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Rivals spar on policies, polling

Pence holds big lead, state Chamber finds


– Indiana’s major party candidates for governor released dueling policy proposals Thursday only hours after a new poll showed the race isn’t very competitive.

Democrat John Gregg said state government should invest its money in Indiana banks, close loopholes in a contracting preference for Hoosier companies and require businesses to give back incentives if they don’t live up to promises.

Republican Mike Pence promised that if elected he would create several boards to accelerate the commercialization of new technologies and attract new businesses.

And neither candidate wanted to talk about recently released poll numbers.

Pence said he would leave the analysis to others, while Gregg, said, “Mike Pence hasn’t even passed a bill. I’m not worried about a poll or him at all.”

A few minutes later, though, Gregg sternly criticized Pence, a six-term congressman, saying he voted to recess so he could campaign in Indiana.

“(Pence) needs to get his ass back out to Washington, D.C., and provide some relief for the farms and small communities rather than spending the next five weeks here in Indiana campaigning for governor,” Gregg said. “He’s got a job. He needs to finish that one before he starts this one.”

Christy Denault, spokeswoman for the Pence campaign, countered by saying: “Mike Pence supported emergency drought-relief with his vote on Aug. 2. Mike strongly urges the Democrat-controlled Senate to take up the measure so the president can sign it into law.”

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce released a poll Thursday showing Pence with a large lead over Gregg – 50 percent to 32 percent. Libertarian candidate Rupert Boneham came in at 3 percent. Fifteen percent of respondents reported they remain undecided.

The scientific public opinion poll of 600 registered voters statewide was conducted by Market Research Insight in early August. It has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Pence’s latest proposal involves the creation of two new entities. The first – the private Indiana Applied Research Enterprise – would connect university researchers with entrepreneurs and investors to increase the volume of commercial opportunity coming from Indiana research institutions.

The second – the Executive Innovation Network – would be a governor-appointed mix of business and university executives along with entrepreneurs and investors working to bring more investment and faster commercialization to discoveries made at universities in Indiana.

“Indiana has outstanding universities doing world-class research and the right business expertise to help move those ideas into the marketplace,” Pence said. “We can combine these assets to create good-paying new jobs and grow the state’s life sciences sector.”

Gregg, meanwhile, focused on clawback provisions for companies that promise new jobs in Indiana to get incentives but don’t deliver.

He also said he would support banking more state money locally to keep Indiana tax dollars at home, strengthening communities. He also said that in 2011, Indiana’s state pension fund paid Wall Street bankers $137 million in management fees – more than it paid out to retired police, firefighters and public employees.

A third Gregg proposal included closing loopholes that allow many national companies to receive a “Buy Indiana” pricing preference when competing for state contracts.

“As a lifelong Hoosier, when I’m governor, I will work to ensure that more of the hard-earned fruits of our labor remain here in Indiana, to be reinvested in our economy for the benefit of its rightful owners – the working people of Indiana.”