Friday, April 29, 2016

Democrats Unite Over Dinner to Defeat Republicans in 2016

Much of the talk has been about division and disunity in this 2016 election season so far, but I sat and mingled with Hillary Clinton supporters and Bernie Sanders supporters at the Marion County Democratic Party's 2016 Unity Dinner last night.  No one threw anything at each other.  The barbs were all saved for the opposition at this good ole' fashioned Democratic speechfest held at the Agriculture Horticulture Building at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

Marion County Democratic Party Chair Joel Miller sat the tone noting without mentioning him by name that Donald Trump had spoken twice at the Fairgrounds in the last two weeks.  Miller said, "Tonight, we are going to exorcise the demons brought forth on this place."

He introduced first Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett.  Hogsett threw out his prepared notes claiming that Miller's speech on Democratic values had all he had planned to say.  He then went on to go more in depth about the Democratic Party and its values and what he's trying to do as Mayor.  Hogsett also credited Chairman Miller for leading the party at a time when Democrats hold every Marion County executive office and the majority of the legislative seats as well as the City-County Council majority.

Lake County's Lorenzo Arrendondo, the presumptive Democratic Party candidate for Attorney General, spoke about civic engagement.  He talked about the importance of getting people to the polls and educating young people of the importance in voting.  Arrendondo, who, according to Miller would be the first judge to be the Attorney General, criticized the current Attorney General, Greg Zoeller, for taking cases that were not likely to be sided in Indiana's favor.

That brought Glenda Ritz to the podium.  Ritz said that her effort in 2016 will be grassroots just like it was in 2012.  She noted Governor Mike Pence's many attempts to undermine her authority as the elected Superintendent of Public Instruction.  "I am the head of the only state department that Governor Pence doesn't control, the Department of Education," Ritz said.  She said her constituency was ready to defeat Pence.

Next up was U.S. Senate candidate, Baron Hill.  Hill said that people often ask him about who he would rather run against.  "I don't give a damn who they run against me," said Hill to the cheers of the crowd.  "I am going to stand and fight for Hoosiers."  Hill then went on the attack against Young and Stutzman.  He sliced and diced their ultra conservative votes and records in Congress.  Hill defended his record as a Congressman and mentioned how the policies he voted for and helped pass did things like save General Motors, pay back the loans to the company, and provide health care for millions of Americans and many Hoosiers.

Hill said, "If you'll stand and fight with me, it will be the first time Indiana has had two Democratic Senators since Birch Bayh and Vance Hartke.  IT IS TIME!"  The crowd roared back.  With the rafters wiggling from Hill's speech, the final speaker of the evening stepped to the microphone, John Gregg.

The Sandborn native didn't disappoint.  "I want to serve as your Governor. I'm not interested in being your Governor.  We've got someone who wants to be Governor, who's concerned about the title and the trappings. I want to serve as Governor.  I want to put the needs of the 6.5 million Hoosiers first and I want everyone to feel welcome as we work on those to make a better Indiana.  That's the kind of Governor I want to be.  I am ready to serve as Governor," said Gregg.

Gregg then laid out his plan for retaking the Governor's Office in 2016.  "The polls show we're tied, and I haven't even been on TV, yet.  The polls also say that even Republicans don't like Mike Pence," said Gregg.  He said he would be highlighting the Governor's record and how he's worked against working folks and teachers along with being divisive and ideology driven.

Recalling a story from his youth, Gregg explained how he once climbed the Sandborn water tower and may have handed a can of spray paint to his friend.  He said he wants to climb the State Office Building and change the sign from "Indiana, The State That Works" to "Indiana, The State That Works Despite Mike Pence!"

The former Indiana House Speaker highlighted that Indiana faces a significant drug problem.  He said that drug addiction for non-violent offenders should be treated as mental health issues and not criminal issues, "And when our opponents try to quote scripture, I will tell them 'There but by the grace of God go your or I,'" said Gregg.

"I won't be a Governor who bases his decisions on some rigid ideology. I will base my decisions on competence and inclusion," said Gregg.  He said that his first act would be to draft and sign an executive order protecting LGBT citizens in Indiana as a class from discrimination.  He said that as Governor that he would work to get LGBT Hoosiers added to the non-discrimination clause via the General Assembly.

He also attacked the Governor on Pence's support of the controversial bill that has women and those that support them upset across Indiana, House Enrolled Act 1337.  "If I were Governor, I would not have signed that bill, and I would have vetoed it," said Gregg.  "See this? (pointing to his nose) This is John Gregg's nose, and it's not going to be in your bedroom or your doctor's office or at your dinner table.  Mike Pence's already is, but mine is going to stay right here on my face."

Both Congressman Andre Carson and Senator Joe Donnelly were scheduled to speak but had to remain in Washington on official business.

All-in-all, it was a great night and a fun night.  The chicken was delicious.

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