Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Vi Simpson worked to woo voters during a campaign stop at Brazil’s Double N Diner Monday, but one man said his mind was made up.
“You would never get my vote,” said a blunt Don Miller, who was eating lunch at the restaurant on East National Avenue.
Miller said he had been a Democrat — but Barack Obama has prompted him to vote a straight Republican ticket. “Obama’s done nothing for this country but run it down,” Miller told Simpson.
Other diners were more receptive to Simpson’s message. “It’s nice to meet you,” Bill Davis of Rosedale told Simpson as she made the rounds.
Simpson and other dignitaries stopped at the diner as part of running mate John Gregg’s Workhorse Tour. While Gregg was in Lake County, Simpson rode a bus that traveled to Crawfordsville, Greencastle, Brazil and other communities west of Indianapolis.
Other notables on the bus included former Lt. Gov. Kathy Davis, the first woman to serve in that office (under former Gov. Joe Kernan). Betty Cockrum, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana, also rode along, as did Katie Blair of the 51 Percent Club, an offshoot of the Democratic Party working to get women to the polls.
“We’re trying to make sure everybody knows that this election is so incredibly important,” Simpson said in an interview. “We’re trying to raise the level of urgency about it.”
Mike Pence, the Republican candidate for governor, has had “a very extreme agenda” in Congress, she said, and his positions on issues have been “very destructive to women.”
She said he voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Law to provide equal pay for equal work and she charged “he wants to completely destroy Planned Parenthood.”
Simpson characterized him as a “Tea Party crusader against women.”
She and Gregg have tried to focus their message on jobs, job creation and economic investment in infrastructure — roads, bridges, water supply and broad band for rural areas — as well as investment in public schools and universities, she said.
She believes that “voting this year may be the most important election we’ve had in decades.” She also suggested that John Gregg “is the only stopgap between the state of Indiana as we know it, or a state completely controlled by the tea party.”
Simpson and a large entourage ate at the Double N Diner, and they were joined by several supporters from Clay and Parke counties.
Cockrum joined the Workhorse Tour Monday “because this is such an important election for the future of Indiana and particularly for women and families.”
The Republican Party in Indiana “does not support women’s reproductive health care,” she said.
Cockrum also charged that state government in Indiana “has dramatically reduced its support for education and for child services and other services that help families in need. We need to turn that around.”
Kathy Davis, former Indiana lieutenant governor, is concerned about the direction the state is headed, a direction that will continue if Republicans are elected. Gregg and Simpson are focused on the big picture in terms of what it will take to strengthen the state economically, she said.
“When I see other candidates suggesting we shouldn’t compromise, shouldn’t work together, that have what seems like a lot of hostility toward women that is playing out in taking away their health services — or the suggestion that a man knows what God thinks about whether a woman should bear the child of her rapist — I think we’re just playing with fire and I’m very concerned,” Davis said.
She said she used to believe “we’d progress and move closer to equal opportunity, and now I see that’s not necessarily true if we elect leaders who think their values are better than ours.”
As for Miller, the Democrat-turned-Republican, after meeting Simpson, he said, “She seemed like she was all right.”
But he still won’t vote for her.
Blame it on Obama. “I’ve got no use for that man,” he said. “He keeps blaming Bush and Cheney. They gave him $8 trillion in debt, then he added another $10 trillion to that. All he’s done is put our grandkids so deep in debt, they’ll never get out.”
Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.