Gregg wrote, too, about the calls he got from people asking him to jump into the 2004 governor’s race. The same kind of calls came in 2008. He declined both times.
Not because he didn’t think the eventual winner, Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, couldn’t be beat, he said.
He said “Nah!” after asking himself this question: “Do I want to spend two years running for governor, raising money, calling people every day asking for money, attending fundraisers?”
He changed his mind this time around, coaxed by Democratic leaders around the state to do so. They thought then, and still do, that Gregg – who describes himself as a “gun-totin’, Bible-quotin’ Southern Indiana Democrat” – would appeal to enough independent voters and moderate Republicans to beat his GOP opponent.
To shore up the Democratic base, Gregg asked a liberal to join his ticket: state Senate Minority Leader Vi Simpson, a well-respected, longtime legislator from Ellettsville. “Nobody could carry a bucket of water next to her,” Gregg said.
In the closing weeks of the campaign, Gregg has enlisted help from some Democratic superstars, among them former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh and former President Bill Clinton.
But his plea to voters remains personal. “People are more polarized than ever,” Gregg said. “But I tell you, if you can get people to sit down and start chatting with you, then it’s all right. You just got to break the ice.”
• Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org