Race for governor considered a toss-up by Cook Political Report

Staff Report

INDIANAPOLIS—The 2016 Indiana gubernatorial race between the Democrat candidate, former House Speaker John Gregg, and the Republican candidate, Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb, has been placed in the “toss-up” category, according to the Cook Political Report.

Analysts at the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan publication, expect the race to be competitive because of the recent changes to the Republican ticket.

After Indiana Gov. Mike Pence accepted Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s offer to run as vice president, the state Republican party had to select a new candidate. The party chose Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb, who previously served as a campaign strategist and senior staff member to former Gov. Mitch Daniels and U.S. Sen. Dan Coats before becoming the state lieutenant governor in March.

According to analysts, Holcomb’s background gives him “some claim to incumbency,” but it makes it difficult for Democrats to place blame on Holcomb for the controversies connected to Pence’s term, such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

That could be good news to Republicans. A recent Bellwether Research Poll found that only 40 percent of Hoosiers approved of Pence’s job performance as governor.

However, Drew Anderson, Indiana Democrats communication director, said in a statement that Hoosiers feel the state is going in the wrong direction, and argued Democrats can tie Holcomb to the controversies that occurred during Pence’s term.

“To Hoosiers, Eric Holcomb’s embrace of Mike Pence would mean a repeat of what’s caused Indiana to fall behind the rest of the nation,” Anderson said in a statement. “Mike Pence’s RFRA has now turned into a full out rejection of Gov. Pence, Eric Holcomb, and their out-of-touch ideological agenda that has damaged the state’s economy and its reputations.”

A new poll conducted by the Democratic-affiliated Expedition Strategies shows Gregg leading Holcomb 46 percent to 39 percent. The poll was held from Aug. 1 until Aug. 3 and surveyed 800 likely voters. According to analysts from the Cook Political Report, the results are not surprising, as Holcomb’s name identification for voters is below 50 percent.

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