Last night, the candidates for Governor of Indiana faced each other in the first of three formal debates sponsored by the Indiana Debate Commission. The candidates on stage were Republican Mike Pence, Democrat John Gregg, and Libertarian Rupert Boneham.
Pence has held a commanding lead in the race for the past several months. Gregg has been trying to catch up to him in the polls, campaigning and fundraising hard to overcome the party incumbency advantage that Republicans hold. Last night provided a chance for all three candidates to be presented on equal footing with each other.
Although this debate could have had a significant impact, no real winner was declared. All the candidates played it relatively safe, and no candidate clearly showed that he has the ability to govern better than the others.
Pence is still in a relatively good position being the frontrunner. He had a smooth debate performance with no gaffes, and without a real challenge from either of the other candidates in the debate, he will maintain his frontrunner status. Had Pence been more aggressive, he could have pulled ahead of Gregg and secured himself a win in November.
Gregg, on the other hand, played it too safe in the debate. He did not step up his attacks on Pence until later in the debate, meaning he seemed soft in the beginning. Had he started off more aggressively, he may have forced Pence to stumble, making Gregg the winner. Gregg needed to have a clear win to help close the gap in the polls between him and Pence.
Boneham, the Libertarian candidate, is seen as a longshot for the governor’s seat. The debate moderator actually skipped over him several times in the debate, which he claimed he was used to. Boneham advocated for a tripartisan government, hoping to weaken the strength of the Democrat and Republican parties.
The candidates discussed several issues, including taxes, education, and crime. Both Pence and Gregg want to cut various taxes to help out Indiana families, especially since the state now has a huge surplus in the budget. Education was a major issue, with every candidate offering different proposals on how to reform the state education system.
Overall, this was an uneventful debate, with each candidate delivering a solid, but not win-worthy, performance. Pence still looks to be the favorite to win the Governor’s election in November. The next debate is Wednesday, October 17, 2012. Pence will attempt to maintain his lead with a good performance, while Gregg will hope to score a major victory to propel him forward in the polls.