FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — Indiana Democrats flocked to the Republican
stronghold of Allen County this weekend for the party convention, a move
reflective of their broader strategy to swing the state’s moderate
Republican voters to their candidates.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg has not only acknowledged the
need to attract moderate Republicans, but also has asked supporters at
campaign stops to lobby Republicans they know for support. Gregg closed his
speech Saturday at the state convention with an appeal to “Dick Lugar
Republicans” he claims have been alienated by the Republican Party.
“They’ve just been told they’re not welcome in their party anymore,” he said
to loud applause from Democratic activists gathered at the Grand Wayne
Throughout Saturday’s meeting, Democrats lauded Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry
for holding the city in Democratic hands. But Henry is a rare example in
“We’re bad at tooting our own horn” said Jason McFarland, 36, of Fort Wayne.
He’s a United Autoworker member who works at the Fort Wayne General Motors
He said he thinks some issues — such as America’s biggest earners not paying
a portion of their social security taxes — would easily trump more divisive
social issues that keep Allen County voters in the Republican fold.
Democrats attempted Saturday to paint the state Republican Party as tea
party “extremists,” while explaining the need for Republican and independent
voters to side with them.
Vi Simpson, a candidate for lieutenant governor, alleged that Republican
candidate Mike Pence would drive the state to the “extreme right side of the
But with Gov. Mitch Daniels’ popularity and the grueling 2010 elections in
which Democrats lost control of the House and a pair of seats in the state
congressional delegation, it’s unclear how well their pleas will work.
Jack Butcher, 75, said the northeast Indiana county has voted Republican all
his life and will most likely stay that way. But Evan Bayh — the last
Democrat to win a statewide office — was able to swing Republican support
his way in 2004, even in strongholds like Allen County, the Fort Wayne
“He just seems like the kind of guy you would go up and talk to,” Butcher
Indiana Republican Party spokesman Pete Seat said that Democrats may say
they’re inclusive, but their negative rhetoric is divisive.
“While Republican candidates are idea-driven and taxpayer-focused, Indiana
Democrats only seek to tear down, as evidenced by their campaign rhetoric
this weekend,” he said.
Allen County Republican chairman Steven Shine said voters need to be
reminded of the troubles Indiana faced when Democrats held the governor’s
office. This weekend, the GOP spent $10,000 to run an ad on Fort Wayne
stations blasting Democrats for their management of state government from
“I intend to get our message out on the same level they do,” Shine said.
The ad revisits an issue from the 2004 campaign — the state Family and
Social Services Administration. That part of state government that has
suffered under Republican leadership, with newspaper investigations into
child deaths across the state and a court battle over Gov. Mitch Daniels’
efforts to privatize delivery of welfare.
Democratic House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer says the ad points to another
obstacle Democrats must overcome in November: the money advantage
Republicans hold in Indiana.
“If you can, you put out more twisted truth, you can twist the facts,” he