, Pence refuses to see that all Hoosiers are insured. That’s inhumane.

“For Indiana, our fiscal integrity is the foundation of our prosperity,” Pence told political guru Brian Howey.

That’s so sad. Isn’t government about service, not building a massive bank account?

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjames@219.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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