I'm not a politician, and this isn't a political column. Instead, it's reassurance to whoever is reading that whomever Hoosiers choose as their next governor, based on the views expressed by the two most likely candidates at a recent ethanol forum sponsored by the Indiana Corn Marketing Council and the ethanol industry, Indiana should be in good hands.
It was a treat to hear these candidates express their views and answer questions submitted by the audience so early in the election season, perhaps before their handlers have decided what they can and can't say. And it was also enlightening to hear Governor Daniels, the current governor, deliver remarks just before each candidate, in succession, arrived and made remarks and answered questions.
It wasn't a debate atmosphere, instead it was much more relaxed. After making brief remarks, both sat in an overstuffed chair on the stage while the emcee sat opposite and asked questions. It wasn't quite like having them home for dinner or a chat in your living room, but it was certainly more informative than the 30 or 60-seocnd commercial sound bites that will show up as the campaign heats up later this year.
The style of John Gregg and Mike Pence are quite different, with Gregg being more homespun and Pence more of an accomplished speaker, but it was easy to see both were genuine. And it was easy to see both are in this race because they have a heartfelt compassion for the people of Indiana. If you're a voter, you wouldn't want it any other way.
Perhaps the most telling comment came at lunch, after all three speakers had long departed on their various ways. One person commented that if you took out the homespun humor of the Democrat, Gregg, and the religious references by the Republican, Pence, and put their speeches on paper and handed them out, without names on them, it might be difficult to tell which one belonged to which candidate.
There were differences to be sure. Bu there were also similarities. Both believe job creation will be a big task for the next governor. Both believe Indiana is poised to grow and become a leader in the Midwest and the country in many fields, with biofuels and agriculture in general being a couple of them. Both also believe in clean coal and cheap energy policies for Indiana, and both are against many of the regulations coming from Washington that will threaten both Indiana's cheap energy advantage and its ability to continue burning coal in a profitable way.
This should be a campaign where you can choose between two good candidates, not have to vote against one because you think he's unfit for office. Don't expect this to be a mudslinging campaign. Let's hope it's not at least. Both have implied that it won't be. Hoosiers are smart away to clear away the mud and see the truth anyway. But it's an insult to the intelligence of every Hoosier when commercials hit below the belt.
The thing about these two men is that are they are both honorable. Take advantage of any chance you get to hear them, and make up your own mind. For my part after having heard them both, the future of Indiana appears to be in good hands.