by Abdul-Hakim Shabazz
Shortly after last night’s gubernatorial debate in South Bend, John Gregg’s supporters were quick to declare victory. However, I would argue that would be the equivalent of boasting about being valedictorian in summer school.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying Gregg had a bad night. He was much more aggressive than in his last debate. He jumped on Republican Mike Pence at every opportunity and the line that got the most attention in the social media universe was the one where he said Pence wasn’t a work horse, or a show horse, but a one trick pony. I disagree, but he gets a style point or two.
He attacked Pence when the question was raised about single moms, saying that they don’t fit Pence’s definition of a family, even though Pence has said time and again families come in all stripes, however, we have decades of research that says the best way to raise children is in a responsible two-parent household. And at the very least, the single parent could use a break.
I could go on and on, but the point of this is while Gregg did get in some hits, they were too little, too late to change the course of this campaign. Look at the signs. Gregg reported having only $500,000 in his campaign while Pence has $1.8 million AND all his TV paid for the remainder of the campaign. A new poll has the race at 49-38, Pence, with 15% undecided. The Pence campaign has shifted strategy and is now campaigning for House candidates. Gregg is still trying to excite his base by doing appearances on the Amos Brown show.
My Democratic friends Jon Easter and Kip Tew like to point out that shows the race isn’t over and it is too early to spike the ball. Tew, ironically enough, points to Republican Mayor Greg Ballard’s 2007 victory over Bart Peterson, where the October polls reportedly had Ballard 15 points behind. Two points. While Pence is may not be at 50, it’s a much shorter trip to 50 from 49 than 38. Especially when Rupert Boneham is about half the undecided vote.
Secondly, and most importantly, Ballard was behind until the Democratically controlled City-County Council raised incomes taxes 65% when they passed that year’s budget which was also taking place during the worst property tax crisis this state had seen in a decade.
So did Gregg have a better debate performance than last time? I don’t know, define better. He was much more aggressive and animated than before, I will give him that. However, does it fundamentally change the course of this campaign? I do know the answer to that, no. And while anything can happen and you never take anything for granted in politics, unless someone is caught with a live boy, dead girl, or multiple barnyard animals, this race is pretty much done and over.