Negative anti-Pence ad first in 2016 race

Posted at 9:00 PM, Sep 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-14 21:00:10-04

The first ad of the 2016 race for governor hit the airwaves this week, and the campaign started on a negative note.

A labor union is blaming Gov. Mike Pence for neglecting the state's roads and bridges, hinting his policies are costing lives.

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 is behind the ad that started running on radio and TV in the last few days.

A local political science expert says get used to it – with 14 months until the election, voters will see more groups running ads. Many likely will be negative.

The ad uses the I-65 detour near West Lafayette as an example of what the IUOE Local 150 calls Pence's "neglect" of the state's infrastructure.

"With $2 billion in excess reserves, Gov. Pence has no plan to prevent further road disasters," the ad claims. "Tell us, Gov. Pence – how many lives is your surplus worth?"

University of Indianapolis political science professor Dr. Laura Merrifield Albright says the ad sets the tone for what she expects to be a negative campaign.

The governor's race could be a rematch of the 2012 competition between Democrat John Gregg and the now-incumbent Pence.

"That's one of the things Pence is really going to have to do, is say, 'I've done a lot in office, and because I have that experience, it's been good for Hoosiers, you should re-elect me,'" Albright said. "Inversely, in these attack ads, Gregg as the challenger is going to have to step up to the bat and say, no, actually Pence hasn't done what he said in office, he hasn't been good to Hoosiers."

The race is expected to be fiercely competitive. In 2012, the election was decided by just 3 percent of the vote.