INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Despite their political differences, the three men
running for Indiana governor outlined similar outlooks for running the state
during a forum Tuesday, from proposing improved job training to imposing tax
cuts. But which taxes should be cut and when highlighted their differences.
Democrat John Gregg, Republican Mike Pence and Libertarian Rupert Boneham
varied most on their tax plans during their discussion with retired Indiana
Chief Justice Randall Shepard.
Gregg, a former state lawmaker, came across as knowledgeable and jovial as
he reiterated his call for eliminating the sales tax on gasoline. Pence, a
congressman, argued his proposal for cutting the state income tax by 10
percent, and held tightly to the script he has used throughout the campaign.
Boneham, a youth mentor, stumbled through general calls for lower taxes on
business, though he was largely in agreement with Pence and Gregg on most
The three spent close to a half hour each talking with Shepard at a forum
hosted by Indiana University’s Public Policy Institute in Indianapolis. The
forum offered a preview of the debates each will participate in before the
election day, though their messages could get drowned out by the massive
on-air fight already under way between Pence and Gregg.
Gregg appeared most at ease in his conversation with Shepard, rattling off
the names of businesses around the state and local officials he knew from
the campaign trail, while riffing generally on Shepard’s questions. Asked
about education, he echoed remarks from Pence and Boneham that college
education needs to be more affordable.
“We’ve done a great job in Indiana of making college accessible through our
public universities,” he said. “I think our challenge for the next governor
and for all of us as a people is to make sure it’s affordable.”
Pence offered hints at some new ideas he’ll be rolling out in the coming
weeks. He proposed creating a blue-ribbon panel to examine the state’s
infrastructure needs. He said the lease of the Indiana Toll Road under
current Gov. Mitch Daniels gave the state millions of dollars to begin
infrastructure projects that had remained on drawing boards awaiting
Since then, however, planning has dried up, and Indiana needs to find the
best ways to build infrastructure to serve Indiana’s strengths in
manufacturing, agriculture and the life sciences.
“I think roads mean jobs,” Pence said.
Pence and Gregg reiterated proposals to cut various taxes and try to
increase vocational training. Boneham largely agreed on the broader points
of cutting taxes and making college more affordable, but occasionally
diverged from the group, throwing his support behind a mass transit system
in central Indiana at one point.
"That is a giant opportunity for us to encourage more work for Hoosiers,”
said Boneham, a former reality television star.
The three candidates expect to meet again for three debates hosted by the
Indiana Debate Commission before November’s election.
While the campaigns have released their own ideas about how they would run
the state, they have yet to engage each other in any serious debate,
directly or through press statements.
Gregg has gone after Pence throughout the campaign — at one point milling
through Pence’s congressional record and a 1991 collection of essays Pence
edited at a conservative think tank to cobble together what he argued would
be the “Pence Plan for Indiana.”
But Pence, who has a massive fundraising lead, has largely ignored Gregg
throughout the campaign focusing instead on a tightly written script about
jobs and economic development.