Friday, August 5, 2011
Lemonade with John Gregg
Early this week, I casually e-mailed a friend of mine that I would be in the Sandborn area on Thursday afternoon to “see where the next Governor of Indiana, John Gregg, was from.” Imagine my surprise when I got a message that I should stop by for some lemonade.
So, that’s exactly what I did. I entered the tiny town of Sandborn and wound my way out to the Gregg Household on a narrow county road. That’s where I found John Gregg, dressed in a t-shirt, shorts, and tennis shoes, home alone. He had just taken a break from making phone calls to potential supporters across the state.
Gregg made the lemonade as he described the history of the property where he lives with his two sons. Neither young Gregg was at the ranch. One was working, and the other was at football practice.
I sat down with the gubernatorial candidate, and we talked. We talked a little about politics and a lot about family. John made the lemonade while I petted his dog, Klaus, “German dog, German name,” laughed Gregg. And, that’s John Gregg. Approachable, affable, hospitable.
When we did talk about the campaign, it was about how hard the man from Sandborn was working at the job. County fairs, parades, festivals, and phone calls have been Gregg’s life recently. His boys have been helping him on the trail. Klaus has been spending time up the road at the home of Gregg’s parents. “He’s a house dog,” said Gregg.
Refill on the lemonade. Gregg then took me on a short tour of the home, a beautiful two story home set back far off the road. He took me out on to the front porch showed me a tree line two miles off that marks where the White River cuts across the countryside. He took me out back and showed me a set of trees just outside the Knox County line in Greene County. It’s evident that John Gregg loves this area where he was born and raised. It’s hard not to. When we stepped out on the front porch, it was hard to hear anything but insects and the warm Indiana breeze rustling through the waves of shoulder high corn on a summer afternoon. Even this city boy felt the stress slide off.
Gregg’s used to the noise of the state capital having spent many years as the Speaker and co-Speaker of the House. Gregg worked with Governor Evan Bayh and Governor Frank O’Bannon to build budget surpluses and an overall strong record retiring in 2002.
Now, he’s back. He’s slimmer. While the weight he carried as speaker is gone, the moustache he had isn’t. It’s still there as is that fighting spirit that took him to the most powerful seat in the Indiana House. That’s why I wouldn’t count him out in this political comeback.
Mike Pence is Washington, but John Gregg is pure Indiana.