First ads in Pence-Gregg race hit airwaves

Posted at 7:00 PM, May 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-09 19:28:09-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- The race for the Indiana governor's mansion is shifting in to gear, with incumbent Gov. Mike Pence and challenger John Gregg both releasing their first television ads.

The race is a rematch from 2012, when Pence beat the former Democratic Indiana House speaker by just three percentage points – one of the closest gubernatorial elections in Indiana history.

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Within 48 hours of the polls closing for Indiana's primary election, new ads hit the television airwaves.

In their first spots, both Gregg and Pence focused on the state's economy – but with a different take.

"You see, with Mike Pence as governor, Indiana's economy continues to soar," Pence's ad states.

Gregg's claims the opposite, saying, "Politicians say there are more jobs. Your pocketbook tells you the truth.'

Both of the candidates' campaigns say economic issues are their priority.

"If you talk to any Hoosier on the streets, you'll hear that they're concerned about their jobs, they're concerned about their wages, and the jobs we are gaining are not keeping up with the pay of the ones we lost," said Jeff Harris, Gregg's campaign spokesman.

Marc Lotter, deputy campaign manager for Pence, said the economy has improved under the governor.

"The state has increased the average wage of jobs that it's attracting," Lotter said. "It's doing everything it can to help raise the wage of Hoosiers. It's creating over 130,000 private sector jobs. Those are the things that'll continue under Gov. Mike Pence."

But, the director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics says social issues will remain a factor in the race – whether the candidates want them to be or not.

"I think what we will often hear is that a number of them will be tied to economic issues," said Andy Downs, IPFW associate professor of public policy and director of the Mike Downs Center.

Downs says not to expect a 180-degree turn from 2012. But, he said, a few factors will be different this time around.

"Mike Pence now has a record that he can both run on and Gregg can criticize him about, and I think we can expect to see a lot more about it," Downs said.

In terms of fundraising, Downs says social issues like civil rights are going to bring national attention, and money, from national organizations into the race.

In the first three months of the year, Gregg out-raised Pence in fundraising – generating nearly $1.87 million compared to the $1.52 million the Republican has taken in.

Click the dashboard below to explore campaign contribution data for both candidates during the 2015 reporting period: