Oh, dear, fellow Hoosier chauvinist pigs, will we ever get over the fact that both gubernatorial candidates picked a gal for his running mate?
Sorry about that – we went off the rails a bit after reading this odd race- and sex-conscious reaction by The Associated Press: “The announcements virtually guarantee that Indiana will continue its string of white, male governors who have a white woman as second in command. Gov. Mitch Daniels has run Indiana since 2005 with Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, and former Gov. Joe Kernan chose Indiana's first female lieutenant governor, Kathy Davis …”
Can we just get over this, stop wringing our hands about the political glass ceiling and whooping with overly dramatic delight every time a woman breaks through? It's an established fact now that women have discovered politics and the voters have discovered the women and women of all political persuasions are winning office. In the political process, whoever wants to run can and whoever wants to vote for them will and whoever wins wins. It's called democracy, a beautiful thing.
Candidates carefully consider the constituencies they want to reach with a running mate. Yes, women are one of them, and Republican Mike Pence and Democrat John Gregg will get some of their votes they might not have otherwise. Geography is another consideration. In selecting state Rep. Sue Ellspermann, whose district is in the southern part of the state, Pence may be hoping to steal votes from Gregg, who is also from there. Interest groups matter, too – in selecting state Sen. Vi Simpson, Gregg hopes to shore up labor support. Simpson led the Senate fight against the right-to-work law.
But the truth is the lieutenant governor choice usually doesn't gain or lose enough votes to make a difference. It's the top of the ticket that counts. So a gubernatorial candidate should really concentrate on the quality that matters most: Will No. 2 be able to step into No. 1's shoes if something awful happens?
Let's stipulate that both candidates did that job well. Their legislative and other experience give Ellspermann and Simpson the needed qualifications to be governor.
But there is an interesting difference. Pence and Ellspermann are on the same page politically – strong conservatives both socially and economically. That allows Democrats to criticize them as an extremist right-wing team. But it also means that if Ellspermann had to step in for Pence, there would be no abrupt shifts in policy.
Gregg, on the other hand, chose in Simpson one of the most liberal of his colleagues, because the Democratic base is not happy with some of his more conservative views – on right to life, for example. Gregg and Simpson are in many ways polar opposites, and if she replaced him there might be some big changes.