On Thursday, Democrat John Gregg announced that he was seeking a rematch to defeat Indiana Republican Governor Mike Pence in 2016. Pence beat Gregg in 2012, by a closer than expected 49.7 to 46.5 percent margin. As former Speaker of the Indiana House, Gregg is a formidable candidate that represents a legitimate threat to defeat Pence, especially since the Governor’s popularity has slipped after he backed a controversial “religious freedom” law, which sparked a huge statewide and national backlash.
Pence won in 2012, largely by avoiding discussing social issues, even though as a Congressman he had a track record of taking extreme right-wing positions on abortion and gay rights. While he wisely downplayed his far right ideology during the 2012 general election cycle, Pence will not be afforded the luxury of ignoring social issues in the 2016 race.
Upon making his announcement, John Gregg came out swinging, hitting Pence hard for his divisive social policy while arguing that the Governor had done nothing to improve education or create jobs. Gregg exclaimed:
The governor has done what he said he wasn’t going to do. I thought he was going to focus on the economy, I thought he was going to focus on creating good paying jobs and improving our education system. He’s focused on nothing but social issues, which was his record in Congress, and those social issues do nothing but divide us.
In October 2013, Gregg had announced that he did not plan to challenge Mike Pence in 2016. However, that was before Pence launched his anti-LGBT crusade by arguing for a “religious freedom” bill that would grant individuals and businesses the right to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Gregg made it clear that, if elected, he would stand against bigotry and work to repeal any laws that discriminate against LGBT residents.
Mike Pence’s anti-gay bigotry has already cost him popularity in Indiana. Now that John Gregg has decided to seek a re-match, it may also cost Mike Pence his job. Elections have consequences, and Governor Pence is a year and a half away from facing his consequences for aligning with religious bigots rather than sticking up for the rights of Hoosiers to be free from facing anti-gay discrimination.