Remember Elkhart, Indiana? Back in 2009, the city had an unemployment rate of over 15%. President Obama visited the town as a prime example of what his stimulus package was going to fix.
Fast forward to 2016. How is Elkhart doing now?
Pretty damn well.
Elkhart's unemployment rate now is 3.5%.
But Indiana is considered red state America and they'd never vote for a Democrat, right?
Closer to home, the Indiana gubernatorial contest in November is perhaps generating the most anticipation among Elkhart County observers, outside the local races. Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, is going after his second term but faces a challenge from Democrat John Gregg, who unsuccessfully ran against him in 2012 as well.
Pence, a social conservative, has come under fire from some who blast his handling of the debate over including civil rights protections for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in state law. He worries moves to protect the LGBT community could trample on religious freedoms and took a hands-off approach to the debate over the issue in the current legislation session, which fizzled after the key proposal up for debate, Senate Bill 344, stalled.
“Pence is locked into his old ideals,” said Democrat Fish. “The reality he lives in is completely wrong for Indiana. He’s way out of touch.”
Republican Dickerson defended Pence, alluding to his efforts to keep Indiana fiscally sound and creation of the HIP 2.0 program, essentially an expansion of Medicaid health program to more people. Wesco pointed to the decline in unemployment under Pence and what he said is the business-friendly ambiance here.
Still, Pence’s victory isn’t a foregone conclusion. “I think it’s definitely going to be a race that the governor’s going to have to work on,” Wesco said.
We'll see what John Gregg can do.