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Dems converge to back Gregg ticket

After a few jokes were made about Sandborn, hometown of John Gregg, the Democratic candidate for governor, he took to the stage and looked out at the large crowd gathered at a Portage banquet hall.

"It's great to be here," he said. "There are at least three times as many people in this hall here as there are in my hometown."

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More than 1,000 people -- more than twice the population of Sandborn -- came to Duneland Falls Banquet Center Wednesday night to hear Gregg and his running mate for lieutenant governor, Christina Hale.

The fundraiser was put on by Porter County Sheriff David Reynolds, Lake County Sheriff John Buncich and St. Joseph County Sheriff Mike Grzegorek, and drew elected officials from throughout the area, as well as union workers, law enforcement and teachers.

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Gregg talked about meeting Democrat Evan Bayh, former Indiana governor and senator who is seeking his old senate seat, in class his junior year at Indiana University, and about Bayh's race against Republican Todd Young.

"He has been attacked. He has been attacked unfairly," Gregg said, calling Bayh, who served as governor from 1989 to 1997, a "great governor." "He brought us back after years in the wilderness."

Bayh's wife, Susan, appeared at the event on his behalf, and said her husband was running to represent all of the people there, which hasn't been easy as he has been the target of what she called "mountains" of negative ads.

"It's not working," she said. "Our race is the easy race. It's the race of contrasts."

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Bayh faces Rep. Todd Young, R-9th, in the battle for the state's second Senate seat.

The state, she said, is hungry for progress, and Evan Bayh is willing to work with anybody to get the job done. If he succeeds with Gregg and Hale, it will be the first time in a long time the state will have two Democratic senators as well as a Democratic governor and lieutenant governor.

"It's been since 1968 that we've had a Democratic governor and two Democratic senators. That's a long time in the wilderness," she said.

Hale, a Michigan City native and Indianapolis state representative finishing her second term, called herself "a proud girl of the region" and touted Gregg's principle and vision.

"John Gregg is the most prepared, hard-working, smartest candidate I've ever met in my life," she said. "He has a razor sharp mind and razor sharp focus."

Gregg, a former speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives making his second bid for governor, pledged that the day he and Hale get elected is the day the war on organized labor and the middle class ends, as well as the disrespect for education that includes teaching to take tests.

"We take politics out of education and make it about teaching the students," said Greg, who faces Republican Eric Holcomb, the state's lieutenant governor, in November. Holcomb's running mate is Suzanne Crouch, the state auditor.

Gregg said his campaign was about roads and bridges and rail lines, about the South Shore being double tracked, about quality of life issues and the war on drugs.

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Greg said he and Hale have a slight edge in the polls but need to get every Democrat out to vote, as well as independents and "good, moderate Republicans" who care about working men and women.

"Reach out and talk to them because we can win this, but we can't let up till 7:01 my time and 6:01 your time" on election night, he said, adding he had two promises for voters.

"I will never embarrass you or our state," he said, adding, "when we win, we've got 60 days to put together a government and you will see me in the region during those 60 days, listening and talking to the citizens of Northwest Indiana."

Amy Lavalley is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.

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