Will Scott Pelath run for Governor?
That question, along with the appearances of Evan Bayh and Bart Peterson, was the talk of the 2015 Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner on Friday Night at the Indiana Convention Center.
Pelath got a warm welcome from the audience as he gave a well-received stump speech. The Michigan City legislator certainly sounded like a guy that could go toe-to-toe with Pence in the 2016 race for Governor and do some heavy damage on the Governor's chances for reelection.
On Thursday, Pelath danced around the question about would he run for Governor. At 44, he would be a young choice with a beautiful family that Democrats could rally around. Pelath also has military experience serving as a member of the U.S. Army Reserve where he served as a first lieutenant.
As a minority leader, Pelath has done just about all he could do. With small numbers he has, it's nearly impossible to drive debate in the House. Still, he's made the Republicans work a lot harder than they should have had to work for things. He also has brought a new tone to the caucus than B. Patrick Bauer did. This is still an aggressive caucus, but it's one that isn't overly aggressive. Pelath has kept everyone on pretty much the same page, and that's not easy to do with Democrats.
I think he would be a very good candidate for Governor and could perchance take the frontrunner mantle away from John Gregg.
Pelath would pull the party more left of center which is what Terry McAuliffe, the Governor of Virginia, advocated in his JJ Dinner speech. He said that he ran a campaign on progressive principles and won in Virginia. Whether that would work in Indiana remains to be seen.
On Peterson and Bayh
As far as the appearances of Bayh and Peterson at the dinner go, it looked to me that Peterson was there in support of Joe Hogsett. He sat right next to Hogsett and seemed to be back in his element. Bayh sat across the aisle from that table. Maybe he just wanted a piece of dry chicken and green beans?
On Joe Hogsett
Hogsett gave one of the longer and more notable speeches of the night. He joked with Dem Chair John Zody that he wasn't sure he'd ever given a speech shorter than the two or three minute timeframe he had been given. Hogsett was in pure campaign mode linking the past of the Indiana Democratic Party to the future yet to be written. It was well-done.