This may be the reaction of most Hoosiers to the news last week that Congressman Mike Pence had selected first-term State Representative Sue Ellsperman to be his running-mate for Lieutenant Governor. Before his opponents could try the common “one-heartbeat away” tactic to draw into question the qualifications of a little known legislator, Democratic candidate John Gregg shocked everyone with his announcement that he had chosen 28 year veteran and Minority Leader State Senator Vi Simpson of Bloomington.
Most observers had expected Gregg to pick Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry for his local government experience and geographic balance. (All four of these executive branch candidates come from south of Indianapolis.) The shock came in the form of ideological balance, rather than geography or experience. Senator Simpson is among the most liberal members of the State Senate. Unlike John Gregg who casts himself as a moderate blue dog Southern Democrat, Simpson is an avowed advocate for abortion, Planned Parenthood funding, same-sex marriage and pretty much the entire liberal left-wing playbook.
This ideological divide has raised some questions about how the two Democrats will reconcile their philosophies, or which view on certain issues is to be the prevailing view of their administration. Over the next few months, as the campaign unfolds, voters will have a chance to see if these running-mate selections were a wise choice that proves to help or hinder each candidate’s campaign. It may also test the old adage that people mostly vote for the person at the top of the ticket.