While incumbent Gov. Joe Kernan accused his challenger Republican Mitch Daniels of “trashing” Indiana, Daniels shot back with accusations of Kernan running a negative campaign.
Libertarian candidate Kenn Gividen, who also participated in the debate Sunday night, said he, too, was tired of all the negativity.
“I don’t know about you folks, but I am tired of the mudslinging,” Gividen told the audience at the 90-minute debate held at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany.
Daniels addressed the governor’s new ads that attack his character.
“Governor, in your ads you’ve called me greedy. You’ve called me untrustworthy. You’ve said I don’t know the differences between right and wrong,” Daniels said. “I’m so sorry you’ve chosen to do this. It’s not what I thought of you at all.
“It makes me want to say, ‘Say it ain’t so, Joe.'”
Kernan questioned Daniels — who he continued to refer to as “my friend from Washington” — for supporting the sale of IPALCO, an Indianapolis utility where Daniels served on its board of directors in 2000.
“He (Daniels) says he’s the victim,” Kernan said.
“He was not the one who got hurt and hurt badly,” Kernan said, referring to IPALCO retirees who lost retirement savings when the company’s stock crashed.
Daniels, the former Office of Management and Budget director under President Bush, said a “new crew” was needed after 16 years of Democratic leaders in the governor’s mansion, while Kernan mentioned the things he’s done for the state since taking office last year after Gov. Frank O’Bannon died suddenly from a stroke.
“The case for change in Indiana is overwhelming,” Daniels said. “The average Hoosier now earns only 88 cents for the dollar the average American earns. We’ve lost 100,000 jobs in the last four years. There’s a growing national recovery going on and we are not participating.”
Kernan fired back, saying he has acted aggressively to help the state during his time in office, The Indianapolis Star reported.
“When I took this job 13 months ago, I made a very conscious decision that I was not going to tread water, that 16 months was a long time in the lifetime of any organization,” Kernan said.
Kernan added that his administration is “changing Indiana state government, (making) the most sweeping changes that have been made in our state in more than 30 years.”
Kernan’s latest television commercial talks about Daniels’ post at Eli Lilly and Co. and the money he made there, accusing him of working to keep drug prices high.
“I never thought I’d hear an Indiana governor bash Eli Lilly and Co.,” Daniels said. “If you are asking me to apologize for having worked there, I am sorry. Any governor in Indiana every night ought to hope and pray that we are giving birth to the next Eli Lilly.”
Kernan responded that he was not criticizing the pharmaceutical company.
“The fact is we have thousands of seniors across the state of Indiana and families that are making the decision that they can’t afford their drugs, that they are cutting their pills in half, that they are taking them every other day or every third day,” Kernan said.
“The question is, as governor, who is going to look out for those people?”
This governor’s race is the most expensive in state history, with Kernan and Daniels raising more than $28 million combined and are expected to raise in excess of $30 million before the race is over.