INDIANAPOLIS – Democrat gubernatorial candidate John Gregg released his first televised campaign ad Tuesday morning and in it said he intended to introduce voters to people in his hometown.
This ad, titled “Hobo,” features Gregg and three friends from Sandborn. Wesley Cook, nicknamed “Hobo” is Gregg’s close friend who is currently fighting cancer.
Gregg sees Hobo’s story as an example of the importance of community in Hoosiers’ lives.
“Frank, Jerry and Hobo are some of my closest friends, and all of us in Sandborn are rooting for Hobo in his fight against cancer,” Gregg said in a description of the ad.
The 30-second ad will begin airing immediately on broadcast and cable stations throughout Indiana.
“I am honored that so many of my friends and neighbors wanted to be in the ads,” Gregg said. “I thought it was important for the people of Indiana to have an idea about where I came from, what I believe and what I want for Indiana’s future.”
Gregg says in the ad that typical political commercials are “pretty silly” and makes a subtle jab at his GOP opponent, Mike Pence, by saying that he won’t be ice skating in any of his ads. Pence is shown in one of his commercials ice skating with his wife.
Gregg said he’ll use his commercials to tell the stories of the people who live in Sandborn and how they have influenced him.
“I grew up in Sandborn and I still live there with my two boys,” said Gregg. “My parents still live there, too. It’s a town of 300 people and every one of those folks had something to do with making me the person that I am today.”
Bill Kubik, political science professor at Hanover College, said that there might be a further message behind Gregg’s feel-good, hometown ads. He said it is possible that Gregg will use stories from his hometown to illustrate how he feels about different policies.
He said that Gregg’s focus on support of his friend Hobo might show indirectly how Gregg supports the Affordable Care Act, the new health care plan upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court and supported by President Barack Obama.
“It is focused on health care and could be focused on Obama’s health care plan because he says in the ad people should ‘look out for each other,’” Kubik said. “I think it’s (really interesting if) he’s going to frame how issues affect my hometown and your hometown.”
Kubik said that an ad that directly supports the health care plan could be unpopular. But this ad, which frames the situation as “caring for someone someone who is sick” has a different feel.
Kubik said he would not be surprised if one of Gregg’s next ads features an unemployed worker and how that has led to Gregg’s stances on policies.
Kubik also said Democrats who lean too far left have struggled to win campaigns in Indiana and Gregg will likely use his ads to show he is a more socially conservative Democrat.
The ad is “meant to be a feel-good ad and shape that identity, but what I think it’s going on here is addressing major policy questions today by talking to a neighbor,” Kubik said.
Gregg’s opponent, Republican gubernatorial hopeful Mike Pence, on Tuesday released his sixth television ad and his second to focus on Hoosier jobs.
Christy Denault, spokesperson for Pence’s campaign, declined to comment on Gregg’s first ad.
Pence’s ad opens with Pence at a factory. He discusses his policy ideas to bring jobs to Indiana, including plans to cut the personal income tax, put a hold on new regulations that affect Indiana businesses and improve career and vocational education for Hoosier students.
“Our state is on the verge of an era of growth and opportunity,” Pence says in the ad. “We can put more Hoosiers to work than ever before, but it’ll take leadership and the right ideas.”
Pence has been on the air with TV ads since May 15 and has released feel-good ads of his own, showcasing his support of Hoosiers in the military and volunteerism after an Indiana flood.
Pence has yet to air a negative TV ad against Gregg, and according to Kubik, he might not have to.
“I could see Mike Pence never putting out a more biting ad because he is so far ahead (in campaign funding),” Kubik said. “It speaks to the wealth of campaign money he has right now.”
Olivia Ober is a reporter at TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.